Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Cathkin Community Nursery Update

Nice write up about the HMIE report on Cathkin Community nursery on bbc website

Brian McLaren writes about their eyepet project on the consolarium blog

May 28, 2010 Posted by | education, learning | , , | 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

New Year in Area

As always lots of interesting things already happening in the Rutherglen/Cambuslang Area. At the moment I’m involved in the preparation for two imminent HMIe inspections in the area. In the build up to an inspection the role of a QIO is to assist the establishment in their preparations. Mostly this includes help with things like the safeguarding proforma, assisting with anything related to writing up QI performance profiles self evaluation materials for the dialogue session, preparing evidence folders, making sure any support needed from other professionals is available etc. I’m finding that increasingly establishments are finding this is becoming more just part of their on going work here as they are all well advanced in developing their performance profile linked to the HGIOS Cat C QIs and showing the cycle between this top level self evaluation write up and their improvement plan. Hopefully as time goes on the 3 weeks prior to the visit will be less and less about pulling this stuff together with evidence as it will already be in place. One of the key things which I find is helping establishments is the great work done by the senior managers pupil support in the area and the specialist support teams in assisting with audits/paperwork related to aspects such as child protection and meeting learners needs. The systems and procedures in place are showing dividends in meeting needs effectively. The model in the area of having these managers working in co-location with quality personnel, support services, the Head of Area etc makes a huge difference to the speed of communication and support available as required.

The Holocaust memorial final preparation meeting took place today with the programme now fully in place. This willtake place in Trinity High with establishments from all the area learning communities involved. Its being overseen by the cultural co-ordinator in the area.

Final drafts of stage 1a early years early intervention materials are now in place and this is assisting in meeting needs appropriately for our youngest learners.

Good to see Brain McL from the consolarium getting in and about a couple of the schools soon (Loch and Calderwood) and further raising  the profile of games based learning.

Met with David Scott from University of West of Scotland yesterday to begin planning some community practice projects with Cathkin High and a local primary with some of his students. Its always great to work with David, he’s doing fantastic work down in Ayr with the students on the commercial music course. Previously he’d worked alongside a lot of pupils in my previous school doing recording work etc out of East Kilbride Arts Centre (soundscapes to e.g. WW2 poems, music for a drug awareness DVD, soundscapes to Italo Calvino fairytales, Scottish Indie song recording – our very own Langley CD!). To my delight I discovered yesterday that one of the classroom assistants (Alison Cassells) at this school, who was very talented, has gone on to take this degree and will be one of the students coming out on practice. Building capacity in action, thanks to David! She had been involved in lots of these projects in the school and is now further developing her expertise.

January 7, 2010 Posted by | Creativity, education | , , , , | Leave a comment

HMIe engagement

Another really positive HMIe follow through visit in our area yesterday. Delighted for the school, children and parents. I’m increasingly finding the HMIe’s direction of travel is impacting positively on those schools who engage. The key as always is self evaluation, and the move to being able to take feedback as a positive, which can impact on practice. Really when we get right down to it is that not what learning and teaching is all about – finding out where we are, finding ways to keep doing things well and to improve, talking about learning, being life long learners? The journey from an initial HMIe visit to a positive follow through can be long, hard and sometimes rocky but the feeling, when things start to improve and the focus on learning becomes embedded,  is empowering. So yesterday I managed to hold it together during the dialogue session but not too old to admit to a big greet in car later, just because I was so delighted for the school.

A really nice analogy was drawn by the inspector – during the follow up to an HMIe visit where HMie are returning- its a bit like running, sometimes you might have fallen behind the pack a wee bit and then you need to sprint to catch up, that sprint is hard going and a big ask, but once you’re there with the pack again, then its much easier to keep getting better. And once you’re in that position in a school talking about learning, focused on self evaluation and really meeting the needs of the children then you’re on a journey which makes a huge difference – Patrick Duignan summed it up – you’re a future’s teacher and you’re impacting on future children by the work you do now in ways you will never know.

November 27, 2009 Posted by | education | | Leave a comment

Its life long…

 One day last week I was in a nursery one minute talking about consulting with children and how they use mind maps and talking thinking floor books to do this, then in a secondary looking at self evaluation, then in a primary hearing about how they were using a grafitti wall to gather ideas from parents at parents nights using the ten dimensions, and then at Motherwell College’s awards system in the evening. And the one theme going through the whole day – its all about learning to learn, partnership, talking to each other and humaness. We know what we want to do, its just sometimes keeping that focus in amongst the minutiae of everday life thats the tricky bit… If 80% of what we do every day doesn’t really have an impact on real improvement how do we keep that focus? How do we keep our eye on what we really want to achieve? Maybe its all about that filtering thing….. So what have I learned this week? Maybe the most important bit about my job is attempting to help people filter out what’s important and what’s not. Now if I could find out the answer to that….

I was delighted this week  to read that initial teacher education in Scotland is to be reviewed. Its one of the best bits of news I’ve read in some time. I hope that they look to Finland when unpicking this agenda. Teachers are highly valued there, highly educated, with a high bar for intial entrance to teacher training. This review sounds like the inevitable next step in moving forward education in Scotland’s whole journey to excellence. And re JTE – the website has been updated and is looking much improved. But my plea is that there needs to be a sustained re-advertising of this to all teaching staff. Its still sitting too much at the edge of many establishments’ work…

November 21, 2009 Posted by | education | , , | Leave a comment

The best feeling!

The best thing about being a QIO is not much different to working in a school. Its that feeling you get when you see someone (whether a child a parent or member of staff) really developing their skills. A lot of my job is to do with supporting establishments – nurseries, primaries, secondary – in their whole improvement agenda. Part of this involves all the  ongoing work towards preparing for HMIe. As far as I’m concerned thats just part of the whole self evaluation, improvement agenda within an establishment.This should be work that is done all the time, not in the three weeks after the box appears… Over the past session I’ve seen some fantastic examples of how, fully engaging with HMIe, really leads to  sustainable improvement within establishments. The other day I had the delight of listening to the dialogue session at the end of a follow through report. The pleasure of seeing the pride of the establishment in the focused work they had undertaken, the increase in real concerted talk about learning, the teamwork that had blossomed was something special. So I’m taking a stance, I’ve seen too many positives come out of HMIe visits. Its maybe time some serious myth busting was done about HMIe. Like so many things we listen too much to the negatives about the process. I think part of that negative bit is the natural process of learning after a visit, but sometimes thats the only bit we listen to. Like principle 1 of CfE that time can be pretty challenging, it can make people feel low etc but just like that challenge and enjoyment bit, the challenge of planning, improving, developing can give a huge feeling of achievement once the real journey to improvement gets underway and the buzz of what I saw the other day was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at work.


November 12, 2009 Posted by | education | | 2 Comments


Enjoyed my jaunt to a wedding over the weekend just outside Budapest. My cousin Stuart was getting married to Henrietta who is from a small town near Visegrad. Glorious weather, hearty goulash and stuffed pancakes and lots of cake. Loved all the traditions during the wedding and reception with the master of ceremonies. Just wonderful.

Busy couple of days at work we held an HMIe preparation event yesterday where “talking heads” who have recently had HMIe visit their schools talked about their experiences. As with anything, its all about making connections and sharing with others. Everyone got a pack with bits and bobs which might be helpful.

This evening Cathkin Primary hosted a talk by Ollie Bray. He was ably intoduced by Jaye Richards and has promised to embed his slides on his website. One HT phoned me afterwards to say it was inspiring, and I’d have to agree.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Creativity, education, ICT | , , , | 1 Comment


The schools are now off on holiday, so it’ll be very quiet over the next few weeks in my office as much of the team are away. It’s me and the three support services staff who are now left . However the plus is the amount you can whizz through in preparation for the next session! Today’s list was a presentation for a  children’s services self evaluation workshop session, a vision and values CPD session on Inset Day1 with a school and a preparing for HMIe workshop for HTs at the start of the session. Got them all done and dusted plus finished off a Head’s professional development targets with her pm. So its been a great day, but it won’t take me long before I’ll wish the phone was ringing and I could be out and about in establishments. Luckily many of the early years establishments are 52 week places, so this time of year also gives me time to catch up more with them. The one thing I’m not doing yet is the establishment improvement plans which are already piling in for me to look through, this is a job which is a bit like when I had the forward plans set in at school, its ok when I start but at the moment its that thing you do when putting off studying – I’m making ticky checklists etc to avoid the graft of actually reading through and commenting on them. Heads and staff put such a lot of work into these that they deserve my spending quality time on them so I’m waiting till next week to start on them and getting bits and bobs out the way first.

June 29, 2009 Posted by | education | , , | 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