Monthly Archives: January 2017

Using Social Media for Recruitment in Teaching & Education [A School Improvement Story #1]⤴

from @

Social Media Fishing

Scotland (and many other parts of the world) is currently facing a teacher recruitment crisis. The crisis is currently the most prominent in the state education sector.

There are lots of reasons for this including:

  • Significant pressure on local authority budgets (leading to staffing cuts);
  • Lack of incentives (such as relocation expenses, help with housing or the creation of a rural living allowance);
  • Poor succession planning from Government (not enough new teachers in the system to replace an aging work force);
  • Teachers being attracted to more appealing jobs in the private sector (including independent and international schools); and
  • Poor advertising.

Some schools who have struggled to fill posts have turned to more imaginative ways of advertising to recruit the best candidates to the jobs at their schools.

At Kingussie High we have had success in recent years using Social Media to attract an outstanding group of teachers from a diverse range of subjects to our small rural school. This article outlines some of the things that we have learnt along the way about using Social Media for recruitment.

Facebook Banner


Lesson One: Social Media doesn’t recruit staff on its own.

Over the years I have heard lots of people say they are going to create a ‘viral video campaign’ to recruit a member of staff to their school. Yet when you look at the total YouTube views they rarely reach double figures. The reason for this is that social media doesn’t recruit staff on its own.

The schools that have success in using social media for recruitment will be the schools that already use social media well. They will have active Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as a modern looking website. Over time they will have built up a large social following of both current and past pupils, staff, parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents and members of the local community. This ‘tribe’ of social brand ambassadors will be the main reason that your video gets 100s, 1000s or 1,000,000s of views rather than just a couple of dozen.

KHS online


Lesson Two: Your Social Media Campaign is only as good as where you directed people to on the web.

Importantly, where you direct people to is not necessarily the advert or the application form. Lets face it (particularly in the public sector) most adverts and application forms are boring and sterile. You need to direct people to a web page or a web page of links that really sells your school and very importantly, as a school leader, sells why people might want to work for you.

We use the simple holding page as the hub of our social media campaign. It links to supplementary information about each post, provides a nice statement about the school, links to some other fun content (to help people get a feel for the team they will be joining) and of course links to the more traditional job and person specification (hosted on - where all of the Scottish public sector teaching jobs are listed).


Lesson Three – if you want to increase your viral audience you need to push the boundaries just enough to not to get the sack.

Remember, on the web controversial is often king (that is why there are so many cat videos on YouTube).

I once advertised an English teachers post and on the web version of the supplementary information I purposely muddled up ‘their’, ‘there’ & ‘they’re’ and ‘to’, ‘two’ & ‘too’. The advert spread like wild fire with lots of people keen to point out how ‘grammatically incorrect’ it was and how ‘literacy standards’ must be very poor in the Highlands of Scotland. The people who understood the humour were also the ones who made it to the bottom of the advert and discovered the disclaimer!

Here is an example of some supplementary information that we sent out to accompany a Depute Head Post. The online chatter it generated called it everything from ‘refreshing’ to a ‘disgrace!’ We had tens of thousands of views and in the end 24 applicants (many of whom would have been worthy of the position).


Lesson Four – Pay for on-line advertising to promote & boost your posts.

We run our social media adverts thought Facebook. It costs me £150 - £250 to put a small advert in the local paper. I normally throw about £30 - £50 on any Facebook advert. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes I think the newspaper is worth it. This is particularly the case if I am trying to recruit someone locally for a support role (office, technician, etc.). But if I want to attract a teacher from outside the area then Facebook wins hands down every time for me.

It is really important not to forget the above lessons one, two and three though. The bigger your social reach the more reach you will get with your paid advert due to its magnifying effect. Also, don’t forget to make your landing page appealing – clicks are one thing but you want people to dig deeper and apply.

The great thing about Facebook advertising is that you can set a budget and also target where and when your advert will appear on other Facebook users profiles.

Recruitment Map

Facebooks Interests etc

It is pay ‘per click’ so you only actually pay when someone clicks on your advert and they link to your landing page. You can target on a number of levels such as male or female, by age range, by geographical location, by interest or by a little bit of everything.

Facebook Budget

Once you have ‘boosted’ your advert and set it in motion you can track the amount of social vs paid views.

DHT Facebook Advert


Lesson Five – Use your own social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to further promote your advert.

Basically, ask people to share within their networks. This will increase your social shares and add value to your paid advert.


Other Things

  • The time of the year that you advertise is really important. This is particularly important if relocation is going to be required.
  • First impressions count – what shows up in Google when you ‘Google your School’.

  KHS Google Search

Digital impressions are first impressions these days...

KHS on Google


About this post:

In 2017 I promised to write more on (which is also currently undergoing a digital overhaul in the background). I’ve committed to this new series of school improvement stories, which is really about the lessons I have learnt, mistakes I have made and things I want to share from my leadership of Kingussie High School. There will be twelve posts in total (published on the last day of each month during 2017).

January 2017 – Using Social Media for Recruitment.

February 2017 – Raising Attainment through Sport.

March 2017 – Partnership Working in the Senior Phase.

April 2017 – Constructing your Senior Phase Curriculum.

May 2017 – Using Technology to Improve learning (1).

June 2017 – Using Technology to Improve learning (2)

July 2017 – Understanding Deprivation to Improve Attainment.

August 2017 - Improving Positive Destinations.

September 2017 - Developing 3-18 Skills.

October 2017 - Making the most of your ‘local context’.

November 2017 - Developing Middle Leadership.

December 2017 - Improving progression in the BGE.

Drawing Cartoons⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

small-drawing-cartoonsHave you ever wanted to create cartoons like the professionals? This is your chance!
On Thursday 2nd February at 10.45am meet Jim Glen, who has spent many years bringing some much loved characters to life in the pages of the Beano. Have your clipboards ready so that you can draw along as Jim shows you how to create cartoons.

He’ll also offer top tips on making your stories and characters leap off the page and will answer any questions you have to help you become a top class cartoonist. The session will be suitable for P4-P7 pupils and will cover aspects of the Expressive Arts and Literacy and English curriculum.

If you unable to join us for the live event you can always catch up with the recording at another time – Glow TV’s Watch Again.

‘You know you are a Global Educator when you…’ [a book by @julielindsay] #intelvisionaries⤴

from @

Julie opening slide

I’ve known Julie Lindsay online (mainly through Twitter) for what seems like a very long time. I particularly remember some of her early work around the Flat Classroom Project that she co-founded with Vicki Davis (AKA: @coolcatteacher) back in 2006. We also share a joint early influencer in the form of David Warlick (@dwarlick) who was one of the first people to inspire me to think differently about how we use technology in schools back in 2005.

Julie is a passionate educator with a particular interest and specialisation in global education. This specialism is not surprising considering she is Australian but worked across Asia, Africa and the Middle East in a variety of international schools and universities. As well as working physically in these places Julie also has extensive experience of connecting and collaborating with hundreds of educators online.

The Global EducatorJulie was at ISTE 2016 to launch her new book, “The Global Educator”. I read the first few chapters of her book when she gave me a signed copy in Colorado last summer and I finished it off over the recent Christmas break (which now seems like a long time ago!).

Not a lot of new stuff for me personally but I can see what a useful guide this might be for someone just starting out.

Julie proposes six things that might help educators know if they were global educators or not. The six things aren't meant to be exhaustive and are really just really a guide or a self-evaluation tool.

Julie says, you know you are a Global Educator when you…

  • Connect and share - eg: has an understanding of ‘connectivism’ and networked learning, builds a personal learning network, establishes a strong global brand, contributes oneline globally daily as part of established workflow, etc.
  • ‘Flatten’ the learning - eg: learns about the world with the world, is able to sustain connections and collaborations. Understands that learning in a digital world means working with others at a distance and online, etc.
  • Encorage and model global citizenship - eg: fosters global competency through global context, has empathy learning with other cultures, adopts and encourages multiple perspectives, etc.
  • Collaborate anywhere, anytime - eg: collaborates with anyone, anywhere, anytime, in anyway possible, is adept at teacher sourcing, builds on-line global communities, etc.
  • Use online technology - eg: is able to use both synchronous and asynchronous online technologies to bring learners together, knows how to use the web to publish global experiences, is digitally fluent across devices and software, etc.
  • Design futuristic learning environments to connect with the world - eg: is able to design learning in order to develop students global competencies, in conversant with design thinking, understands the importance of collaboration as a global learning objective, etc.

In her book Julie builds on these six principles and goes into more depth about what they mean as well as providing some nice little real life examples. I personally found the list quite re-assuring but it certainly got me reflecting and thinking about how many of my staff would actually be able to tick of some (or all) of these things as regular practice.

Another part of Julie’s work that I liked was her thoughts on an Online Global Collaboration Taxonomy. Show in the picture below:

Global Collaboration Taxonomy

Overall, lots to think about and a guide that I am sure I will dip in and out of from time to time.

Apple Teacher widens its reach⤴

from @ The H-Blog

Last year, when the iPhone 7 was launched I think, I had been reading about the new Apple Teacher program and got quite excited about signing up – only to find out that I couldn’t because it was for the United States only. It did give a page to keep checking back on that they promised to update as the program became available in other countries or regions – and I had even been remembering to check! The last time I checked it was after we came back from the Christmas holidays, and I was still faced with the single line of availability: United States

Anyway, last Thursday, I got an email notifying me that the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) programme was open to applications again. Remembering the heft of the application last time, I thought I would have a quick glance to see what was involved this time. Imagine my surprise to find that being an exisiting Apple Teacher was a prerequisite to applying to be an ADE !


When I dug deeper into things, I found that the list of countries had been updated (on January 24th, just in time for BETT?) and now included Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom as well as the United States.

So obviously I had to go and have a look.

An early stumbling block you might face is to do with your Apple ID. The Apple Teacher site states pretty specifically that it’s your own personal Apple ID you’ve to sign up with, and not an ID provided by your establishment. That’s fine for people like me – who surf the wave of our copious IDs with ease – but for some other teachers it may prove a bit more challenging.

Once you are through the sign-up hoop, you will find yourself logged into the Apple Teacher Learning Centre. Pick your device of choice – esentially iOS or Mac – and there are a set of tutorials and quizzes for you to complete to become an Apple Teacher. I can’t speak for Mac, but the iOS ones were:

  • iPad
  • Pages for iPad
  • Keynote for iPad
  • Numbers for iPad
  • iMovie for iPad
  • Garageband for iPad
  • Productivity with iPad
  • Creativity with iPad

Having completed the quizzes for iOS, I can confirm that they are not pitched at “Expert” level, the main plank of evidence being that I managed to pass them all. I got a very nice, shiny email for my trouble:


Interestingly, passing quizzes opens up more quizzes and the interface itself is pretty user friendly – as you’d expect from Apple. I’m looking forward to seeing how the site and the program develop, that’s for sure.

If you’re interested, you can sign yourself up for Apple Teacher at:

Gender Stereotypes in the Media⤴

from @ Katie-Rebecca's ePortfolio

Waking on Friday morning I unexpectedly found my social media site exploded with claims that in America girls believe brilliance is a male trait. Naturally I was curious to find out more, and the more articles I read, I was horrified to find that the reality is that girls from as young as six truly […]

Meeting Prof. Mitch Resnick the father of Scratch (@mres) #IntelVisionaries⤴

from @

Mitch Introduction

I met Mitch Resnick as part of the 2016 Intel Education Visionaries meet-up in Denver, Colorado in June 2016.

I was reminded of our conversation and also the main points of his keynote presentation as I read an article on the plane back from #BETT2017. The article was written by Professor Resnick in the new 'hello world' and was a tribute to his late mentor Seymour Papert (more about Seymour later).

Anyway, Mitch is a personal education hero of mine and most importantly he also likes cycling (he has even cycled in Scotland!).

Now, if you have not heard about Mitch you should know that he is a LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research (how cool a title is that) and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab which explores how new technologies can engage people (particularly children) in creative learning experiences.

Professor Resnick's research group developed the "programmable brick" technology that inspired the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit. He co-founded the Computer Clubhouse project, a worldwide network of after-school centers where youth from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies. His team also developed Scratch, an online community where children program and share interactive stories, games, and animations.

Mitch’s achievements speak for themselves but the thing I want to stress here is the fact that he was a thoroughly nice guy. For all he has done there was no ego or arrogance. Just deep and unquestionable enthusiasm to make a difference. I loved chatting to him over Ice cream as we talked about the development of Scratch and other MIT projects. We even had a great chat about the Picocricket (which was just years ahead of its time in STEAM related maker activities).

Mitch gave the opening Keynote on the first morning of the 2016 Intel Education Visionaries  conference and he didn’t disappoint.

He started talking about some of the very early ‘maker’ projects he was involved in with young people such as the construction of gerbil traps, roller balde speedometers and diary security cameras. He emphasised the importance of these projects. Not because they were necessarily important you society or the economy but because they were so important (passionately important) to the young people who had designed and constructed them. He stressed that, “education needs to build on interests and by doing this develop deep ideas,”  that, “Making and coding a great way to share with others,” and that, “sharing is the best way to develop creative thinking”.

Next Mitch went on to explain the four Ps of Creative Learning Projects, Passion, Peers and Play.

Mitch and the four Ps

On Projects

Mitch quoted Dale Dougherty the founder of make Magazine who said, The Project is the basic unit of making’. I quite agree. Far too many ‘maker’ activities are about following a set of instructions to make product that may or may not solve a problem. Rather than students finding a problem and then deciding on who they will solve that problem through the trial and error of a project based approach.

A good example might be where students follow the turotial to make the sprite move rather than working out how to move them themsleves or better still allowing creativity to flow and allowing the learning to decide how they want the sprite to move or dance or spin around?


On Passion

When Mitch talked about passion he warned the audience of the dangers of badges rewards and points. Rightly he described this as extrinsic motivation which the research shows can make you more efficient (because you want to get a short term reward) but it won’t make you more creative.

This is further illustrated in Daniel Pink's work within his 2011 book Drive and in his TED Talk, “The Puzzle of Motivation”.

Referring back to Scratch Mitch suggested that the diversity of the projects in the Scratch community which include games, drawings, animations and videos demonstrate that many of the people within the Scratch community are indeed following their passions. The ability for people to be able to follow their passions in return is one of the things that makes the community a success.

One of the most well know Scratch users is Ipzy and she is a great example of someone who is following their passions.

On Peers

Peer based learning is still one of the most powerful ways for everyone to learn.

On of the reasons that Scratch is special is because it is a programming language and an online community. The two have always co-existed and shouldn’t be separated.


On Play

Everything Mitch said on Play resonated with me. I dropped the term Games Based Learning years ago, instead preferring the term ‘playful learning’.

Seymour Papert (one of Professor Resnick’s mentors and author of the book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas) uses the term ’hard fun’ and the challenge that Mitch set was ‘how do you create hard fun?’. He also encouraged us to explore tinkering suggesting that in his experience there wasn’t many things better to help you discover and create a playful spirit. One of my favorite books ‘The Art of Tinkering’ also got a mention.

The Art of Tinkering

In the Question and Answer Session that followed the presentation lots of good questions came up. Including the need to also teach knowledge and how you can then build on this knowledge through the use of projects and discovery. Tony Wagner supports this idea in his own research on transforming education and creating innovators.


Other links mentioned:

  • Brightworks School, San Francisco - A school that uses real tools, real materials, and real problems to encourage students’ love of learning and curiosity about the world.
  • ScratchED - the Creative Computing Curriculum Guide
  • Build in Progress - A website that lets you share what you build as you build it.

Ollie and Mitch


BTW - I'm slowly moving all my content over to a new server and a new version of (watch this space...).