Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Lighting Up Learning

Jaye Richards from Cathkin High has now published her research project which looks at Glow and learning and teaching. It can be found here

Here is the GTC summary ”


Despite huge investment in school ICT over recent years, there have been relatively few, if any, reports of the substantial transformation of teaching and learning expected by governments as a result of this funding. GLOW, the Scottish School’s Digital Network is the latest of these costly initiatives.

This research study tracked four S3 classes working through the same modules as part of the standard grade Biology course. Results were tested using summative instruments of assessment comprising topic-specific questions from past standard grade Biology papers, and an end of year exam. One class, after two modules taught without it, studied one module using ICT timetabled for one of three lessons each week over one school term, with a mixture of independent and collaborative learning tasks reinforcing the learning objectives for that week, delivered using the GLOW virtual learning environment.

Results for this class with the same pupils and the same teacher showed a mean increase of 32.27% for the GLOW vs. non-GLOW modules. The attainment of this class on the non-GLOW modules was consistent and significantly below the best of the four classes. However, on the GLOW module, it was better by 14.69% than the mean of the other three classes. Further examination of the results showed that the weaker students benefited at least as much as their more able classmates.

The report discusses the challenges of embedding ICT into subject curricula and makes suggestions for a model of good practice. This use of ICT could facilitate a partial move away from a predominantly subject based focus in teaching to the more applied approach as advocated by a Curriculum for Excellence.”

Have a look at John Connells blog to read his comments on Jaye’s report He says it much better than I could!

Caroline Gibson who has taken up a secondment as a Glow mentor in SLC has just returned from a LECT visit in Malawi. Her blog is worth looking at to find out how this went

August 17, 2008 Posted by | glow, learning | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

St Andrew’s Day



Above are some of the backpacks the children sent off to Mary’s Meals, who will take them to Malawi. In total 73 full back packs were collected which was tremendous. This is all part of the build up work that has been going on for the cluster rich task related to Malawi.

Our nursery and P1 children have been working together in our new little enclosed garden area and here are some of our pictures of what they’ve been up to.They are in their new outdoor gear and you can see the wormery which was being built. They were doing lots of numeracy related sorting etc when doing the gardening.


Today was our St Andrew’s Day event – in the afternoon we opened the doors for family time.

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This is very worthwhile but a bit scary for all the staff as we have to let go control slightly and leave the parents and children to move around and talk to each other!







November 30, 2007 Posted by | Scots | , , , | 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

Formal Coaching, donkeys and owls

Here are some photos from trip to Motherwell Heritage Centre.

Here are some photos from our Malawi/Scotland day.

Yaaasss! I’ve passed my coaching assignment so I’m ready to start formal coaching with a colleague. I’ve to keep a diary and log of this for the completion of my coaching diploma. This approach fits very much with a notion of working together with staff to steward leadership growth in a school.

My trainer is very insightful and I have learned a great deal from him and from my current reading about coaching. For anyone just about to embark on this there’s a great wee pocket book which has everything in a concise form. 

Here’s an interesting metaphor we discussed. Thinking about political awareness and values/integrity maybe we can imagine people as some of the following animals –

  • foxes have high political awareness but no values or integrity, they’re a wee bit sneaky and tend to be teflon coated
  • Lambs have low political awareness but have high integrity and values – they tend to be nice people but a bit naive, but as time moves on eg after being heidie for a while their beliefs shift a bit as they become better leaders
  • Owls have a high level of integrity and well defined values (lambs often become owls) they are very politically aware. They are wise, they fight the good fight, but if pushed they kill if neccessary…
  • Donkeys – well…..

Metaphors and stories are very powerful when having conversations with anyone about change, shifting beliefs etc. That’s one reason why I found this a useful way of thinking about leadership.

I find myself increasingly using stories and I suppose myth making when working within school. This is a real building brick for moving a school forward- telling/talking about  the best of what has gone before and building a buzz around this helps create an era of hope for improvement tomorrow.

In addition I’m overcome with excitement having sat down long enough to use properly – sitting down for a while is a good idea!

October 28, 2007 Posted by | Coaching, leadership | , , , | Leave a comment

Learning about Africa and Scotland

We had a good day today. The P7 teacher used quizdom with all the classes – she’d put photos from her trip to Malawi schools, on as a presentation with related questions. The community policeman talked about how we treat new children to the school. We all heard talks from Street Kids charity and saw movies about the journey of a back pack which had things collected by children here. We saw where it went on its journey and who recieved it in Africa. We heard about how parents in Malawi work to provided daily lunches in school. Children played games about a refugee’s journey. We talked about food and homes, school and life in our two countries. For fun our active school co-ordinator held a mini highland games. We made models, art work and wrote to the children in our link school in Malawi so they know more about our children. We had family time in the afternoon when the children’s parents and relatives came in and worked with them in classes and chatted to them about what they had been up to.

We felt proud of the children and of what our staff do as a team by the end of the day!

October 25, 2007 Posted by | Malawi | | 1 Comment

Writing a haiku and active learning

The P6 class were having a ball today writing some haiku poetry. They’ve been using “Hercules heroes and bampots” as a book study, so used words and phrases from that to write these. Here are a couple of examples. I think they’re great.


Hercules strang man

Can banjo his opponents

Built like a hoose end


Hera hated Herc

She wanted tae malkie him…..

She wanted him deid!


Eurystheus – feart!

He gave people the dry boak.

A pure mammie’s boy.

At our stage meeting tonight we were talking about using our open areas differently for active learning sessions in the junior and senior department. The infants were explaining how they use big books and how they structure groupings etc. A teacher who is is fairly new to our school said she wasn’t used to the freedom of this kind of approach and was used to just following programmes of study. It’s not so much freedom as trusting teachers to be professionals and to be able to use their judgement! The best way to implement change as a Head is first of all to let go…. That’s a bit scary sometimes.

As a profession have we deskilled our teachers by focusing on programmes of study rather than outcomes?As HTs have we used hierarchical systems and sometimes fear to implement a way of teaching and learning which is now very difficult to move on from? We seem to have put in security blankets/assessment sheets/planners which have taken away a lot of creativity from the teaching process.

My continuous mantra this weather is not just asking why but also why not.

When I went into the nursery today they were making soup, in  P2 some children were working away on doing trick sums where the answers were negative numbers eg 7-9= because they wanted to find out about that and wanted to know how you got the answer! P6 were writing their haikus, P1 were doing “long” by making a huge connected circle of wee toys, using long strings etc, P3 were working on good listening with their new teacher who had a head band with fluffy antennae on as a sign that it was her turn to talk. So it goes on….These teachers know what to do and we need to work with them so they can get on with it without fear and keep asking them what other possibilities they see to be even more creative in their teaching.

Tomorrow we’re having a day dedicated to learning more about Malawi throughout the school. Various speakers, visitors and activities have been organised. I’m looking forwad to hearing about Mrs Gibson’s visit there. We have people from Mary’s Kitchen and a visitor from street kids. Children will be doing art work, trying some rhythms/music from Africa, having some related PE activities, learning about money in Malawi, having talks from our community policeman about how we treat new children to our school etc etc It should be a good day.

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Creativity | , , | 2 Comments

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

Soapboxes, Itchy Coo and a new baby….

Today the Headteacher from another school in the Learning Community held our first Primary 3 rich task meeting. The primary 3 teachers across the schools in our Learning Community will be developing this over the next couple of months, they were all keen to get started. Next week is our first meeting about theP6/7 rich task. We’re going to link this  in to Malawi and our link school there and are hoping that as this goes forward we can fundraise as a learning community for Mary’s Kitchens in Malawi. Apparently it cost £6000 to set up a kitchen which provides daily porridge cooked by the Mums. As a school we’d get nowhere near that total but as a learning community it might be feasible.

We’re hoping to get the children really going for it with blogs during this rich task so they can link in with each other whilst carrying out the work. Full of good ideas – we’ll see how it goes and I’ll write more about this when we get started.

A new baby arrived the other day in school…. Our Apodo for enterpise pod baby arrived so it’s snuggled in a corner in P6 until we get time to do some development work and investigation of it. The children have been poking it a bit and are excited to see what’s inside! Also snuggled in the same room is a soapbox which appeared from the Southbank Centre in London. It’s part of a big art project. Inside was a golden envelope which the children opened. They are to make a presentation/film/sculpture something which can answer the question in some way. And the question is…..what makes us human? Now that’s a rich task!!

In the meantime I’ve been stuck to my laptop this evening word processing materials for our new reading books in P2/3. Last session we started using decodeable readers in P1, so this is our next development into P2/3. It may be elderly but we’ve gone for ORT as a follow on, cos we just like it! The P3 teacher and myself have been typing fast as we’re starting these next week! So far this term the infants have been working on class Scots Language book studies with books from Itchy Coo, Katie's Coobut its now time to get the ORT moving. So we’re all a bit puggled! We set the attainment targets for P4 today, it was a long meeting with the class teacher, but worthwhile as we now know where we expect the children to get to by the end of the session.

And in the the middle of this we had other goodies going on – the Active Schools Co-ordinator was in working with the children and a team of art workers were working with P7. The children have been making these fab giant 3D models of areas of East Kilbride. They are on hilly bits of polystyrene about 15 cm deep and a metre across. I’m really impressed with them – they have little wooden houses, swing parks, roads etc

September 25, 2007 Posted by | Rich tasks | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rich Tasks and Wee Gardens

Our learning community are about to further develop rich tasks. One group are taking forward a P3 rich task and the group I’m working with are looking at a P6/7 one. One of the teachers involved in the P6/7 task has just returned from study leave to Malawi so it made sense to develop something which could use her expertise and develop links with her link school in Malawi. We were kind of swimming in the dark a bit with where to go first with this – we’ve got the funding in place for development work and for staff from the schools involved to spend time working together, but where to start?

So it was fantastic to discover at the Scottish Learning Festival that Argyll and Bute council have developed a suite of 24 rich tasks based on the Australian model, all linked in to ACfE. What a great starting point for anyone looking to develop work in this area.

I’m hoping to have a spending spree in the Garden Centre this weekend. I loved Don Ledingham’s idea of permission to learn cards for the adults in school and  our p1 teacher and nursery teacher are going for it with a bit of risk taking. They’ve joined up for play every Monday afternoon and are using numeracy as a backdrop theme for work in developing our garden. So I’ve been sent off with a shopping list – seed potatoes, compost wormery, bulbs, herbs, fruit trees – the school fund is going to take a whack! Wiggly wigglers have great wiggly resources for school gardening.

My latest amazon parcel came the other day with a few books I’ve been meaning to read. Everything is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger, Wikinomics Don Tapscott, The Starfish and The Spider Brafman and Beckstrom. Looking forward to sitting down and reading this September weekend. And when I’m not out and about or reading I’ve been loving this for jumping about and snacking on all sorts of stuff…

We’re waiting on freeby dance mats from RM after doing them a wee favour at their presentation at the Learning Festival and I’ve been reading with interest the consolarium blog on LTScotland. I don’t know how many parents come to see me and say my son/daughter never reads at home but when you ask about console use they’re reading a lot of complex stuff and learning all the time, but do we take this into account at school? I doubt it.

September 22, 2007 Posted by | Rich tasks | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment