Tag Archives: Leadership

Leading, Learning & Teaching in Complex Times⤴

from @ OllieBray.com

Earlier this week it was a great privilege to be invited back to The University of Aberdeen to deliver the final lecture to their 2017/2018 Primary and Secondary PGDE Students. This is the fourth time I have been asked to deliver the final lecture and this year my theme was Leading, Learning and Teaching in challenging times.

I touched one some of the challenges that we currently face within the current VUCA World (a world full of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) as well as a need for a new narrative around Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility. Importantly I stressed that we needed to use this new narative to actually help people understand what is possible in Scottish Education (and education globally).

We also spent some time looking at examples of what is possible when you think differently about traditionally perceived education barriers (timetable, curriculum, vocational vs academic, skills agenda, etc..) and the importance of clarity while working towards a common goal & moral purpose.

Presentation slides here for anyone in my wider network who may be interested.

Summary of Key Messages:

  • Focus on improvement.
  • Improved teaching leads to improved achievement and attainment.
  • Feedback (at all levels) is important.
  • Always try to see the bigger picture.
  • Develop a culture of reflection & revision.
  • Work collectively and collegiately to overcome barriers in a VOCA world.

Episode 7 – Unlocking Leadership Potential⤴

from @ edublether.wordpress.com

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 edublether.wordpress.com and rate us on iTunes.

Listen on iTunes or via soundcloud.

Osiris Educational⤴

from @ edublether.wordpress.com

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


An t-Alltan Conference for practitioners of GME and GLE, 26 and 27 September 2018⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

An t-Alltan is an annual conference to support the delivery of Gaelic Medium and Learner Education in the curriculum.  It also supports the delivery of Gaelic (Learners) as part of the 1+2 Approach to Languages.

For more information, please visit


Useful links from our National Improvement Hub

Resources from a conference to support the GME secondary curriculum – Transitions to secondary:


Resources from a conference to support Gaelic (Learners) 1+2 in the curriculum:


Updates from Education Scotland on Gaelic (Learners):


Updates from Education Scotland on Gaelic Medium Education:



Leadership Award for Gaelic Medium Education (GME): 1 and 2 December 2017⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Leadership is key to the success of schools to which all colleagues can contribute.

This  leadership programme aims to develop  practitioners as teacher leaders who are able to positively influence Gaelic Education within their school.  It has been developed by Social Enterprise Academy, in partnership with Education Scotland, and accredited by the Scottish College of Educational Leadership(SCEL).

Specific objectives are to:

  • apply leadership principles to the contemporary issues and challenges in Gaelic Education
  • use action learning and peer learning approaches to identify new approaches to improving  practice
  • enable educational professionals to develop reflective practice techniques to ensure their ongoing development as classroom practitioners
  • develop practitioners’ own leadership ability.

Practitioners can gain an Award in Leadership (SCQF 9) on attending the leadership programme and successfully completing a reflective assessment.  The programme, and related assessment, is delivered through the medium of Gaelic.

For more information, please contact Jessica@socialenterprise.academy.


An Enquiry Video⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

Since first sharing my short guide to practitioner enquiry a few years ago, more and more teachers & schools have been approaching me to come and speak about this to groups of staff. Whilst I absolutely love saying yes to such requests, it’s becoming harder and harder for me to do so. With this in mind, I thought what might be helpful would be for me to make a short video sharing some of my thinking around practitioner enquiry which schools could use as part of their professional learning.

In advance of making the video, I made a few small tweaks to the PDF guide which I’ve been meaning to make for some time. You can download the most up to date version here.

And, here’s the video. I’ve tried to keep it short so that it could be used as a part of a session with groups of staff. I hope it’s useful…

If YouTube is blocked in your school, there’s a version on Vimeo here.

What do we mean by leadership?⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

In a recent post, I shared my realisation that many of us in education have been using the words ‘leadership’ and ‘promotion’ interchangeably. Since then, I’ve had many more conversations with many more folk about what we actually mean by ‘leadership’. What’s fascinating is that when talking to teachers, and others involved directly in education in Scotland, the vast majority agree with me that it’s often used to mean ‘promotion’ or ‘management’, and that it’s not necessarily something classroom teachers see as relevant to them – unless of course they’re going for that first PT post…

Even some of the language around education in Scotland still reinforces this concept of what is meant, for example ‘senior leadership’, ‘early leadership’, ‘first leadership position’. What’s even more fascinating is the few conversations I’ve had on this topic with people from outwith education. They’ve often commented that of course leadership is a component of all roles, no matter where they are in the hierarchy and they’ve shown genuine surprise when I’ve outlined how the word is often used in education.

So what do we mean by leadership? This is a question which I’m spending much of my time exploring and discussing. I posed this as the title of my presentation at the recent InnovateEducation event and I’m asking the question again this evening at Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian’s Creative Learning Network’s series of Creative Conversations. That presentation uses a range of resources to explore the question (including quotations, images of kayaking, resources from my teaching, some of my work at SCEL, and a song about stew), but I also find the following quotation from a recent book chapter by Christine Forde and Beth Dickson of use:

leadership is a “lay everyday knowledge term not a scientific construct” (Forde & Dickson, 2017)

I personally sometimes wonder if we have over complicated the term ‘leadership’ to the extent that not only is it the preserve of those in promoted posts, it’s also quite a complex thing which can be off-putting to busy teachers. I know that when I was in the classroom, I was aware of leadership ‘theories’ and ‘styles’ etc. and even if I felt that these were of relevance to me (which I didn’t) I was, frankly, put off by what sounded like a lot of work to get to grips with them when I was busy with getting better at the job at hand. It’s for this reason that I like this quote as I’m drawn to the idea that leadership is a lay term. It is not the preserve of those of who have read and studied the term in depth, it is a term which is available to us all to use in our work and lives.

So, if we choose to use it, what might it mean? Again from Christine Forde and Beth Dickson:

Leadership is an interactional process where influence and power are exercised in different ways, in different locations by different people across an organisation. (Forde & Dickson, 2017)

I like this as it again captures the universal nature of leadership, whilst also highlighting the importance of relationships, influence, power and the variability of each. There are an increasing number of helpful sources such as this to reference in this regard, but this doesn’t always mean that this can easily be translated into the practice of those in education. So, how then can those of us who think that it’s important to encourage teachers to think of themselves as leaders, and crucially, convince middle, school and system leaders to support and encourage leadership go about achieving this?

I’ve been quite struck by the simple power of talking about all of this in the context of practice. I was asked to give a short presentation on teacher leadership at St. Andrew’s & St. Brides’s High School in East Kilbride earlier this month. It was kindly open to staff from across the area and it primarily consisted of me talking for about 45 minutes on my thoughts on all of this with a couple of examples from my own practice as a teacher and as an enquiring practitioner. As ever with a one-off short presentation, my fear was that this would have little or no impact on those who attended the session. In fact, I find that my imposter syndrome goes into overdrive upon completion of these sessions and I drive away convinced that everyone will have no doubt regretted having wasted their time turning up for that. I was pleasantly surprised therefore when I received some feedback from the session last week which included an almost universally positive response. I really appreciate the time taken by all those who shared their feedback and for the school for sending it through, but one comment in particular leapt out at me in the context of what I’ve been exploring in this post:

The presentation encouraged me to reflect and develop my own leadership skills, an area I had never really considered applicable as an unpromoted member of staff. After this presentation it was clear that effective classroom leadership can have a fundamental and lasting impact on our learners and this is something that I believe all teachers strive for.

Two things strike me about this comment. Firstly, that developing leadership skills had never been considered applicable to their role as a teacher (something I can empathise with) and secondly, a 45 minute presentation which primarily consisted of my current thoughts and past examples might have changed their mind on this a little and they are now able to summarise the point of all of this a lot quicker than I ever manage!

Perhaps therefore if we can all take a little time to share what leadership means to us and what it looks and feels like in our practice we can collectively redefine what we mean by leadership in education. I therefore will now go and give my presentation in Edinburgh and try my best to keep my imposter syndrome at bay.

Thank you again to the staff who sent me their feedback from the session at St. Andrew’s & St. Brides’s High School. I’m glad it was of use. 

Gaelic Medium Education – self-improvement, attainment and leadership⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

By Joan Esson, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for inspection of Gaelic Medium Education

The recently published report, ‘Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) highlighted a number of key areas of strengths and aspects for improvement from 3-18 Gaelic Medium Education (GME) inspections. You can read the chapter relating to GME on our website.

It was a great privilege to review our inspection findings for GME and evidence how the sector is developing. The approaches that are used in GME are a very effective example of language learning in Scotland.  Children learn the language to a high level of fluency which enables them to access learning through Gaelic, while achieving expected attainment levels in all areas of the curriculum.

Overall, inspectors found that most children and young people in GME were making good progress in developing their fluency. By the senior phase, attainment in Gàidhlig as a subject is strong.  Interest in the role of Gaelic (Learners) as an additional language, and the development of GME in some areas of Scotland, is growing.

In this blog, I would like to consider three areas that should be given initial consideration in using the QuISE report as part of the improvement journey for GME.

  1. Being a self-improving GME provision

Education Scotland aims to support practitioners as they build capacity for improvement. The QuISE report presents an important source for practitioners’ use in self-evaluation. The chapters for early learning and childcare, primary and secondary, should be used along with the one on GME. Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education gives a strategic guide to what constitutes high-quality national practice, some of which now forms statutory Guidance. Taken together with self-evaluation frameworks, practitioners have a rich resource to enable an in-depth focus on Gaelic. Senior leaders, along with other practitioners, should take time to use these resources for self-evaluation. In future inspections, we would like to evidence improved leadership of GME, with Gaelic being at the heart of strategic planning and part of continuous improvement.      

2. Closing the attainment gap

An important outcome of GME is that children attain equally well, or better, than their peers in English medium education. This gives parents confidence in GME for which we need to have a relentless focus on high-quality attainment and progress. In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see practitioners, and indeed the children and young people themselves, being clearer on their progress and how to improve further. To clarify expectations, teachers assisted us in designing Benchmarks for literacy and Gàidhlig. These need to be used in the joint planning of learning, teaching and assessment;  for monitoring and tracking of progress and in the moderation of standards.

At all times, practitioners have an important role in interacting skilfully with children, while modelling good immersion techniques to help children acquire the language. Practitioners’ skill in doing this impacts on children’s fluency. Playroom experiences are threaded together and given direction with a curriculum framework that promotes continuity and progression.

Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education (particularly chapter 7), coupled with Building the Ambition, (particularly chapters 6 and 7), present practitioners with effective pedagogy for early learning in GME. Building the Curriculum 2 details children’s natural disposition “to wonder, to be curious, to pose questions, to experiment, to suggest, to invent and to explain”. In the immersion playroom, practitioners will engage in short periods of activities that they will lead as part of children’s intended learning. At other times, children will be choosing what they play which they may initiate as they follow their interests, or be an experience planned by practitioners.

If we are to close the attainment gap in GME, we need to recognise the early gains from a strong total immersion experience as part of early learning and childcare. For this, children need to hear and absorb very fluent Gaelic across a range of play contexts.   Practitioners’ quality and frequent interactions are key drivers in helping children to acquire fluency as they foster learning which is creative, investigative and exploratory.

3. Improving the leadership of the GME curriculum

The QuISE  report highlighted that our strong primary GME provisions are clear on the correlation between immersion, fluency and impact on attainment.   At the secondary stages, there is still more to do to ensure young people have enough opportunities to learn through Gaelic. We recognise in the QuISE  report that there are challenges from shortages of Gaelic-speaking practitioners.  However, we ask for more of a solution-focused approach.  Our Advice on Gaelic Education  (particularly chapters 9-13) gives strategic direction to the development of the GME secondary curriculum.

In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see much more prominence given to those learning in GME as a group for whom pathways need to be developed. It would be useful to continue to develop a shared understanding of how Curriculum for Excellence, with its emphasis on the totality of learning, may be maximised for GME. Speakers of Gaelic are a key driver in planning the curriculum. Could more of our Gaelic-speaking practitioners in schools be delivering some aspect of the curriculum in Gaelic?  Could they, for example, be encouraged to deliver a subject, club, universal support or an opportunity for achievement through Gaelic?  The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” chimes with the need to increase the role of partners in the GME curriculum.  A good starting point would be for curriculum planners to know who their Gaelic-speaking partners are, and begin to ascertain how they can assist with planning and delivery of learning.

Finally, I would like to invite you to a seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival which focuses on how technology can increase learning through the medium of Gaelic. e-Sgoil presents a digital solution to delivering the curriculum. The headteacher of e-Sgoil will share an evaluation of some pilots that ran this year. Information on how to register for this seminar, and the festival programme, are available here.