Interim reports

Education Learning Log

A good day

I attended the SLC HT curriculum conference today for the morning. There was a wonderful display of good practice stalls set up for us to visit, highlighting good practice from across the authority. Lots to see and I heard someone say she wished she wasn’t retiring soon as it’s such an exciting time to be involved in teaching and she’d love to be just starting out! Says it all really.

There was also a section on Glow – where we are, examples of good practice in our schools and where we might go next. In the primary section a teacher from Woodside and Caroline from Castlefield gave presentations with some of the pupils from their classes. I felt like Caroline’s Mum watching her up there, I was pretting much bursting with pride. Their input and that of the children let people really see what a useful tool it is for learning and teaching. Some of the pupils from my previous school of Castlefield made me laugh with their insightful remarks. There are no flies on them, as it were, when making truthful comments, and if they didn’t find Glow useful we’d have known about it! Feedback from the secondary input from Jaye was also very good and I spotted her pupils outside looking pretty proud of themselves afterwards.

Later I went for my coaching session. I was looking out the window, near the lift in the faculty of education, off Woodlands Road, waiting on my coach to retrieve his car keys. I became aware of the lift doors banging open and shut, as I must have been making them open automatically from where I was standing, and within a man desperately pressing buttons. Anyway keeking in, who did I spy but Jack McConnell. Not one to miss an opportunity….Malawi – the very man – I thought -as I thrust my arm into the lift to stop him escaping. So he’s now more aware of the Duncanrig Learning Community Rich Task linked to Malawi…. He’d previously taken the time to send a letter to one of the classes involved (at Southpark Primary, I think). I did notice my coach’s shoulders jiggling in the corner of the lift as he hooted about my brass neck and cheek! Anyway  my main, very politically incorrect observation, is that in close up view he is much more handsome than he is on the telly!

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Coaching, ICT, Rich tasks | , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Day Event

I popped in briefly to Castlefield today. It was their World Book Day Event. The P7’s were finishing off their rich task on Africa by displaying their fiction and non-fiction books and having other events on for the children and visitors. I was mightily impressed with Mrs McQueen’s cheer leader outfit and Mrs Wilson was waggling about with a magic wand. There was an African tent in the hall where people were reading, parents involved in paired reading, tea and coffee and stalls. It was very impressive. Well done P7 and Mrs Gibson for getting this going. I didn’t stay long as I had to go to another meeting but it was lovely to see all the children.

March 8, 2008 Posted by | Rich tasks | Leave a comment


I really am delighted at how well all the children and teachers are getting on in our learning community with their rich task blogs. I have this notion that the curriculum for excellence is about depth of learning and developing the skills of teachers to meet pupil needs. This rich task is doing that. It wouldn’t really have mattered what the “topic” was or even that its a rich task. The most important bit is the teachers are doing a degree of responsive planning, they have loosened the timetable and are bringing in some sensible interdisciplinary work (without the old topic web of fitting everything in whether it fitted or not), but most of all they are developing their own learning community (blogging is a tool which is helping them do this) where they and the children are interacting with each other. I hope this aspect continues to grow – its down to how useful the teachers and children find talking and sharing! I think they are finding it pretty useful and feel less isolated by doing things together at the same time – and what’s best of all is they are all doing it differently depending on their own school’s context.

So here’s my plea to those who are currently unpacking CfE outcomes. They don’t need unpacked – stick them back in their case and just use them! Don’t replace 5-14 with the same thing under a different name. Upskill on the teaching skills – no more folders of “topics” and banks of stuff. Get people sharing and working together – and dare I say it – let’s stop making new planners! Can we just do more stuff about how to teach even better?

February 6, 2008 Posted by | learning, Rich tasks | , | Leave a comment

Another new blog

Kirktonhome have also got their blog going.

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Rich tasks | Leave a comment

Next new blog!

Crosshouse another school in our learning community are now also up and blogging about their rich task.

February 1, 2008 Posted by | Rich tasks | Leave a comment

Duncanrig Learning Community blogs

Here are the links to the blogs now going about our Africa/Malawi rich task. These are pupil blogs and I’m really pleased with how well they are getting on. Hopefully the pupils and teachers involved will feel a community of learning starting to build and will continue this in the future.

January 29, 2008 Posted by | Rich tasks | , , | 1 Comment

Catching the blogging bug!

Caroline the P7 teacher is a star! She’s curently setting up Glow and running a rich task amongst other things. Her recently started learning log is worth reading, it shows a reflective practitioner constantly developing how they do things! P7 were really excited that they got comments on their rch task blog and Southpark are also rip roaring away with their rich task blog too.

We were all back to school today and the heating was all sorted out. I’m feeling a bit busy just now as I only have two weeks left at Castlefield before I move on. Trying to catch up with lots of little jobs I haven’t completed is puffing me out!

At home I’m living in chaos – a new kitchen seemed like a good idea. However the building work prior to the kitchen going in has turned into an archaeological excavation…. First a big bed recess cupboard was dismantled, then a fireplace removed etc etc however the most fascinating bit was peeling back the layers of paper and paint to the original paint work from over a hundred years ago. Trends go in circles – it was chocollate brown and a sort of mushroomy, terracota colour with blank bits where it looked like ikea-esk chunky shelves had been. I could have wept however when I saw the size the original huge wooden fireplace had been – it must have been beautiful.

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Rich tasks, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Rich task start

The schools in our Duncanrig learning community have begun their rich task, this is linked to work ongoing related to Malawi and other parts of Africa. They are going to try blogging too which is a new step for many. So good luck to them all – I’ve read blogging starts from Southpark and  Castlefield – they’re on my blog roll at the side here.

I enjoyed hearing an update from Con Morris on CPD Find today and was interested to hear about a self reflection tool they are developing which will be available to staff in the future. But listening to Con and having been involved recently in school with the Glow pilot, looking at CfE roll out within our Learning Community etc, I had a flurry of butterflies in my stomach….Shift happens alright and at the moment things which have been talked about for some time are beginning to roll out.

I do worry however that it might be too easy to make some of the mistakes that we have made before. Are we all understanding CfE? For me its all about using appropriate methodologies and reflection and improvement of how we learn and teach. I’m worrying at the moment of all the talk I’m hearing  of “unpacking” outcomes and making “banks” of materials. I’d like to see teaching professionals with knowledge of “hows” at their fingertips (not more programmes of study please), who can decide what best method of learning and teaching suits their children’s needs and helps them deeply understand and move towards outcomes. Teachers who can access technologies to help with their own professional learning and that of their children. Maybe this will come and I’m just in a gloomy, worry hole at the moment.

January 18, 2008 Posted by | learning, Malawi, Rich tasks, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Rich task update

We held our Learning Community’s Malawi rich task meeting tonight.

The outline of the Malawi rich task has been completed. The teachers used the handy blank publisher template from Argyll and Bute to write this up. Tonight, we all looked at how to set up a wordpress blog so fingers crossed we’ll soon have some blogging networks going on amongst our pupils in the eight different primaries. At the next meeting we will all agree how we are going to do the first mindmap/brainstorm piece of work in January with all the classes and agree the pre assessment format for the children. So far we’ve got a lot done (that’s the royal we..). What I should say is that this group of teachers have got a lot done!

Everyone has gone off tonight with some shared good ideas – thinking about sharing the criteria for the task, using various ways of doing this, peer and self assessment ideas etc. We’re looking forward to seeing materials Mossneuk are bringing back the next time related to sharing writing learning intentions.

If anyone is working on this too then just get in touch – the more sharing the better, is my motto! Sharing and learning from each other is the best way to learn! We’ve got on much faster because of what Argyll and Bute have shared on their website. It’s certainly made our task much easier to plan.

Prior to this meeting I had been at the lead officer network in the afternoon where we were sharing with each other what we are all doing and discussing action research. I met a visitor from New Zealand’s Education ministry who is over doing some research here for a couple of months. It turned out she is the New Zealand visitor coming to see us in a week with our HMIe district inspector to complete our HMIe process. This is to do the moderation of the Local Authority report on our action plan.

We are also having 5 visitors from Norway’s education service a few days after that. We are inundated with visitors since we moved to our brand new building and you’d think by now that we would be accustomed to working in our new environment. But I have to say that I pinch myself everyday as I still can’t beleive we work in such a beautiful building! So I’d show it off to people every day given the chance as we’re all so proud of it!

Tomorrow we are celebrating St Andrew’s day with various activities in class. In the afternoon parents and carers are invited to “family time” where they can wander and discuss with the children the work they have been doing on Scots Language. The books we have used for these book studies are , Katy’s Coo, Katy Morag and the Birthday, Scots FairyTales, Planet Perjink, Planet Fankle, Hercules Bampots and Heroes and Kidnappit. Some of our after school Scots singing group performed with other schools at Cathkin High last week and they will be singing to our visitors.

And somewhere as if by magic, Christmas has suddenly come upon us. We’ve been getting all glittery and sparkly, singing the nativity songs, sticking things together, making crafts for our fair  – the usual things that make Christmas so Christmasy in our school. I admit though that the nativity scenery making was weighing heavily on me until I went to the local craft shop and discovered these fab 50 foot long polythene sheets with stars and nativity back drops on them! Fantastic and then as the best plan in a while we recycled last week’s Anderson shelter into a stable! A roll of brown corrugated card and recycled oil drums can go a long way in our school!

November 29, 2007 Posted by | learning, Malawi, Rich tasks, Scots | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New York Marathon

Our P7 teacher went on a LECT study visit to Malawi in the summer. This is leading on to a learning community rich task which we are developing over the next couple of months.

Caroline is off to New York to run the marathon soon to raise funds for her charity Mary’s Meals. You can donate to this good cause here. In one school Caroline visited in Blantyre she discovered that 2000 of the 6000 children attending were orphans – the majority due to the impact of aids. Mary’s meals had helped some of the parents to set up a kitchen in the school and these parents were providing daily mugs of porridge to the children. Some of this was taken home to provide for other children being looked after by these youngsters who attended school.

Its important for me that the notion of  service and vocation in education is taken on board by all staff. Caroline and many other teachers just get on with this way of being. They are a great inspiration to us all.

Someone else who is inspiring me at the moment is Don Ledingham who has set off a few little golden nuggets of thought in me recently. How much do I concentrate on growing leadership in the school I work in? How much do I concentrate on learning and teaching rather than, at times meaningless, management tasks? How often do we discuss authentic learning and teaching as opposed to where we are with a programme of study? I could go on, but enough to say I’m finding his blog increasingly inspirational.

Here’s a wee link to the report on our school’s official opening. We were really proud of Maisie who helped the Depute Leader of the council, Michael McCann unveil the plaque.

Justgiving - Online fundraising for everybody- Get started

October 14, 2007 Posted by | Rich tasks | , , , , , , | Leave a comment