Monthly Archives: March 2014

Where do observations go from here? by @TeacherToolkit⤴


The plans to abandon grading observations; teachers or teaching – however you define it – is an opportunity for all schools to raise the profile of peer-to-peer coaching and finally eradicate the stigmata of pigeon-holing teachers! This is an article I have written for IRIS Connect, a tool to empower teachers to reflect, analyse and … Continue reading

Upper Clyde Shipyards: Scottish Industrial Heritage and Maritime Identity⤴

from @ Open World

govan_1_smallA couple of weeks ago the fabulous Port Towns and Urban Cultures folk posted an article I wrote on the history of the Upper Clyde Shipyards and the Scottish media’s reaction to announcements of the threatened closure of the Govan yard at the end of last year.  If you’re interested, you can read the post here:

Upper Clyde Shipyards: Scottish Industrial Heritage and Maritime Identity

And while you’e over there, I can highly recommend having a browse around the Port Towns and Urban Cultures site as they post a wide range of fascinating articles. One of my recent favourites is Daniel Swan’s “It’s because we’re just women.” Listening to women in port town industries

The Well⤴

from @ blethers

©Sieger Köder
It is a well, God, a pool
so dark as to show me only
myself. It draws me to look 
compels my absorption
demands my irretrievable commitment
to its depths. And there
within that dark mystery
I am at once lost and no longer
alone. Can there be returning
to the brightness of a sunlit
morning? I think not. Will it feel
like loss? Or will the fearful leap
reward me with the companionship for ever
of the love that in the shining air
I wear like a wound?
The ripples spread on the darkness that
enfolds my falling soul.

©C.M.M., Iona, March ’14        

A second product of meditation on retreat on Iona. A response to an intriguing postcard as well as an even more intriguing - and to some disturbing - video.

Education Secretary Michael Russell – Celebrating language learning⤴


Michael Russell 178 x 200This week I had the pleasure of meeting pupils and staff at Newton Central School in Auckland.  Within the school there is the Te Whānau Rumaki O Te Uru Karaka specialist Māori immersion education unit which teaches all pupils Māori, in a similar system to our own Gaelic medium education units and schools.

I am keen to hear about the school’s experience since the immersion unit was established in 1997 and how that compares to our successes in Scotland.

Our approach in Scotland has been to engage children from the time they start in school and educate them bilingually through their school journey. This has been the cornerstone of our dedicated efforts to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers across the whole country.

The latest census information has shown that this has given us our greatest step in halting the decline in the number of speakers, with increases across all age group categories up to the age of 20.

We have seen pupil attainment rise through bilingual education which is something that I think will be of huge interest to Newton Central School.

Pupils from the school come from a wide variety of nationalities, all bound together through respect for their differences and how that diversity is an asset to the school and society.

I think that teaching children to recognise the importance, beauty and uniqueness of a culture by sharing and understanding it is a very positive message we can all learn from.

Another way that we have been successful in sharing Gaelic language and culture to a wider audience is through BBC Alba.

Working in the Western Isles, running Cinema Sgire – a community TV and film project – I started the Celtic Media Festival on the Island of South Uist in 1980.

Now an annual affair, early next month 2014’s festival takes place in St Ives in Cornwall. It is a three-day celebration of broadcasting, animation and film talent from minority broadcasters from Scotland, the Isle of Man, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.

It originally launched in the Western Isles in 1980 and it will return to Scotland to mark its 35th year in 2015.

The festival was last held in Scotland in 2011 when it was once again held in the Western Isles and I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet with representatives from the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network.

It is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the achievements of broadcast media and art organisations using minority languages and how they have showcased some of the most intriguing and distinctive aspects of the cultures taking part.

A look at the entries over the past 33 years shows how our shared experiences have benefited everyone taking part and encouraged each of us to set even more ambitious goals for programming and audience.

It will be a real pleasure to welcome the festival back to Scotland in 2015 and I hope that, once again, Maori broadcasters – including Maori TV – will join us to recognise incredible achievements from all those taking part.

For more information on the Celtic Media Festival visit

For more information about Newton Central School visit


Michael Russell

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

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Toyota’s Indian Industrial Action⤴

from @ Mr McGowan's Learning Blog

Two of Toyota’s Indian plants are in disarray after workers have refused to go back in to work after a lockout. The employees are wanting improved conditions and a pay increase – but Toyota are holding firm.


The Japanese car manufacturer locked the workers out on March 16th but now are letting back in over 4,000 workers – but they are now refusing to go back in.


Life in Links 2014-03-27⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display » John's World Wide Wall Display

Pin Cushion by incurable_hippie
Attribution-NonCommercial License

A choice few from Pinboard: bookmarks for johnjohnston

BeXcellent, the experience⤴


rsz_image-3_1In November 2013 Children in Scotland with support from the Scottish Government began the task of updating the BeXcellent website – a site designed by and for young people with the sole purpose of informing, engaging and empowering children and young people about Curriculum for Excellence.

With the old website stripped back completely and a new team of dedicated young people on board the website is ready to be re-launched. Ellen, one of our BeXcellent board members tells us about her experiences of BeXcellent and embracing Curriculum for Excellence in and out of school.

 BeXcellent: before October I’d been guilty. I’d never heard of it. This dusted and dated website had been begging for a makeover.  The Scottish Government knew this too.  They realised the only way to create a website young people would enjoy would be to have young people make it themselves.

 Children in Scotland worked with the Scottish Government to take on this task.

Applications were sent out all over Scotland. They searched for 5-18 year olds with an interest in design, writing, photography and IT being just some of the key areas.

Being a 16 year old with a passion for writing and designing, it immediately grabbed my attention. I sent away my application, trying not to get my hopes up too much. You can imagine the surprise when I received a reply saying not only had I been accepted, but I had also been offered a position as a board member.

 Not long after, I found myself on my way to Edinburgh for my first meeting. The board of 8 was very mixed. The youngest member being just 9. The eldest being 17.

 The amount of ideas that poured out was astounding. Walls were littered with post-it notes from the brainstorming session. Games, blogs, log-ins, debates, articles, photos. Everything we thought it might possibly need. But now came the hard part – understanding what BeXcellent was all about.

It’s the only site covering the Curriculum for Excellence that is aimed at young people. Even adults get nervous when they hear the words ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ in case you ask them to tell you what it means. Curriculum for Excellence is basically a different way of saying ‘Skills for being awesome’. It’s all about being a successful learner, effective contributor, a confident individual and a responsible citizen. Not exactly rocket science. It hasn’t actually changed what we’re taught. Simply, how we’re taught it.

The BeXcellent team was put together to redesign the website. To actually become eye catching for the target audience. The first meeting paled in comparison to the first action day, with the entire team of around 17 active young people.

Children in Scotland used their network of connections to reel in a group of experts to help us with every aspect of the website.  We gained skills that we wouldn’t have the chance to learn in any other circumstance. WordPress? Never heard of that in school. Game design? Not a clue. And don’t even bother asking me about the technical side of how to upload things onto a site. But with BeXcellent it was so easy.

When asked what the team enjoyed the most about the project there was a varied response. Darren, aged 15 said “I have really enjoyed transferring sketches that people have done onto the computer software.” When asked ‘What have you got out of being on the BeXcellent team’ Robyn, aged 9, said “I can be a camera girl.” Niamh, aged 16 also said “I have enjoyed being independent by coming into Edinburgh and working with new people.”

The staff at Children in Scotland didn’t try to take over. The team of mentors were very helpful and relaxed. It was very much the team that laid down the foundations. Young people from all over Scotland, all cooperating on the task. People had the chance to not only work and think individually – They also built up their teamwork skills.

We were trusted with a budget of £10,000. A bit more than the average pocket money. Already on our way to becoming responsible citizens.

 Everyone was drawn to one particular area that appealed the most to them. For me it happened to be the more creative side. Writing content and designing. But more than that, it was the overall experience of it. Meeting a variety of new people. Being out of your comfort zone, you had to build up your confidence.

BeXcellent has had a complete makeover. Even in just five months, it’s come on leaps and bounds. It is almost unrecognisable. The experience of being on the team has taught me skills that I’ll be able to use throughout the rest of my life.  Come see the website here.

Ellen Gale


Moffat Academy

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