Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2016

Held to account, the only game in town?

As a public servant, I am accountable. I get that, and I accept that is how it should be. 
I have been a headteacher for seventeen years. I have been inspected on four different occasions, have never had a follow up inspection. Have had gradings given to the schools I have led from 'satisfactory' right through to 'excellent'. Never a 'weak' or unsatisfactory. I am a fellow of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership and I have been asked to carry out work for Education Scotland, the General Teaching Counil for Scotland and my Local Authority. I have delivered professional development courses at local and national level and have written extensively for a range of professional publications. I have been asked to mentor and support colleagues and I have been invited to speak to a range conference audiences. I tell you all of this, not to blow my own trumpet, as I am sure there are many other headteachers out there who could claim much the same, and even more.…

Can improvement be imposed?

One of the issues I have long considered as a school leader is whether it is possible, or even desirable, to impose improvements in performance on teachers? I would extend this even further to include school leaders themselves. Can you impose improvement on school leaders?

The first issue to consider is, whose  improvement? Dylan Wiliam has spoken for a number of years about the fact that we still remain unclear as to what constitutes good teaching, or good teachers. What we do know though is that the quality of the teacher working in a classroom  is the most important factor in terms of student progress, above all other factors. The link below from Dylan's website talks about this in more depth and is worth a look.
You can ask many school leaders and researchers what good teaching and teachers look like and the only guarantee is that you will get almost as many different answers as the number of peo…

The Rhythm Method For School Leadership

Having been a primary school leader, in a number of schools, for some 17 years now, I have learnt many things about school leadership. Some of these have come as a result of bitter experiences, some from better experiences, some from collaboration with colleagues and some from reading and research. One of the important factors I have identified for school leaders to consider is to do with the rhythm of the school year, and its impact on school development and staff morale. 
When we return for the start of the new school year, we return refreshed and raring to go. We have our staffing in place, some of whom may well be new and who will bring new perspectives and new energies, as well as new plans for school development and the year ahead. We need to give learners and staff a little time to settle in but, by the half term break, everything will be well underway and we will probably be moving forward with developments mapped out in our school improvement plans. This continues on our retur…

SHANARRI, and making healthy choices

Myself, and others, have long argued that well-being, for learners, ourselves and that of our colleagues or those we lead, should be a priority for all in education. In the ever demanding systems that we work in, we neglect well-being at our peril. If we want our learners to achieve and attain their potential, and if we want our schools to thrive and develop, well-being of ourselves and all staff has to be at the forefront of our thinking and our practice. However, often the difficulty is that, when your day and your work is very busy, it can be difficult to find the time to consider your own well-being and that of others. As a school leader, I often find myself spending quite a bit of time considering and dealing with well-being issues of those I lead. We work closely with people, and those people create the learning conditions in which our learners can either thrive or wilt. Like our learners, I believe we have to know and understand our staff and colleagues in an holistic way. We h…