Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Inspiring teacher

Great to see Caroline Gibson on a CPD short talking about her future CPD plans, her work in Malawi etc. I know what an inspiring teacher she is. Go watch!

May 28, 2010 Posted by | education, leadership | , , , | Leave a comment

Best Nursery in Scotland!

The most recent HMIe reports for primaries in the  Cambuslang and Rutherglen Area of South Lanarkshire are those for:  St Anthony’s Primary, St Bride’s and also Calderwood Primary with the follow through on Loch also recently published, all showing the fantastic quality of schools in the area. Fabulous work going on and we are all ever so proud of the children, parents and staff in the area. All of these establishments are well on their journey to excellence.

The latest nursery publication in the area, is the HMIe report on Cathkin Community Nursery which came out today. The nursery has been evaluated as excellent in all the QIs in the report. I’m not ashamed to admit that I bubbled all the way through the feedback dialogue session the other week. It was just fantastic to hear the hard work of the team being praised to the hilt. Every word was deserved.  Last year the nursery was graded across the board at 6 by the care commission. As far as I am aware this is the first Scottish nursery to have achieved all 6’s from care commission then have all excellents the next year from a joint HMIe/Care Commission Inspection. Pretty special! The start the children are given in their educational journey at the nursery is outstanding. Well done to everyone involved with the nursery. I mustn’t forget to mention Liz and Karen – two very special leaders who are providing something immeasurable for the children in their care. Something which is making a difference not only to the children there now but as Patrick Duignan talks about – to future children in ways we will never know.

Southlanarkshire is now on twitter you can follow the LA @SouthLanCouncil

May 26, 2010 Posted by | education, leadership, learning, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stonelaw Fairtrade and Land of Me

Wow! Sat through two of our learning community management meetings today. First of all Cathkin learning Community then the Stonelaw Learning community. Sometimes you’re just gobsmacked when listening to the fantastic work going on around you! For instance Brain Cooklin from Stonelaw high today told us that the school’s fairtrade group have broken through the £100 000 trading barrier.Impressive for a school group, add to that the fundraising work which goes on there to support 300 orphans schooling in Africa and you get just a flavour of some of the work going on there on global citizenship. Anyone interested in this kind of work would be well advised to give the school a ring!

Listened to some P4s from Cairns Primary who presented to the Heads with their teacher on the project they have been doing linked to the ClydeGateway Regeneration work going on in the area. They have been involved with the M74 development in particular around the building of a new bridge – making site visits, getting involved in the ecological issues. Wonderful piece of work. Currently they are designing 3d art sculptures linked to bridges, painting bridges by different designers and investigating wildlife in the Clyde – who knew there are otters, salmon and deer down there?

Listened to lots of things going on in lots of schools from world at work events in the primaries, to outdoor area developments, to numeracy dvds being made for parents and thats just the tip of the iceberg, to banks being set up within school run by the children. In the pm the Heads talked about some of the grants they have been awarded recently from groups such as Pride of  Place, Awards for all, RBS etc etc. This money went into tens of thousands – real entrepreneurial leadership in action.

Loving this link from @DerekRobertson via twitter for early years practitioners – lovely! Its the land of me – interactive online games to inspire creativity in young children story time, rhyme time, numbers etc. Well worth a look as is the great site around Games Based Learning

March 29, 2010 Posted by | education, leadership, learning | , , , , , | Leave a comment

More on Excellence

The recent Care Commission Report on Cathkin Community Nursery confirmed what we already knew – its an excellent establishment. But what are the key aspects about the establishment that make it so good? It would be difficult and not sensible to replicate what they do elsewhere as each establishment is set in a unique context, with its own uniques set of children, parents and staff but there are things which we can all learn from what takes place in Cathkin Community.

The leadership of the nursery is exceptional – improvement planning and talking about improvement is a way of being at Cathkin Comm Nursery. This striving for excellence,  for innovation, for better ways of doing things is evident as soon as you go in the door – the Nursery has an abundance of awards from a COSLA silver award, to SLC awards to certificates of staff CPD and children and parent achievement on display as soon as you go in and this sets the tone for everything else. The less formal achievement tree has little messages which are added to daily from stories from Mums about new babies, to wee ones who have leared something new at nursery or home to messages about how proud they are to have had a visitor. Everything is noticed, celebrated and the attention to this kind of small detail is very important.

As you walk through the nursery the wall displays have a tone which has evolved over time – there’s a balance between published and children’s work but work which is displayed is linked to CfE principles and outcomes for instance if there’s a display with photos of playing outdoors – it won’t say that John was splashing in the puddles but that John was splashing in the puddles and he was exploring and appreciating the wonder of nature – everything is about learning. There are colour coded displays  for each of the four capacities with photos/evidence to link to these. Floorbooks are displayed for the children and adults to look at with ones for different curricular areas, focus topics etc etc. Planning is up on the walls with tips for the week related to learning and teaching. Children’s learning stories/portfolios are accessed by the children all the time so they can update them/read them and staff have a purposeful well planned way of doing assessments, running records etc. But none of this ever stays still for instance the learning stories are now being made into multi media resources.

All staff have leaderhip roles of their own and most are involved in additional study such as PDAs BAs etc in their own time. Any innovative practices carried out have presentations written about them which other establishments can ask to see and use with their own staff.

Visitors pop in and out and are welcomed at any time, doors are opened and you can have a good old nose to find good practice and this is openly encouraged!

Self evaluation is circular and real. For instance questionnaires last session showed parents would like more courses etc, so the nursery applied for funding, got about £9000 and set up courses with a local college. I’m just off to see a fashion show shortly which parents are putting on after they’ve spent 10 weeks looking at their self esteem, how they present themselves/look after their health etc.

Volunteers are welcomed, community links are fostered with everyone you meet knowing something about the nursery or having some involvement in visiting.

Their vision and values are clear and embedded. They use the word ENABLE and their vision is linked to the word in a sort of acrostix. Then their aims are divided into parents, children, staff, community and management. These are then linked to the improvement plan.

They are making a real difference to the lives of the children and adults involved in their community, and those differences and little impacts are often immeasurable. Liz and her team will never know all the differences they have made or the impact they have had on our future’s children

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Creativity, glow, leadership, learning, Making a Difference | , | Leave a comment


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

This and That

I had an interesting outing with a Polish neighbour, to New Lanark at the weekend. We met out the back garden one day recently. I don’t speak Polish or Italian, she doesn’t speak French or much English yet as she’s just learning. So we did one of those pigeon Euro talk things for the day – there seemed to be smatterings of nearly everything with a bit of Latin thrown in for good measure, a notepad and drawings were involved and a Polish/English dictionary. What always amazes me in these situations is how much we can still learn about one another despite language barriers.

At work I’m starting to really enjoy my job and feel I am understanding my role better. This has been quite a difficult adjustment in some ways for me, as not only is it a completely new job but its also very different from being in one school. There’s also the question of autonomy. As HT I had a degree of autonomy within the school setting and freedom to be creative within boundaries. This role also has a degree of autonomy (I can create my own diary for instance) but strangely also less in some ways too – as the tasks I am carrying out are ringfenced and more specific perhaps than the ones I was carrying out as HT. For instance to write a pre-inspection report is something where there’s a set way of writing it, a format already set up – the autonomy comes in how I speak to people in the school, how I look for evidence etc. There is a specific deadline. As an HT something like raising attainment in reading might include a step like implementing a new reading scheme with specific teaching strategies – that can be a very creative task with lots of ways of approaching it and different answers which come out of it. It can also be a very lengthy task with changes occuring over many years and re-adjustments. So there have been lots of adjustments needed in my pace, approach and thinking about how I do things and why.

As part of this role I’m discovering the importance of getting better at asking the right questions at the right time of people, to support and challenge. I was asking the question today of some staff of just how they would measure the impact of a health week of events in a primary school. The attitude to health by the children seems perhaps easiest to look at first with possibly some form of personal learning log of the week with personal targets and comments/evaluations etc. It seemed more difficult to measure  the fitness side – you have to pin down an outcome very carefully as to what you hope the children can show as an improvement after a week. Is it possible to show an outcome after a week? Would it be better to revisit their fitness levels after a longer period of time to see if the week continued to have an impact? What measurements of fitness would it be sensible to use? And so it went on.

So I’m feeling I’m doing a lot of soul searching and personal development of my management and leadership skills.


May 6, 2008 Posted by | leadership, learning | , , | Leave a comment

Loose Coupling

I hadn’t read Elmore’s “Building a New Structure For School Leadership”, 2000 for a while. It’s easy to download a copy of this online. I went back to this recently as I’m increasingly dwelling on just how to improve learning and teaching in my role as a QIO – my main role is supporting schools on the quality improvement agenda so unlike some QIOs I do not have a wide curricular remit in addition. This frees me up to really concentrate on this one area. Anyway the simplicity of his argument had a big effect on me when I first read it and still does as I revisit it.

For anyone who hasn’t read this its well worth a look or another read as whether you agree with what he says or not, there’s a lot for reflection in it, on how we really make concrete improvements to learning and teaching within the classroom.

Delighted to see what Caroline and Jaye have been saying about their Glow days at Stirling management centre – sharing success and making connections. It sounds like they’ve had a useful couple of days. And I like their animoto slides from it too!

April 24, 2008 Posted by | ICT, leadership, learning | , , | 3 Comments

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


I had a really useful day today run for QIOs by LTS, where we had a good discussion and look at Journey to Excellence materials.

I was particularly interested in a couple of things which I picked up from the presentations – a big shift in emphasis to a more bottom up approach where teachers are really being encouraged to lead and develop their approaches. The other thing which really lifted me was the explicit notion of Heads as officers of an EA where there is an expectation from HMIe that Heads have a corporate responsibility to share good practice with others and support other schools/Heads with knowledge/good practice etc.

Its so encouraging to hear this expressed as it fits with the way I see schools making real improvements in the future.

March 27, 2008 Posted by | leadership | 1 Comment