Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2017

The Venus Flytrap of teaching and professional development

This post was prompted by a number of articles, reports, tweets and conversations I have seen or had recently. All of these were around teacher professional development and teacher professionalism. Some were by, or about, respected academics, and others were by teachers, school leaders, or those with an interest in education. However, there was a common thread or tone amongst them all. This was the frustration felt by many that there is still a persistent gap (yet another!) between what we know has the best chance of working in our schools, based on sound evidence or  research, and the practice and attitudes which still persist in many schools and classrooms. 
Why the Venus Flytrap metaphor then? 
As you may well know, the Venus Flytrap is a carnivorous plant that tempts prey, in the form of small flies and insects, through its attractive appearance, smells and the offer of easy food for them. When the unsuspecting fly or insect goes to investigate and lands on the plants pad-like le…

Another day, another policy change?

It would seem that the Scottish Government, and its Education Secretary John Swinney, are brimming with structural and systemic ideas for change in Scottish education. With their avowed aims of raising attainment and improving equity, they seem determined that they are the ones that will come up with the ideas of how to achieve this, rather than anyone actually working in schools, like teachers and headteachers for instance.

Yesterday, at another run-of-the-mill education conference in Edinburgh Mr Swinney stood up and seemed to promise that, within the new  statutory Headteachers' Charter currently being envisioned and drawn up by the government and Education Scotland, headteachers will no longer have to accept compulsory transfers of teachers, who are displaced from other schools, into their own. In answering a query about what he had said from Keir Bloomer, the chair of the Reform Scotland conference, Swinney stated  that headteachers would be given the ability to choose their …

Words

There is no doubting the power of words. They shape our thinking and our conversations, often revealing more than their simple literal meaning, especially when joined together, forming more complicated concepts. Combine those words with our actions and they become even more revealing, especially when the words we use do not match our actions. What do we believe when there is a mismatch between our words and our actions? For me it is our actions that reveal our true self. However, our words, our conversations, and the discourse around these, which inform, shape and colour our actions and our thinking. We do not act in a mindless vacuum. How we think and act is shaped, positively or negatively by words, and how we interpret them and the concepts they create.

The world of words tells us much about our actions, decisions and focus. With this in mind, I have been thinking a bit about the words that exist and are given primacy within our schools and education system, and what these reveal …

Structure and systems versuses learning, teaching and leadership

A couple of days ago Education Scotland announced that they planned to make changes to how they carried out school inspections as, 'the first step in a radical new way Education Scotland will work to support and drive improvement in schools.' This new 'radical' approach was to carry out more inspections, coupled with employment of new HMIEs and 'associate assessors' so that they could raise the number of inspections from the 180 expected to be undertaken this year, to a target figure of 250 for the following year. Amongst their stated aims was a desire to engage with every school in Scotland each year in order to support schools, teachers and school leaders and to drive forward improvement. They will also seek to include the 'younger voice' in inspections and include more use of learners in the inspection process, aiming to produce a How Good Is Our School (HGIOS) for young people to help them become engaged. (give me strength!) In addition, they will b…