Tag Archives: Main Feature

Do grades really matter?⤴

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This week marked the start of the a level results being issued whilst over a week ago the Scottish higher results were issued. And if as predicted, it leads to a greater focus on the number and type of candidates gaining entry to university, is it now time for a rethink?

Interestingly, English students go to school to collect their results, knowing that if things don’t go quite as planned there is support at hand with advice and back up plans able to be put swiftly in place. Conversely, the Scottish system has evolved where most young people receive a text or letter through the post. Any support and advice is generally provided by skills development Scotland rather than school based staff. Although most schools will retain a support offering for students to discuss course choice changes and provide advice.

However, as various announcements are made by political parties about the suitability of the university entries system and suggestions made on how to improve it. Labour propose students receiving an offer based on actual grades once the exam results have been published. Presumably, this would lead to university terms starting later or exams being brought forward into March or April to allow time for results, offers and university places to be accepted.

But isn’t there a better way? Should students who want to go to university simply be allowed to attend, assuming they have provided evidence that they can attain. Maybe not necessarily requiring a grade to join. This would mean universities changing their competitive approach to higher education. However, would quality be reduced? Or would students from disadvantaged backgrounds be more able to gain entry to university?

Would this lead to the suggested devaluing of the National 4 qualification which has a pass/fail approach. I’m not sure it would. I think that have an external, final exam was retained then we would retain the integrity of the qualification.

Would this also ensure that all students continue working hard right up until the end. Reports suggest that some students do not exert the same effort when they receive an unconditional offer. This is despite the fact that the university is making the offer based on the application submitted and the subjects studied being detailed on the application.

Overall, we should consider refocusing the timings of exams, results and university offers so that offers are received towards the end of the academic year. I am not sure the Scottish education system is quite ready yet for a pass/fail approach to higher and subsequent entry into university.

EduBlether

The sun is still is still shining…⤴

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The sun is still shining and the music keeps playing. It must be the summer holidays. As I jet off to the south of France for a final week of rest before returning to school, I reflect on the seven weeks of the summer and look forward to the year ahead at school and beyond.

At the beginning of the summer, I jetted off to Mozambique, the Kingdom of eSwatini and South Africa for a world challenge trip with school. Twelve students and three staff made the 3 week long trek across Africa experiencing a marine conservation project, trek, Kruger national park, supporting a neighbourhood care point and some much needed rest and relaxation. It’s hard to believe now that the summer is nearly over. But what has been learnt about my time in Africa. Well, for one, how fortunate we are in having access to clean running water, access to free comprehensive education and free healthcare. It is hard not to feel a certain sense of guilt that I and many other people take all of the above for granted.

During the holidays a major task has always been to ensure that I completed my 8000 final assignment for the SCEL Into Headship programme. Due date: 19th August. I am pleased to say that I have now completed that assignment and after many redrafts and poorly constructed sentences, it now reads rather well. I never thought at the beginning of the holidays that I would have come to this point. What has struck me about my learning, I definitely need a deadline to motivate me! I also feel as though this summer, my work life balance has not been as balanced as it would normally be. I have always advocated for a holiday to be a holiday as I recognise the important work staff do throughout the year, including evenings, weekends and feel that holidays are a safe zone for work.

As our political landscape becomes even more scary, with the prospect of an early general election, crashing out the EU and a second independence referendum, I feel that the time is right for some optimism. The benefits of the holidays are always the increased time for thinking. But what positive rays of sunshine are there?

Well, for one the start of a new term is always enjoyable. Meeting new staff, new pupils and parents. It also provides an opportunity for a fresh look at aspects of the school improvement plan. Staff and young people are always much more up for it in this first term when compared to other terms.

What will be interesting to see is the development of some developments this year on a political front. For example, what will happen with the review around jobsizing toolkit which was promised as part of the pay review. Or indeed, how will the GTCS standards review impact our work in schools including the recommendations of implementing a lead teacher role within the existing career structure. Furthermore, how will the rhetoric of collaboration and empowerment play out as we continue to see the regional improvement collaborative embed themselves. Will the headteachers charter delivery empowerment for school leaders to develop their own curriculum and staffing structures. And will greater financial freedom lead to greater decision making?

I want to end with a key learning point from this year’s into Headship conference, led by Gayle Gorman.

Gayle highlighted the desire to move from a politically-driven system to a professionally-led system.

If realised, this will lead to a sustainable, embedded change out with the reach of changing government priorities. It may also lead to a greater clarity of purpose across Scotland rather than interpretation of policies being adopted by groups of politicians of different persuasions.

As the summer holidays draw to an end, please keep smiling and stay optimistic.

EduBlether

Why I love Teaching⤴

from @ edublether.wordpress.com

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It seems at times that there is a lot of negative press about teaching, and a lot of this comes from teachers themselves who have simply had enough. Now I am not for a second saying that our job is not hard, and I too feel the ever-growing pressures to raise attainment, reduce the gap, ensure a high level of Wellbeing for all and put on a Christmas show at the same time. I get it. Honestly I do.

However, the point of this post is to focus solely on the positive. To reflect deeply on what it was that attracted me to the profession and what it is that continues to do so every day.

1. Helping people

Straight off the bat, and no matter how cheesy it seems, the fact that I am working in a job that helps people every day is immensely rewarding. Non-teachers (muggles) hate it when I say this because it sounds very self-righteous and arrogant. I don’t mean it to come across this way. I simply get a joy and pleasure out of helping children make progress in the learning. When I use ‘learning’ here, I include everything from Literacy and Numeracy all the way through to getting along with people and dealing with a difficult situation. My job is to help and I get a lot from that.

2. Creativity

The creative element of teaching is hard to beat. Few other jobs give you so much autonomy to make the job your own. Creative approaches to teaching and learning are the cornerstone of education and it is creativity that will allow us to achieve the high expectations we set for our young people. It may be as simple as creating resources or display boards, but I also use it here to refer to the creativity needed to deescalate a potentially explosive situation with a child who struggles to self-regulate, or the creativity needed to be flexible enough to change your whole lesson plan because it started snowing outside and every child in the class has their nose on the window. It takes many forms but is ever-present. Creativity is the lifeblood of teaching and it is this that sets it apart from others jobs I have worked in.

3. Uncertainty

This may seem a bit masochistic, however I love not knowing what the day is going to throw at me. You can be the most organised, planned and prepared teacher in the word (I’m not for the record), but if one child doesn’t sleep well, or if someone just managed to win a game of fortnite before leaving the house, your whole daily plan can go out the window and you find yourself facing new and unpredicted challenges. I love this. It means that no two days are the same and you never once keep an eye on the clock to count the minutes till home time. In fact when the end of day arrives you often have no idea where the day has gone.

I also put uncertainty here as I like the fact that the future of our young people is unclear. University is no longer the only accepted end goal, jobs don’t exist yet that our children will be employed in and technology is advancing so quickly that it is re-shaping the way we teach. All of this breeds uncertainty but also great levels of excitement for me. It means I have to be flexible, learning all the time and reflective.

4. Learning.

I am passionate about learning. Both the process of how we learn, and how I can implement this understanding in my teaching, but also just learning new things myself. I will never stop in my pursuit for learning and I hope to pass on this attitude to those young people that I teach. Teaching not only encourages this, it is an obligatory part of being a teacher. You must evidence how you are developing and growing as a professional as part of Professional Review. I think this is fantastic. As a result of this there are so many opportunities for teachers to learn and grow professionally. Every year since becoming a teacher I have been fortunate enough to take part in a new and exciting learning opportunity either with the local authority or at University as well as in-house training sessions. This has been incredibly rewarding for me and I know it has had a significant impact on those learners I have taught.

5. Opportunities

Teaching affords us many different opportunities for how you want your career to progress. One of the points surrounding Scottish teacher’s dissatisfaction with Teaching at the moment is the lack of routes for promotion in the profession, and I understand this. Management should not be the only promotion route available for teachers. However, there are still a great number of opportunities available to teachers. Interesting secondments, curriculum development posts, working for a University on teacher training courses etc. You also have a lot of scope for becoming an expert in a specific area by joining council improvement parties focussing on a specific subject, like Maths or Digital Literacy. Opportunities for you to carve and shape your own career are bountiful if you are looking in the right places.

I know that it may not be popular to say it, and I know that there are counter arguments to what I am putting forward here. I think that it is important to be critical and challenge injustices in the profession, but we need to do this without losing sight of all the wonderful and exciting elements of what it means to be a teacher.

I welcome your thoughts and opinions on this, let me know what it is that you love about your job.