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Reach needs YOU – have your say in our survey⤴

from @ Reach

Hey you out there. Yes….you!

Pointing finger we need YOU

We would really appreciate your help.

Can you spare 5 mins to answer a few questions in our survey? Click here to take the survey.

We want to make sure that the Reach website is what young people like you actually want and need.

We will listen carefully to what you have to say, and will use what you tell us to shape the future of Reach.

Young person at computer dancing for joy

We will be entering all young people who complete the survey into a prize draw for Amazon Vouchers.


The post Reach needs YOU – have your say in our survey appeared first on Reach.

Quality Improvement Awards 2017⤴

from @ Engage for Education

 National award ceremony celebrates quality improvement initiatives.

Nine individuals and organisations have been recognised for their work to improve services for babies, children, young people and families at the Quality Improvements Awards 2017.

The awards are designed to celebrate innovative quality improvement work that is strengthening support and services for families across Scotland, helping ensure every child has the best possible start in life and can reach their full potential as they grow up.

There were nine winners across ten categories including:

  • Achieving Results at Scale: South Lanarkshire Community Planning Partnership
  • Co-production with Families and Our Services: Midlothian Sure Start
  • Excellence for QI in Maternity, Neonatal and Paediatric: Royal Hospital for Children, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
  • Excellence for QI in Early Years: NHS Ayrshire and Arran: SPIN
  • Excellence for QI in Primary Years: Renfrewshire Council, Our Lady of Peace Primary School
  • Excellence for QI in Secondary Years: East Ayrshire Council
  • Inspiring Leadership: Carrie Lindsay, Executive Director Education and Children’s Services, Fife Council
  • Most Inspiring / Innovative Project: Renfrewshire Council, Glencoats Primary School
  • Quality Improvement Champion: Fiona Riddell, Stow Primary School, Scottish Borders
  • Top Team: Royal Hospital for Children, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

The awards were open to those delivering quality improvement work through the Maternity and Children’s Quality Improvement Collaborative (MCQIC), run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative (CYPIC), run by the Scottish Government.

This year there were 140 entries across all ten categories, detailing how local people and teams have improved health, early years and family services and schools.

Maree Todd, Minister for Childcare and Early Years said:

“The Quality Improvement Awards provide an opportunity to showcase and share proven approaches that are making a positive and lasting difference to the lives of children, young people and families.

“Evidence shows that collaboration builds capacity and interventions built on collaboration have the biggest impact.  These Awards demonstrate clearly, the link between collaborative working, better practice and improved outcomes and it is clear there are great examples already taking place across Scotland.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners and thank everyone who submitted an entry.”


Dr Brian Robson, Medical Director, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said:

“The QI awards are a fantastic opportunity to showcase the enthusiasm and commitment demonstrated by professionals and organisations throughout the public sector.

“Their work is imperative in helping to improve the life chances for babies and young people across Scotland.  Congratulations to all the winners and nominees who have shown such dedication to making Scotland the best place to grow up.”


Winners were announced at the QI Awards ceremony on Tuesday 21 November at the Glasgow Science Centre.

Further information and videos of the shortlisted and winning projects are available here.

The post Quality Improvement Awards 2017 appeared first on Engage for Education.

Teachers Need To…⤴


The Hotel was very welcoming, the staff personable and, on the surface, seemed genuine in their desire to do all they could to help guests have an enjoyable experience. ‘Stay’ no longer adequately massages & moulds hearts & minds, apparently. No, a tad austere & cold. Plus, experience could also speak to outcomes and be measured, thought the teacher. Lucky hotel employees, never happen in my world. Ha.

The room was functional, difficult to find fault, but equally never going to inspire others to imitate. She had spent the evening in a curious binary state; stressed yet optimistic in a hopeful way. The oscillations danced a relentless tango all evening long. I don’t even want to think what will be waiting for me at school when I return from this “luxury”, as she read the latest membership list for the new improvement council. She began to guess from the names & designations the positions that many, if not all, would take. At ease, biases, stay at bay, I know you are there, she felt. Open mind, as the sudden onslaught of stress reappeared. Why are you here, she felt herself repeat? You have a school to run. I should be here though. Must be. Deserve to be, even.

‘Walled Gardens’ have that curiously misunderstood propensity to encourage groupthink. Where has the richness of friction and debate gone, she pondered silently. Evanesced to shadows of collusion and ‘well dones’ and ‘pats on the back.’ Don’t be cynical. We are all supporting a moral imperative, she assured herself. We are all in this together she said. Some more in this together than others, jabbing through her thoughts. Must stop that. Not who I am. I’m a professional who loves my career as a teacher. Not going down the road of cynicism that has afflicted too many colleagues I admire (please don’t, her inner voice repeated silently on an unconscious loop)

He had slept well in the same hotel. The powerpoint needed only the briefest of tweaks, date change and reference to the most recent advisory council rhetoric. Still room for the same jokes at the same point & he hoped, same polite ripples of laughter without the acknowledgment to any discernible humour. We are doing the right thing, he knew. That the system was predicated as much on what occurred beyond than during contractual hours strangely less quoted in this moral narrative. Maybe best not to mention that, he thought. Better to valorise teachers, any destructive shibboleth thereafter can be attributed to teachers ignoring systems advice on well being. Yep, good plan.

Buffet breakfast and comforting coffee. He sat looking around him, wondering what the other guests did for a living. Salesmen. Their suits certainly seemed to suggest that, he thought uncharitably. Very chatty also and smiling. Refining their in-group newspeak in preparation for the rhetoric of social persuasion & influencing others, no doubt. Further glances confirmed his earlier thought; no one here attending the conference. If there was I’d definitely know them.

Another Four and Five star hotel, another conference, different but the same. She sat listening, overtly attentive, para linguistics of agreement & confirmation. Better delivery today, more fluent and the message seems to be landing very well with the audience. As Hollywood would attest, many takes may be required to elicit and encourage a manufactured consent of credibility. Stop being cynical, again jabbing through her conscience. I’ve read Haidt and moral biases always precede moral reasoning. Slow down and truly internalise the message; “closing a poverty induced attainment gap is a national and moral imperative”. Who could argue? Who would argue? Who has argued?

Heartbeats quicken. How many emails await? When was the meeting to conduct a stress at work interview with that colleague? Do hope I can help otherwise another teacher off long term due to stress. No supply staff either. Can’t juggle timetables anymore.

He was enjoying this conference. He arrived late last night, but the speech pretty much delivered itself now & his ‘front of house’ was superb, hubris not withstanding he checked his ego. Slightly. Win hearts and minds and you are halfway there, his distinguished, high profile mentor had always engrained in him. And it seemed from the connection today he was doing just that;

“We need to strategically target the most disadvantaged pupils and provide coherent, sustainable and demonstrable interventions that can make a difference”
We? Whose we, she thought? “The Royal We” of we are in this together, similar to a Cameron cabinet of multimillionaires, she mused cynically? Of course we do. Say something less nebulous please.

“We need to break this cycle of poverty and stimulate a joy of reading and language in that critical period hypothesis of early years.”
We again? Stop. You’re absolutely right. A language rich environment in the early years has strong correlations to positive post school destinations. I’m with you, all the way. Shoot. Forgot that meeting with those parents who want to make official complaint against Mr——– in Science. Damn, need to catch up tomorrow and make space in my diary, somehow. Not sure how though.

“We need to walk the words of our values and transmit consistently high expectations; we need more of our most disadvantaged pupils to gain entry to FE and HE, breaking slowly a cycle of poverty of choice.” Absolutely, we may hold different contentions around the purposes of education, but ultimately the beautiful risk is to give everyone choice. Wonder if staffing have read my email and will expedite to national advert those Physics, Biology, Maths, English and Tech vacancies I’ve been waiting to fill for what seems like an eternity.

“We need to bridge this gap….” Hold on tiger, that’s a new one. Like that. Bridge the gap. After all, education in one sense is cognitive enhancement and surely that is possible for all. Maybe even greater opportunity to increase Gf / Gc of a targeted, disadvantaged cohort. Plus, high boundaries and high levels of care also helps bridge the gap and I know we do that well. Don’t I?

Well done, great points made today, she said to him at the end, serendipitously catching his eye after he had networked with the ”names’. Absolutely hit the nail on the head.
Now to make sure we translate into reality, she ventured.

Thank you, absolutely he agreed. We are in this together and on a moral level, you could argue we have no choice but to address our gaps. So true, she said, genuinely.

He walked away to be met by his entourage. Taxi to airport, flight to London and meeting with CBI tomorrow he thought. Same hotel chain, so at least his points would increase. Wonder if the next series of House of Cards is on Netflix yet. Need to check.

Need a break from this reality.

She walked away, positive and mildly hitting Csikszentmihalyi’s flow. But. Against her better judgement, she opened the app and checked her emails. The colour in her face almost at once began to gently drain of optimism, her heart notched up its rhythm, her thoughts spiralled to light speed again. Back to her world.

Back to this reality.

We are in this together, she again mused.

Part 2; ‘We’ll meet again. I know where. I know when’

Pedagoo Muckle at Levenmouth Academy⤴


Working in education is hard at the moment. A staffing crisis makes keeping schools open on a day-to-day basis quite a challenge. Constant changes to the curriculum and exam system leave teachers feeling as if the goalposts are constantly shifting. Austerity means that we teach a lot, have a relatively little planning and preparation time, and have to be super organised in order to be able to deliver the best we can.
It is sometimes difficult not to feel negative.
Yesterday I got up at 5 am, drove to Glasgow, and joined four other colleagues who I have connected with through Twitter to travel across to Fife for Pedagoo Muckle. I then spent the day with a group of teachers before returning and getting home at 8:30 pm. Although the issues mentioned above were touched upon during the day, because we had not travelled to cloud cuckoo land where the realities of day-to-day teaching do not exist, the day was overwhelmingly one of positivity, hope, humour, connection, and professional excitement.
It is clear what makes a Pedagoo Muckle day so fantastic. On the surface it is its simplicity; a group of educationalists ranging from headteachers to PGDE students getting together to talk about ideas that work with passion and commitment. But the simplicity is deceptive. Because the incredible hard work and attention to detail behind the scenes is far from simple. From the fact that the event is free, to the wonderful refreshments provided throughout the day, to the small but meaningful free gifts, to the incredible cartoons drawn by artist Dylan Gibson, to the creative and hugely well planned activities, to those taking photos and tweeting, to the children of the organisers roped in to make it a family affair, to the pupil from the host school Levenmouth Academy playing the guitar as we enter, to the welcoming, inclusive, encouraging, caring atmosphere that makes everybody in the room feel valued and loved…. all of this low-budget simplicity results in a phenomenally high-value experience that shows us that quality CPD is not about PowerPoints, highly paid speakers or corporate sponsors.
It is about a small group of committed and hardworking folk who have found a formula that works and repeated it, year after year, to enable teachers to fall back in love with what they do.
For that, those behind Pedagoo and Pedagoo Muckle deserve a huge thank you:
Feargal Kelly, Aileen Kelly, Ciara Gibson, Susan Ward, Lynne Jones and Sheena White.
Extra thanks in relation to yesterday’s Muckle must go to the staff and students of Levenmouth Academy who made the venue such a welcoming place and also to Gemma Sanderson and Jenny Harvey.
If you don’t know about Pedagoo, check out the information and video here: http://www.pedagoo.org/
The programme for yesterday was this:
I am sure that if you are interested in the Learning Conversations, you could contact the facilitators for the notes.
Several friends of mine were unable to make the event (Ish, Mandy, Joyce) and so below I share a few notes that I made about some parts of the day for them and anyone else who missed it.
The best thing to do if you weren’ t there, however, check out Lynne’s stority on twitter:
And if you can, make it your goal to hear David Cameron speak at some point soon. My notes below do not do justice to David’s passion, knowledge, and expertise. I have heard David speak many times now and what I find hugely inspiring is that he is always entertaining, thought-provoking and original and yet his key messages never change. Above all he knows that it is about:
I left Muckle feeling hugely inspired, re-assured and validated and with every one of expectations met.
Ciara’s welcome
What brings us to Fife?
 Fascination with learning and teaching.
Pedagoo is a community. Mainly online. Can sit in jammies with toast and connect with people around the world.
Twitter and the Pedagoo website are key parts.
Coming together for Teachmeets and Muckle events allow real-life connections.
Explore what you do with likeminded people.
Try things you are scared to do.
Unpick things.
Supportive peers.
May be lucky to have supportive peers in your own setting.
Why Muckle? Want it big.
Everything you do every day in your setting has real value.
Want to take Muckle on road after this.
Feargal on Scel
Framework and teacher leadership docs are here to take away.
What does leadership mean to you and what does leadership mean to you
Teachers lead learning day in day out.
Professional autonomy is crucial.
Teachers can make a difference
Joyful and tough
Collaboration is key.
Part of today is that we make a pledge to carry on the work of Pedagoo
 eg – organise a Teachmeet or a Weemeet.
Muckle TeachMeet
Sheena White
Shopping and eating are her passions
Inspired by Isobel Wallace “Pimp my lessons”
We big up our kids but not each other.
Poundland Pedagogy.
Combined love of shopping and Pedagogy.
Bought a lot of things and encouraged people to use them in lesson
Everyday items
 Objects on table…. pick one think about how you might use it in a lesson.
Mr Ross HT at Levenmouth
Pupil voice
5 a day- see 5 pupils and ask what is going well with learning
New school.
Find a way of sharing with staff
No naming- respectful
 Short report to staff – anonymous
Andrew Bailey
Retrieval activity
N5 and higher
5 questions from previously- 2 from last lesson and 3 from before
Enjoying it
May take 15 minsof a 50 min lesson but is valuable


Lovely NQT

S1s needing help with focus.
Blurt beans.
If they follow rules they get a butter bean and tub- certain number = treat
Eg listen to music, watch movie.
Ewan Nicholl
Primary 5
Mindset approach- assess accordingly
Post-it’s useful – they feed back to him – eg “Mr Nicholl needs to explain it better”
Feedback from them has really changed things
Getting them to think about their learning and his teaching has been transformational
They write “I can’t do it….yet”
Rebekah Hutton
Plenaries on a plate tool – ppts
Mike Gershon- really good website.
Really good resources in one place
Amy Henderson
Girls in school who were hard to engage.
 Table tennis club after school for three years has really moved things on and they come to her for help
Hard in winter when you just want to go home and eat but worth it.
 Bridges built
Michael Smith
1 week in – great school
4 yrs in sciencecentre
Sharing week:
Division- dice out
Inclusion – if you are going to de clutter for all pupils, de-clutter for all.
Karen Macallister
Session on how we can make homework work better.
When pupils are doing work
(Kirsty Turner from Manchester)
If they get the wrong answer – find the mistakes.
Elizabeth Gowans
Came last year and did not get to speak.. a bit disappointed.
Speaking to pupil yesterday re fear- him of singing and her of speaking.
Will be able to share how it went with him next week.
Last year pledged to connect after the event and did it.
This year- needs to have a weemeet with staff and team.
Fran Whitmore
Teaches EAL English and lit – itinerant.
Outdoor learning to help with language.
20p gliders from chemist. Really useful prop.
Fly them in playground and encourage positional language – up, over, down…
Noisy, confidence building
Ronan Docherty
If you do not revise you shall not pass!
Dunfermline high school NQT
We get pupils to collaborate but don’t always do it ourselves
Do not see each other for days!!
Microsoft teams as professional learning community
Eg sharing date
Linda Bell
Large primary in East Ren
Last year pledged to hold a teachmeet.
Ripple effect.
Had a teachmeet.
High levels of expressed emotion and fear.
NQTs and young staff ok- others less so.
Really positive- lots of learning and connections
Why do older colleagues lack confidence?
Dread learning visits by SLT twice a year – have been more about performance rather than learning.
Has trialled lesson study instead.
Forbes Maginnes
DHT at Levenmouth
Mini teach meet
Learning walk
Pieces of paper prepared for in service day.
 Made people talk and share learning
Try and do different things.
Be brave, be bold, be creative
Much to my horror, a video was made of my contribution which you can see here (thanks to Jenny):
The point of this exercise is that when we want to teach children about behaviour it can sometimes be difficult; in my experience the easiest way is to put them in a role where they demonstrate the behaviour we desire and then praise, praise, praise. It is amazing how children who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences and whom we may see as ‘challenging’, ‘fidgety’ or ‘disruptive’ suddenly act with self-control, maturity and respect when we treat them as we would a highly-skilled professional.
I think Paul Dix, author of the amazing book ‘When The Adults Change, Everything Changes’ might agree.
It is at least 23 years since I first started playing 0006 at a South London comprehensive school. As David Cameron says, sometimes we don’t need new things, just to make them better. (When I play her again tomorrow, the ‘better’ will be that I talk about ‘watching like ‘a’ hawk, not hawks. The nerves I felt in front of the Teachmeet group far exceeded any I usually feel in front of a class!)
David Cameron
Why the flip do we not make things work?
Regional collaborative or changing governance means nothing to @chriskilkenny.
Addiction to doing something new instead of doing things better.
We do not need an attainment challenge.
We are here on a Saturday.
We need to talk about what works and how we do that. @pedagoo does that.
If we don’t have time, we don’t have time to waste.
Legacy is key
Translate what works.
Hattie and Logan slides on difference between rhetoric and reality in schools -nonsense
The rhetoric is at the top, not in schools.
Not about the soloists but the choir.
The voices we sing with, not the voices we listen to.
Visible learning is about ‘so what’ – find it and work back from it.
What makes a difference in outcomes is what happens when educators and young people come together. So what? must be the driver.
Reflection is crucial.
Humility is key.
Moderators in Pedagoo stand behind it not in front of it. Not about them.
We are here on Saturday because we know we can make a difference to young people. Otherwise their potential is to fail.
Need to redefine potential.
Levenmouth is a community with challenges – check out the police twitter feed.
But the staff and pupils here are ambitious
Ambition, courage are needed.
Commitment to idealism and willingness to believe in more.
Forget initiatives.
What we need is to learn from Practice.
Why not for real?
Need to build coalitions of success (Hattie)
Not improvement through change but through engagement
Being with us makes despair impossible and hope inevitable.


from @ Know it, Show it

I’m a nervous flier. Always have been. I so want to enjoy it, the rush along the runway, the world zipping past in a blur as you are pressed back into your comfortable airline seat, that sudden jolt when you leave solid ground and incomprehensibly soar up into the big blue yonder.

But I don’t notice any of that, because I’m too busy freaking out. I am not looking up and forward, into the possibilities and magic that lie ahead, I am looking down and back, watching the safety of the terminal building disappear, the world I know and understand vanishing beneath me at an alarming rate.

And don’t even get me started on turbulence. I am attuned to every jiggle, every bump, always convinced the next wobble will signal the end of days. My mother told me once to watch the flight crew; you don’t really need to worry unless they look worried. Flight attendants are certainly reassuring people. Watching how they notice-don’t-notice the bumps and dips of flight, in the same way I would those on a car or bus journey, always lends a certain perspective to my panic. These are people who have learned to lean into turbulence, to accept the discomfort and move forward regardless, ending up in new places as a result.

Around a year ago, I started working towards the SCEL ‘Into Headship’ qualification, which is to become a pre-requisite for all new head teachers from 2019. I considered myself a pretty reasonable school leader. I had experience as a principal teacher and had just been appointed depute. My work life was inspiring, supportive and challenging and my personal life was reasonably settled. It seemed the right time to give it a go.

So I took off and straight away, I was catapulted at speed away from everything I thought I knew about leadership and education and launched into something new entirely. A place full of research, hard questions, policy analysis and some very, very long words. Oh and let’s not forget the anonymised responses from colleagues and family to some searching survey questions that laid bare my emotional and social competencies (or lack thereof). Every stage of the process brought more ‘new’. New thinking, new ideas. New conversations about old practices that made what I had always done suddenly look pretty shoddy.

I freaked out. I felt stressed, anxious, panicky. I began to wonder what on earth I had been thinking in signing up for this torture. I was fine the way I was.

Only I wasn’t, was I? Not really. And anyway, the deed was done. The genie was out of the bottle. The plane had taken off and there was no way back now. The only way was forward. So I took a deep breath and I opened my eyes.

And I started to learn.

I learned that to be a good leader you have to take people with you.

I learned that I needed to slow down and listen more.

I learned that my way is not always the best or only way.

I learned that it is not all about me.

And the really interesting thing is, if you’d asked me a year ago, I’d have told you I knew all of those things already.

But I didn’t really. I just thought I did. To really know these things, these essential, important and game-changing things, to understand their real value, I had to earn them. I needed to put in the hard work (and the even harder thinking and reflection) to earn the right to that knowledge.

And this meant working in a totally different way. A way where I wasn’t in charge all of the time. For a Little Miss ‘Make-The-Plan-Execute-The-Plan’, this was shockingly difficult. I couldn’t just burn through the work, get the job done the way I thought it should be and keep everybody right along the way. I had to be thoughtful. I had to stop and think and ask and question and consider and accommodate and listen.

And I had to do it properly too, not just play at it.

And what happens when you shake things up like that? Turbulence. Lots of it. I became attuned to every bump and dip. But, instead of panicking and fearing disaster, I learned to lean in. I got curious. I felt the discomfort of the new tugging against my old ways, but I kept going regardless. I kept breathing and I kept going.

Now, you don’t pull off something like that without a cracking flight crew. You need to be able to scan your surroundings and watch people who make it look easy, even when it’s far from it. You need those people to share with you how they do it and take you up to the cockpit and let you see how they fly the plane. Maybe even let you have a shot yourself, knowing they are right beside you if you need them. You need people who will explain to you that turbulence is perfectly normal, that to get to where you are going, it is a necessary process. And you need people who will pat your arm reassuringly, bring you a cup of tea or a stiff drink and tell you everything will be ok, just keep going.

I don’t know yet if I have passed or failed. And it actually doesn’t really matter, because what I do know is that Into Headship has made me better at what I do.

Was it easy? Hell, no. Could I have done it without the support, encouragement, patience and inexhaustible good temper of those around me? Not a chance.

It has been hard and it has been scary. But it has also changed everything.

And I’m not scared of turbulence any more.

At least not at work.

Replaying highlights from the last year⤴

from @ ammienoot.com

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This is largely a paper that I wrote for our September 2017 Learning and Teaching Committee. The paper is available as Paper K here. Just in case anyone wants to know what I’ve been working on for the last 12 months…


Information Services Group has been working to launch a centrally-supported lecture recording service for the start of the academic year 2017/18 and to scale up the service over 2 subsequent years to provide a highly integrated, highly automated service in 400 general teaching spaces across campus.

Lecture Recording Programme Phases

Lecture recording rollout is spread over 3 phases, recognising that there are limited windows of opportunity during the academic year to equip many of our teaching spaces, and to allow the programme sufficient time to take feedback and adjust plans to ensure the service delivers the required benefits for all.

For the start of academic year 2017/18 the focus has firmly been on transitioning those users who currently rely on lecture recording into the new service.

Phase 1 timeline

One of the biggest challenges has been the length of time that a public procurement process requires. In this project it took 9 months to complete what was a complex and highly competitive procurement. The willingness of our chosen supplier – Echo360 – to work with us on rolling out the service even whilst we were finalising terms and conditions has been vital to achieving a service for the start of 17/18.

Phase 1 Service

The new service is called ‘Media Hopper Replay’. The service was made available to staff from 5 September to allow VLE courses to be linked to the new service in good time, and for staff to familiarize themselves with the Replay software.

All courses that relied on the previous Panopto lecture recording service have been contacted personally to ensure they are transitioned over to the new service. Additionally, where possible, a small number of additional courses have been included in the service. Typically this has been where they are already scheduled into an enabled room or are being taught by someone already using the service on another course.

For the start of term 17/18 the service will be available in 114 general teaching spaces across the campus. This includes all of our largest lecture theatres. Commissioning of rooms will take place right up to the end of Welcome Week, reflecting the use of many teaching spaces in the Central Area by the Fringe Festival, and the more general programme of refurbishment of our estate.

Along with lecture recording equipment, additional cameras and microphones have been installed. In larger spaces we have also doubled up the number of microphones. Each room has an indicator light that is used to signal when recording is taking place. The light also functions as a button to allow recordings to be easily paused. 50 ‘Catchbox’ throwable microphones will be in larger teaching spaces to aid recording of questions from students.

New room signage is being installed to clearly indicate which rooms are equipped. Telephones are being installed in teaching spaces as part of the rollout to allow issues to be reported to support more quickly.

Media Hopper Replay has been integrated with the Learn and Moodle VLEs. Academic colleagues will be able to manually start and stop ad-hoc recordings as per the previous lecture recording service. Additionally around 75 courses have requested to be part of a pilot for scheduling of recording. This process has been defined and documented and tested with colleagues in the Timetabling Unit.

Several lecture theatres in Kings Buildings have been equipped specifically to record chalkboards. A significant amount of effort has gone into this activity, led by a cross-College Technical Special Interest Group. A number of courses in Maths and Physics have signed up to pilot the service in 17/18.

Examples of recording light and new room signage

Phase 1 Support

Equipping our academic colleagues and students with the appropriate digital skills to make best use of lecture recording technology has been integral to the programme and we have taken a broad approach based on early School feedback.

To support the new service two new training courses have been developed and are being delivered both face to face and via webinars:

  • “Preparing for Lecture Recording” covers accessibility and copyright topics – these were identified by academic colleagues as areas where more guidance was needed.
  • “Delivering Lectures using Lecture Recording” explains how to use the Replay system itself and how it links to the Learn VLE.

Feedback from training courses so far has been that the service is simple and easy to use. A series of drop-in sessions are scheduled for w/b 11 September and w/b 18 September to give academic colleagues an opportunity to try out a ‘hands-on’ recording process in an equipped teaching space.

Online help materials for staff have been published on the ISG website, including demonstrations videos. Similar materials for students will be published during Welcome Week. An extensive set of FAQs are also published online, and are being regularly updated as the service rolls out.

Operating procedures inside Information Services Group with key support teams such as the IS Helpline have been agreed. Preview sessions for School IT and learning technology colleagues and teams within Information Services Group have been held. Staff who support teaching spaces, both in ISG and in Schools have been trained on swap-out procedures and spare lecture recording boxes are being held at several points across campus for rapid response. IT and learning technology colleagues in Schools who have devolved administrator roles have been identified and trained. The programme has benefitted enormously from both the support and advice of School colleagues who have been supporting the previous Panopto lecture recording service.

Student helpers are being recruited to provide hands-on assistance in lecture theatres for the first week of teaching.

The Timetabling Unit have worked to ensure that courses that require lecture recording are booked into appropriate spaces. This has been challenging in so far as the rollout of lecture recording has begun after final room requirements data is normally required by the Timetabling Unit. The working partnership between ISG and the Timetabling Unit within this programme has been absolutely key to success.

Phase 1 Communications

An extensive communications programme has underpinned all of this work, with a monthly newsletter, plus regular key messages information distributed to comms colleagues in Schools, Colleges and EUSA for inclusion in local newsletters or emails. Articles have appeared in Bulletin and BITs, the student newsletter, and on the IS News pages. An article will be also be published in Teaching Matters in September. Comms has also been distributed through College IT and academic representatives on various projects boards, steering groups and task groups. A student intern has been working with us over the summer and has created a series of videos featuring student and staff perspectives on the service, along with developing a flyer to go in the welcome pack for all new students, and marketing materials. This is key to managing student expectations as we rollout over several years.

Academic Champions

The Academic User Group has been formally convened, chaired by Professor Susan Rhind. Heads of Schools have been contacted to provide the name of a Lecture Recording champion in each School. 14 nominations have been received so far. The next User Group meeting will be on the 2nd of October.

Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley will lead the Engagement and Evaluation Group, which will meet for the first time in October. Three PTAS projects have been funded so far to evaluate lecture recording (http://www.ed.ac.uk/institute-academic-development/learning-teaching/funding/funding/previous-projects/theme/lecture-recording) and a further call is open until 26 October for projects starting in 2018.

MVM Timetabling

Recognising that use of the central Timetabling system was key to allowing the service to scale, the programme also includes work to assist the College of MVM to migrate over. Migration of the Vet School to central Timetabling is on track for September 2017 although some work is still needed to define the ongoing support model. A review of the Medical School timetabling/room booking requirements has been presented and a review report will be delivered in October 2017.

Next Steps

Once the first 114 rooms are operational for the start of term the programme will move on to focus on the delivery of automated Timetabling integration. This will allow courses to signal whether they need a lecture recording enabled room, and whether they would like their recordings automatically started and stopped as part of the annual Timetabling scheduling process. We are recruiting additional resources during September to assist with this work so that it begins quickly. We will also continue analysis and development work with the Medical School to help integrate them into the Central Timetabling System.

Phase 1 has focussed on supporting the core recording use cases for lecture recording. As we move into the next phase of the project we will develop and rollout further training courses to support more advanced use of the service. We have recruited additional resource to support this and input from the Academic User Group champions will help ensure this activity aligns well to academic needs in Schools. We also continue to make sure that lecture recording training is complimented by the wider training offered in within ISG and the Institute for Academic Development by cross-marketing relevant events (Flipped classroom; lecturing skills etc).

Additionally we will continue to install AV and IT equipment into teaching spaces across campus. During Phase 1 we have also identified several areas where front-line support for teaching spaces could be improved either by new processes or with additional staffing resources.

By the start of 2018/19 the service will be installed in around 300 teaching spaces, along with a more automated and integrated process for booking rooms and recording lectures. This will complement the new lecture recording policy being developed by the LTC task group.

The content trap⤴

from @ Stuart Allan

In his book The Content Trap, Bharat Anand claims that many businesses and educators have entirely missed the point about the digital age. Content is not king: networks are.

When printed newspapers saw their circulations fall off a cliff they bet the farm on content – more of it, and of higher quality. But, Anand argues, the loss of their position at the locus of networks – as hubs for corporate and private advertising, which moved to Facebook, Gumtree or Ebay almost overnight – was the real problem. Newspapers could have lived with a drop in circulations, but losing classifieds was the real killer.

Content is often a primary concern to many students – ‘we want more videos’, ‘what about lecture capture?’, ‘where can I download the slides?’. But is this because we’ve conditioned them to see content dissemination as the university’s main responsibility? If universities continue to focus their resources on content delivery, are they in danger of falling into the content trap?

Obviously educators still have to create or curate some content (whether that’s journal articles, textbook chapters, podcasts or videos) as the foundation for teaching. But we seem to be approaching a tipping point. The role of the (digital) university might not be developing and disseminating content, but facilitating learning networks and being able to react to what these networks are telling us.

Whisper it, but in digital education content might no longer be king.


On a Saturday? You’re Mad.⤴


“You’re mad.”
“On a Saturday?”

Another one of those Fridays where I mentioned that I was getting up early to drive and watch an inspirational lecture.

This was last year:

The songs on radio 1 that inspired me on my drive yesterday included this:


And this:

Just by Loch Lomond I also turned over the Radio 4 and heard Gove’s Weinstein comment. I almost pulled over to tweet my rage but was glad I didn’t, as the traffic then snarled up around Dumbarton and nearly made me late.

And so to Ardrossan to watch the film Resilience and hear Suzanne Zeedyk and David Cameron.

As usual, I am using my blog to record some notes and sound bites from what I heard and experienced.
If you were not able to make it, these notes may give you a flavour and encourage you to find out more. But I write and encourage you to read with the proviso that others in the room may have heard things differently.
The event started with an introduction from Suzanne Zeedyk and David Cameron.

Suzanne – her team have been working for some time to bring awareness around Adverse Childhood Experiences to the UK. The team is her, Tina Hendry, Pete on the door and Brett on the camera.

This summer their work has involved bringing the film Resilience to Scotland after it was shown down in London.

There were 25 screenings over the summer.
25000 people saw it.

By Dec this may be 10000 people.

It has had huge impact.
Vincent Felitti from the film was here in Scotland 10 years ago – but there was no revolution then. Why now?

Now we are seeing a revolution in kindness to children.

Production team in US feel that something different has happened in Scotland and want to know the strategy.

“2 crazy women with no money.”

Revolution happens because individuals want it to happen.

There is an interest in this from the govt; there is an ace website

ACES feature in the govt Nation with Ambition document- pages 71 and 73.

Lots of our communities have adults and children who have been damaged by trauma.
But there are still situations where schools make it worse for children
and some social work systems do.
How do we have more awareness and kindness?

“Only doing this cause he wanted to be in Ardrossan on a Saturday and see a movie.”

We have raised awareness but not made a difference.
Still the same for most of us.

Danger is that SG focus is now raising attainment and social mobility – these are the new “initiatives” that we will try and paint on the wall before we properly embed GIRFEC and CfE and trauma-informed practice and allow the paint of those important systems to dry.

Painting on wet paint,

Getting 5 highers and going to uni is not all there is. Leaving Ayrshire is not all there is.
Need to get it right for ALL kids.

Need to take control and do what we can where we are.

David wants us to walk in in the morning and say “that’s brilliant” and mean it.
“Campaign for brilliant”

Us being here in a Saturday will change this.

Suzanne agrees- needs to be grassroots.

Investment in the denial of the impact of trauma is so high.

We need to address people not wanting to talk about it.

We then watched the amazing, moving, life-affirming film Resilience. YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FILM IF YOU HAVE NOT AND YOU CARE ABOUT CHILDREN. (I’m not shouting but I am stating this emphatically.)

The film features a number of child specialists, paediatricians and medical professionals from the USA who have, over the last 20 years or so, been working in a way that is attachment and trauma informed and recognises the impact of adverse childhood experiences on both mental and physical health.

Robert Anda MD talks about the fact that this information needs to get to everyone not just the smart people. Vincent Felitti explains how when he first started talking about trauma informed practice and adverse childhood experiences he was called crazy by his colleagues.
The film shows how the two men had initially been working on different projects in different parts of the countries before they came together to realise that their conclusions were parallel.
Some of the work came from discoveries in an obesity clinic where the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse amongst those with obesity was striking.

Both men had worked on small studies on the impact of adversity childhood experiences but realised that the study needed to go bigger.

A study was then carried out between 1995 and 1997 amongst 17,000 middle-class adults. They completed a survey on their health but also answered on questions around separation, divorce, parenting, aggression and abuse. Out of this there then came a list of 10 adverse childhood experiences around which the research continued:

Prior to your 18th birthday:
1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt? No___If Yes, enter 1 __
2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured No___If Yes, enter 1 __
3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you No___If Yes, enter 1 __
4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other No___If Yes, enter 1 __
5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it No___If Yes, enter 1 __
6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced No___If Yes, enter 1 __
7. Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife No___If Yes, enter 1 __
8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs No___If Yes, enter 1 __
9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?  No___If Yes, enter 1 __
10. Did a household member go to prison? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

The results of the surveys were shocking:
28% of those surveyed had suffered physical abuse, 27% had experienced substance abuse, 13% had witnessed her mother being hurt, and one in five had experienced sexual abuse.
And the direct correlation between the ACES experienced and physical symptoms such as heart disease, strokes, addiction, depression, suicide and even cancer was striking.

The findings caused a huge amount of shock as previously researchers had had no idea about how much abuse there are is in our communities. The conclusions also found that with ACE score of 4 out of 10, participants were three times as likely to have experienced depression. Initially Robert Anda was faced with disbelief and was told he must have done something wrong in his investigations. However they went back through the research and the statistics and realised that there was nothing wrong. Anda stated “this is real but no one wants to know about it.”

10 years after the initial case study Dr Nadine Burke Harris was working in clinics with children in San Francisco. She became aware in the work that she was doing that adverse childhood experiences were absolutely crucial to child development, child health and adult health. She explains that she had never trained in any of this during medical school but it was obvious to her in her practice about the impact of ACES on child and later adult physical health. She discovered that in poor communities the average life expectancy was 67 as opposed to it being 78 in more wealthy communities. The key factors in the poorer communities that led to increased heart disease, obesity, depression, suicide, cancers, strokes and early death were:
mental health issues, violence, the death of friends and drug and substance abuse.
In 2007 she found out about the ACES study and found that it gave her total validation of what she was saying in the community she was working.
She realised first and foremost that one of the key things in tackling the impact of adverse childhood experiences is to be honest about the situation: children need to be told that hearing gunshots and seeing your friends incarcerated on a daily basis has an impact on your life and your feelings And that these things are not okay. She explained that in her practice lots of parents were coming and asking for help with ADHD and problem behaviours. However when she looked she realised that the behaviours were not caused by ADHD but rather by trauma. Symptoms such as impulse control and hyper activity can be just as much of a symptom of trauma as ADHD. She explained that there is a real danger in giving a traumatised child a stimulant, as it will not help. She went on to explain the power of brain scans in this work as they show quite clearly the neurological changes that are caused when children experience trauma.
With a score of four or more ACES of child is 32 times likely to have behavioural problems. Which ACES a child has experienced is irrelevant.

Vincent Felitti goes on to say “we divide the world of mental health and physical health but the body does not do that.”

ACE screening has now become an important part of child health care in many parts of America. There was acknowledgement that it is not easy work to do as it requires people to be open and honest about to traumatic events that have happened to them and their children.

The film also talks about the concept of toxic stress. There is an explanation of the fact that some stress in our lives is necessary, for example we need a bit of stress when crossing the road so that we act quickly and alertly. However exposure to early trauma effect affects the structure of children’s brains and means that they live in a state of high undifferentiated stress at all times. which leads to poor mental and physical ill-health.

Dr Burke Harris goes on to say that you can give people things to mask symptoms for example if someone has a cough you can give them cough serum which will suppress the cough but may also mask tuberculosis or cancer while the disease process continues to fester. The same is true with adverse childhood experiences.

Jack P Shonkoff MD speaks about the fact that children who are born with a poor start in life are not doomed. The science shows otherwise. He speaks about the term toxic stress stress which is the chronic activation a stress reaction with no support to manage that stress.

He talked about the fact in school we often say that children with toxic stress should just suck it up and be like the successful kids. He points out however that the baby can’t just pull itself up by its bootee straps and suck it up. We would never say to a cancer patient that they need to suck it up and we should not do the same with children who have experienced trauma.

Resilience (the ability to survive and thrive in spite of trauma) is learnt but you cannot learn it if you are living in a culture of fear. A child cannot learn conflict resolution if his parents are constantly fighting.
A child cannot plan for the future if she lives in a culture of fear where the future seems frightening. A child cannot learn to delay gratification if she is constantly mixing with friends who do drugs. The key to learning resilience is the presence of stable and caring adults. In order for adults to be caring and stable they need to acknowledge their own early experiences and transform their own lives. Adults need to build their own capabilities in planning, monitoring, and impulse control. This is about more than just reading to kids.

It is absolutely crucial that we treat the family rather than just the child and help the family to learn successful strategies. And there are lots of really good programs out there. There is a need to break the cycle of adverse childhood experiences and the impact of trauma. The importance of visiting families in their own homes cannot be underestimated. It makes the families feel as if they matter. We all need to consider the impact of our early experiences if we work with children. There is always a reason why we do what we do in the here and now.
The question has to be why are we waiting. Adults often do not recognise that kids have stressed because they do not seem as important or big as adults stresses like having to pay the mortgage or support the family. But this work shows that small stresses matter and do have impact on children. If children act out there is a reason but often children do not have the skills or vocabulary to manage the stress.

The film shows an incredible primary teacher at work in a school using the legend of Miss Kendra. This is a story which enables children to talk about the adverse childhood experiences that they may be experiencing. Miss Kendra’s list is a list of affirmations that children repeat on a daily basis so that they are able to use the right vocabulary when they need to. They repeat phrases such as “no child should be punched or kicked” “no child should be touched on their private parts”. Lots of children think what they are going through is normal but the mantra helps them to understand that it is not. The children regularly write a letter to Miss Kendra where they can talk about things that they may be experiencing. These are then answered by a drama therapist. Studies have found that this type of work is most effective when done with pupils in their third year of primary school. Naming the scary thing helps us feel safer. The teachers then spend less time managing scary feelings and more time on teaching.
The film also looks at schools which adopt a so-called no excuses policy. This takes the approach that teachers say “yes you may be being beaten but it is not an excuse to do badly at school”. It is based on an idea that we are trying to ensure the same standards of achievement for all children and be aspirational…But it will not work unless we deal with the causes of trauma as well as acknowledging them. It is not enough to say “yes I understand your situation”; we also have to address the situation. The only effective approach is not to use things as an excuse but to deal with them. To talk, to act and to help children develop resilience.

Toxic stress is a neurological issue,
it is an endochrinal problem, it is a problem of chronic inflammation in the brain and it is a problem that we can address and deal with. We need universal screening for ACES. We need to reduce experience of adversity. As Nadine Burke Harris says, if a child has lead poisoning we reduce the amount of lead. If a child is experiencing trauma, we need to reduce the amount of trauma.
We need to ensure that there is strong parental buffering and we need to help parents to find their natural strengths as parents and build on them. All parents want the best for their children. The answers include mindfulness, meditation, therapy, good nutrition, exercise, sleep, and education. Parents need to understand all of this.

It’s crucial that those involved with the children are trauma informed. We should not talk about what is wrong with children. We should talk about what has happened to children.
Getting adults who work with children to do a screening is very important.
The highest ACE scores ever were in an audience of psychotherapists!

We are the sum of everything that we have lived.

In 2000, Laura Porter, Senior Director of The Learning Institute at the Foundation for Healthy Generations, invited Robert Anda to her community in Washington. She was a very impatient person and wanted to change things straight away. She worked for 10 years on a trauma informed model. Policies and practices were all changed and it had a huge impact on youth crime suicide incarceration and health. And it also saved a huge amount of money on health care.

“You can lead a horse to water and not make him drink but you can make him thirsty”.

As a community of individuals we can change the world.
Following the film, Suzanne and David spoke further and facilitated discussion around how educational leaders can bring about change in their settings to allow the culture to change.
Suzanne shared examples of schools and groups who have been successful in bringing about changes.

If we close the attachment gap we will change the attainment gap.
Voices of Chris Kilkenny and Jaz Ampaw Farr are very important.

Don’t let ourselves be defined by our worst moment.

The alternative to hope is despair.

We need action.
We need to focus on and develop what we do well. We need family care not child care.
There is a new breed of school leaders.
The more we label things, the more we get away from connection

We have a curriculum that allows us to do better, even in secondary.

We need to be confident.
Use the breakable plates graph:

Put the things you do on post it’s. Then put them on the graph. See what you can do less of because it does not have impact.

Lots of the things we do in secondary schools are about habit and not structures.

How people make you feel make the difference.

Often when we need to change practice we do not ask the right questions
Eg exam analysis-
We look at what was rubbish for kids last year, try and apply it to different kids this year… and wonder when people get annoyed when we focus on the negative.

We need to give children opportunities to achieve success. Look for the gifts in the child – Amjad Ali.
Give them open tasks and allow them to surprise us.

Allow kids to rehearse and redraft- failure is only temporary

What conversations do we need to have?

We need to train early years staff and pay them better. We need training on brain science absolutely attachment.

Children 1st has a kitbag – like Miss Kendra’s list. It is very good. We can get them to bring it to us.

Those on Suzanne’s list are not experts but they gave it a shot.

We should do mindfulness and yoga every day but we don’t and this does harm.

The impact of teacher behaviour on a pupil and the ability of a teacher to cause trauma cannot be under-estimated.


Voices from the floor spoke of the following:
The need to be human
The need to value families
The importance of relationships and connection.


And although I was nervous and incredibly stressed and feeling like an imposter and hardly able to do it, I took the microphone and heard my own voice. And it said:

– Too many in secondary schools still want discipline, compliance and children who “know how to behave”.
– My blog is full of thoughts on how we can change things and reflections on why change is hard.
– We cannot allow the fact that the revolution has taken a while to stop us keeping on with this work.
– Some teachers may feel that they are not qualified to do this work as they are not therapists But this is not about therapy. It is about life. It is about us adults being honest about the ups and down of life but showing up and being role models. It is about the assembly I gave yesterday: https://lenabellina.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/fairness/
– And no matter how jaded we feel, we can’t give up.

Thanks Suzanne. You are astonishing.
Thanks David. You are amazing. And your commitment to yoga is exemplary.
Thanks to the makers of Resilience.
Thanks to all those in the room who get it and showed that by being there.

We need to keep going.




My assembly from this Friday to my S3 and S4 pupils.


Today we are going consider the second of our school values, that of Fairness.

I often hear people declaring that “it’s not fair” when they are disappointed or frustrated or feeling resentful about something that has happened.

But one of things we have to accept as we grow into adults is that life is not always fair.

I know from the feedback you gave recently that some of you feel it’s not fair that learning is interrupted for some of you because of the disruptive behaviour of others. And that is probably a fair thing to say.


It’s not fair that some children are born into abject poverty in the third world when others seem to have it all.


But it’s also not fair that Prince George’s dad lost his mum at an early age and had to grieve for her in front of the world.

It’s not fair that children in our country are subjected to sexual, physical and emotional abuse on a daily basis. These things can cause people to suffer for the rest of their lives if we don’t talk about them.


It’s not fair that Laura Macintyre from Barra went to an Ariana Grande concert and was injured in a  bomb attack. But it is amazing that she has gone back to school this week.

It’s not fair that her friend Eilidh Macleod did not go back to school because she was killed in the same attack.

It’s not fair that some of us are born with brains that worry or stress or think differently to those of other people and that some of us experience poor mental or physical health.

Life, by its nature, is sometimes unfair. We are not robots made in the same mould and in the same factory and of course this is what makes us unique and wonderful and interesting.

But it also means that life presents different opportunities and challenges for all of us.

As humans, we try as hard as we can to make life fairer. There are some unfair things that we can change:

Maybe by giving money to charity.

Maybe by taking action and speaking out when we see people in our community being treated with disrespect or hatred.

Maybe in school as teachers by finding out about who you are as individuals and making sure you get extra help if you need it. It is not about treating you all in the same way but about treating you in a way that meets your individual needs. Sometimes that might not seem to make sense to you as you may have grown up thinking that equality is about treating everybody in the same way.

But I find that talking about equity is more helpful talking about equality and this picture can help us to understand what that means. All of these people have a right to watch what’s over the fence. Because of their differences some of them have barriers that get in the way. What we need to do is make sure that each one of them is given the assistance …or a box.. in order to be able to see and to have the same opportunity as others.
Sometimes the fairest thing can be to treat everybody differently.

Sometimes it may seem to you as if things that I do are not fair. “She lets him or her get away with things that she would not let other people get away with…..” I hear you cry.
But you can trust me that there will be times when my unfairness is part of making life fairer. Because there are things that you may not know about that mean that some people in this school need to have a box or a different approach in order to be able to have the same opportunities as others.

Sometimes though, you can … and do…help me see when things aren’t fair for no good reason and could be different and I listen to you and learn from that. Your voices are so important to me.

Hopefully you can see that life sometimes is not 100% fair, even when we try to make things as fair as we possibly can.

If you are someone who often sees the unfair in life more than the fair, it might be helpful for you to try and shift your thinking a little bit.


Now I have to be honest and confess I am probably somebody whose brain likes to focus on the unfair more than the fair in life. If I am asked whether I see the glass as half full or half empty, I tend to be a half empty type of person. If we look at the story of Winnie the Pooh and the characters in it, I guess I’m more of an Eeyore than a Tigger.

I have spent time trying to work out why this is and I have found out that it’s probably to do with some of the things that happened to me my childhood. But I’ve also tried very hard to change this way of thinking and to make my brain focus first on the positives and the fairness in life, rather than the opposite.

A really helpful way of doing this is to use a technique from the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is something that many people have found useful in helping them to become more in control of their thoughts and their lives and to give them more of a sense of contentment with the world.

There are lots of parts to mindfulness and some involve physical techniques. For example as I came up to do this assembly and my mind was feeling anxious and nervous and stressed, worrying about what I was going to say, I focused on putting my feet flat on the ground and taking some deep breaths. It helped.

But another really useful tool is to find three positive things about your life that you focus on every morning when you wake up. This means that before your negative brain can start shouting about the unfair things in life….like the rain and all the things you have to do, or the fact you have no want to go to school disco with…..you get in there with three positive things that set your frame of mind for the day.

You know but I’m very enthusiastic about brain science and what’s great about mindfulness is that neuroscientists have proven that it makes a difference. They have found that people who do mindfulness and remember three positive things each morning, gradually begin to feel more positive in themselves. Mindfulness can help you shift a bit more towards being a glass half empty person to being a glass half full person.

So here are my three positives from this morning:
1. Living in beautiful Argyll and having the most fantastic drive to work, watching the colours and the mist hanging over the fields and celebrating the fact that it wasn’t raining.
2. Having the technology to connect with my dad every day. You will know that he has cancer and lives very far away and that my first thought after his diagnosis was that I was going to have to move back down to live near him. But the ability to text or phone or FaceTime him every day means that I feel connected to him in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to 20 years ago.
3. Working with amazing young people every day (yes, you) who all have something to teach me.

Life will not always be fair.
But we can work together to fight unfairness whenever possible and to focus on the best in life and on sharing that best with others.

Pastoral Care⤴


Last night I took part in a fantastic pastoral chat session with Jill Berry via UKPastoral Chat.

We were debating various matters pastoral, both in relation to pupils and staff.

I said that I feel that a different model of pastoral support and staff training is needed, if we are to move forward in terms of education and provide genuinely supportive education.

In fact, on reflection, I don’t think that what we need is new, since much of it is going on already, some of it in our own schools and some of it elsewhere.

Many school leaders and politicians would benefit from reading this when considering what we want our interactions with children to be like:

I also wrote this over a year back and still hold that the 10 questions need to be asked by anyone who chooses (and please remember that it is a choice) to take on the responsibility and privilege of shaping young lives:

10 questions that you need to answer ‘yes’ to if you want to be a teacher/stay in teaching.

1. Do you like children and are you able to love each one as if they were related to you?
2. Do you like hard work?
3. Do you like working in a team of adults?
4. Are you self-aware and self-reflective?
5. Do you understand your own behaviour and its impact on others?
6. Do you genuinely value inclusion and equity?
7. Are you able to see beyond fads and trends and stay committed to your values and evidence based research?
8. Do you understand that the long holidays are not really all holidays? See here for more excellent reflection on this: http://www.teachertoolkit.me/2015/08/02/what-do-teachers-do-for-the-summer/
9. If you have never worked outside of education, are you willing to work hard to research and understand other ways of being?
10. Are you able to say sorry?

And this post that I wrote last week is pertinent to some of the issues raised last night:


I believe above all that a commitment to caring and to allowing the time and space to give pupils individual attention are absolutely crucial, if our schools are to be genuinely nurturing.

Our Scottish Curriculum for excellence recognises the need for personal support:

“Children and young people are entitled to personal support to enable them to
* review their learning and plan for next steps
* gain access to learning activities which will meet their needs
* plan for opportunities for personal achievement
* prepare for changes and choices and be supported through changes and choices
All children and young people should have frequent and regular opportunities to discuss their learning with an adult who knows them well and can act as a mentor, helping them to set appropriate goals for the next stages in learning. This provides opportunities to challenge young people’s choices, which may be based on stereotypes. Young people themselves should be at the centre of this planning, as active participants in their learning and development.”

Yes, we are teachers of subjects and specialisms in secondary education but we are also teachers of children and role models in how to live. We should all be able to provide personal support to children.

As a valued colleague Mandy Davidson noted as part of the debate on Twitter this morning, “My concern of separate path is that others may then see pupils as “not my area, I am subject specialist”.

As teachers, we all have to be prepared to be specialists in educating children and in providing children with the time and space to find solutions to the challenges that they face. We have to give unconditional positive regard to all the children we encounter and want the absolute best for every one.

I disagree that external providers or ‘specialists’ are best equipped to fly in and help children deal with challenges. As adults, we are all specialists in living. We are all specialists in being mentally healthy, where we accept the World Health Organisation Definition of Mental Health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

A minority of children will need specialist support for an acute physical or mental health condition.
The majority need caring, positive adults who are solution-focused, aspirational and aware of how children grow and develop. And who work in partnership with the child’s parent or career to find the right path for him/her.

Some final thoughts:
We all need to be prepared to deliver pastoral care. A system which divides us into pastoral and curricular staff is inefficient.
We can’t be positive role models if we are worn out, demoralised and overworked.
We can’t run schools well if we don’t have enough adults in them to provide time, space and care.
We need a bit of slack in staffing so that if I am teaching French to a class of 27 and 26 of them are coping fine but one needs a bit of time out because his mum is ill/ his cat has died/ he feels angry/ he just needs to be listened to then someone can give him what he needs. This is early intervention.

This is not about class sizes per se but about the ratio of adults to children in an environment where life is happening and where positive relationships have the power to transform lives.

And I will finish with tweets from two very excellent people.

Let’s lead our schools like Chris Dyson:



And lead our lives like the fantastic Dr Mike Farqhuar: