Monthly Archives: January 2015

College Development Network⤴

from @ .........Experimental Blog

I am settling in to a new office and new role and this week between snow showers I had a moment to enjoy the view .  I am looking forward to our mission to reinvigorate support to the further education sector in Scotland and take our support services out to new customers too.

I've been interviewed a few times this month - I've set out my ideas here. 

It has been a great month to arrive - I have already been able to meet most College Principals and Regional Chairs and our other partner agencies

Labour (and the SNP) have missed the point on educational inequality⤴

from @ I've Been Thinking

Last month I wrote a blog post (an edited version of which has also been published by TESS) in response to the SQA’s pronouncement that their new appeals process had been a success. I disagreed with this assessment, arguing that the new system would in fact exacerbate the issue of educational inequality in Scotland. To my […]

During the Hackday⤴

from @ Mainland Adventures

Only a couple days left till the first hackday…………I am very excited to say the least. Had a couple of people asking what they need to bring.


I would say a Laptop and perhaps a headset is all you need on top of your subject knowledge, energy and professionalism.

The plan for the day is arrive from 9.30 am at Microsoft’s Edinburgh Office. We have arranged for some Bacon rolls as a welcome. I will do an introduction.

Then its up to those who are in the space. You decide what you want to do, how long you want to work on it. You decide it you develop a structure or start building specific parts or resources. Want to do something in particular just ask. We might not know an answer but we will all be keen to learn.


Sandwiches will be brought. Should we all stop or should we let people just snack and break when they have a natural break?

I do not expect anything to be finished on the day. This is a starting point, not a finish.

Last point is for the couple of people who want to help and will be online. I will set up Lync Meeting room that we can dip in and out of as well as a shared online work space.

If you haven’t signed up but interested in joining us, either now or in the future, then please get in touch. Sign up HackDay No.1 go to the online spreadsheet 

So looking forward to building the community

Blogging Bootcamp #GlowBlogs⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

Now we have moved Glow Blogs into the 21st century we are going have some fun.

The idea of the bootcamp is a place were folk can get help in starting or improving their class blogs.

The bootcamp will take you through creating a blog, adding features and a range of blogging activities. Classes will have the opportunity to link up with other glow blogs and the world wide blogging community.

Each week there will be ‘technical’ tips, blogging challenges and discussion points that can be carried out in your classroom and on your blog.

What you need: A Class, somewhere to blog (glow for example). No technical knowledge needed.

While most of the technical support will be aimed at glow users the bootcamp is open to any classroom.

Details of how to sign up are on the Blogging Bootcamp blog

S4 DGS Talk⤴


Hello everyone.
Mick Burns
Careers Adviser
Dunbar Grammar School

SLDR video
Leaver destinations

CMS Jig Saw

Make a note of the words you would use to describe yourself under each of the jig saw.

Career Management Skills explained

You need to register on MWOW here and remember to make a note of your user name and password. If you have time try and complete My Strengths.

S4 Planning Nov 2014

Pathways to the Professions.
Anyone interested in Architecture, Law, Medicine or Vet Medicine should register on this programme here

Using Discussion Trees⤴

from @

Last Friday I posted a #pedagoofriday comment about how pleased I was with my bottom set work on discussion trees. This is a simple method I use to help students consider the strengths and weaknesses of any statement. in RE the discussion of such statements counts for a significant number of marks and so is […]

What makes great teaching?⤴



I have always been very impressed by the Sutton Trust. They are an educational think-tank or “do-tank” as they call themselves, focused on closing the attainment gap through good research. They are well known to teachers in England where schools recieve additional funding in the form of a “pupil premium” which follows learners from areas of deprivation. (Dreadful term in my view). Schools want to spend this pupil premium money wisely, and therefore the Sutton Trust’s list of different intervention programmes in schools, graded by effectiveness in raising attainment and correlated against good research, is invaluable and consequently very fully used by schools there.

They have identified a real problem; good research exists about learning in schools, but making sense of it for our own settings and circumstances is like panning for gold. It shouldn’t be like this; bodies like the Sutton Trust realise this and they commission their own research and meta-research to help sift through the swirling sands to hand us the raw nuggets. This meta-research is particularly helpful, since individual studies are often not statistically significant, or they are located so narrowly in the setting of the study that we can’t generalise the findings. A meta-study takes a larger sample of lots of the studies, and pulls out statistically significant wider trends that we can be more sure of, and therefore act-on with more confidence. One recent example of this was Professor John Hattie’s meta-study (Visible Learning study) of the effectiveness of schooling interventions such as AfL and reducing class sizes. This has been hugely influential in Scottish policy making and practice since 2009 when it was published.

Well, all of this leads to me making a learning suggestion. The Sutton Trust have produced a really excellent meta-study in the form of “What makes great teaching?” by Coe, Aloisi, Higgins and Major. This work from October last year explores what works in learning and teaching, and what doesn’t. There are comforting messages in here for us, as much of what we do is endorsed, and of course, there are challenges for us too, as some of our frequently observed practices simply do not have a backing in meta-research. If we are serious about continuous improvement, then reports like this should be essential reading. Thankfully authoritative ones like this don’t come by all that often, so we don’t need to feel too overwhelmed. To be frank, school improvement must be underpinned by really strong shared understanding about what is most likely to work; all teachers and Quality Improvement Professionals working in schools should grab a nice hot drink and take an hour or so to enjoy this.

On a more playful note, I feel that someone should do a meta-study of “readability of useful reports”. Much useful academic research is strangled-at-birth because it is utterly unreadable and therefore lost. This one is “fairly readable” while the content is invaluable. When I get commissioned to produce the Boyle readability/usefulness scale, (please?), this will score highly but with a “mildly hard thinking but worth it” warning stamped on the cover!

Get it here for free: