Monthly Archives: October 2018

Sporting models to support coaching and leadership⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

In his book 'Bounce' (2010), Mathew Syed writes about many things pertinent to education and teachers. At the start of his book, he reflects on the factors that enabled him to become the number one table-tennis player in the UK. He identifies what he considers the four key factors in his rise to the top. These were: having a table to practise on; having an older brother who was just as enthusiastic and willing to play and practise with; having access to an enthusiastic, highly skilled and knowledgeable coach; having access to a club, which was always open, to play against others and support coaching. Syed notes how his small town, and in particular one street and its immediate surrounds, were producing more outstanding table-tennis players then the rest of the UK put together! His argument is that this was more a product of those unique circumstances, that identified and nurtured table-tennis talent, rather than any innate abilities to be found in youngsters in his local area.

I agree entirely with him on this, and have witnessed the same outcomes in various sports I have been involved with during my life.

When I was younger I played football for Wallsend Boys Club, not long after its establishment in the 1960s. Wallsend is a small town on the banks of the Tyne, not far from Newcastle. This club was to become a mecca for boys and coaches from the North Tyneside area, and beyond. Slowly and surely, this club started to produce more and more footballers who would go on to become professional players, and in some cases international ones too. Players like Peter Beardsley, Michael Carrick, Steve Bruce, Alan Shearer and many more emerged from this one small club, which bore similar characteristics to Syed's Omega Table-Tennis club, including opening twenty four hours, seven days a week. Success breeds success, and this particular club is still a production line for footballing prowess.

In my youth, my main interest was in running and athletics, not football, and I was a member of Heaton Harriers on the outskirts of Newcastle. As a member of this club, I was able to see the importance again of what Syed had identified, get an enthusiastic and committed coach, allied to opportunities for young people to participate, and there is no end to what can be achieved. Our little club sent an athlete to the 1968 Olympic Games, Maurice Benn in the 1500 metres. The club produced lots of local and district champions in cross-country and road running due to enthusiastic coaches and opportunities given to youngsters. This was replicated in other clubs across the North-East of England. Clubs like Saltwell Harriers, who produced international cross-country runners year after year, Morpeth Harriers who did likewise, as well as developing Jim Alder into a Commonwealth Games gold medal winning marathon champion. Elswick produced Mike McLeod who won silver at the Olympics in 10000 metres, as well as other good county runners. Jarrow was developing under the guiding eye of coach Jimmy Hedley, and would go on to produce Olympic Champion and World record holder Steve Cram. All of them offered enthusiastic coaching and turned no-one away.

But it was at Gateshead Harriers that we find an athletics club that was closest to replicating what Wallsend Boys Club is achieving in football. I saw this club grow from a small local running club into an athletics powerhouse. They key was dedicated and knowledgeable coaches who nurtured athletes and gave them all the support and opportunities they needed to become the best they could be. As a result a veritable production-line of athletic champions was produced, starting with Brendan Foster and including Charlie Spedding, Jonathan Edwards, Angela Piggford and many more. There is no reason why Gateshead, more famous for being the 'other' end of the Tyne Bridge to Newcastle, should produce so many first class athletes. But, again through the opportunities afforded, access to high quality coaching and support, they were able to keep building on their successes, and keep producing champions in an array of athletic disciplines. When I first ran at Gateshead stadium, it was a windswept ash track, now they have an all-weather track surface and stadium, accessible to all, and  the production line continues.

When I became a parent myself, I saw a similar pattern emerge as my own children became involved in the sport of badminton. My son played badminton for Scotland at all age levels, and my two daughters were county champions and consistently ranked in the top ten nationally at various age groups. This was mainly due to them having the opportunity to work with a high class coach in Pete Hardie of Duns, who has consistently produced Scottish players and champions at all levels, despite being located in the rural south of Scotland. What youngsters had though was access to high quality coaching and lots of opportunities to play and practice against and with each other in school halls across the Scottish Borders. My own children could also access the school hall in our own village, along with other interested youngsters, and I took a keen interest in coaching, learning more and more about the game and how to support young players. Our own village school, of never more than fifty pupils, had 8 or 9 players ranked in the top ten of their age groups in Scotland. I never thought this was because they were all so more able than thousands of other youngsters. They had the circumstances and coaches to support them, plus unlimited opportunities to practice and play, and benefitted as a result.

I have seen similar things happening in rugby, cricket, orienteering, cycling and mountain-biking, as well as golf, and I have no doubt that similar effects are to be found in all areas of endeavour, and at all levels, including at country level. Why should Finland produce so many world champions and record holders in Javelin throwing? Why is the UK dominating so many areas of cycling or rowing at the moment? I would suggest opportunity and high quality coaching, building on initial successes are key.

What lessons might there be here for school leadership and education system development?

Before I retired as a school leader, and since, I have had many opportunities to visit and work with schools and their leaders. These include many in Scotland as well as England, Wales, USA and Australia. There are many similarities to what Syed has written about, and I have described above, in the most successful schools and systems.

Where schools have a principal or leader who sees a key aspect of their role as the coaching and mentoring of those they work with, and are enthusiastic in pursuit of this, they are more likely to develop successful, collaborative learning cultures for all. In such schools, the leadership deeply understands learning, and is committed to constantly deepening that understanding for themselves and those they work with. They provide teachers and colleagues with constant support, opportunity, trust and coaching to help them grow their understanding and develop their practice. Such schools produce reflective teachers with dispositions to continuous professional growth, that is focused, collaborative and shaped by their personal and professional context. They successfully develop practice, informed by research and experience, and this creates more success, as well as attracting new members of staff who are similarly inclined towards their own development. There comes a time in such schools where they become truly self-developing and improving, though this is often linked to the length of time the school leader remains in post. Where school leaders change too often, impacts diminish, especially when changes mean that the coaching and support of staff are given less of a priority.

The schools I have seen that are most successful produce lots of high quality and reflective practitioners, but they also develop and grow more future leaders with similar dispositions. They produce teachers with high levels of agency and teacher leadership. They are more likely to have adaptive expertise and deal with change in a systematic and informed way. They tap into the expertise that resides within them to help all grow and to keep developing. They become centres of excellence in learning.

In conclusion, successful schools need to give teachers and leaders the opportunity to develop and grow their practice and understandings, in ways which are informed by research and their own context. They need to collaborate, internally and externally, and expect this of all, in order to support the growth of all. They need a leader who is committed to their own continuous development and that of those they lead, through coaching, mentoring and support. They will build on their successes and use coaching to address the areas they identify for further work.

'Every school, every teacher, every student deserves a school lead by a person who chooses positivity through words and actions.' Evan Robb @ERobbPrincipal Twitter 14 October 2018

' The main message, for the headteacher: Lead the change you want to see.' Michael Fullan 'What's Worth Fighting For In Headship?' (2007)

'turnarounds and changes that benefit many children and many schools … do not happen over-night with sudden switches in leadership-but only after years of continuous and unrelenting commitment to stronger working relationships and greater success.' Hargreaves, Boyle and Harris 'Uplifting Leadership' (2014)

'Systems with high adaptive capacity engage in a process of learning both up and down the system.' Helen Timperley (2011)

iPad Photo Management: Multi Delete⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Daring Fireball: Sometimes It’s Better to Just Start Over With iCloud Photo Library Syncing

Next, I wanted to delete every single photo and video from my iPhone. To my knowledge there is no easy way to do this on the iPhone itself. (There are a lot of tasks like this that are easy on the Mac thanks to Edit → Select All that are painfully tedious on iOS.) I connected the iPhone to my Mac with a Lightning cable and used Image Capture to delete all photos and videos from my phone. Image Capture just treats the iPhone like a regular camera. Image Capture crashed three times during this process (I’m still running MacOS High Sierra 10.13.6, for what it’s worth), but after the fourth run the iPhone had no photos or videos lefp.

I just deleted all the photos from a school iPad yesterday by selecting a couple and the dragging to select the rest. Worked with ~3000 photos but a bit clunky. I’ll use Image Capture in future. It’s an application I don’t remember very often.

In a 1-2-1 iPad class I do get a lot of benefit from having a mac in school. There a several things that can be solved with a quick airdrop to the mac and back. Given the iPads and mac are of similar vintage (2012).

I’ll edit a note on the mac, it syncs to the iPad (instantaneously it feels like) and I can Airdrop to class or group via classroom app. Now the Classroom app is available for the mac I need to think about upgrading the ageing mac to Mojave. I think it is new enough but spinning hard disk and skimpy ram might be a problem?

The Kiss⤴



This a post I have been pondering for a while.

“Baby, say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah
And let me kiss you”
From Kiss Me by One Direction.

Let me say up front that I will say things that some may not like. I have said many of the things before in other places and sometimes caused a little controversy.

A while back I was in a mini break with my lovely 14 year old daughter. We have booked into a hotel in a large city and I was delighted to see that the hotel was also hosting a conference for children with learning difficulties and their parents, although my daughter wryly noted that even on holiday I seem to find things that remind me of work. Inclusion is one of my favourite topics:

At one point during our stay, we found ourselves in the queue for the lift with a father and teenage son who were there for the conference.
Immediately I saw a twinkle in the son’s eye as he saw my beautiful girl and soon he began to talk to her, asking her name. Immediately I saw her tense and flush, in the way that she does when spoken to by any stranger, before replying in a quiet and forcedly cheerful voice.

I stepped in, asking the boy his name and making chit-chat, sensing that his dad appreciated that.
The lift journey was short but why happened next took us by surprise. The boy put his arm around my girl. I saw her tense, look at me in a panic and I heard his dad ask the boy to let go.
For a moment we all stood, me keeping eye contact with my girl but above all, keeping calm.
In the dad’s voice I sensed that underlying tone of desperate hope that his child would make the right choices but also fear that he might not, that the control he was trying to exert as an adult might not serve its purpose.

Have you been that parent of the toddler in the supermarket who has suddenly turned from biddable and smiley to resistant and angry? Do you remember that sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you know that you aren’t in charge any more and no end of cajoling is going to stop those bottles/loaves/sweets (delete as appropriate) coming off that shelf and onto the floor?

Have you been that teacher of the pupil with anger issues who has suddenly turned from biddable and smiley to resistant and angry? Do you remember that sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you know that you aren’t in charge any more and no end of cajoling is going to stop those swear-words/punches/roars (delete as appropriate) from being released?

I could see that the boy’s dad was experiencing that sinking feeling.

A moment later and the boy had planted a kiss on the flushed, panicky cheek of my girl.

Something more was said by the dad and at that moment the lift reached our floor. I took my girl’s hand, said a bright “nice to meet you, enjoy the rest of your day” and we left the lift.

“I’m sorry” I said, as we walked the hotel corridor. “I can see that that was really uncomfortable for you. But I really don’t think he wanted to make you feel like that.”

“But mum, it’s not ok! I don’t understand why his dad didn’t do more to stop him!”

I tried to explain. I tried to explain that maybe the dad knew that any more of an attempt to stop his boy could have led to an outburst in a small enclosed space that he would have wanted to avoid at all costs.

And I explained that I was 100% certain that the dad would have spoken to his son after we had gone.

I imagine that the conversation would have gone something like this:
“Hey, remember how we have talked about not touching and kissing people unless they have said we can?”
“Yeah dad. But she told me her name and her mum talked to me.”
“Yes but that didn’t make it ok for you to hug and kiss her.”

Boy thinks: but why wouldn’t she want me to hug and kiss her? I look like Harry today… cool and with my best jeans and t-shirt. “Baby, say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah
And let me kiss you.”

Boy says: “ok dad”.

I know that my girl will take a long time to forget what happened in that lift. I know that she feels let down by the adults. But I also know that by having talked about what happened and having acknowledged her feelings, we have mitigated against it causing her ongoing worry and distress.

Some will see this as a story of assault.
Others will see it as a story of helping children to learn about situationally appropriate behaviours.

We don’t always gets things right. Life sometimes makes us feel uncomfortable.

“Education is everything. We can’t and shouldn’t simplify it and talk in terms of it being the job of either teachers or parents. We need to accept that our job, as adults, is to be honest with children and to help them negotiate the complexity ahead. It is our job to develop in each child the skill to know and understand himself, the tools to express herself and the strategies to meet challenges along the way. And it is our job to talk openly and honestly so that, if and when bad things happen, children know to talk about them so that they do not become a source of guilt, a life-stealing force, a legacy of hidden pain and shame.” Nell Flowers. The Story of My Self.

I share this story with my lovely girl’s permission.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Ada Lovelace, Exmoor ponies and the trouble with sources⤴


Madeleine Shepherd and Anne-Marie Scott, ALD18, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

I didn’t manage to post a blog post on Ada Lovelace Day this year because I spent most of my spare time in the run up to the event looking for sources for the twenty contemporary Women in STEM nominated for Wikipedia article creation as part of the University of Edinburgh’s Ada Lovelace Day Editathon. The event itself is always one of the highlights of the year and this year was no exception. We had a really inspiring series of talks in the morning from the University’s Women in STEM and Physics Societies and the student WellComm Kings initiative. Mathematician and maker Madeleine Shepherd of Knot Unknot also came along and showed us her amazing knitted portraits of Ada Lovelace and Mary Somerville, which she created on a hacked knitting machine. We had a range of activities including DIY Filmschool and cake decorating followed by Wikipedia and Wikidata editing in the afternoon.

Back to those sources though…

Finding good quality secondary sources for contemporary academics can be tricky and it’s doubly difficult for female academics whose work is less visible and less widely reported. Wikipedia relies on independent secondary sources; it’s not sufficient for an academic to have published extensively, to be regarded as notable, it’s necessary to show that they have had a significant impact in their field. This can be problematic for female academics, and particularly for women in STEM, who routinely face discrimination on account of their gender.

There was much outrage in the press recently when it was reported that Donna Strickland did not have a Wikipedia entry until she received the Nobel Prize for Physics, with some news reports throwing up their hands in horror at Wikipedia’s gender bias. This isn’t news to anyone who has engaged with or edited Wikipedia of course. We are all well aware of Wikipedia’s gender bias, there’s even a Wikipedia article about it, and we’re working hard to fix it through our Wikimedia chapters, editathons and projects such as Wiki Women in Red. Also as Alex Hinojo pointed out:

In an article titled Wikipedia is a mirror of the world’s gender biases, Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director Katherine Maher, noted that it’s somewhat disingenuous for the press to complain about Strickland’s lack of Wikipedia entry when the achievements of women scientists are routinely under reported. We need more reports and independent secondary sources so we can improve the coverage of women on the encyclopaedia.

Wikipedia is built on the shoulders of giants. We’re generalists who learn from the expertise of specialists, and summarize it for the world to share. If journalists, editors, researchers, curators, academics, grantmakers, and prize-awarding committees don’t apply their expertise to identifying, recognizing, and elevating more diverse talent, then our editors have no shoulders upon which to stand. It’s time for these other knowledge-generating institutions to join us in the pursuit of knowledge equity. Wikipedia alone can’t change how society values women, but together we can change how they are seen.

A case in point is Mary Etherington, one of the women nominated for our Ada Lovelace Day editahon. The person who nominated Mary wrote

Mary Etherington was integral to the protection of the Exmoor pony breed after the war. She saw the importance of protecting the breed which was nearly extinct after the ponies had been used as a meat source during rationing and as target practise for the armies on Exmoor.

Whilst she is well known within the Exmoor pony breed, I believe she may be lost to time due to her rural links and the general lack of representation for rural matters on Wikipedia as well as her being a woman.

I really struggled to find many good sources about Mary online, but one of our editathon participants, Vicki Madden, was captivated by her story and determined to create an article about her. After some creative research and round about thinking, Vicki and Anne-Marie were able to find a whole range of independent sources and Mary Etherington now has her own shiny new Wikipedia entry.

Meanwhile I wrote an article on Tara Spires-Jones Professor of Neurodegeneration and Deputy Director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. I don’t know Tara personally but in her nomination she was described as:

World-leading research into molecular mechanisms of dementia. Works tirelessly to promote public understanding of science through expert comment in press and public engagement activities. Lovely person and very supportive of other women.

I hope her new Wikipedia article will help to raise awareness of her work to the general public and go a little way to replaying the support she has provided to others.

Wiki Loves Monuments 2018 – Pipped at the post!⤴


Wiki Loves Monuments, Wikimedia’s annual photography competition, came to a close at the end of September.  An astonishing 4,374 images of Scottish scheduled monuments and listed buildings were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons over the course of the month, over double last year’s total of 2,104 and almost a third of the 14,203 images uploaded in the UK.

Competition was fierce towards the end of the month, Ewan McAndrew, our indefatigable Wikimedian in Residence, pipped me at the post on the very last day of the competition with 442 uploads (13th overall) to my 383 (15th) and Anne-Marie’s 213 pictures of graveyards (21st).  In my defence, I was wrestling with an outrageously crap internet connection at home that almost had me weeping with frustration while I waited hours for images to upload. Still, over a thousand uploads is not a bad score for one division of Information Services!

It was great to see so many new people getting involved in the competition this year too through the efforts of Sara Thomas, Wikimedia UK’s Scotland Programme Coordinator and Delphine Dallison, Wikimedian in Residence at SLIC.

Wiki Loves Monuments is so much fun that I’m always a little sad when it’s over, and it’s almost impossible to break the habit of pulling out my phone to snap any likely looking listed building I pass.  I’m already storing up pictures for next year!

Kirkandrews Memorial Chapel, CC BY SA, Lorna M. Campbell

GME Curriculum⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Interesting summary to support the curriculum for GME:


Book Review. The Ten Traits of Resilience by James Hilton. Published by Bloomsbury.⤴




Those who read my blog regularly will know that I think and write a lot about school leadership. I also read a great deal about leadership and am particularly intrigued by the idea of sustainable leadership. Last month, I spoke at a Pedagoo event about how to stay, survive and thrive in teaching and leadership by drawing on instruments of personal power:

I also did a condensed version of this talk in a Leadmeet at the #womened Unconference this Saturday.

But I will confess that I am personally still in need of a little help in ensuring that I can keep going in leadership into my fifties…..which start next August the 13th. More of that later.

I have noticed some well-being warning signs of late and as I approached the Scottish October holidays which started this week, I knew that I would need to take some time to stop and reflect.

One of the instruments of power mentioned in my talk and post above was James Hilton’s brilliant book “Leading From the Edge” which I reviewed back in August:

Imagine my delight, then, when, a couple of weeks ago, I received my copy of James’ latest book “Ten Traits of Resilience”.

In the book, James says that he is not superstitious, having lived in a number 13 house for many years. I have to confess that, having been born on the 13th, I’m also unfazed by that number, but that I do believe in serendipity and the power of the universe to give us things when we are in need.

The arrival of this book through the letterbox exemplifies the meeting of such a need.

James has skilfully identified the 10 balloons with which we keep our basket comfortably aloft as we navigate the terrain of school leadership and avoid either spiralling off into the ether, or crashing to the ground: A sense of purpose ; Optimism; Trust; Courage; Decisiveness; Asking for help ; A sense of fun; Curiosity; Taking care of yourself and Turning adversity into opportunity. 

The book is a brilliant mix of advice based on James’ own extensive experience as a school leader, as well as ideas and guidance offered by other accomplished leaders such as Patrick Ottley-Connor, Viv Grant, Ross Morrison-McGill and Kim Johnson. In another serendipitous piece of timing, I met Pat in real life at the Unconference on Saturday (having known him virtually for some time) and so have been able to “hear” his voice while reading his words in the book over the last few days. If you can manage to find a way of meeting him at some point, I would strongly recommend it. He completely lives up to his fabulous reputation!

The huge power in this book comes from the fact that it does not just offer advice but it also makes you work and think around the ideas offered through practical activities and tasks that have to be completed as part of your engagement with the book. James has clearly put a lot of time and effort into devising these exercises and I would insist that, unless you commit to completing them, you will not gain the full benefit from the book. I would also suggest that you do them in pencil so that you can go back and update them as needed.

James has also selected quotes and pieces of wisdom from experts in leadership beyond education and these are peppered throughout the book to add seasoning and spice that activate our reflective tastebuds.

My two favourites are these:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” from Winston Churchill


“A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done” from Dwight D Eisenhower.

I have discovered over the years that I am a somewhat unusual combination of Eeyore and Tigger but that I am a better leader and human when I let myself laugh, bounce and use humour to combat some of my black dog (or grey donkey) ruminations.  My lovely and hugely perceptive daughter recently pointed out to me that she has not seen as much of the relaxed and funny side of me lately and I know that I have some work to do on getting my sense of humour back.

The thing I love most about this book is that James writes in a style that is hugely readable yet backed up with evidence, science and research.

His honesty in relation to his own personal journey and challenges means that the reader instinctively feels a sense of connection and (number three on the list of crucial factors) trust in him and his wisdom.

If you want to stay in leadership and get the most from the best job in the world, read this book.

As James says: “You make a difference. Never forget that! You possess the ten traits of a successful school leader but we all need to give those balloons a little boost of inflation from time to time.”

The Ten Traits of Resilience by James Hilton is published by Bloomsbury.

Address to a Hambo: my dad⤴

from @ Through The Windae

A speech delivered on the occasion of Hamish Fraser McLauchlan’s 80th Birthday Saturday 6th October 2018 Glenesk Hotel, Edzell My dad… Hamish is many things to many people. He’s ‘Hamish’ or ‘darlin’ to my mum. The ‘bunker’ to customers past and present. ‘Grandpa Bum’ to Rosalyn and Jamie. ‘My secret tartan love terrier’ to TV chef Nigella Lawson. But to me, Colin and Neil – he is our dad. When my voice finally broke, I was always mistaken for my dad on the phone. Do you...Continue Reading "Address to a Hambo: my dad"

The post Address to a Hambo: my dad appeared first on Through The Windae.

An Deasbad Naiseanta 2018⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The preliminary rounds of the National Gaelic Schools Debate will take place on 6 and 7 November 2018. This year marks the twentieth national debate.  By participating in this competition, young people in Gaelic Medium Education are afforded an opportunity to develop their debating skills through the medium of Gaelic.

Education Scotland is pleased to be a sponsor for this competition along with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, The Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, The Highland Council, Glasgow City Council and Scottish Qualifications Authority.

The final round of the competition will be on 28 November at The Scottish Parliament.