Monthly Archives: May 2018

Postcard doodles⤴


It’s been a busy month, and inevitably I’ve not done everything I planned to. But one thing that I have done over the last couple of weeks is to start doing my daily doodles on postcards. Of course, because I sometimes find times to doodle at work and other times at home, I only have half my stack here. But here’s some of the ones I like from this month – now safely stashed away to send in the future.

Minister comments on 2016-17 widening access statistics⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Commenting on the publication of the Scottish Funding Council’s Report on Widening Access 2016-17, Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“These figures are a stark reminder of why this Government was right to take the action we did on widening access.

“They show that in the four years up to 2016-17 nothing had changed and, on their own, universities were not making improvement in increasing the percentage of students from the 20% most deprived areas.

“The Commission on Widening Access reported in March 2016, by which time the vast majority of students had already applied for the 2016-17 academic year. So these figures provide a baseline from which to judge how successfully the Commission’s recommendations will be implemented – at a national level but also at an individual institution level.

“More recent figures from UCAS show a 13% increase in the number of Scots from disadvantaged areas getting a place to study at a Scottish university in 2017-18. So we expect to see demonstrable progress next year and beyond.”


  • The Scottish Funding Council report on Widening Access 2016-17 can be viewed on the Scottish Funding Council website.
  • The data shows that, in 2016-17, 13.8% of full-time first degree entrants were from SIMD20. For all Higher Education entrants (including sub-degree and college), 17.7% are from SIMD 20.
  • The Commission on Widening Access target, accepted by the Scottish Government is, by 2030, students from the 20% most deprived backgrounds should represent 20% of entrants to higher education, with equality of access seen in both the college and university sector.
  • To drive forward progress to the 2030 goal the interim targets are:
    – 16% of full-time first degree entrants to Scottish universities from the 20% most deprived areas (SIMD20) by 2021;
    – 18% of full-time first degree entrants to Scottish universities from the 20% most deprived areas (SIMD20) by 2026;
    – By 2021, an individual institutional target for universities  of 10%.
  • The Commission’s final report was published in March 2016. The main UCAS deadline for the 2016-17 academic year was January 2016.
  • The UCAS 2017 End of Cycle report (published December/January) showed a 13% increase in the number of Scots from the most deprived communities getting places to study at a Scottish university in 2017 (4,565 in 2016 to 5,170 in 2017).

The post Minister comments on 2016-17 widening access statistics appeared first on Engage for Education.

Episode 7 – Unlocking Leadership Potential⤴

from @

In this episode of EduBlether, we interview @joycematthews_ about Unlocking Leadership Potential. We also have our usual features: in the news, we recommend and inspired by. Please check out and rate us on iTunes.

Listen on iTunes or via soundcloud.

Osiris Educational⤴

from @

Osiris Educational are a professional learning body offering some fantastic ‘cutting edge’ programmes. Check them out here:

Be More Pirate – The Pirate Code⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

How does this quote start? 
"If they sign... Give 'em Rope" ...Or "Give me Freedom or give me the rope"
...And who said it?
2009 RBS Memo ...or 1700 Pirate John Goldenwolf
In my previous post Be More Pirate - Making a Pirate, I highlighted areas where I've applied the ideas and questions from the Sam Conniffe Allende's (@SamConniff) book Be More Pirate (@BeMorePirate). That section of the book and post looked at: 

1) Rebels with a Cause 2) Rewrite your Rules 3) Reorganise Yourself 4) Redistribute Power and 5) Tell Tall Tales.

In this post I look at some suggestions and ideas based on the Godfather of Rebellion's suggestions for his 2.0 version of The Pirate Code... an upgrade for the modern era of the true Democratic Society of the 17th Century.

For those who are unaware of the democratic nature and inclusiveness of Pirates and have a different -gold digging, cut throat - view, I'll use a quote from popular culture and an outlaw from 300 years earlier than the Golden Age of Pirates to make the point (One that might appeal to #IndyRef2 and #GrowthCommission fans):

"I shall tell you of William Wallace. Historians from England will say I am a liar, but history is written by those who have hanged heroes"

Need a clue? My son played his son in the BBC's History of Scotland (#ProudDad... Couldn't resist! Lol).

Check those big blue eyes of Robert the Bruce's Son,
King David as he gets crowned the King of Scotland ;)
I've read "The Pirate Code" section of the book a few times and think it is extremely well thought out... both in terms of structure and content. Each of the 5 suggested articles includes the following layout:

1) The challenge, why this article and change is needed
2) A Suggested 2.0 Pirate Code Article
3) The Inspiration behind the proposed article
4) Some Warnings regarding things to watch out for and try to avoid

In this post I include the suggested Pirate Code Article from the book, before attempting to "manifesto jam" the articles.

I'll do this by including how, where and when Be More Pirate observations are accurate based on my experiences and/or highlighting books and links that support or complement the points made.

Anything in blue text is an extract from Be More Pirate.

Article 1 – Make Shit Up
All captains and crews profoundly expect, respect, celebrate and appreciate the art of strategically, structurally, intuitively and instantly making shit up. Not irresponsible imaginings, reckless reimaginings and certainly not false or fake news. We champion creative solution finding and positive problems solving based on available facts, the moment of opportunity and the power of practiced intuition. When indecision is not an option, when change is constant and nothing is normal, we’re proudly comfortable to rationally and rapidly develop, test and implement solutions on the spot. We learn from our mistakes, even if we don’t celebrate them, and use them to make making it up better.

In the "challenge" for this article Sam highlights that:

"We need to think on our feet, and for ourselves, to critically assess what's 'right' when things change and when to know when not to follow the crowd or tolerate lies"

If any Be More Pirate fans are looking for a fantastic example of this you may wanna check out this video 

I got Jane Jacobs book "The Life and Death of Great American Cities" as part of my preparation for an OU course on Human Geography in 1999... and WOW! What a brilliant mind!

In the interview above the interviewer says he can see why the political left, right and middle would love her ideas ...but also hate them too, to which she replies

"I don't get mixed up in political ideologies... They get in the way"

Fantastic response... and true! Jacobs talks sense about a variety of issues... She also didn't go to university, which she says allowed her to think for herself.

"We need to be able to look each other in the eye and admit that more often than not, we're making it up most of the time anyway, so we should collaborate and make it up better, together"

I was looking for an article that I read a while back advising that there is value in leaders saying 

"I don't know the answer" 

But couldn't find it. But google "leaders saying I don't know" and you'll see this has value.

It isn't as if it's not beyond blatantly obvious that

1) The politicians had no idea about much during the banking crisis... or with Brexit!
2) The Banks are unlikely to change their ways... Owned by the Govt but can't prevent branch closures?
3) The retail sector don't have a clue about how to save their high street stores or, in the case of Tesco Direct, make the successful transition from offline to online.
4) Jobs are, at the moment, being lost quicker than they are being created amongst some groups

The media tells us that the MPs said (So it may be true... it may not, even if it is either the media or MPs may deny it was said "Alternative Facts" and all that jazz... at any point) that Carrillion Directors were 

"Too busy stuffing their faces with gold" 

And that, just like Enron 10 years earlier, the accounting/consultancy firms and MPs missed what these gold diggers were doing... will these directors suffer most as a result of their actions? 

Or will it be the schools, hospitals and their students, patents and staff who suffer more? Obviously the tax payer will at some point, in some way... so the directors can continue with their midas touch of getting government money? After all it's not affected the banks with their bonuses or culture post 2008/9.

I Don't Know... But I Know a Man who Does
Some might excuse these businessmen because, as Sam highlights, they were working on the basis of

"This is the way things have always been done" 


"This worked a few years ago it should have worked now, don't blame me! blame someone else 

Blame MPs, the economy, their PA (And throw a bin at staff to demonstrate frustration), or just dumb luck

HOWEVER, in one of the business books that a lot of business people read, Think and Grow Rich, we have a prime example of the concept of "I don't know" working really, really well and being a sign of leadership, critical thinking and intelligence... by a leader from yester-year:

"During World War 1, a Chicago newspaper published editorials which called Ford 'an ignorant pacifist.' Ford brought a suit against the paper for libel. When the case came to court, the attorneys for the paper asked Ford a variety of general knowledge questions which were intended to prove that he was ignorant.

Ford was asked questions like "Who was Benedict Arnold?" and "How many soldiers did the British send over to America to put down the rebellion of 1776?"

Ford became tired of the line of questioning and said "If I should really want to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid people who can answer any question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me why I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I hire people around me who can supply any knowledge I require?"

That answer floored the lawyer. Every person in the room realised it was the answer not of an ignorant man, but a man of education. Any person is educated who knows where to get knowledge when needed, and how to organise that knowledge into definite plans of action" Henry Ford's experiences via Think and Grow Rich

In the warning section I would probably add an extremely important point here:

If you don't find that all important "First Follower" 
(No matter how sound, game changing or revolutionary)
Your idea, it will fail... it will end up being a rather lonely party for one

If you were a character in a Tom Hanks film it will be the difference between Hanks talking to Wilson Vs him being able to bring it all to life and keep the gang out of all kinds of trouble the way he does in Toy Story.

How do I know this? Well now... here's an article from 2012 (It was great fun to write this one!) 

I've felt that the ideas and methods were sound... and can prove it. It's all just been a little too "different" and/or a little too early. 

So, if you see a fellow Pirate... do yourself and them a favour! Be the change you want to see... Be that all important first follower!

While it includes education examples, this report was written with Pirates everywhere in mind... Hope it helps on your adventure (TY Again to all the authors for their kind permission to reference their work!)

Article 2 – Business Plans Are Dead
We challenge a century old static format as the best structure for the fluid future of our organizations, projects, dreams and schemes. We believe in motivating manifesto that makes clear our vision and we follow a concise but responsive road map with agile measures of accountability. We believe in collaborative ‘working’ and adaptive formats that are regularly used and reviewed in collaboration with not just the whole crew but even our customers, beneficiaries and stakeholders, to openly evaluate success, failure and future scenario planning. No captain will produce a ‘plan’ for only a narrow audience, or a moment in time, only for it to gather dust in an inbox ignored or unused by the crew.

In the Inspiration section of this article:
"Plan is more like a thread of conversation, evolving beneath a shared vision, that can be edited and improved upon as it evolves"


I detailed in my previous Be More Pirate Post how this worked with the FE Commercial Services idea in my Business Development Ideas for FE.

In 2015, when the Education Secretary asked me to pitch in 

I had Skype call with the Digital Citizenship Summit founders. 

Before agreeing to the call, I checked to see if this movement had their core values on their website... they did and, as someone who is 1) massively collaborative and 2) who's had ideas, but lacked a voice for the ideas to be heard, the core values of 

"All Voices Matter" and 
"We are highly Collaborative" 

Spoke to me. I agreed to help, we even used Pirate examples for this adventure:

If there is one thing that I've found on my travels it's this:

It's one thing to have core values on a website... Finding people who have 
Principles, Values and Ideals that you are willing to fight for 
...Is another thing entirely! 

That observation is not meant as a criticism... it's a culture and character thing. 

After all, culture and core values are underrated at the best of times... To then expect people to fight for them like this? Only going to happen with a very particular kind of group and teams!

"When I say fight, I mean actually fight. That doesn't have to be physical, it could be a fights with the system, it could be a professional conflict, a falling out with a friend or a row with a stranger. It could be a war of words, it could be a battle of wills or if could be lobbying, arguing, demonstrating or debating.
          But whatever it is, it's a real fight, one where you're putting your neck on the line, you could get hurt, you've got something to lose, it could cost you your job, end a relationship, damage your reputation, or worse"
Be More Pirate

This is absolutely the exception rather than the norm...It also just happens to be something that game changing organisations take seriously.

The game changing "Stage 5" companies that Tribal Leadership author, Dave Logan found, take core values very seriously... and how many game changing organisations
 are their out there?

Tribal Leadership
NB Check the similarity between these teams and NodeXL map maker
Marc Smith's community models - esp Stage 5 and Tight Clusters
The DigCitSummit movement has grown but I decided to move on to other things because the culture (And core values) had changed. 

That said, in February I did a quick "5 min favour" but (for whatever reason), there was no follow up to this support... But I had opened a communication channel up. 

What to do? Leave the correspondence unaddressed? Or do something not dissimilar to a "manifesto jam?" 

Be More Pirate fans... when it comes to manifesto jamming (Especially when things don't quite go to plan), the image below *Just Might* go on to become your best friend when in unchartered waters... or any time you find yourself ship wrecked, rudderless, marooned 
(Or worse) end up like poor old Stede Bennett.

A great thing about this list is that it's a 90 day strategy... the amount of time that Sam and his business partner, Michelle, gave Livity when they were starting out.

The point of bringing up DigCitSummitUK in 2015 or the DigCitSummitIRL ideas in this post is to show how things evolve... and to demonstrate just how messy and chaotic the process can be.

In my opinion, this is absolutely no different to what Jane Jacobs describes in the Life and Death of Great American Cities regarding how the chaos of the city actually creates order.

The order out of the chaos here? Sending an email in Feb to support the DigCitSummitIRL event in April, has evolved to become a conversation about organising an Edcamp and discussions about the rationale for an EdTech incubator... so no harm done and progress has been made.

The conversation with detractors done and dusted... now it's on to talk core values and ships articles with The Pirates ;).

Thiel's Law: 
"Beginnings are Special - A start up messed up at it's foundation cannot be fixed" Zero to One (And his "PayPal Mafia" have 7 Unicorn companies... Scotland has 2?!)

Anyone who looks at the body of work that I've been involved with (the many overlapping projects Sam discusses as being the future of work), will see that I look for the right culture...Then try to implement ideas that would nudge the needle forward... for as long as the cultural conditions are fun and getting s**t done.

There are also people and projects that I care deeply about... but they may not hear from me for a long time. These people are never far from my mind though. It's just that sometimes, you really, really need to know how long a woodpecker's tongue is... and hope it might all come together to be a work of art at some point (Or at the very least something that's a little more than a scribble!)

The One Key Trait that Einstein, da Vinci, and Steve Jobs Had in Common

"Workers caught between dissatisfied customers and uninspiring leaders and becoming disillusioned and disengaged"

Been there, done that... got the T-shirt. 

I gave someone who, when I worked with them, would describe them self as a friend and Mentor... but ask me how many times we've spoke since I finished up with them in the last few years after giving 10 years of my life. I watched helpless (As my warnings weren't heard/heeded) as an organisation I cared for slipped into decline. 

Today I totally agree with Peter Thiel

"Why work with a group of people who don't even like each other? Many seem to think it's a sacrifice necessary for making money... Free agents check in and out on a transnational basis, is worse than cold...If you can't count durable relationships among the fruits of your time at work, you haven't invested your time well" Peter Theil Zero to One

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! The tensions that feel need to be balanced today:

More predictable -> Less Predictable
Profit -> Purpose
Hierarchies -> Networks
Controlling -> Empowering
Planning -> Experimentation
Privacy -> Transparency

In the warning section Sam encourages

"Create as much collaboration as you can, with the team and ideally even with your target audience and other trusted stakeholders"

I'm not going to tell you... I'll show you. Pirates keep an eye out for (What I hope will be) a treasure map coming through via your inbox. Hope you like the introductions and suggestions ;)

"Losing touch with your crew, customers, culture and reality because you're falling into an existential crisis loop aka business planning"

In Adam Grant's book Originals he highlights how Lucy Stone and Elizabeth Candy Stanton were aligned on the mission of the Suffrage movement. 

However, the values and how to achieve the goals differed and caused disagreement and rifts... IMHO a very strong example of ensuring that everyone creates and then signs up to your code before setting sail.

Another conversation to have before setting sail might be

At what point do we sell out and conform?
At what point do we return to normal life?

This may be due to failure like the communes of the 1970s  - But as Jobs has been called a Hippie... and, as other commune residents became tech entrepreneurs:

Did the experiment really 'fail'? 

Burning Man looks pretty successful... 

What is Burning Man if not an evolution of the commune spirit?

Or will conforming be due to success? At what point to we say:

"We've got our treasure (Whether improved social condition or cold hard cash) Let's return to shore and be consultants for the Navy"

If the latter conversation isn't had and articulated with all stakeholders at the start, will the organisation look like a "sell out" if some key Pirates conform... thereby calling the rest of the organisation, who want to continue with the adventure, into question and lose credibility and/or support from volunteers who got behind the efforts?

I hope that the links below help demonstrate how I worked through my core values to help identify how I would deal with tricky situations with people/organisations. This has proved especially useful when dilemmas and difficult descions have to be made 

Dave Logan's (Tribal Leadership) Click Down Core Values exercise may also prove to be really useful

Start with Why
My why has been that

1) Education is broken. Where are the prior Education Secretaries today? A 4 year stint with an ego maniac ain't gonna fix much... let alone the problems with education

2) As Waiting for Superman and Geoffrey Canada's mum highlights "Superman isn't coming"

3) Scratch your own itch. My kids have been let down in their education in exactly the same way that I was

Look for the Bright Spots
Then ask yourself (And/or go on a Pirate scouting expedition), who is doing things well?

If there is no one in your industry doing things well, think of examples of innovators in other sectors and ask if/how you could apply the idea to your sector/work.

I have done this will all of the edu reports that I've worked on (Social Media in FE, Business Development in FE, Story Telling, Culture in Edu, EdTech Development)

For me the bright spots are KIPP Charter schools... Who just happen to have their own Pirate code in the form of a committment that  every one - students, parents and educators - sign up to.

Mike Fienberg's "Great Teaching and More of it" is a fantastic Pirate article for EdTech startups too!...Speaking of EdTech, the 'bright spot' for me here (what's the true potential of Technology in Edu) would be Sugra Mitra's "Hole in the Wall" project.

Article 3 – Make the Citizen Shift
It’s time to evolve the human race beyond the mindset of solely a ‘consumer’ and the dangerous, destructive and limited relationships it has created. We will perform a forced reset on the language of consumerism that in turn will help us to develop more interesting, involved, interactive, mutually respectful and naturally more beneficial, respectful and rewarding relationships between our organizations, our audiences and finite resources of our world. All pirates undertake to advance the evolution of the idea of ‘the citizen’ as the dominant defining thought of our audiences and communities, and of our future.

In the Challenge section Sam highlights how

"Branding ourselves as consumers is a clear sign we are no longer in charge, but instead are subservient to short term and self interested goals"

I don't think that this community being established in a place with the history of Silicon Valley was an accident - the Gold rush of the 49'ers, William Shcokley, Fred Terman - the technical and collaboration innovations these people helped establish... followed by social experiments like Gaskins commune and Whole Earth Catalog creators and The Well Founder Stewart Brand's ideas.

How many tech entrepreneurs today were the Hippies of yesterday? 

"It may sound unlikely, but there is in fact a strong connection between the utopian movements of the ’60s and the tech industry

...Brand was also an enthusiast for counter cultural design ideas as a way to build a new society. In an issue from 1971, he called for the creation of an “Outlaw Area,” a territory removed from civilization, where human community could be reinvented. “Any design fantasy is just loose talk until it happens,” he wrote, suggesting that the Outlaw Area would transform our understanding of what human beings were capable of, “bending reality off into unimaginable directions with no restrictions save the harsh ones of nature.” 

The consumate Tech Pirate Steve Jobs talks about the Whole Earth Catalog in his famous Stanford Commencement speech... To what extent could ideas from books like Be More Pirate (as well as New Power) re-examine Brand's ideas with a Pirate Code 2.0 upgrade?

The aims and people involved with The Well sure do have a familiar ring to the ideas of the Godfather of Rebellion and Be More Pirate's calls to action.

An undeniable comparison with this article and The Well is "Own your Words" and the Subject, Consumer, Citizen and Quickefire Concepts "New Citizen Project" image Sam shares in his book.

 New Citizenship Project founders, Jon Alexander and Irenie Ekkeshis, encourages their community to

"Think of people as citizens, and you must start by asking what the purpose of your organisation is"

I have some questions for Edu and EdTech people to consider regarding this point
  • How many educators help develop your product?
  • How many students help develop your product?
  • Do these stakeholders share in the business success?
    (More than a T-Shirt + some stickers + a "shout out" on Twitter)
  • Do founders Skype in to classes to discuss their story and work with educators and young users?
If you look close enough you'll see all of these questions feature in all aspects of my work.These are also areas that I hope any pre and post event ideas for the Edcamp idea I am exploring will assist with.

In the warning section Sam makes an important point that this is not anti-capitalism or an anti-globalization ideology or idea. It's a natural development of where things are at.

"The next stage in our development and deepening of our relationships between individuals, organisations and environment"

I hope that this report Developing Relationships & Delivering Value which, with kind permission from the authors, draws on the work of these awesome books highlight how and why this is the case, with solid examples from companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft.

Authors we have collaborated with on our research  

Article 4 – Take Happiness Seriously
We take happiness seriously, and give deep happiness the place and importance it deserves. We see happiness as a strategic driver for success, productivity and creative output, but also as a strategic objective in and of itself. We do not believe happiness is a nice-to-have, we believe it is a need-to-have. We make happiness a starting point, not just an end point; we use our intention to achieve happiness to inform the decisions we make, the environments we create and the projects we undertake. We endeavour to measure, manage and share the proof we accumulate that happiness is symbiotic with great work, great impact, great relationships and greater effectiveness. We do not conform to a one-size-fits all happiness, nor expect to be happy every day, but accept and respect the right to make happiness the goal.

One of the things that Community Managers look for and the definition of a true community is "Sense of Belonging," we all want to be valued and respected in our home and work lives.

I have found Tom Mandel's example with The Well pretty had to beat... Having such a strong sense of belonging that this is the place you choose to spend your last moments of your life, that's a pretty tough example to beat when it comes to finding a sense of belonging!!

When you're not getting paid to implement your ideas, the only two things to ask yourself are

1) Am I having fun? 
2) Am I getting s**t done?

If neither are present in the projects I'm involved with... I walk the plank... jump ship... leave... move on, and do so immediately!

In the testimonials page on my website includes references to "Oh The Places You'll Go" and "The Little Engine that Could"

I've worked on project where we've used Pirate articles to have fun while getting s**t done.

There is also a practical reason for this as I want to be able to tell stories after the project is finished in a way that a 3rd Grader could understand to tell the story of what we did, and how... and because it's just plain fun.
We demand to love work, we demand to learn as we work, we demand to be proud of what we do and demand to have the tools and support to give us every chance to do it well. We demand that our work make us and the people in our community better, not worse, we expect to be rewarded for our creativity, to establish friendships, fulfillment and knowledge and the financial compensation we are worth and expect this to cover our needs. We want life/work balance, not the other way round. We intend to live up to the promise of technology, efficiency and flexibility. We commit to understanding our own inner engineering for effectiveness and refuse to submit to conditions, clocks or cultures that don’t get the best out of us. We expect the people and organizations we work with to involve us in created the core values and that we then align them to a “Noble cause.” We will break the tyranny of emails, meetings, to do lists and any other anachronistic trappings of an old way of working, if they don’t work for us, and we won’t stop until we’re judged on our output, not input.

My watch broke... I don't miss it!
My Blackberry broke
(Yes... I said Blackberry. Yeah go on laugh it up... I'll just wait til you've finished pointing and laughing at the tech 
dinosaur. Finished Yet? No? I'm parient, I can wait. Can we continue now?)
Nope... I don't miss not having a mobile at all. 
(Reason: 1) I like real buttons, 2) Hate touch screens, 3) Don't have much money... so didn't get it replaced).

One way in which I would question/challenge this New Work Article is via the example given in Flow about the 90 year old woman who has been doing the same thing every day since she was 8 years old.

Has she worked for 82 years of her life? 
Or has she never worked a day in her life? Because it's a case of
If you do what you love and love what you do... is any of it work? Or is it all fun?

In the inspiration section Sam highlights the misery, more work less results situation that is their world of work. In the solutions section he advocates for is Results Only Working.

A model that I have been a big fan of is Marshall Goldsmiths (Author of "What got you here won't get you there...") where his pitch to coach executives for a 12 month period goes like this 

"Pay you what you think my time is worth at the end of the year" 
A live or die by your sword business model!

Sure you might not be able to coach every exec from Jerk to model/superstar employee... or you might get the odd low ball valuation for your time and efforts... but it certainly does demonstrate a confidence in your ROW ability to deliver results!

Results Only Working is somewhere that things could get a little bit interesting in this post too... It could help me validate my work while helping to develop some of the Be More Pirate ideas.

I have been working on a model where I've felt that (once everything is in place), I would be able to do in a few months what it would take a sales person using traditional calls and emails a year to do and, not just for one company but multiple organisations, at the same time.

Wouldn't it be fantastic if this model was achieved in a few weeks with Sam's "Godfather of Rebellion" Mission and Adventure?

 Article 6 – Embrace Diversity to Raise Your Game
We believe diversity of thought, background, experience and understanding is a driver of competitive advantage, creativity and productive cultures. We who desire to create projects, products, content and campaigns for the future, know the importance of reflecting the future we want to see, one of interconnected, collaborative, communicative, creatively colliding cultures. We commit to recruitment that opens doors to more than the usual suspects, we will go the extra mile to find the talent that might not have found us. We commit to accepting we all have prejudices, and then commit to challenging them, along with expanding our own filter bubbles and stretching our unconscious biases to breaking point.

OH! The irony of this final Pirate 2.0 article! What may well be one of my last edu posts has close links to my very first post (And is probably just as long and rambling... Lol! Must do better!)

I wrote my first ever blog post because of the lack of diversity in society. I also considered that the reason Private Edu did well was because of the culture as:

1) All parents valued edu enough to pay for it, and
2) It's a Pirate Code culture... The parents all want the best for their kids and they are part of a community where the "Old Boys" will help open doors for one another.

This happens the world over in the privileged classes... whether through the Fraternity's like Phi Kaps (Skulls) or the Alpha Epsilon Pi that Mark Zuckerberg was so desperate to get into, the Free Masons or the Family Background advantage that Lewis Termin found in his 1920's longitudinal study of highly gifted children.

What if... Those from the slums had this kind of support and network?
  • We've seen through Jane Jacobs that "Unslumming" is possible 
  • (You just need to give a shit instead of moving on)
  • We've seen how unconcious bias can be detrimental to all
  • We've seen what KIPP and Livity have done in deprived areas, and 
  • We've seen how excited people can get about politicians through #IndyRef, when there is a genuine sense of hope and change.
Sam's book highlights who was responsible for starting the clean up during the London Riots... and it's one of the closing comments in my first post. So here is the comment one more time.

This time in the hope that others will pick up on the work I hope that I've started, been involved with and/or attempted to have an impact on.

I've learnt a lot since that first blog post... I've met a lot of fantastic people... I hope the idea, story and knowledge transfer will be good enough to see others pick up on some of the ideas. I know down to my core the ideas have value. 

I left paid employment to try to make them work... Go ask how many 

"I'm in it to make a difference" 

MPs have or would do that? 

Educators make a difference every day and do work a ton of overtime and do lots outside of work...but they also can be critical of EdTech entrepreneurs (especially EdTech sales people)... an Pirate Code Article on diversity seems a good place to question the assumptions that can be made about sales, profits and commission etc in education. If this is what EdTech people were interested in, they'd be in an easier sector to reach and engage. 

As I say, educators make a difference every day, under challenging circumstances and cultures, but I wonder how many would leave the safety of paid employment to try to make a difference?

One final word: Stede Bennet Vs The Oracle... And Profile Persona
The last Pirate that we are introduced to in Sams book is to tell a cautionary tale of the dangers of being a wannabe pirate, simply because you're bored with your life and/or are having a mid-life crisis.

Equally, the authors of "New Power" will tell us that those using New Power (Even if it's to good effect) don't and won't always win against "Old Power." 

I have some advice about the observations that Sam Conniff Allende makes that I hope might help.Oracle's John Able provides some invaluable advice in these two posts

I only read these articles last summer, but love both. I think that

"Know the end before you start" 

Is extremely sound advice indeed!

When I started out the two the articles that spoke to me the most were Termin's 1920s study and the extent that the situation was unchanged in Theodore Dalrymle's "Life at the Bottom" and in particular the chapter on

Lost in the Ghetto

At the 2013 World Economic Forum the comment was 

"In times of uncertainty we need networkers as much as we need leaders" 

Given this comment, and my exploration of what major tech companies do differently Collaborate Vs Collaborate became something of a "How to" re achieving 'The Big Clean Up' to address the heart breaking examples Dalrymple provides in Life at the Bottom.

I'm delighted that someone who has just left an organisation where the young people who were involved with their work said "This is what school should be like," is now looking at leading a Pirate 2.0 rebellion... Perhaps they'll be able to pick up on some of this work. 

Finally, was Lost in the Ghetto enough to see me take some painful, difficult and unconventional decisions? No it was not! Not by a long shot! IMHO You need to have skin in the game.

Profile the Persona for the Beachhead Market
In Bill Aulet's *Must Read* Disciplined Entrepreneurship he advises that your startup or idea has a person in mind that represents your "Ideal Target Market" a persona to think of as you discuss and develop your ideas.

In my case this has been my own kids. They are not a part of a postcode lottery, they are not some "Every Child Matters," "BIS," "Big Society," "Curriculum for Excellence," "Empower Head Teachers" play thing of someone who's only going to be in the job for 4 years.

Nor will my kids be in school in 20 years time when the latest magic wand solution and restructure that's currently being strategiesed and planned will be realised!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

(Although the grand plan will never ever, ever be realised... because in no more than 4 years - less if there's a reshuffle - any good work will be scrapped by the new party and/or Education Minister looking to make their mark with a newer, bigger, better idea).

“The areas of deprivation in the UK have not shifted a great deal since Dickensian times, and any talk of a new approach of the kind I fervently believe would work has led us to nothing but lots of strategizing, meetings, papers, conferences, seminars, websites...and when the money runs out, there is nothing left to show, no tangible results and so, of course, the show moves on” Andrew Mawson (Now Lord Mawson) The Social Entrepreneur who "Unslummed" Bromely-in-Bow.

Nor do these politicians "eat their own dog food" because policy makers send their kids off to private schools... a clear admission of how much they believe in themselves and the services they provide??

I have acted locally and did what I could for my own kids (And we came close Edcamp - DYW & Tech Companies)... and hoped that any wins might help others.

I don't think I would have put up with all the crappier aspects of that result from "A Life Among the Pirates" if I didn't have this particular (And very personal) persona in mind... or the knowledge that no one was coming to save us (BOY! How right I was on that last point!)

When I finished Be More Pirate, I discussed the book and our journey with my 17 year old son, I said 

"I'm not sure I've been the best dad" 

Understandably, there was not the biggest protest on that particular observation...But, I hasten to add, we have found examples from the Great Depression so we can highlight that maybe these circumstances will work out to be a positive in the long run. 
When I asked 

"Do you think I'm a Pirate?"

I got an immediate and enthusiastic 


I may not have worked with some of the companies I set out to impress... or achieved some of the things I hoped to, but I'll take that kind of response any day of the week!

"The average man will bristle if you say his father was dishonest, but he will brag a little if he discovers that his great-grand-father was a Pirate" Bernard Williams...And the first quote you're met with when you open Be More Pirate.

A fitting end to the post ...and possibly to the end of an interesting journey too. 

It may be time to conform. I've done my best to fly the pirate flag... But it may be time to raise the white one (*sigh*), a cautionary tale for the Be More Pirate 2.0 Pirates, perhaps?

Some failed adventures, for sure... but also setting an example and giving 100% permission to my kids that they should stand up for what they believe in and never to stop til they find their place in the world... I sure as heck hope so!!

True Pirate!... And Pirate Culture!
Want an example of modern day Pirate treasure? 
Image result for True Pirate?" pirates of caribbean lego game

Fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean Lego collection? 
Or ever play Pirates of the Caribbean & collected enough gold and silver to be "True Pirate?" 

"You can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats it's dissenters" 

Go check out Brick by Brick to see that we have the way Lego treated it's dissenters and how you might just have Mads Nipper to thank for Lego still being here today

...Since the near disaster of 2001 Lego corrected the ship and made an epic return to Ol Kirk Christensons cover values!

Another *Must Read* book for aspiring pirates before they hoist up the Jolly Roger! It's an example that could help provide a following wind when you set sail.

Safe travels. 

RE: 💬 Three Ways to Keep Track of Students’ Blog Entries⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Three Ways to Keep Track of Students’ Blog Entries by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (
This is one of the big challenges with student blogging. When I used Edublogs in the classroom, I would moderate everything, therefore I would know what is being posted that way. However, I have been wondering lately about the idea of creating a formula in Google Sheets using IMPORTFEED where each n...

In Glow Blogs, we have the Glow Blogs Reader (Follow Blogs)

The Glow blogs reader allows you to ‘follow’ a number of Glow Blogs. In following blogs you will be able to see which of these blogs has been updated in your dashboard rather than have to visit each site to check for updates.

Useful because 1. it allows you to follow private blogs which an RSS Reader will not and 2. For teachers unfamiliar with RSS and readers it will be a lot simpler.

It doesn’t have the facility to mark off or record posts that you have commented on which is of interest to Aaron.


Be More Pirate – Making a Pirate⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

One the 18th May a book called "New Power" was recommended to me by Tim MacDonald (And he's one of the people who's advice I don't ignore!).

On the 19th May I went into Waterstones to ask if they had it... they didn't stock it (not even on their system, apparently). Pants! What to read then?

A pink book called Be More Pirate was on the shelf. My kinda book! I perused it and liked what I saw.

At the #RSAPirate talk the thought provoking and 100% accurate advice has seen The Godfather of Rebellion, Pirate Sam, tells us that he's had 50 people emailing him saying that they have handed their notice in after reading the book...WOW!

Simultaneously inspiring and whoa! regarding the responsibility of having such an impact!

I LOVE hanging out with the early adopters and innovators because they wring in the changes but, as a user... I'm a laggard. I hope this juxtaposition comes in handy regarding Be More Pirate and this development.

In "Crossing the Chasm" Geoffrey Moore user Mel Gibson's character to define the customer profiles of the early adopters and Danny Glover's character to demonstrate the pragmatists views. No idea if anyone is assisting with the paperwork and/or have identified a potential case study for this model... if not this post *Just Might* be of some use.

Turning Pirate and going through the process - Rebels with a Cause, Rewrite your Rules, Reorganise Yourself, Redistribute Power and Tell Tall Tales - Is something I've been doing for a few years and hope I might be able to help those who have come to the same conclusion as I have after reading Sam's awesome book.

This post and my next one will be one of those "Knowledge Transfer" articles and will detail examples of how and where I have followed the steps Sam recommends. Be More Pirate: The Pirate Code will follow.

My experiences are in line with the 5 steps in Be More Pirate (They are not necessarily in chronological order).

How Citizen Pirates Shop... It's a Participation Sport
On the 22nd I bought Be More Pirate a way that I hope the author might be proud of.

Me: Can you tell me where a book called Be More Pirate lives?
Assistant: Business in the Basement ("Precisely where our economy is at the moment," thinks I)
Me to my little 7 year old Pirate Spy Guy: Help me find Be More Pirate, it's a Pink book
Mission accomplished!
Assistant: You find it OK?
Me: Yep! And I'll buy it if you give me your best Pirate "Argh!"
Assistant (Enthusiastic and fun): Argh! ...complete with elbow action

Laughs all round ...and my son gets another example of how much more fun it is to be a pirate.

Wanna buy the book and break the customer-customer service unwritten rule of hand item over without saying anything (Ideally with both parties being on their phone) and leave ASAP without a word being said?

And/or the treat Waterstones like a library in that we are a little bit quieter in book shops than others?

Get the assistant to give you a Pirate Argh (Better yet get them to encourage the whole shop Argh'ing via the shop tannoy?)

Waterstone's staff... wanna go Pirate on your customers and get a raise? Put an announcement over the tannoy saying

"Customer announcement: Calling all pirates please come to XYZ floor/till. We have a customer about to buy the only copy of Be More Pirate"

Then auction it off the to highest bidder... Let's be Book Pirates!! Lol

Judging a Book by It's Cover
Never judge a book by it's cover, right?

Well I'm gonna judge this book by the cover after reading it, by doing something that I HATED at school...

What do you think the author was thinking when he used the onomatopoeia as an alliteration of a similie that was a conundrum wrapped up in a paradox when he had crunchy cornflakes instead of carefully chosen cheerios for breakfast on that cold, cold, wet day? 

Study Tip for Kids: Don't say that

"Maybe because it was on special offer at Asda,"


"Maybe that's all that was in the cupboard because the impact of the RBS Captain's Credit Crunch who #NRAM'ed the economy to bits with their #TooBigToFail old school buddies who cabled money through to them in 24 hours"

Pirate Pink?!  I'm all for womens rights and gender pay gap, love Anne Bonny and Mary Read to bits but Pink? Really? What is this Robert De Nero's character in Stardust-type piracy? ;)

Pink is most definitely is not the new Jolly Roger Pirate Black! Lol! ;) ...But kudos for going straight to paperback!)

So we have this cyberman vibe on the front cover.
A tip of acknowledgement and slight admiration to Anonymous?
And/or a glimpse into the future when people hold the book up to their face to act as a visual warning...if you're not careful you and your job is about to be replaced by AI?

Then to the back of the book... Manga style. Everything that you'd expect on the front is on the back.

"Be More Pirate"
"How to take on the World and Win"

In the right position, except on the reverse.

Penguin logo? Bottom right and sideways... as opposed to Top left and the right way up?

Barcode? Upside down.

Price? Sideways in the middle of the back cover.

Definitely the write kind of Pirate! ...And, again, that's judging the book by the cover AFTER reading it!

Wonder what my English Teacher would make of all that "What was the author thinking" stuff? Wonder what Edward Teach would make of it all? ;)

The book then goes into a history lesson in the Golden Age of Pirates and highlights how, where and why establishing a counter-culture may appear to be counter-intuitive...

But is actually the quickest and best way to affect the kind of change that people and organisations need in these days of uncertainty where leadership and new ideas are sorely lacking... but is desperately needed.

NB I am detailing these experiences in the hope of helping the people this book has spoken to, because they are right. Whether good, bad or indifferent experiences at the time... I am grateful for every single one of them! And to all the people who helped me learn them!

Be More Pirate Q)1 - What Really Holds You Back in Life?

I gave 10 years of my life to a startup where I excelled in every role held. This included expanding the number of education partners we had and established a whole new business unit: from conception to working with 50% of UK FE colleges (With 100% repeat business when I managed the project!)

The culture changed when the economy bombed and when David Cameron scrapped National Indicators and Every Child Matters (Which we'd aligned our work with) for the "Big Society" and slashed everyone's budget.

Panic and paralysis affected everyone... Politicians, educators and the organisation I worked at.

Poor decisions over the next 12 months led to a deterioration of the service and the company's income. The doors to the Glasgow office closed.

10 years of my life. A project I believed in but failed to live up to expectations because of the culture. I personally wrote over a million pounds from educators in sales for this business, the unit I created over 3 million as well as taking up hours of educators time... but had little to show for it all. Not ideal!

I vowed never to knowingly take educators time up with anything that I didn't see the value in - from a product AND culture perspective - Over the next few years I would discover that this would turn out to be not as easy as it first appeared (Optimism Bias... both a good and a bad thing)

A friend at the organisation above left and on 3 occasions tried to get me to work with them. After doing my due diligence I eventually agreed.

However, the resources in the day job were never provided so I created content in my own time in the evening. The scarcity led to innovation... and I was co-creating with potential users and customers.

Educators were saying that budgets were tight and they were asked to do more with less. I produced a report with 9 ideas based on what Silicon Valley startups were doing to thrive and shared with colleges.

After sending a single email I had 300 colleges asking for more information. After 3 weeks I had 10 colleges click "Commit to this project for £500" without making a single sales call or email after the initial idea.

All enquiries were inbound after the first email great results (All from exploring ideas out of hours).

Once again the culture wasn't right, but I didn't wait about 10 years to see if things might improve.

At an exit interview I asked what is there in this document (Provided before I started with the company) that I am not delivering on?

"Nothing" Came the reply... "We just didn't appreciate what would be involved"

The goals that I want to achieve in my world of work have remained unchanged for years now, and include:

1) To make a contribution to the organisations I collaborate with and the wider community
2) To develop personally and professionally
3) To push and challenge myself to be "Comfortable with Uncomfortable" situations
4) To make enough to pay the bills

These organisations were not giving me this, so I set out to acquire the skills to work with either major tech companies (Microsoft, Google, Apple etc) or a Silicon Valley startup both groups appear to;

i) Know how to create great products and
ii) Know the importance of core values and culture.

I did achieve one of these goals... and there were core values that spoke to me, but didn't appear to be much more than a cat poster.

Be More Pirate Q)2 - When Did you First Stand up to Power?
I always questioned the value of why were things done the way they were in work, sometimes I was listened to and ideas implemented, others my voice and ideas got drowned out.

When Borders Book Shop closed their Glasgow branch (What a fantastic shop!) Jim Collins "How the Mighty Fall" was reduced from £18 to £3... an author I admire and I felt this was a symbolic final purchase from a great shop.

As I read, I was shocked to recognise the 5 stages of decline at the company I worked. I highlighted this to my Managing Director and was met with more of stage 1: Hubris... "How dare you suggest my company is in trouble?"

12 months later, when announcing the closure of one of the offices, I presented the same email and argument from a year earlier. Managing Director said nothing on this occasion... but colleagues said:

1) You send this to the boss? You're braver than you look... you're braver than I am!
2) It's as if Jim Collins was sitting in the office watching all this unfold

As I've found tends to happen, ideas have a life cycle (Everyone talking about entrepreneurship for a while, then it's technology, then STEM, then gender). In 2012/13 every man and his dog in education was talking Entrepreneurship... Dragons Den and The Apprentice was on there were Peter Jones Academies, Espark, University Technical Colleges... and the epic fail that was Gazelle: A project to establish entrepreneurs that COST £5 million which, at it's height, had 27 colleges signing up .

I didn't stand up to this organisation, instead I shared ideas from the forthcoming Business Development Ideas in FE report that I was working on with one of the Gazelle Founders 6 months before it was founded.

The reply to the email? "Interesting I'll come back to you"

No "Interesting, we're working on an enterprise idea at the moment" and did this person come back to me? Not exactly... only when I was working on new projects and ideas did I ever get any kind of response.

When people got fed up with Enterprise every man and his dog moved onto technology and (Fanfare please) FELTAG... and the aim in 2014 is to have 50% of all FE course material online by 2017.

After trying to have sound ideas being heard (Again!) and failing (Again!) I sent an email telling the good and the great of Politics and Education Policy makers exactly what I thought of their plans.

I received the quickest and best reply that I ever have done from the pointless political classes.

If the politicians in question care to check the email that followed me standing up to them... they will find a document that pretty much has "Be More Pirate" written all over it.

What's more the ideas would have worked! But those education leads may not be in those positions any longer... so it's not their problem now, right? Kicked down the road for someone else to deal with... til the next reshuffle. 2017 comes and goes... but none of the results that were promised. The reason?

Because FELTAG "Evolved" and we're now living with the spirit of FELTAG... A bit like the Pirates of the Caribbean and Davy Jones. Lol... But all of Udacity's course material is online today.

The trick with "Being More Pirate" is the fact that the culture needs to be there. The code needs to be in place... you need to keep looking til you find and/or are able to create that culture.

In 2015 Chris Van Der Kuyl gave a keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival calling for educators to collaborate more.

I agreed with the comments and, given the startup/corporate, Gazelle and FELTAG experiences... I decided to simply get cracked on by myself this time.

When I started to share what I was doing, I was pleasantly surprised when the then Education Secretary asked me to pitch in.

Unfortunately, I was not entirely surprised when they found themselves unable to acknowledge the time or efforts of those I got involved with the education consultation... at their request.

They lacked the common decency to say "Thank You" and blocked me on Twitter, when I questioned the actions (*Sad Face*).

Oh well never mind, you'll see that I expected this and had legislated for it in my "Brand Voice" post.

A word of advice: If creating a group from scratch... It's an idea to try to collaborate with people that you have some kind of pre-history. Are they REALLY pirates? Or is it people opportunely looking to take advantage of the situation for the benefit of their own careers?

William Shockley did with his colleagues by taking credit for their work (This, and the "Traitorous Eight," played a huge role in establishing Silicon Valley's culture of collaboration).

Be More Pirate for Kids  Q)2.0 - When Did you First Stand up to Power?
Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone... and The No Homework Policy

For any young Pirates out there here's a conversation that Twitter founder had as detailed in "Things a Little Bird Told Me" in chapter 13:

"Matt was loading his backpack up with books. I was dumping all my books from my backpack into my locker, not to be seen again until the next day.

As I closed my locker and it was apparent to Matt that I had no books, not to mention a backpack, Matt asked me how I was going to do my homework.

"Oh" I said "I have a no homework policy"

Matt looked incredulous. He laughed nervously. "You're joking"

"Matt," I said, having a little fun with him. "This is America. We can do whatever we want. Freedom. I have a No Homework Policy and it's great.

I shut my locker with unusual emphasis and headed to lacrosse practice, unencumbered.

I wasn't against rules per se; I just liked to look at the big picture. Staying up until 4am wasn't realistic. Something had to give.

Standing Up Against the Status Quo - 1960 & 70s examples
I have drawn a lot of inspiration from looking at ideas from the past in particular Jane Jacobs work, the Great Depression and the early online communities like The Well.

In Kate Hefner's book she highlights that people involved with the commune experiments of the 1970s were returning to the world f work. Here's the founders of The Well discussing what there were looking to do with their experiment

"Capitalism wants each of us to live in our own little cubicle, consuming as much as possible... Let's see what happens if we become a disembodied tribe" Sound in any way #BeMorePirate?

What's the alternative? This?

"Why work with a group of people who don't even like each other? Many seem to think it's a sacrifice necessary for making money... Free agents check in and out on a transnational basis, is worse than cold.
If you can't count durable relationships among the fruits of your time at work, you haven't invested your time well" Peter Theil Zero to One

I want to count the kind of relationships as detailed by James Netwon in "Uncommon Friends" and the sense of belonging that Tom Mandel found at The Well as the fruits of my time at work.

At the end of the day I want to be able to sit round the table with a group of friends and as we reminice, be able to say "We did all right. We made a difference..." and, of course, laugh at all the epic fails, near misses, rookie mistakes... and the doughball-dumb-nugget-plain-and-simple-school-boy-errors

Be More Pirate  Q)3 - If you could break any rule, what would it be? And how would you remake it?
The issues from Waiting for Superman and make these experiences like this = Kipp Bay Area

"We promise we will do everything we can to get your baby to college"

Be More Pirate  Q)4 - Who Out There Would you Most Like to Take Down?
I wonder if this is the right wording to the question.

I hope that people with a 1st-4th Edition find this to be a collectors edition... much like

"The Revenge of the Jedi"
"Return of the Jedi"

I wonder if this should be changed to

"What social condition would you most like to change"

"Who out there" may well be appropriate for dictators and despots in really corrupt countries, but in the 1st World West when there is so much uncertainty the "Tech Enthusiasts," "Early Adopters," "Change Agents" might want to have empathy with the late majority and laggards.

In his 2011 Commencement speech Chris Sacca's step 1 is also to hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete and advocates for happiness, just like Pirate Sam does.

He also advises that we "Be Helpful," and then highlights the potential cost of ignoring this advice for anyone who'd rather opt to chase money at all cost. He provides the cautionary tale via the "stench" that follows of the people who caused the current economic problems and how it follows them around as colleagues avoid them and with members of their family... Hope the money was worth it!

They may not be suffering financially, or even as much as those who their decisions affected... but they are paying a price.

When my boss made people redundant because of his actions and leadership, was it an easy decision to make? Nope. Would he have agonised and suffered over making it? Possibly, I certainly hope so.

In addition to this, Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell highlights in "Finding the Next Steve Jobs" how difficult it is to change the culture after the first 12 people are hired... after that point others will fall into the social norms of the organisation.

IMHO The "rule breaking" and "making new rules" could be considered more like the "Tough Love" we need to give our kids from time to time when they break house rules.

"It's bad medicine... but I guess the patient needed it" Steve Jobs re: getting fired from his own company.

Tribal Leadership Stage 5 organisations like Amgen

"Our competitor is preventable disease... we're gonna kick cancers butt, and we'll work with anyone and everyone to achieve that"

Find the outliers and change agents in the org that you're not happy with and let others in the org join in at their own pace... as and when the results come in and when they are ready to party.

To get this started, give the reformers some free space to discuss their ideas (See A Different Operating Procedure)

Be More Pirate  Q)4.0 - What Principles, Values or Ideas are you Willing to Fight for?
Like this post... One of the quickest posts to write was the one below, it took me about 30 mins to dash off:

Others have asked me to help with this and the same exercise has taken them weeks. Three things that helped me with this included: 

i) Knowing how the political classes operate allowed me to assess what obstacles/scenarios to consider
ii) Knowing what I wanted to achieve... Knowing the end before I started (More on that in the next post)
iii) Avoiding Stede Bonnett syndrome. I work hard on my personal development and know the example I want to set for my own kids.

Be More Pirate  Q)5 - Who is the Scariest, Most Difficult, Controversial or Provocative Audience for your Story?
First, I read in 2013 that This will be the #1 Business Skill of the Next Few Years and have worked hard on this. 

The story below is a real highlight of my career and, in part, for the reasons that Sam highlights during his #RSAPirate presentation... is because projects overlapped and 4 people's stories were told on this mission (And it was a joy for my son to be included with his literary hero). Also because it was awesome fun too!!

Why I wasn't at School Today

I also agree with the Blackbeard example (And Sam's Waterstones & Penguin example) of finding ways to build legends, build myths, build a legacy... so people know you live by your code and values.

For various reasons, I may be wrapping up my 'work' in edu and am trying to salvage some value from my 'career' and am currently trying to pass things onto others, in the hope they'll pick up on it.

Since early Feb I've engaged in a scary group. What's made it scary? 

1) There are quite a few people. 
2) It's a group of people who are in senior positions and/or I admire and respect 
3) The ideas and topics (And stress levels) have changed... The email thread has been an evolving conversation and manifesto jam.

Another group I've engaged with the political classes... always a joy! 
I'll be writing to that other group that will be scary when this post (And part two Be More Pirate - The Pirate Code) is published: Colleagues I've learnt from...people in the field of Community Management who I admire and respect.

As a newbie #Cmgr who has not had much paid work, it's scary to put ideas out there and ask

"Do these ideas have value?" 

Will I embarrass myself by showing how much I have not listened and/or misinterpreted their advice? I have no idea! But in my head it looks like this

Be More Pirate + Community Roundtable State of Community + New Power + Ideas from the people who gave me permission to use in my EdTech report + EdTech50 = a potential case study for the Godfather of Rebellion (If the argument stands up to any manifesto jamming).

Whether this turns out to be the case or not, we'll find out in a blog post and email or twos time ;)

In the mean time, for those who have handed in their notice to @BeMorePirate... I hope at least some of the links and experiences in this post help.

Testing Times for Scotland⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

'These are not high stakes tests; there will be no 'pass or fail' and no additional workload for children or teachers.' John Swinney 25/11/16

I start this look at the introduction of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) with  statement above from John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, made when he announced the contract for our new standardised testing had been awarded to ACER International UK, Ltd. This organisation is a subsidiary of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), whom have been responsible for the development of the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) regime of high-stakes testing in the Australian system since 2008. I also believe they were one of a very short list of providers who tendered a bid for this contract.

I was drawn to this statement as I reflected on many of the responses I have received after I put out a request on Twitter asking for people to get in touch about their experiences with the new standardised tests as they are introduced across our schools. I sit on the board of Connect (formerly the Scottish Parents and Teachers Council) and the issue of the new tests had been raised at a recent board meeting. I said I would gather more information for Connect, so that we were able to offer advice to parents on the new testing regime, and hopefully allay some of their fears.

What quickly emerged was a very mixed picture in how the tests were being used across Scotland, but there was a commonality in the types of experiences children, teachers and schools were having, and it very much flew in the face of Mr Swinney's assurances given at the outset of their development.

'regarding SNSAs…Where do I start? I have had 3 children I have spent all year working with to build self-worth and self-belief, comment that they are ‘no good’, ‘useless’ and then cry. I have had one child who decided to guess most of the numeracy questions, and got them correct! (Lies, damned lies and statistics!) Most frustratingly, I am a class teacher administering the tests in class using 2 ipads and a desk top. Class of 27=81 tests. Huge impact on learning and teaching as you can imagine. With so many children suffering from low self-esteem and an increase in mental health issues, why is this happening? I truly despair.’

This was a response from a primary school class teacher, one of many who got in touch, expressing their concern with not only the impact on learners, the learning going on in their classrooms whilst testing was taking place, and the implications for their workload. I had a number of similar responses from teachers, school leaders and members of senior management teams.

 ‘ I took some of our P1s for their assessments today. We have 3 P1 teachers, who stayed with their classes, while 3 class teachers 2 learning support teachers and 3 PSAs spent all day doing the assessments 1-1, roughly 20-30 mins per child per literacy test, plus 15-20 mins for numeracy. Aside from the straight salary cost there, imagine the opportunity cost! The tests themselves are (obviously) far too narrow to give a decent picture of a child’s learning, but also seem generic rather than based on the taught P1 curriculum (despite the Scottish accent). The (now legendary) passage on hummingbirds is just ridiculous, I had one wee girl who was becoming so visibly crushed by it that I told her we would just leave it – I couldn’t let her suffer for something so unrealistic. Most of the children were exhausted by them, especially literacy, and certainly schools shouldn’t  have P1 children doing both in one sitting. I have 2 primary age daughters and if they were still in P1 I’d be withdrawing them from these. My opinion is that all the planned primary tests are at best unnecessary and possibly detrimental, but the P1 test seems to be actively harmful and a phenomenal drain on resources to no obvious benefit to the learners.’

This, from another class teacher, backed up what many colleagues were saying about the impacts for learners and teachers, as well as wider school, workloads. This was the first response that also started to query wider system issues of the new testing, such as the cost, the appropriateness of the content and the emotional impact on very young learners. One or two indicated that they felt most of their children weren't unduly stressed by the tests, they were able to present them in a fun way as a quiz or some other way, but they still queried some of the content, the usefulness of the outcomes and the disruption and impact being caused for teachers, children and schools.

 ‘Highlights of the P1 SNSA reading test included a passage on hummingbirds! Hummingbirds??? Vocabulary included hover and perch (and backwards). It also included a question asking what an alternative word for ‘beak’ was. So testing general knowledge then? It is impossible to do with a class of P1. SMT now doing individually, with all 70 plus P1s!!! Aaarghhh!!’

was a reflection of some of the frustrations felt by one headteacher. She went on to add,

‘seems to be the only game in town. I really question the validity of the ‘standardisation’ too. Even within my cluster we have some folks using iPads, some PCs, some testing all day, some only mornings, some individually and some whole class, some folk reading to their p1s instead of using the voice and doing the clicking because their mouse skills are not sophisticated enough. And don’t get me started on the IT and wifi capacity!!’

‘Who does my work while I collect meaningless data for HQ/Scot Govt?’

It would seem that many schools had resorted to senior management teams, Support for Learning teachers and other support staff, where there were any left, to carry out the testing, recognising the impossibility of teachers being able to deliver these tests, especially the P1 ones, whilst still teaching a class. The lack of equipment, and poor ICT systems were cited by many as a frustration and cause of more stress for teachers and young learners.
Another headteacher sent me the following,

‘The torture continues. P7 writing assessment (which in fact is assessing punctuation, grammar and spelling so therefore just the tools of writing) has questions where children asked to correct the spelling of a word. One of my enterprising P7s worked out that if you right click on the answer, the computer will tell you if its correct! Brilliant!’

This story caused a flurry of Tweets and incredulity on Twitter, and beyond, and also pointed to a concern raised by many, that these tests of literacy and 'numeracy' did neither. What they assess is some of the skills required to demonstrate literacy and numeracy, but they were no a test of either literacy or numeracy.

The sense of frustration felt by one Support for Learning teacher is palpable in her response.

‘ SNSA aaaaahhhhhh! As you can imagine this is an extra to what we are all doing. Local authority has decided to do them in May, which is probably a good time of year.
Getting them all logged on, finding the website (the long name) and saving it in favourites takes time in itself. Logging onto the website is laborious for P1 as adult needs to do it as they are so long. OK for most P4 and P7.
P1 pupils need good competent keyboard/generic skills to complete assessments (click and drag, do not double click, etc.) Our screens do not show the ‘Next’ key unless pupils scroll down to find it.
P1 pupils have a lot of pointer movements to make every time they go to the next screen (go to top left to read out instructions then read out questions and possible answers, now find the ‘next’ button etc.)
The guidance says give pupils the same support they would get in class – this is quite subjective. Do you give them the support they DO get or what you would like them to get if there were more staff?? As a teacher I am unsure what is being assessed in some areas. For example is the reading assessing comprehension or decoding?
Teachers cannot do sample assessments.
No text to speech option for P4 and P7 pupils – for pupils who are still developing skills in decoding (only parts of the P1 have speech option)
Font is very small on P4 and P7 assessments – we are all having to peer at the screen.
P1 reading requires them to read or hear about 4 sections of a story before they answer questions – lots of memory rather than find the answer in the text.
Lots of words and names used in P1 assessments that are not decodable using Alphabetic Codes taught in P1.
P1 pupils need lots of support to get through the practice and 2 assessments. We do not have time to do 1 to 1 support so independent working through them digitally may not give correct measure against benchmarks.
‘I was demented this morning. Getting P1s set up. Broken headphones, notebooks with no audio! Eventually got them all working independently and keeping them happy. No idea how they have done. What a palaver! Glad I am retiring early after next session.’

She raises more issues about the validity and content of the tests, all of which have supposedly been tested and piloted extensively before their introduction, and the technical issues that teachers and schools are having to deal with. Since the introduction of such on-line testing was first mooted many of these concerns had been raised by teachers and schools, but it would seem that not a lot of heed was taken of the concerns expressed.

Another class teacher pointed out yet another technical issue that surely could have been resolved before the tests went 'live.
‘One of the problems we faced is that the usernames include the child’s middle names, so some of our kids are taking a long time to log in. One pupil has 5 middle names, time was up and he was still trying to log in.' 
Whilst another articulated a question many were asking,
‘How much is this costing? I have no jotters or whiteboard-pens, general basics to do my job …Ah, priorities. Hang them out to dry!’

It is clear that many local authorities are asking/telling their schools to administer the tests towards the end of the school year, i.e. May/June, which is a very busy time in schools anyway and does not allow teachers to use them in a properly diagnostic way, but some have taken a different approach.

‘In our small cluster, we have analysed the SNSAs our P7 pupils sat in October. Teachers used the results diagnostically to aid planning, but we have looked at what the trends for cluster mean for secondary. Many of the results haven’t changed judgements about achievement of a level but some clear trends have emerged, which we will address for next session.’

However, this has allowed some to question the validity of the 'standardisation' claimed for the tests by the government and its supplier. What is clear is there are a range of approaches and experiences happening across Scotland, some of which bring into question the validity of outcomes produced by the testing software.

A DHT wrote,

‘Looked at P1 results with CT. Children are ranked Low, Medium or High. All exactly where CT put them at beginning of the week. A week of quality teaching time lost and stressed pupils and teachers … not to mention the cost of it all!’
which really does bring into question the added value to teachers' professional judgement from these assessments. If they are not telling teachers or schools anything they do not already know about learners, what then is their purpose, and at what cost? This was reflected in the latest comment I have received from a teacher.

‘Have just attended the phase B SNSA training. All about the data. We were told that the Scot Gvmt will not have access to the data. It belongs to the school and their LA. We were told again it is NOT high stakes, but there to inform the teachers. However she then kept telling us that HMIe will ask SMT what are they doing about areas flagged up as low. Kept referring to how it will show how PEF interventions are closing the gap and raising attainment. We pointed out that SNSA is done at P1, 4, 7 and S3 only. Unless you have data before and after a PEF intervention how can you possibly say what the impact is from SNSAs? The reports/graphs were so busy I defy anyone to have the time to fully interrogate them for each pupil as we were being shown. It also does not produce block graphs for year groups less than ten pupils, which means that many small schools cannot get them. We also said we do not see how they can be standardised assessments if LAs can do them at whatever time of year they choose.’

On the last point, it would also seem that schools are administering the tests in a myriad of ways, and with varying levels of support for learners. All this brings into question the validity of the 'results' across schools, local authorities and further afield. Observing from outside now, it would seem to me that the Government rhetoric around the tests 'not being high stakes' is being ignored by local authorities, who are making them, alongside the benchmarks, very much high-stakes and how they are judging schools. This is exactly the scenario that played out in Australia with NAPLAN tests, England with SATS, and other countries that have gone down similar routes. In all these countries, the early talk was of the tests supporting 'teacher professional judgement', but they soon mutated into high-stakes accountability measures. Scotland is heading the same way.

Some of the tweets I received from teachers included the following selection:
‘Accountability. Pure and simple. In no way will this benefit our learners.’
‘If we can’t clearly decide the nature of the question it shouldn’t be used – a reading passage should have all the answers. Anyway the whole set-up is simply ScotGovt data trawling not promoting best practice.’
‘The maths question about how many Tuesdays in a particular calendar month made my heart sink. Far too difficult and not reflective of Early level,’
‘This is for P1!! Its not reflective of early level literacy curriculum. The hummingbird passage is beyond the expected usual level by the end of P1. That question in particular totally relies on children’s own prior knowledge of birds, there were no contextual clues.’
‘AND it was in the norming study completed in march when I know that HTs specifically said that that particular passage was not appropriate for P1, when asked for feedback re the assessment.’
‘An all so a gorgeous and very bright P1 could say, ‘I am not good, am I’ after trying really hard to work out the words in the ‘hummingbird’ passage. Well done the system – a curious and excited learner demoralised!’
‘I have just had a flash back to the Counting Rhymes in an African Village paper from 5-14 test bank. Is the purpose of spending all this money to help teachers know how chn are progressing? That will be a great help because how would teachers ever know otherwise??? ‘
‘Can parents ask for their child not to do this?’
As things stand, I have hundreds of responses to this request for information about the tests, and whilst I recognise this is anything but a scientific examination of SNSAs, I do think there is enough already for the profession and parents to be concerned about. Regarding that last question in a Tweet, the tests are not compulsory or mandatory, the Government's own advice recognises this. However, some schools and local authorities are presenting them as 'mandatory' to parents. I would argue, that even were they designated as 'mandatory' parents would still have the right to withdraw their children. After all they are their children and if they think the impacts of such testing are harmful to their wellbeing, then they should withdraw them.

Just like the tests themselves, my request for thoughts around them provides us with a snapshot in time, and quite early in the timeframe of their introduction. However, I think there are indications of significant issues that need to be addressed by Scottish government, local authorities and schools. I have summarised these as follows;
Assessments aren’t really assessing literacy and numeracy, just bits of the skills required to be literate and numerate
Tests not assessing the taught curriculum in Scotland, especially at Early Level
They don’t reflect the principles and practice of CfE
Technical problems within the tests themselves
Workload for teachers and schools, and time being swallowed up in their administration
Lack of, or poor, hardware and infrastructures in schools to administer tests
Lack of ‘standardisation’ in how they are being applied, used and supported – a very mixed approach across the country
Stresses for children, especially p1s, and staff
When and how tests are being delivered is being heavily dictated by LAs
Are the tests actually telling the teachers anything they don’t already know, and at what cost?
Headteachers telling parents tests are mandatory, or not even informing parents they are taking place
The validity of the tests, how they will be interpreted, and how they will be used by schools, LAs and Gov

Does the categorising learners as 'Low' 'Medium' and 'High' promote setting, labelling and further disadvantage?
I think there are big questions for everyone in the Scottish system to ask and seek answers to. The cost of the introduction of the SNSAs is huge, running into millions of pounds, much of which are 'hidden' and are being absorbed by schools and local authorities. The big question is, is it worth it? The EIS said it would oppose the carrying out of tests if they began to skew the curriculum and put undue extra pressure on their members. I would suggest both of those are already beginning to happen. Teachers and school leaders need to be asking, as suggested by Mr Swinney himself, do you have more freedom to focus on learning teaching with the introduction of the tests? In 2017 he said 'When Scotland set out to reform our school curriculum, a critical question was how we break free of the top-down diktats that dominated Scottish school education.' He gave teachers and schools 'permission' to challenge anything that took them away from the core business of learning and teaching. Perhaps it is now time to make some of those challenges!
If you don't think it is worth it, just read this tweet again,
‘An all so a gorgeous and very bright P1 could say, ‘I am not good, am I’ after trying really hard to work out the words in the ‘hummingbird’ passage. Well done the system – a curious and excited learner demoralised!’
Is that really want for our very youngest learners? I hope not! Perhaps we are all being tested?

GDPR  – a change to data protection law⤴

from @ Engage for Education

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