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Showing posts from February, 2017

Just doing the best we can, continually

I was intrigued to see on Twitter last week a debate about whether Ofsted should be looking to remove gradings, and especially 'outstanding', given to schools following the inspection process. One person commented along the lines that if a school was performing to a 'good' standard, that should be enough. I tended to agree with them. In Scotland we don't have 'outstanding' schools, we have 'excellent' ones, as this is the top grading awarded in our inspection process. Something for some schools to feel proud of, others to aspire to and everyone else to feel inadequate about. Dylan Wiliam is often quoted as saying that 'teaching is the only profession where we know we are going to come in and know we are going to fail every day.' By this, he is simply pointing out that teaching, and learning, are very complex activities and with so many variables, that we can never get it absolutely right, for every pupil and on every day. We are doomed to a…

What does leadership look like in your school?

A really good question for teachers to ask of their learners is, 'what does it look like when you are learning?' If you give this question to pupils and ask them to draw or write about themselves learning, you will often get a picture of a pupil, on their own, perhaps at a desk, and with a pencil or pen, jotter and books. They might include a computer screen and, if you are lucky, the child in the picture may be smiling. Not so in the example below.




If you have not carried out this exercise, try it. You may be surprised at the results. What you get is the child's construct of what learning is, and what it looks and feels like. If you get results like the one above, you can explore this more with the learner and it can give you some remarkable insights into how leaning is perceived by the learners in your class. It can also be a stimulus for some soul-searching and reflection on your own part. I suspect if you were asked to draw learning taking place in your classroom, or e…

Differentiated Learning and Development for School Leaders

As a headteacher for eighteen years now, I have completed and endured lots of professional development. Some of this was truly inspirational and has had profound effects and impacts on my thinking and my practice. Unfortunately, a lot of it failed to deliver the same outcomes. I would say that the professional development and learning that has had the greatest impact have been those identified and chosen by myself, as part of a process of continual reflection and professional development and growth, matched to my individual needs. Why would it be any other way? The trouble is that is not how a lot of centrally organised professional development for leaders operates. It should, but it doesn't. 'Yet!' as Carol Dweck might observe.


No, as a school leader you are subject to much learning and professional development, that is identified and directed at you by your employers. When I first began my journey of professional development as a new school leader, I was like a sponge, s…