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Showing posts from February, 2018

Evidence informed, or something else?

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a seminar at Edinburgh University's School of Education, Moray House. The title of the seminar was 'Reading the Evidence; Synthetic Phonics and Literacy Learning'. The title referred to one book edited by Margaret M Clark, and another 'Teaching Initial Literacy: Policies, evidence and ideology' again edited by Margaret. The first was produced in 2017 and the second is hot off the press, both being available from Amazon as either an ebook or paperback. Both are filled with contributions by leading academic researchers and writers on the subject of literacy acquisition and the use of evidence to inform this.

The main contributors to the seminar, beside Margaret herself, were Professor Sue Ellis of Strathclyde University, Professor Terry Wrigley Visiting Professor at Northumbria University and Professor Greg Brooks from Sheffield University. Given that Margaret herself is a Visiting Professor at Newman University and Emeritus…

When a collaborative is not collaborating

In a recent paper, 'Seven reasons why Scottish education is under-performing', Walter Humes an honorary professor at Stirling University, identified key reasons why he thought the education system in Scotland was facing a period of uncertainty and challenge to its identity and effectiveness. The reasons he identified were quite damming and seemed to cause quite a bit of angst amongst many in the system, some of whom were quick to attack Humes' disparaging of the system, and the reasons he identified for this. The seven factors he thought were contributing to the struggles of the system were; Failure to learn from the past, Poor political leadership, A complacent and self-regarding policy community, Lack of up- to-date independent data, defensive and protectionist professional attitudes, Boastful and sentimental language, and A deep vein of anti-intellectualism.

There is no wonder hackles were raised following the publication and explanation of his list of failings. Some ru…

Bursting bubbles!

When I first stepped away from my busy life of work as headteacher of two primary schools, I started to notice different things I was either unaware of, or perhaps had just lost sight of, whilst so much of my focus was consumed by my leadership role. Joni Mitchell sung 'you don't know what you have got till its gone' in her song 'Big Yellow Taxi' and I was experiencing something similar, now  that I was released from the busyness of my professional role. Only, for me, it was more a case of me finding out 'what I didn't know was there, till I had the time to notice.' Would have made for a slightly different song, but the sentiments were similar. Whilst Joni pointed out in her song the sort of things we all take for granted, and don't realise we have them till they disappear, I was discovering a whole new world of existence that had little to do with work or schools. It was only now that I had the time and space to notice them. I hadn't lost anyth…

Who is controlling your time?

Both as a school leader and as a teacher, time is precious. Teaching and leadership can become all consuming passions that devour time relentlessly, professional and personal, if you let it. It doesn't have to be that way, neither should we expect or accept this as 'just part of the job.' Being continually busy, feeling that there are not enough hours in the day to do all that needs doing, is neither desirable or sustainable. I am tired of reading and hearing of teachers and school leaders lamenting undeliverable workload expectations as well as the costs to them, their schools and their families.

I am sure it has not escaped anyone's notice, but we have a staffing crisis in education and our schools. This is manifesting itself in a number of ways. Firstly we cannot attract enough high quality candidates into our profession or universities. Secondly, when we do attract people, we then struggle to retain them. The fall-out rates for recently qualified teachers in their …