Monthly Archives: February 2016

Artwork for school blogs⤴

from @ Bodies in the Library

S2 Art and Design have been asked to create a series of banners for the Our Lady’s Latest blog using parts of famous artworks. Only part of the painting or sculpture will be visible in the header because of its shape so … Continue reading

higher assignment video – earthquakes⤴

from @ fizzics

We’re going to start the researching physics unit and assignment next week.  Before we go to the computer room, please watch the attached video so you will have some ideas about the science of earthquakes and how they can be detected. This is a large video file – make sure you are connected to wifi before downloading.   Please ... Read more

People who can behave, will.⤴

from @

In continuing this series on positive behaviour strategies for schools and other social situations, I will start with the issues often faced by children with additional support needs.  I have written a few ideas which can give a starting point for development of that skill.

It is important to remember that children start displaying unwanted behaviours because they are struggling to comprehend the situation they are experiencing.  This is particularly true of children who have additional support for learning requirements.  Their behaviour can be a display of frustration, or anger, or confusion and because they do not have the verbal skills to communicate their needs to us in a more effective way they resort to unwanted behaviours.

This mind map is about developing ideas to support the development of specific skills which the child may be lacking in their interactions and understanding of social situations.  It is important to remember that understanding children’s behaviour is not an excuse to allow that behaviour to repeatedly occur…remember we strive to encourage positive behaviours!

The original eight facets of demands which can be compromised are from the book ‘No fighting , no biting , no screaming’ by Bo Hejlskov Elven.  The suggestions are ones I have come across during my experiences and work.  Remember, positive and constructive feedback is always welcome.  We are here to share what we know and have used successfully so that others can benefit from our knowledge.

People who can behave, will

The new look of ‘My World of Work’⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Homepage 1 Physicist, Engineer, Content Editor…

Whatever the young people you work with want to do when they leave school, My World of Work is here to help.  If you’ve not had a look at our award-winning careers advice and information service lately, now is the time to come back and check it out. We’ve completely redevelped the service, making it easier to use, introducing even more great tools, information and articles.

The revamped My World of Work means registered users will get a more personal service to help them make informed choices based on their personal traits, education and experience.   My World of Work is also uniquely placed to offer what no other careers websites can, a direct link to SDS expert careers advisers and the wealth of knowledge we offer as the national skills agency.

Support for you

Our partner resources help you to support your customers to use My World of Work – whether you’re a teacher, lecturer, training provider or work with one of our many partner organisations.

The service has been designed around four learning areas linked to career management skills (CMS) – self, strengths, horizons and networks – enabling young people to strengthen and develop their skills for learning, life and work.

These skills enable users to take effective decisions, realise their potential and take control of their future. With assistance from you, other partners and Careers Advisers, young people can build the skills they need to succeed through the use of My World of Work.

We’ve worked with teachers to develop support materials including:

  • Articles to help you understand how pupils can get the best out of the service – explaining key features and how they can be used to explore the world of work
  • Activities which make it easy to plan and structure lessons. Each activity is designed to support a range of experiences and outcomes within Building the Curriculum 4, Planning for Choices and Changes
  • Downloads that give you the resources you need to carry out an activity

As soon as you register as a partner, you’ll find this content throughout My World of Work alongside relevant tools and articles. As well as this, you’ll be able to access all the partner resources in one place through your “Account”.

There’s also the new subject choices tool which is a great way of enabling young people to see how their choices could relate to future careers. There is a new subject choices collection of content that supports young people to explore options, understand things to avoid, look to the jobs of the future and help with making the right decisions.

Other new features include About Me, offering an insight into how personality and interests relate to careers. The updated CV builder makes writing and editing CVs quicker and easier to start applying for that dream job.

Reach for the stars!

We want My World of Work to be an inspiring space for everyone who uses it, and the stories of real working people are helping us to do that. These stories offer a unique, real-life glimpse of what working in a certain job or industry is really like.

Companies including NASA, City Building, STV, Capgemini, CalMac, Siemens, LifeScan Scotland, RBS, NHS, Forestry Commission and Historic Scotland allowed My World of Work cameras a behind-the-scenes insight into the working lives of people in their companies.

That kind of insight is hugely valuable when you’re wrestling with big career decisions, and we’ll continue to add and update these profiles in the months and years to come.The job profile videos also link to up-to-date information on related salary rates, qualifications needed to get started and opportunities within the sector, including a look at future job trends.

The future

The key to a successful future for My World of Work is listening to our partners, colleagues and customers and being guided on the future development plans by this insight and feedback.

We are also working on tools and resources for P5-P7 pupils, which will be delivered through teachers in primary schools and will update you on progress in the coming months.

Let us know what you think of My World of Work or request an awareness session on the web service from a member of the Skills Development Scotland Partner Development & Integration team using

Making connections: DYW and SCQF⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Julie_Anderson-234x300In her blog post for SCQF Julie Anderson, DYW Team Leader for Senior Phase Pathways & College Partnerships in the Scottish Government’s Learning Directorate makes the connection between the wider Developing the Young Workforce agenda and qualifications.  Julie highlights that a learner-centred approach to career education provides young people with appropriate progression routes tailored to their needs and wants.  The SCQF can help to plan appropriate pathways by brining clarity and equality to all qualifications and learning.

Julie says:  “Young people can use the SCQF to understand the level of the learning they have already achieved and plan their future learning pathways. The SCQF website provides a wealth of information, case studies and resources for learners, parents, carers, schools and employers.”

You can read all of Julie’s SCQF blog here.

Funding to help young Scots get into work⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Young people are set to benefit from an additional £6.1 million to help them get into work, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

The money will boost the job prospects of those aged between 16 – 29 years old who face the biggest barriers to employment, including people with disabilities and those who have left the military early.

The First Minister outlined the new funding during her keynote speech at the annual Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) Gathering event to celebrate the huge impact the voluntary sector has on Scotland’s communities.

The multi-million pound investment will support up to a further 700 job training opportunities as part of the next phase of the Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) programme, which is delivered in partnership with SCVO. It offers unemployed vulnerable people, aged 16 to 29, 12-18 month training posts and has helped the Third Sector by providing financial support to host employers to deliver vital local services. Employers will also be supported by the Scottish Government to pay CJS employees the Living Wage.

This most recent funding brings the total Scottish Government investment into Community Jobs Scotland to more than £45 million since it launched in 2011. To date, more than 6,500 job training opportunities have been created for young people across all 32 local authorities.

The First Minister said:

“Our voluntary workers play a crucial role in making Scotland a prosperous and equal society. They are essential to our efforts to build a fairer and wealthier country and are vital in encouraging participation – ensuring people have a real say in the issues which directly affect them.

“Today’s funding of £6.1 million will provide 700 training opportunities for young people. It is so important that most of the places will be filled by people who currently find it harder to get jobs – carers, people leaving care, people with disabilities, and people leaving military service – and is a further example of the role the third sector can play in promoting opportunities and tackling inequality.

“Community Jobs Scotland has been an overwhelming success, with almost 70% of young people involved in the programme going onto a job or further education. That is especially impressive when you consider that many of the places are reserved for groups who sometimes face particular difficulty in entering the workplace.

“We want to respect people’s dignity, value their potential and encourage their ambitions because doing that, and providing the practical support which helps people to fulfil their potential, is the best way of achieving a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”

Martin Sime, Chief Executive, SCVO said:        “This is fantastic news for the young unemployed people who’ll get the chance of a job with a voluntary organisation making a difference in their community.

“Community Jobs Scotland really has the edge on other employment programmes because it’s giving a leg up to young unemployed people who are furthest from the labour market to grow their confidence and skills in a real workplace. That is why most graduates from the programme get a permanent job.”

#teacher5aday29dayswriting Part 4⤴


So, for the last month I have been engaging in the #teacher5day29dayswriting challenge of creating a blog post for every day of February.

It has not been easy but I have posted on staffrm and in the end managed every day:

I thought it would be useful to put all the posts together on here, too. Below are the fourth week’s worth:

Timing, therapy and teams.



In a twist of fortuitous timing, I happened to receive a copy of Dr Tim O’ Brien’s ‘Inner Story’ just before Christmas. Suffice to say that it was all down to a reference to Elton John.

This is a life-changing book. Over the years I have read several self-help books but none of them have really made much difference because I have not genuinely believed in them. This book is different.

Psychologist Dr Tim O’ Brien is clearly a highly intelligent and experienced practitioner who knows a vast amount about his field. He makes oblique references to Freud, psychoanalytical approaches, CBT, solution-focused strategies and many other therapeutic models. But he does so in a way that re-assures the reader that he has done his research and pulled out the best in all of these approaches before synthesising them in his own hybrid; the Inner Story journey towards understanding your mind and changing your world.

The writing style makes the book very easy to read and there is a mix of humour, modesty and evidence-informed advice-giving.

The book challenges some of the long-held mythology around the ideas of self-confidence, behaviour, happiness and success and urges the reader to take control and fully understand the factors that motivate and drive us.

It promotes examination of the Inner Story of both the individual and the team; it is relevant to those embarking on a journey of individual self-discovery and those looking to become more effective leaders and team players (although the book intimates that the former journey is necessary in order for the latter to occur).

The book is also an excellent manual for educators who want to help vulnerable children and young people to find a stable and focused path to follow. Dr O’ Brien clearly knows the child mind extremely well and has worked extensively with children, schools and educators.

The writing is peppered with personal anecdotes which help the reader to feel the human quality behind the writing; Dr O’ Brien writes about his practical experience with a range of clients but also mentions aspects of his own personal back story. I adored the description of his mother being a ‘one-woman riot’ and his father loving to ‘make people laugh’.

Another highlight of the book for me is the way that Dr O’ Brien provides bullet-pointed chapter summaries which makes revisiting key areas easy.

One question that the book has led me to consider is whether it is a manual that will sit on the ‘popular psychology’ shelves of a bookshop or whether it has implications for use within the realms of more acute mental illness. Can mood be lifted in full blown depression in the way that Dr O’ Brien mentions in Chapter Seven or are there elements of depression and other conditions that would be beyond this approach?

I look forward to hearing more about that from Dr O’ Brien.

Uniformity, the unexpected and a ukulele.



Today I was involved in 2 bits of training.

This morning I delivered a session on understanding behaviour and this afternoon I was trained in awareness of self-harm.

The theme of uniformity came up in both. I spoke about the fact that children thrive when they have security and consistency and that a uniform approach can be very beneficial in terms of rules, routines and approaches across a school. But I also talked about the idea that schools must be willing to make reasonable adjustments to uniform systems to allow for the needs of individual pupils. Thus, the school rule which says ‘you do not swear’ can be uniformly applied, except to the pupil with Tourette’s. A simplistic example, but one that seemed to make sense to people.

In terms of the self-harm awareness, one of the key points raised was that there can be no one size fits all, uniform approach to dealing with self-harm because each individual case needs to be considered and understood for what it is. If we make assumptions about what is behind self-harm, rather than looking at the needs of the person enacting it, we risk failing to offer the appropriate support required by that person.

It was quite a hard day; the training I delivered challenged those involved to face some truths that were perhaps a little uncomfortable. Of course life (and teaching) is easier if we choose to ignore the idea that children do not behave in a uniform manner.

And talking about self-harm is hard because it forces us to consider the pain that others are going through and the uncomfortable idea that they are inflicting pain on themselves.

Unexpectedly this evening I came home to find that my son had learnt to play ‘Rip Tide’ on the ukulele, having never really shown any interest in playing the instrument since we bought it some 5 years ago.

That cheered me.

Voices, violence and victory



In my current role I spend a lot of time in the car and consequently listening to the radio.

About a year ago I made the transition from Radio 2 to Radio 4 listener.

So yesterday morning I heard two pieces on the ‘Today’ programme that caught my attention. The first linked in a way to this post… in which I described my love of singing. I was aware when I wrote it that there are many (including my lovely mum) who consider themselves as being ‘unable’ to sing. I thought about this when I was writing that post but ran out of words to discuss it. I wanted to say that for me, there are no non-singers and that when I have run choirs or directed musicals, I have never turned anyone away because of tuning issues; I have always found that the benefits of them being involved and included have always outweighed the potential dis-harmonies. So imagine my delight to hear about an entire choir that has been formed by ‘non-singers’ who simply want to enjoy the experience of being in a choir and able to sing with others. They were interviewed and then sang their version of ‘Thank You For the Music’; it was utterly brilliant. Passionate, moving and joyful. It was not ‘performance’ singing but real, communal singing. In the same way that we don’t judge those who run in fun-runs, nor label them as ‘non-runners’, neither should we judge those who sing for fun and the experience of singing.

Following on from that piece, there was a report about neuroscientist Dr Doug Fields who, after responding unexpectedly violently to a mugging in Barcelona, has gone on to study violence. He spoke of how we are all essentially ‘wired for violence’, due to unconscious impulses that originate in the hypothalamus and are linked to threat detection. He explained that we have the same brain as humans had 100 000 yrs ago, when violence was essential to survival and associated with quick-thinking and heroism. The problem today is that, when taken unawares and threatened, we (and especially men) may resort instinctively to violence and end up in trouble. I would like to hear more about Dr Fields’ research and see whether he has suggestions about how to manage this latent violence, particularly if it manifests during childhood.

Not all of my listening in the last couple of days has inspired me, though. Victory was the theme of today’s story. I can’t even bear to mention the name of the man who has just won his third caucus. Really, America?

Waking, worrying and what to do.



I usually sleep well but today I have woken at 5.15 and can’t sleep.

There is fierce raging activity in my head that consists of a series of worries.

1. Something happened at work last week and I am worried that, although I know that I did the right thing, others may not see it like that.

2. I have to run a working party today with a range of colleagues and I fear that they won’t like me and that they will realise I don’t know what I am talking about.

3. When the meeting is over I will have to write it up and produce notes and actions but I have not put any time in my diary to do this.

4. I have training to deliver on Monday and Thursday next week and feel as per 2 but also haven’t planned the training yet.

5. I have entered a singing competition in 3 weeks and do not know any of the songs yet.

6. My daughter is still unwell after flu and has stopped eating properly.

7. My husband may have to stop working which may leave me with sole financial responsibility. And my cleaner has left.

8. I have woken up too early and will be exhausted today but have arranged to take my kids to see a live stream Shakespeare for three hours tonight but am now worried that I will go beyond exhaustion because of it.

I could actually continue with more but 8 is probably enough.

What to do? Give up? Ring the doctor? On paper, these things may seem trivial, over dramatic, irrational. But they feel very real.

But I can manage them. Because I have before. A useful exercise that I discovered before Christmas is to write them down, name them as feelings/ worries and then force myself to counteract them with what I KNOW.


1. I have lots of evidence of what really happened and I need to hold to that.

2. It is not about them liking me. I have done huge research, I have a plan, agenda and a clear vision which is to work with the team to improve outcomes for children.

3. I will write detailed notes in the meeting.

4. I have PowerPoints I can adapt and experience and ideas. It is not about me but about what my audience needs.

5. I can record the songs and listen to them as I drive.

6. I can’t control her or her eating.

7. We only a have to get through 2 years and things will improve. I do need a new cleaner, though.

8.  University days. Frequent nights of 4 hours sleep. Baby days- ditto. Did I die? Nope.

Our minds can be devious and feeling and worries play tricks. But by getting them out, ordering them and challenging them, we can get through them.

Solution focus; we have within us the skills and experience to solve problems and face challenges.

Happy Thursday.

X-rays, xylophones and xylem.



So this one was always going to be a challenge, wasn’t it?

3 Xs. Well.

I have noticed that some people like @kevincarson have written lovely pieces reflecting on their school days and childhood learning and as I ruminated on the letter X, I started to find a way in.

I was generally a fit child; no broken bones, no operations on tonsils or appendix. I had the usual mumps and chicken pox and also a dose of herpes which, according to the specialist who visited the house, was the worst he’d ever seen. I had coldsores that practically sealed my lips together and saw me literally ‘down in the mouth’ for several days. But those ailments were all relatively short lived. The only condition for which I needed ongoing treatment, X-rays and even surgery, was my awful teeth. Finger-sucking had seemingly forced me to have very buck teeth and I needed a horrible brace, extractions and even a bizarre head-set contraption with metal extensions and elastic bands that I wore at night. I also had every tooth filled at some point, wisdom teeth removed and root canal treatment. The Pam Ayres poem ‘I Wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth’ is the reality of my dental experience.


At secondary school I adored being part of the music department. Much as I loathed the humiliating ritual of carrying my violin across the playground to shouts and jeers, it was worth it to be part of the music crowd and to be able to spend lunch times in the music rooms, full of xylophones and other percussion instruments and smelling evocatively of must and violin rosin. There was one music teacher who inspired me more than any other. His name was Mr Porter and he was what can only be described as a music passionist. (@sisyphus !) He was always on the musical go, running some sort of rehearsal every lunchtime and packing as much into every day as possible. I have an abiding memory of him not even stopping for lunch but instead eating sandwiches two together out of the packet while he waved a baton.)

Maybe, on reflection, not a good model of teacher wellbeing but he was great.

I wonder what happened to him?

I was always going to be a doctor. I loved biology and when I see my daughter’s exercise book with carefully labelled diagrams it takes me back to Mr Hall’s lab, the dissections and bell-jars and the mysterious terminology of xylem, phloem and lumen. I never made it as a doctor because my maths and physics let me down. In fact my physics teacher advised me to give up on physics after O’ level as although “a grade B was good, for a girl, I’d struggle with A level”. Sexist? Yes, but probably right.

Gosh, that has taken me back. I now start Friday in a different mindset to usual.

Have a great one and happy weekend when it comes.

Yet, yes and yesterday



I love the Carol Dweck Mindset concept of ‘not yet’. The idea that children have the potential to develop in the future as long as they believe in that potential and put in the necessary effort is inspiring and motivating. I think that there is a naivety in thinking that we all have the potential to become anything. If you read yesterday’s post, you will know that I pretty much agreed with my physics teacher’s judgement that I would never become a great physicist. But I have become something. And I can become more. I think that the power in Dweck’s model is that it encourages to believe that we are not yet the person we could become; life is about constant evolution and learning.

I do not hold with the words spoken by Jaques in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’: “And so, from hour to hour we ripe and ripe and then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot”. We do not spend our latter years rotting, I hope. Dame Carol Black said on a recent Desert Island Discs that she felt that she had only really got into her stride at the age of 50 and I have said before how inspiring I found this. Youth is one part of life but not necessarily the best part.

I used to work for a boss whose favourite word was no. It was stifling, stultifying and hugely limiting.

‘Yes’ is the word that we should be using with learners and colleagues when they want to try out new ideas. We should encourage them, where something is not working, to try something different and we should help them to take risks in a supported way. Too much life is wasted when we stick to old patterns of behaving and working simply because ‘that is the way we do it here’. As a leader and manager within education, my job is to help everyone in my team, both children and adults, to learn, develop and experiment within a culture of ‘yes’ and ‘not yet’. Yesterday is the learning that informs today and tomorrow.

Zen, zero and the zone



In my twenties, I flirted with the idea of becoming a Buddhist. I had dabbled with and rejected Christianity (I simply didn’t believe in God) but wanted something to provide deeper meaning in my life. I bought and borrowed several books linked to the religion, both factual and popular, the latter including ‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance’.

In the end I decided that full-blown Buddhism was not for me…but several elements of Buddhist and Zen practice had and continue to have great appeal.

Meditation and mindfulness play a key part in my daily life and in my ongoing attempt to master my thoughts, feelings and anxieties. I struggle with static meditation but have practised yoga (four rounds of a sun salute) every morning without fail for almost thirty years. Some environments have been more conducive to this than others; a two-man tent in February in Norway was one of the most challenging.

Mindfulness practice has been a more recent development and one that I have found hugely helpful in providing focus during times when things have threatened to overwhelm me.

But I still have work to do. If I am honest, I rarely manage to clear my head during my sun salutes; they are more about me grounding myself physically and providing a ritual that takes me from night-time to day-time state.

The ability to empty my mind completely and to get into that zone where I can focus on zero is a skill that I still crave.

I am getting better at focusing but I have a way to go. I am not sure that the frantic business of Twitter and social media are a help or a hindrance. They provide constant distraction but for me, they also provide a life-line of connectedness with other like minds.

On my Facebook page, my background is the Anne Lamott quote ‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you’ and on here, I have the quote ‘Stop The Glorification of Busy’.

I think maybe a bit of meditation on those two phrases might be needed…..

Happy Sunday.

Teaching heroes



Thanks to @mrlockyer for the inspiration.

Who is your all-time teaching hero?Lydia Grant from ‘Fame’. ‘You’ve got big dreams. You want fame. Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying: in sweat.’ (Cue music…)

(And on that day, the 29th day of February 2016, the last day of #29daysofwriting, all the respect that the twittersphere and staffrm communities had felt for that bright new blogger lenabellina did instantly dissipate.)

Which teacher do you remember best from your own education?

Mr Phippard. He was firm but kind and fair, produced tailor-made resources that made learning German fun and logical and even introduced us to Russian. He had a slightly wild passion for languages and he loved to share culture and traditions. I remember his classroom, lit by candles and with small bowls of figs, chocolates and tangerines, on Nikolausabend. Such a surprise. Nurturing and magical.

Which teacher do you know online and would love to see in the classroom?


Inspirational, hugely knowledgable, passionate. And someone who I used to know, lost touch with and am delighted to have re-met in this forum.

Who is your current school teaching hero?

My friend Kirsten Herbst-Gray for everything she does for German.

Who is your non-teaching hero?

Dr Tim O’ Brien. I hope that I meet him one day. He is a life-changer.

What makes a teaching hero?

Passion, the ability to be non-judgmental and a commitment to nurture and foster the potential in every child.

What’s your teaching superpower?

That I am genuinely driven by a desire for children to be happy, healthy and doing the best they can.

What’s your teaching kryptonite?

Worry that they won’t be.

Multiplayer Minecraft Pi (finally)⤴

from @ Amanda Wilson

WP_20160225_09_36_07_Pro_LISo last week I finally discovered how to get a multiplayer game of Minecraft going on the Raspberry Pi and it was a lot simpler than what I had been trying. Seems all you need to do is connect your pi’s to a router and well that’s it really. The pi’s need an IP address in order to have a LAN game and by using any router (no internet connection is needed just the router) you can then get them talking to each other.

HOWEVER this does only work for 5 WP_20160223_10_02_06_Pro_LIpi’s connected on the same network. I used a router and a switch to enable me to have the 5 pi’s on at the same time. I tried to add more but it seems that 5 is the maximum you can have on a pi multiplayer game. I wish I had discovered this months ago however at least I know now.

Big thanks to David Renton (@drenton72) for helping me test the switch & router pi stuff and enabling me to be able to now run Multiplayer Minecraft.


Time to get Glasgows children Game Jamming (Mini Style)⤴

from @ Amanda Wilson

Alice David Luke MikeWell it’s that time of year again everyone. Mini Game Jam will soon be upon us again and this post is a call for help.

My Jam has been growing slowly over the past couple of years and I am now in year 4 of it. With support from Glasgow City Council Education Services 10 Learning Communities across the city will be taking part with their associated primary schools and I am super excited about this. Winners from each Learning Community will go on to a final on the 7th June!


I am looking for volunteers who are interested in helping encouraging children with their game ideas and supporting the on the day,  no prior knowledge of Scratch programming is necessary (I can provide some training on it). The event runs from 9.30am until 2.30pm.  If you can help me please contact me direct

Dates and venues are:-

School Date
Hillpark Mon 25th April
St Pauls Tues 26th April
Shawlands Wed 27th April
Whitehill Thus 28th April
Hyndland Tues 3rd May
Rosshall Wed 4th May
St Thomas Aquinas Mon 9th May
Holyrood Tues 10th May
Smithycroft Wed 18th May
Hillhead Thurs 2nd June
Final @ Mitchell Library Tuesday 7th June