We have now published the individual chapters form the Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education report on our website, along with the full report. This report gives a review of our inspection findings for the period 2012-2016. It highlights areas of growing strength and key areas for further improvement.
For the first time, we have included a chapter on Gaelic Medium Education (GME) which exemplifies the growth of the sector. This chapter is available at:
The full report may be accessed at:
We would encourage those with responsibility for Gaelic Learner and Medium Education across sectors to engage with the report. In particular, the findings for Gaelic and to build these into improvement planning. Addressing these areas for improvement effectively will make a decisive contribution to achieving the twin aims of excellence and equity for Scottish learners which sits at the heart of the National Improvement Framework. For more information to support improvement, please use our Advice on Gaelic Education.
To keep up to date with Gaelic at Education Scotland, please visit our learning blog for Gaelic Medium Education and Gaelic Learner Education. We also publish Briefings on Gaelic Education for which partners’ contributions are invited.
Streap, is a Postgraduate Teaching Certificate for teachers of 3-18 GME. It presents an opportunity to deepen your understanding of GME, while developing further fluency in the language. The next programme begins on 4 September 2017. This programme is fully-funded by the Scottish Government. For more information, please visit:
There are very few teachers who would argue with the current focus in Scottish education on closing the poverty related attainment gap. How could you? However, I’m pretty sure that if I were still in the classroom I would have been wondering what I could do more or differently to help achieve this. As a teacher, I felt that I was doing as a much as I could to help all students achieve as much as possible, so what more could I do?
When I saw the tweet above I got an inkling as to what I could be doing differently as a teacher and with my colleagues if I were still in school. I don’t remember ever looking at the attainment disparity in my students based on SIMD data and exploring the reasons for any differences and considering what I could do about them. I suspect I’m not alone in this.
This thought has been further fuelled by some discussions I was part of at the recent #TLconference in Miami. I have a stereotype in my head of assessment in the US whereby teachers have the autonomy to issue grades to their students based on relatively personal and behavioural judgements and that these grades were important to the life chances of students. I was surprised to discover that whilst not universally the case, this isn’t unheard of. There are moves to progress towards standards based assessment afoot, but the practice described above is still prevalent according to some of the teachers I was speaking to.
What I wasn’t aware of however was how tightly this practice is interwound with issues of race. I was informed that many schools there have tracking, whereby students are recommended for different levels of courses based on their grades. Only those who have received the best grades can take the higher level ‘honors’ classes, which in turn are needed for the best college courses. A number of teachers explained to me that as a result of issues throughout the system, “black and brown” (their words – this was the terminology used throughout the conference) students were substantially underrepresented in honors classes. I was quite shocked by the power teachers seemed to yield, which when combined with issues of race appeared potentially very problematic indeed. I heard of efforts to address this through ‘detracking’ and rethinking grading, but these appear to be very contentious initiatives amongst many.
However, since the conference finished I’ve been left wondering, is it that much different in Scotland? If I think back in particular to my National 4 and National 5 classes, or my Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 classes before that, I wonder now how represented students from different SIMD backgrounds were in each class? I fear I know the answer. What’s less clear to me are the reasons for these differences and how they might’ve been addressed. Whereas the differences in the US can be powerfully, and shockingly, visible as described by some of the teachers I spoke to – in that you can physically see the disparity as two classes of different levels line up outside their respective classrooms – in my experience the disparity isn’t always as apparent in Scotland.
So what should we do about it? If I was in school I think I would do three things next week:
- Gather and analyse the data as described in the tweet above.
- Propose and lead a collaborative enquiry to explore the reasons behind any disparities and develop approaches to practice which would impact upon these disparities.
- Use a form of Lyn Sharratt & Beate Planche’s data walls in departmental meetings to collaborate on ensuring everything possible was being done for students who were causing concern in terms of attainment. You can find out more about this at SCEL’s May conference.
No doubt there are already teachers and schools taking approaches such as these in their practice, but probably not all. I do think however that it’s important for us all to continually consider if we’re doing all that we can to ensure the best possible outcomes for all of the learners in our care.
So, let’s be up front about this. The author of this book is a pal of mine. More than that in fact. He was my primary partner in pedagogy during our pedagoo days. As a result, I already respected him massively as an educator and as a person. Rather than this fact hampering my review of his book, I actually think it only serves to enhance it. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to think more highly of Kenny Pieper prior to reading his first (of many, I hope) book, How to Teach Reading for Pleasure, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
In this book, Kenny uses his fantastic humour and authenticity to argue passionately for the power of reading and the crucial role teachers have in leading and supporting young people to choose to read. Whilst Kenny generously and modestly shares many of the practical classroom techniques he uses to achieve this he also clearly articulates why this matters for our young people specifically, and society in general. I’m not sure I’ve ever read an edubook which was so entwined with the values and personality of the author. Reading it was like spending time in his company and I found myself frequently nodding and laughing along…the only thing missing was the pint!
If I had one criticism of this book it is that to some extent it is marketed as a ‘how to teach’ book with a particular slant towards secondary teachers of english. As a biology teacher, this book was very relevant to me and I know of primary colleagues who feel the same way. In many ways this book would and should appeal to any and all teachers, and parents, especially those who think that reading matters, not just secondary english teachers. I know if I was still in the classroom I would be doing a few things differently tomorrow as a result…
In case you haven’t guessed, I loved this book and highly recommend it to all. You can get your own copy here.
Scotland (and many other parts of the world) is currently facing a teacher recruitment crisis. The crisis is currently the most prominent in the state education sector.
There are lots of reasons for this including:
- Significant pressure on local authority budgets (leading to staffing cuts);
- Lack of incentives (such as relocation expenses, help with housing or the creation of a rural living allowance);
- Poor succession planning from Government (not enough new teachers in the system to replace an aging work force);
- Teachers being attracted to more appealing jobs in the private sector (including independent and international schools); and
- Poor advertising.
Some schools who have struggled to fill posts have turned to more imaginative ways of advertising to recruit the best candidates to the jobs at their schools.
At Kingussie High we have had success in recent years using Social Media to attract an outstanding group of teachers from a diverse range of subjects to our small rural school. This article outlines some of the things that we have learnt along the way about using Social Media for recruitment.
Lesson One: Social Media doesn’t recruit staff on its own.
Over the years I have heard lots of people say they are going to create a ‘viral video campaign’ to recruit a member of staff to their school. Yet when you look at the total YouTube views they rarely reach double figures. The reason for this is that social media doesn’t recruit staff on its own.
The schools that have success in using social media for recruitment will be the schools that already use social media well. They will have active Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as a modern looking website. Over time they will have built up a large social following of both current and past pupils, staff, parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents and members of the local community. This ‘tribe’ of social brand ambassadors will be the main reason that your video gets 100s, 1000s or 1,000,000s of views rather than just a couple of dozen.
Lesson Two: Your Social Media Campaign is only as good as where you directed people to on the web.
Importantly, where you direct people to is not necessarily the advert or the application form. Lets face it (particularly in the public sector) most adverts and application forms are boring and sterile. You need to direct people to a web page or a web page of links that really sells your school and very importantly, as a school leader, sells why people might want to work for you.
We use the simple www.kingussiehigh.org.uk/joinus holding page as the hub of our social media campaign. It links to supplementary information about each post, provides a nice statement about the school, links to some other fun content (to help people get a feel for the team they will be joining) and of course links to the more traditional job and person specification (hosted on www.myjobscotland.gov.uk - where all of the Scottish public sector teaching jobs are listed).
Lesson Three – if you want to increase your viral audience you need to push the boundaries just enough to not to get the sack.
Remember, on the web controversial is often king (that is why there are so many cat videos on YouTube).
I once advertised an English teachers post and on the web version of the supplementary information I purposely muddled up ‘their’, ‘there’ & ‘they’re’ and ‘to’, ‘two’ & ‘too’. The advert spread like wild fire with lots of people keen to point out how ‘grammatically incorrect’ it was and how ‘literacy standards’ must be very poor in the Highlands of Scotland. The people who understood the humour were also the ones who made it to the bottom of the advert and discovered the disclaimer!
Here is an example of some supplementary information that we sent out to accompany a Depute Head Post. The online chatter it generated called it everything from ‘refreshing’ to a ‘disgrace!’ We had tens of thousands of views and in the end 24 applicants (many of whom would have been worthy of the position).
Lesson Four – Pay for on-line advertising to promote & boost your posts.
We run our social media adverts thought Facebook. It costs me £150 - £250 to put a small advert in the local paper. I normally throw about £30 - £50 on any Facebook advert. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes I think the newspaper is worth it. This is particularly the case if I am trying to recruit someone locally for a support role (office, technician, etc.). But if I want to attract a teacher from outside the area then Facebook wins hands down every time for me.
It is really important not to forget the above lessons one, two and three though. The bigger your social reach the more reach you will get with your paid advert due to its magnifying effect. Also, don’t forget to make your landing page appealing – clicks are one thing but you want people to dig deeper and apply.
The great thing about Facebook advertising is that you can set a budget and also target where and when your advert will appear on other Facebook users profiles.
It is pay ‘per click’ so you only actually pay when someone clicks on your advert and they link to your landing page. You can target on a number of levels such as male or female, by age range, by geographical location, by interest or by a little bit of everything.
Once you have ‘boosted’ your advert and set it in motion you can track the amount of social vs paid views.
Lesson Five – Use your own social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to further promote your advert.
Basically, ask people to share within their networks. This will increase your social shares and add value to your paid advert.
- The time of the year that you advertise is really important. This is particularly important if relocation is going to be required.
- First impressions count – what shows up in Google when you ‘Google your School’.
Digital impressions are first impressions these days...
- Lots of other links about using Social Media in school and education here.
About this post:
In 2017 I promised to write more on olliebray.com (which is also currently undergoing a digital overhaul in the background). I’ve committed to this new series of school improvement stories, which is really about the lessons I have learnt, mistakes I have made and things I want to share from my leadership of Kingussie High School. There will be twelve posts in total (published on the last day of each month during 2017).
January 2017 – Using Social Media for Recruitment.
February 2017 – Raising Attainment through Sport.
March 2017 – Partnership Working in the Senior Phase.
April 2017 – Constructing your Senior Phase Curriculum.
May 2017 – Using Technology to Improve learning (1).
June 2017 – Using Technology to Improve learning (2)
July 2017 – Understanding Deprivation to Improve Attainment.
August 2017 - Improving Positive Destinations.
September 2017 - Developing 3-18 Skills.
October 2017 - Making the most of your ‘local context’.
November 2017 - Developing Middle Leadership.
December 2017 - Improving progression in the BGE.
The Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL) is undertaking a survey of the profession to help better understand which forms of professional learning are most effective, what aspects of professional learning the profession aspire to participate in, and any barriers there may be when undertaking professional learning.
The survey should take around fifteen minutes to complete and as a thank you, respondents will be entered into a draw to win a book voucher worth £100 for their school. The closing date for responses is the 6th March 2017.