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Showing posts from October, 2016

Not only is it good to talk, its essential

I had a visit this week from one of my Twitter contacts. Dr Rachel Lofthouse from Newcastle University visited one of my schools to talk about professional learning, and how we have been using practitioner enquiry to support this and school development for a number of years now. Having Rachel visit reminded me again of the power and the impact of focused professional dialogue and conversations.

There is no doubt that collaboration and collegiality are cornerstones of school and system development. Such co-operative working and thinking cannot happen in a vacuum and it is through conversation and dialogue that we build relationships and understandings. For such talk to have maximum impact it needs to be open, built on professional trust and focused. Cosy chats about comfortable issues and practices, can deepen these and the thinking around them, but are unlikely to have deep impacts on and move our practice forward. We need challenging conversations, with a common focus or theme, to im…

Not proven and not proving!

In the Scottish legal system there are three possible verdicts that a jury can reach following a criminal trial. These are Guilty, Not Guilty and Not Proven. This final verdict is usually found when the jury decide there is insufficient evidence to convict an accused, and when there is also insufficient evidence to say the defendant is completely innocent of the charges layed against them. I am by no means a legal expert, but I do think this third option is something quite unique to the Scottish system. Most other legal systems seem to have stopped at Guilty or Not Guilty and with a presumption of innocence until a verdict of Guilty is given.


You may ask yourself why am I writing about the Scottish legal system when I am an educational professional and usually write about education and leadership on this blog? Good question to ask, and we are getting there. The reason why I give you that background is linked to the title of this post and the inordinate amount of time myself, and I am …

Change and the professional voice

As we in education are all well aware, change is a constant. This is something we are dealing with almost on a daily basis within classrooms, schools and across our education systems. Many in education are still resistant to change, though. The reasons for this are often less to do with stubbornness or entrenched views and beliefs, and more to do with a lack of connection between what people believe, who they are as individuals, and what they are asked, or worse told, to do. I have long held the belief that real, deep and sustained change cannot be imposed on people and can only happen when there is true buy-in from individuals. Perhaps the strongest way to achieve such buy-in is when individuals themselves identify, or come to recognise, what they need to do to get better. As Dylan Wiliam says, ‘not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.’ This applies to us all, and should do throughout our careers, true career-long professional learning.
Over this half…

The self-improving teacher

For many years now we have talked about, and tried to promote, system leadership within education. I have written before about this in Beware What You Wish For: Some thoughts on System Leadership published in July of this year, and Headteachers and System Leadership published in February 2015, as well as in a number of other posts which have touched on aspects of such system leadership.The main driver for the development of system leadership within schools and education systems is to produce the self-improving school system. One that is organic and which grows from within, utilising the experience and expertise that already resides within in it. In the first post mentioned above, I did question whether this was in fact what some in the system really wanted, because it would lead to less command and control from above. But, let us assume that this is what we all truly wish to develop in the system. I would like to see true system leadership develop and grow within our education systems…