Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Persona dolls

Liz Mercer at Cathkin Community nursery has recently had an article published in Early Years Matters on LTS site about their use of persona dolls. I was interested today when I picked up some of the feedback from her parents on this initiative. Here’s a small selection –

“The use of Persona Dolls seems an excellent idea especially in our multicultural society. It can only be good learning for the children”

“we are particularly appreciative of the cultural awareness aspect of the learning experience to be gained by using persona dolls. It is clear that using them gives learners a good headstart in life in order to tackle the constant challenges that they face throughout life.”

“It makes it easier for the kids to express themselves and foster an imagination with the persona dolls”

“Very engaging and useful method”

“Valuable life skills”

April 24, 2008 Posted by | learning | , , , , | Leave a comment


I’ve been doing lots of clearing out recently. Clearing out old files, setting up new ones etc. It seems to have been endless over the last couple of years. Moving to a new school building last session was another big clear out event.Today I was giving a hand in a nursery and we were binning  out of date things in the office.

I couldn’t begin to count the amount of bin bags, skips and bins I’ve filled with colleagues over my career. What worries me is that as you go through boxes and files the enormous amount of work done over the years becomes clear – it might be the folders and folders of programmes of study produced and which are now out of date, the materials for outdated ICT software, the endless publications on various curricular areas with advice, the development plans, schemes, parent prompts etc etc etc. The question which keeps coming back to me is how much impact has this volume of work had on children’s learning and on how we teach? How much has been achieved by completing all these tasks? Were these things about improvement or just development for no reasoned purpose? Where is the measurement of what was accomplished? If this pile of stuff had made an impact would it not still be in use in some small part? How did we get to the point where improvement has been pushed into a corner where it fights against this huge institution of development which seems at times to have little real purpose.

John Connell was blogging about the crossroads we are at and I agree wholeheartedly with him. We are at a crossroads right now, where if we don’t make a huge paradigm shift, our educational establishments will become increasingly outdated and irrelevant.

But looking at the volume of advice and materials produced over just four or five years in this one office, from within and outwith the establishment, just put this into even more stark perspective for me – has this stuff made enough of a difference? Was this industrious way of working and producing stuff the right thing to do? Where is the impact evident of all this work on the children? How has it skilled us up to be better at learning and teaching? This approach to improving can’t go on in this way, but are we in any way learning from this?

John’s right I think that we, as teachers and as leaders at all levels, feed off each other in our conservatism of approach. And I think we all have to take some responsibility for where we have taken ourselves in terms of improving education, we all made these reams of paper, programmes, documents….I certainly did and still keep trying to do it!! Somehow doing this allowed us to continue our conservative approach to change and legitimises our complaints about the way education is, because it stops improvement dead in its tracks. It comes back to my moans about unpacking CfE – is this burgeoning industry getting in the way of trying to do CfE?

Until we all make the shift from this production and completion of development tasks to talking and learning from and with each other, about learning and teaching and the experiences of children, we’re snookered. That’s the huge shift needed first and that’s where those people using web 2.0 collaborative tools of all sorts are starting to make a real shift in their whole way of being a person never mind a teacher, because what they are doing is building valid communities of learning .

April 16, 2008 Posted by | learning | | 1 Comment

Developing Coaching

What with moving jobs and so on, I’ve not been able to get round to completing the 12 hours coaching I need to do to complete my coaching diploma. However now I’m settling into things, I’m about to begin this work with someone and I’m looking forward to it.

In education we tend to spend an awful lot of time being very task oriented and I’m a big offender in this. When you’ve been conditioned into this way of working over time, for whatever reason, it takes a concerted effort to really reflect. This all ties into my role of quality assurance and how I see the whole of this. If I can’t be a fully reflective practitioner and “lead learner” then how can I expect that to be seen in all those I work with?

It comes back to the notion of being fully present for others. So I’m hoping that as I develop my skills in this area I can myself be much more reflective and a more developed listener!

LTS coaching and leadership pages

April 10, 2008 Posted by | Coaching | , | Leave a comment


Still enjoying playing with my glow area group. It’s for the Cambuslang/Rutherglen area and I hope that it will become a useful place over time for all the services supporting education within the area. At the moment I’m building up documents which staff can access, news about the area, surveys and discussions linked to the area. In the future it will hopefully become something which saves us all time – for instance writing the improvement plan for the learning community could become easier using glow meet in the future using the whiteboard and the chat facility – nice as it might be to have a video link that wouldn’t be needed for this kind of thing. I’ve read lots of comments from various people recently about better VLEs however I think the joy of glow is that everything is in the one place for educators and fairly simple to use, which may make it more likely to be taken on by a higher percentage of staff as a useful tool.

Lots of work to be done slowly rolling this out to all those within the learning community. Glow mentors etc will be able to access this and use it in different ways very quickly but to become embedded it needs staff across the piece believing that its useful to their learning and teaching.

April 9, 2008 Posted by | glow, ICT | | Leave a comment


Cor. What about this Spykee meccano thing! I just saw it on the gadget show and  I want one!


I read an article in the Sunday Herald yesterday about next week’s Glasgow Science Festival where Ken McLeod will give a talk where he will explore the influence sci-fi has had on actual scientists.

I have to admit to being a closet sci-fi fan. Mostly this came from my Dad. When I was young, you could only get a certain amount of books out of the library on one ticket and I generally devoured them long before my Dad went back to the library with me. Aged about 8 or 9 I cottoned onto the fact that he got thicker books with smaller writing than I could get from the children’s section, so I started reading his books too, and then realised I liked them better than Enid Blyton and the other wonders in the children’s library. Anyway he loved his sci-fi, so by default so did I. We read the whole library content fairly quickly and started at the beginning again by mistake, so then we started circling the numbers on page 77 in every book in pencil, then we knew if we had read a book when we were choosing new ones.

This sci-fi love affair, then moved onto movies and collecting sci-fi things (most of which are in boxes in my attic) . I know, I know….

So back to the point. I was, despite this eating of sci-fi books, sadly pretty lacking in any ability in maths or science at school . So didn’t become an inventor of neat sciencey things and gadgets. But what I do think it gave me was a love of looking for more than we can see here and now and a burning desire for things to be better.

Ken McLeod’s blog fittingly is called “The early days of a better nation” and I discovered to my delight he called it, in part, after a quote from Alasdair Gray.

“Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.”—Alasdair Gray.

And I liked the links on his blog to this –

 And this is fab too



April 7, 2008 Posted by | Nonsense | , , | Leave a comment

Persona Dolls

As always Cathkin Community Nursery in the Rutherglen/Cambuslang Area are doing just great. This is an article in Early Years Matters about how they use persona dolls


April 7, 2008 Posted by | Creativity, leadership, learning | , | Leave a comment

New girl

I’m still feeling a bit like the new girl in class and I’m gradually getting used to my new post. At times my overenthusiasm is more than likely overbearing for those around me! To keep me out of mischief in the evening I’m rereading one of my favourite books, Deming’s “Out of the crisis”. Well…. favourite books in a work sense, not something I’d read in a oner, or for fun, with a glass of wine to relax, whilst listening to one of my favourite, young person’s, pop combos!

Anyway, he was a clever man, I think. This book still has important lessons for us in education today. Especially in this quality role its important to grasp many of his ideas.

One thing at the forefront of my mind as I visit establishments is one of his notions that  –  whilst much can be measured, many important things that must be managed are immeasurable. Nothing could be more true…

A rereading of his 14 points is well worth a visit. This was first published over 20 years ago.

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, an thus constantly decrease cost.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
    b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
    b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s work.

So Deming’s a favourite of mine! As well as reading and learning from those around me I’m just doing the best I can as I learn the ropes, and hoping for the best!


” I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”Abraham Lincoln



April 7, 2008 Posted by | leadership, quality | | Leave a comment