Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Trinity High

So I went back for another visit to Trinity High today. P Bollen the HT had offered a tour/visit round some of the 2nd year classes to get a flavour of their cross curricular topic work. Spanish, Home Economics,Science, Library skills etc. It was really impressive. The young people are a credit to the work going on within the school. It’s a funny thing as you visit schools and those who do this as their job would probably say the same thing, but you can feel the ethos almost from the moment you go in the door. And it oozes out of Trinity – the SMT know their kids and even more important like them and do the best they can for them. Lots of laughter and also lots of respect amongst the youngsters for each other and the adults.

He’s one of those heads with nae shoe leather (due to walking fast round the corridors) and I had little left after running round after him at high speed for a couple of hours. Loads of things to see and take in – talks in one class being given after a few days work on famous Scottish Scientists, powerpoints on the go in the library where they were writing about inspiring Scots from Mary Slessor to Jinky Johnstone and even King David “Cos that’s my name too!”, boys jumping up to demonstrate the Salsa they’d learned the day before in their Spanish class and fantastic personal topics they’d completed looking at life here and in Spain, and some haggis, neeps and tatties in the HE department being cooked, work going on about obesity in Scotland and how to combat it etc etc. Anyway after talking to a lot of the children the consensus was that the week hadn’t seemed like work but actually they’d done more than normal and loads of extra homework! They’d particularly enjoyed the way they’d been able to work much more in groups and felt they’d collaborated really well with each other, they’d learned more than normal because it was more fun and best of all maths had been really good because they’d been doing stuff about Napier rods and planning trips to Scottish places looking at how long to get their, using timetables, costing etc – and a few said it had been good because they knew they could use what they’d done in maths because they could use it in real life later. Did they want more like this – YES!

The biggest compliment I could give would be I’d have loved my own boys to go to this school, I’d have been happy and confident that they’d be doing the best they could there. And do you know what I quite fancied working there myself.

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February 26, 2009 Posted by | Creativity, education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

And then…

So later on today we had our Early Years Area Forum. Shirley Patterson one of the child psychologists and Irene Russell the Senior Manager Pupil Support for our area were doing an update session on ASN legislation and were letting folks have a look at and try out staged intervention tracking formats – these were made really simply but are very effective and great ongoing evidence of the support that EY workers and teachers do day in day out with children. The teacher from Loch brought along some of their talking floorbooks which are a work of marvel! Unfortunately we didn’t get time to look at them but will next time. Quite a variety of offers from the HTs for our Drop in HT/DHT teach meet input ranging from CfE planning materials, to HMIe updates from recent inspections to quality calendars and Standards and quality formats. Should be a good slot.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | education | Leave a comment

JTE in action

There are some days it just hits me between the eyes that I’ve got the best job in the world. Today was a hard one getting up, Wednesday, feeling kind of sleepy mid week and then I get to work and I see why I come to work every day. I was doing a PDR today in a nursery and didn’t expect either of the sniffly, happy, weepy moments that hit me. Cathkin Community Nursery showed me their ongoing planning whiteboard where they are reviewing their vision, values and aims. Using the word ENABLE to write their vision they are then colour coding the related CfE links and the aims (written as outcomes) which they are developing ready to work out actions to put in their improvement plan. They also told me about the 200 places parents in the area have applied for with their awards for all grant for parental courses at SLC college. On the playroom walls they are colour coding photograph backgrounds with a specific colour for CfE principles. They had rewritten the AIFL triangle for their own establishment so all staff felt ownership of what they were doing. Then in pops Rachel with her individualised learning story media show – with all the photos and evidence for one child showing their learning progression. WOW! I could write much more but go see it! Then off for a surprise treat at Trinity High, where they are currently in the midst of a cross curricular week with all departments involved. The theme is The Scottish Nation. Starting with an assembly on the Monday, pupils made choice to study within curricular areas, went off with a fabulous quiz to complete over the week, where they were getting input in departments but also having to do study research in their own time. They also have to complete ongoing research material as the topic is worked through. The planning and thought going into this was wonderful. What was coming out straight away was the additional element of engagement and enjoyment which was being tackled in looking at the curriculum in this way. They too are delving deep into their vision and values. One impressive piece of work is how they are evaluating the school using the charter for catholic schools. The evaluation looks at the distinctive features in Trinity High and signposts areas for further development. For anyone in any school whether denominational or non-denominational this piece of work is a great example of excellent practice in self evaluation. And what comes across in both establishments is the commitment of the staff, the joy of improving things for the young people and the understanding of how much of a difference they can make in the life of these youngsters – sparking that golden nugget in them of lifelong learning. The other thing which is clear in both is the desire to build capacity in all those involved within their school – the good school in the good society. And the best thing about my job? I get to see stuff like this every day!

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Creativity, education, teaching | , , , | 2 Comments

HT/DHT Drop In

Next week is another HT/DHT drop in session for our area, a kind of teach meet session where we’re going to have 5 minute sharing slots. I’m looking forward to some time to do this. Finding time to share is such a big issue for us all at the  moment in times of immense change. Anyway some people are talking about CfE developments, self evaluation procedures, examples they use to do standards and qualioty reporting etc etc This evening is our Early Years Area Forum where the topic is ASN legislation and staged intervention with input from the Senior Manager Pupil Support. Been looking at some interesting work being done in a secondary on self evaluation using a computer system to assist the process. Will be interesting to see how this helps reflection over a period of time.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | education | 1 Comment

So

My friend Kevin’s wee club http://www.fallenangelsclub.com/ celebrated its fifth birthday recently. He often has wee gems of this and that on at it for those who like a bit of American and/or folk.

Bob Dylan has apparently maybe got a new album out soon! Yeeha.

I went to see the vagina monologues at the weekend and found it pretty tiresome. Why is it that cheap laughs and riske words are such a cash cow? Maybe its just me but I found it pretty disturbing to be in an audience hooting with laughter at this, especially when “serious” bits suddenly appeared in a really inappropriate way in the midst of what felt like a pretty sleazy hen party.

On the work front – Standards and Quality reports – for those within the area who would like an exemplar, there is one available on the area glow site as is a match document which Elaine McDade put together showing the links between the Journey to Excellence and HGIOS. I’m continuing to bang on about Journey to Excellence to everyone – use the resources there – spend the time to trawl through it and more time is saved in the long run looking at all of the processes in a school not just the curriculum. Maybe it’s time we had a wee stop the bus moment and drew breath before jumping forward too fast…

February 23, 2009 Posted by | learning | Leave a comment

Leading

I had the pleasure of working with Steve Hurst this week. He managed to get me reflecting without it seemed even trying. His following thoughts are always useful. I think leading is about attention to detail, solid management and empowering others.

Remember the Do+Be=Have?

Do is what you’ll actively demonstrate as a leader.

Be is the ‘state’ e.g. confident decisive calm etc and these two lead to what you’ll reap (have) as a leader.

  • What will you be doing when leading even more effectively?
  • What will people be seeing and how will they be feeling? (third party question)
  • How will you be? What will you be feeling?

The devils in the detail as well as the clarity and commitment to change.

February 15, 2009 Posted by | leadership | , | Leave a comment

Cats’ assault courses

February weekend – and another haul of DIY, sifting through stuff that accumulates over a few weeks and the usual cleaning tasks. I can’t face getting someone to help me clean – it goes against my principles… I make the mess so it seems awful to think of someone else helping me clear it up, but worst of all I’d be mortified that someone would find out how much of a slob I am. So out with the black bin liners and off to the skip again. The cats love it when I do this – my notion of clearing up involves pulling everything out of cupboards and making an even bigger mess, they think I’m some sort of cat god who magics assault courses up for them. My boys just disappear, they’ve grown accustomed to this frenzy of activity which usually ends in me in an even more foul temper than normal. They know the signs and are too sensible to hang around for the aftermath. This kind of cleaning also involves me making disastrous messes which then take up more time. Yesterday I discovered a big plastic thing full of paraffin from some aged heater we used twenty odd years ago, when we had no central heating. Off to the skip (who of course wouldn’t take it)…spillage inside car…three hours of visits to halfords for cleaning materials and scrubbing later, and the thing was back in the cupboard it started off in. I’ve also so far, since Friday broken a glass shelf in the bathroom and stubbed my toes three times. Being at work seems a much safer and easier option.

February 15, 2009 Posted by | Nonsense | Leave a comment

Get healthy?

In terms of impact (remember I’m a QIO so this is one of my mantra words…) my own teachers at school, unfortunately had very little impact on my healthy lifestyle choices, seeing as I make very poor ones – I ‘m talking cigarettes, pringles, cheese and too much drinking of wine at the weekend and as for peanuts and bombay mix well I’ll not go there… Anyway a friend of mine has decided to get healthy – if he can do it so can I, however his choice of smash as a diet food is a tad dodgy. He’s writing about his battles with health here _ 

http://programmes.stv.tv/feelgood-factor/blog/74195-bruces-feelgood-blog-i-dont-want-my-stools-in-a-tupperware-box/

February 7, 2009 Posted by | Nonsense | 1 Comment

This n That

I’ve been pretty poor at keeping up to date here recently. So what’s to say? We’ve all been really busy since Christmas in our Learning Community and I’m not quite sure where the time has gone. A Holocaust Memorial Event one evening at the end of January in Cathkin High brought together pupils, parents, staff and invited guests from across the area. Stonelaw, Cathkin and Trinity High pupils were involved – putting on dramas, readings, music. Primary schools came together in a choir and Burgh Primary 7s produced a podcast which they added drama to. Displays were produced by Universal Connections and the local schools and nurseries. It was a lot of work for all those involved but the turnout was fabulous and as a parent said to the Head of Area “This is what its all about – everyone in the area coming together, the children working together.”

HMIe activity continues with several establishments involved in preparing for inspection, action planning afterwards etc. The changes to the process seem to be bedding in.

I’ve recently been involved in several class visits to establishments. There are green CfE shoots springing up everywhere building on the practice that is there and the work schools are putting in is remarkable.We need to sing the praises of what teaching staff are doing day in day out – I’m seeing active learning, use of glow tools, collaborative working, cross sectoral projects etc etc, so much I can’t even begin to explain.I do worry there’s a bit too much time spent developing similar things in different establishments and we need to think about how we can get even better at sharing with each other, to make our lives easier. Making time to do this can be an issue but using time doing the same thing as someone a few hundred yards along the road when we could work together isn’t the best use of precious resources either. How we can facilititate this better is something I’d appreciate ideas on. Yes we’ll use glow as we all get better aquainted with it but what about right now?

Their job is so challenging and also so rewarding at the same time but lets make sure everyone is aware of what teachers are already achieving and how much effort is going in on the ground to bring about improvement. It still makes me sniffle when I see some of the fantastic things going on. My new sniffling though, was this week to do with a visit to a HT ,who in the midst of lots of challenges, additional work, school refurbishment etc (the usual HT’s lot!) was so full of enthusiasm for the job that after visiting the school I spent 5 minutes afterwards in the car bubbling because it was so exciting to hear her talk.

February 6, 2009 Posted by | education | 2 Comments