I've been given the opportunity to shape CityLearning4.0, an ambitious strategy to change the face of delivery at City of Glasgow College.
Here are some practical tips we gave some staff last week.
I found out about the competition from my art teacher. The department entered lots of work to the competition. To decide on what I was going to draw I decided that I really like textures and thought that a contrast of rough textures with smooth shiny shoes would be very powerful.
I decided to work in mixed media and used biro pen, white pencil and newspaper collage on brown paper to let me layer and create multiple textures. This mixture also gave the drawing boldness but I could also manage to draw the detail with the pen and pencil.
When I was told about my win I felt ecstatic about gaining 2nd place. This made me really happy and proud of my work.
It was a very positive experience coming to the gallery and seeing my work in a frame with other pupils work. I have never done this before and it really was confidence boosting.
If I had to say to other pupils why they should enter the competition I would tell them to go for it, it’s excellent. The feeling was great and the prize was so generous.
The 2018 John Byrne National Drawing Competition is open for entries, find out more on the Education Scotland website.
Cameron Lawson, S3 pupil at Cedarbank School in West Lothian won this year’s John Byrne National Drawing competition. Find out what inspired Cameron to enter and how he felt being announced as winner.
How did you hear about the competition and why did you take part?
I heard about it in the Art class from the teacher Miss Galloway, and I took part because she asked us to.
What inspired you to create your piece?
Usually movies and games that have monsters and weird creatures.
How did you feel when you were told you had won?
I felt surprised because there were a lot of schools that would have entered the competition.
Tell us about the experience of going to the awards ceremony and seeing your artwork on exhibition.
Happy because seeing something that to me was just a simple drawing, winning something that was just so big was amazing.
What advice do you have for pupils entering the competition next year?
Try your hardest and use your imagination.
The 2018 John Byrne National Drawing Competition is open for entries, find out more on the Education Scotland website.
Not sure if you remember? I write a blog. It used to get a lot of praise, sharing and admiration.
The words associated with it… and therefore I guess with me…. were mainly “honest” and “brave.”
Now I know that lots of people would see those words as a good thing; those people who I would consider to be part of my tribe; those who live by the values of Brené Brown; those who want to change the world and stop us from living a life of artificiality and dishonesty; those who, like me, have valued the quote attributed to Tom Hanks: “The only way you can truly control how you are seen is by being honest all the time”.
But I have come to realise recently that for many, those words trigger an underlying suspicion that I am foolish, a loose cannon, difficult, unable to understand that my way is not the only way.
You will notice that I haven’t written much lately. The wellbeing updates, the honest reflections, the analyses of the type of honest school leader I want to be have stopped.
Because I don’t think that people want to know the honest truth about some things.
And because I have realised that my truth is not absolute and that sometimes I need to accept that other truths are equally valid.
Rest assured that this is not about my current situation or my current school. I absolutely love where I am and what I am doing just now.
But it is a reflection about the world.
It was just over thirty years ago when I experienced the sense that I had misjudged the appropriateness of honesty.
I was head girl in my school and the MP David Mellor had come to speak to our sixth form.
He began to talk about the benefits of grammar schools and I challenged him, asking how he could possibly dare to do so while speaking in a comprehensive school.
The daughter of a Lithuanian peasant and working-class-boy-made-good who had both devoted their careers to teaching in comprehensive education could not hold back. This was much to the delight of my socialist/pacifist/revolutionary friends at school.
But the disappointment on the face of the headteacher and senior staff in the school and the feeling that I had somehow done something distasteful remain abiding memories of that day.
There is a time and a place to be honest.
As a school leader you have to be skilled in exercising selective honesty. I don’t think that this means compromising on values as long as you stay true to the fundamental value of ensuring that every child is happy, healthy and doing the best they can.
But it means knowing which battles to fight and when, knowing when to speak and when to be silent and knowing that sometimes sensitivity towards the feelings and beliefs of others must take priority over self-righteous impatience.
Sometimes you can’t afford to be too honest about the things that you can’t change.
But let’s also remember that we need to be honest about the word can’t.
Is it that we really can’t? Or simply that we don’t want to?
Because in all honesty, we need to do what is right and not what is easy.
I’m feeling a bit ranty this morning. Crazy Scottish lady is rising a little close to the surface.
I’ve been reading articles (old and new) and watching videos (old and new) this week which are replaying familiar EdTech tropes and I’m sick of it. I’m not going to quote anything directly here because I have no interest in fighting with or offending anyone. Rather I’m going to rant and people can take offence broadly. Sorry in advance. I love you all.
A summary of what is annoying me goes a bit like this:
VLEs are bad because: vendors, surveillance, no access after courses finish, no access for academics to each other’s work. It’s a closed system. It’s a waste of student time. If only we could all just use WordPress instead (insert other variants on the theme of open technologies).
“IT” run our stuff and they don’t understand. Snake oil salesmen charm our senior management. If only they knew what we know.
Learning analytics are bad, evil. Algorithms, surveillance, surveillance capitalism.
Repeat the above for AI and automation, add in something about loss of teacher agency too.
Fundamentally I am getting cross because whilst I see genuine issues and *genuine* concern, I also think that I see a quite a lot of lack of agency and responsibility. Not across the board, but enough to piss* me off.
I completely get that some of what I’m reading is from people who have little agency or traction in their particular EdTech setting. Some of what I want to rant about requires an amount of privilege to action. That I can even have a wee rant on my blog is privilege, however: Some of the people I’ve been reading are quite senior in their organisations or have significant platforms; there is always *something* that can be done, no matter how small.
Don’t just complain that this is the nature of the IT / the approach of senior management / the power of big vendors (don’t not complain though!). Things are not perfect by a country mile, but a whole lot of this is about local institutional choices and culture, and until that changes, institutions are going to keep investing in and implementing technologies in the same low denominator, low trust, uncritical way.
I don’t have all the answers. I’m
not sure anyone does, but I can tell you what I believe. If you want to resist, you can do worse than to start occupying territory. Institutions are fundamentally collections of people, not abstract concepts. Culture is not immutable.
Get to know your IT colleagues. They are on the same below-industry-salary as you because mostly they give a damn about the same things as you. Talk about the “virtual team” who make our EdTech activities doable. Include them where you can in your work, ask to be included in theirs. Prove that together you can do more interesting things. Demonstrate the value of working closely to the institution by talking about the great things you achieve together. Give thanks privately and publicly.
Remember that at the point you advocate technological solutions (WordPress etc) you are “IT” too. This learning technologist / IT bullshit* is a false divide. If there are big divisions between your job functions this is organisational culture in your institution, or in your head.
Find out who your data protection or legal people are. Learn from them. Implement their best practices in whatever small way you can. Permission to use data, record keeping, contractual negotiations, bringing them into conversations with suppliers, consent forms. Arm yourself with whatever weapons you can find in this area. Give thanks privately and publicly.
Do the same for data architects. If roles like data stewards, data owners etc are defined in your organisation then try make sure someone with EdTech awareness is the owner for things like VLE activity data. It might even be something you need to do. Give thanks privately and publicly.
Get to know your procurement people. Learn about what they do. Understand better how to use procurement processes to your advantage. Once the ink is dry on a contract it’s all over. Give thanks privately and publicly.
There’s probably lots more to add here, the main point is start always by holding your own internal setup and choices to account, and being as active a participant in those processes as you can, because that’s something you can and should influence. If our field is as important, critical and vital as we think it is, then be prepared to get into the trenches.
This is dirty, dull work. There are no prizes, no conference presentations, no sexy innovation projects in this space. But it has integrity.
Also do this work with grace. Do it without aggression, do it respectfully even when you deeply disagree. If you are genuinely motivated by improvement then don’t do this work by being an asshole* to people. Even EdTech vendors.
This is a rant btw. So it doesn’t have coherence, you will be able to pick holes in it, I probably have contradicted myself. I don’t care. It’s not important. What is important is that we all do something that is doable in our context to move forwards. There is no magic bullet here. Just hard work. Get on with it. And be proud of it too.
* don’t be a potty mouth like me either.
Education Scotland is evidencing many successes for Gaelic (Learners) from the implementation of the policy, Language Learning in Scotland: a 1+2 Approach. Teachers’ commitment to delivering Gaelic within the curriculum is acknowledged. A presentation on the successes and challenges for Gaelic from implementing the policy is available here. One such challenge is that there are many children learning Gaelic as L3 in primary schools for whom a progression pathway into secondary is still to be identified. However, a newly-announced change to how L3 may be delivered may assist with this. In Scotland, we also have an important target to meet in increasing the number of speakers of Gaelic as part of the National Gaelic Language Plan. For this, education has a key role.
Currently, at the primary stages, children who experience a coherent and progressive experience of L3 from P5-P7 may choose to continue with that language into S1 and to the end of the broad general education (BGE). For purposes of planning the secondary curriculum, this language would become young people’s L2. For this to be the case, children need to have achieved the second level by the end of P7. In addition, there should be pathways to National Qualifications in the senior phase for that language. The 1+2 policy has recently been relaxed to state that L3 may be the language that children continue with, as they move from primary to secondary, if schools are able to demonstrate that children’s achievements are “approaching the second level”. To achieve this, the planning for the L3 language needs to result in a coherent and progressive experience from P5-P7. This new arrangement does not replace the opportunity for schools to introduce more than one language as L3.
Here are some useful steps to guide how you may incorporate this new delivery model for L3 into planning for improvement:
For more information on the delivery of L3 in the 3-18 curriculum, please see Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 Approach – Further guidance on L3 within the 1+2 policy. It is a matter for schools to determine the exact design of the curriculum, using the flexibility that Curriculum for Excellence affords them, to ensure that children’s achievements are “approaching a second level”.
A blog by Jamie Farquhar
Deputy Head Teacher of Dumfries Academy
I am a QAMSO.
Increasingly – in the second year of there being QAMSOs – colleagues know what that is. Good; it saves me unpacking the acronym to its full glory of Quality Assurance and Moderation Support Officer and it suggests we* are having an impact.
My role is to support colleagues in their understanding and application of Moderation in its widest sense through the lens of a particular Numeracy or Literacy level. In my case, this is Third Level Writing.
I am not an English Teacher. However, I am a passionate advocate for the Teaching Profession and of the Responsibilities of All as key priorities for our learners. I believe the Broad General Education (BGE) provides the platform for teachers to co-create a curriculum that meets the needs of individual learners, in individual schools.
To achieve this we need the confidence to spurn the false panacea of centrally distributed WAGOLLs (What a Good One Looks Like) and resist ‘mimetic isomorphism’. In other words; it’s not about teachers doing the same thing, in the same way, either through decree or by the copycatting of perceived eminence. Rather, we should aim for the contextualised consistency of quality; as a QAMSO I advocate achieving this through planning, professional dialogue, reflection, sharing, experimentation and evaluation i.e. through Moderation.
Moderation is about skilled professionals working together to plan, evaluate, feedback and feed forward learning to all learning partners. Moderation is groups of teachers subjecting the entire learning process to rigorous professional scrutiny and so trusting and being trusted in their judgements. Through collaboration we empower a move beyond consistency of practice to an increased confidence in individual judgements, planning and interventions.
The Moderation Cycle provides a framework through which to embark on this process. In my own school, we accessed the cycle through the Evaluation stage by leading engagement with the Literacy Benchmarks and developing professional confidence in making judgements of CfE-levels. This starting point was chosen due to a familiarity, within a secondary context, of judging work against set standards in the Senior Phase. The challenge is to move thinking and practice from summative evaluation of output to include moderated planning of input; to ensure we are teaching and supporting what we later assess.
We have begun. Our Literacy Strategy produced Evidence which, as well as debate over CfE-levels, led to dialogue about the evidence’s relevance and validity. This demanded we reflect on our Assessment tools; which asked questions about the effectiveness of our Learning and Teaching and learners’ understanding of what they were learning and how well they had learned it (Learning Intentions and Success Criteria).
Colleagues then began to revisit their planning (Es and Os) to reflect learning and the Learner more holistically. This provided a range of on-going and holistic Evidence which demonstrated strengths, successes and nextsteps which informed Feedback, Reporting and planning of the next learning experience and so on. The principles of the Moderation Cycle as applied to Literacy have started to impact on practice in other curriculum areas and beyond the BGE.
The Moderation Hub provides an incredible resource to support this work. I will use it extensively in my QAMSO role to support Professional Learning in schools. The Hub provides off-the-shelf material for Professional Learning Workshops and e-learning. I recommend it to all Literacy / Numeracy Leads and Professional Learning Coordinators. I also commend the Moderation Cycle and Hub to all school leaders as a means to lead and evidence genuine Quality Assurance of Learning and Teaching.
The workshops take a little time as they work through each stage of the cycle, asking colleagues to reflect on examples and craft improvements collaboratively. A commitment to mutual engagement and knowledge creation through the Moderation Cycle should lead to a sustained shift of culture and improvement in outcomes for learners that simply being ‘given the answers’ cannot hope to achieve.
The Moderation Cycle provides the framework to be autonomous, contextually-aware, professional leaders of learning.
This QAMSO’s advice: Follow the Cycle – Co-Create – Trust your Judgements.
*There are lots of us: Each Local Authority has a QAMSO for each CfE Level from Early to Fourth in Numeracy, Writing and Reading.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney visited Forthview Primary School in Edinburgh today to celebrate Book Week Scotland and the delivery of this year’s Read, Write, Count bags to Primary 2 and 3 pupils across Scotland.
The Read, Write, Count initiative gives practical support to parents and carers to help them get involved in their child’s learning. Read, Write Count bags are delivered to all children in Primaries 2 and 3 alongside Bookbug bags which are gifted to Primary 1 pupils and Read, Write, Count ‘home kits’ which have been delivered to P4-7 classes in selected schools for the first time this year.
As part of the visit to Forthview Primary School, Mr Swinney met Primary 2 pupils who were reading stories and doing counting activities from the Read, Write, Count bags with the help of Primary 7 buddies.
Mr Swinney said: “Evidence shows that parental involvement has a significant positive effect on children’s achievement and I was pleased to hear how Read, Write, Count helps children and parents have fun while learning together.
“I want to see standards and attainment improving and literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing are the priorities for our children’s education. Parental involvement and engagement plays a prominent role in our national plan to tackle inequality and close the attainment gap between our least and most disadvantaged children.”
The Scottish Book Trust worked in partnership with Scottish Government, Education Scotland and Creative Scotland to devise and deliver this year’s bags. In total, 453,450 free books will be gifted to children in Primaries 1, 2 and 3 during Book Week Scotland.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “We are delighted to be gifting the ‘Read Write Count’ bags during Book Week Scotland as there is no better time to celebrate the joys of books and reading. Each bag contains books and activities especially chosen to encourage learning and storytelling in a fun way that engages the pupils’ interests, and supports their learning in the classroom. Book Week Scotland encourages reading for pleasure and the ‘Read Write Count’ bags build on this.”