Met with Education Officers at 8.30am. We have clarified the role of this meeting and the more formal School Liaison Group which will take on more of a strategic function. The Education Officers are critical to the development of education in the authority. If there is a problem it's that they are spread too thinly across the schools.
It is obvious that there is so much good practice in our schools but that we don't seem to have been able to ensure that this good practice permeates every school. It's the role of the Head Of Education to make sure that the educational experience of a child in any of our schools is equal to the experience of child in our best schools. Equally it is vital that all our members of staff receive the same opportunities and standard of leadership wherever they work. It''s easy to state both of these points and I don't think many people would disagree with with either – however, the challenge facing all of us is how do we work together to raise standards to match our best schools. Can we tolerate anything less than first class?
10.00am Met with Norma McPherson, PT Maths Development Officer, and Mary Howie, Literacy Development Officer. We had a wide ranging discussion about our core areas of the curriculum. I showed them the results spreadsheet for 5-14. We agreed that at the moment the figures presented are very unreliable. This point had been agreed by Primary Headteachers on Wednesday. This is a great cause for concern. The moderation work being undertaken in the authority should help but it only goes so far. We agreed that we needed some form of external moderation simular to the SQA moderation of centres. For example we could select a random sample of schools each year who would put forwards a sample of students work to be assessed by the moderation group. Rather than the students being tested it would be the school's ability to assess correctly which would be being evaluated. This was a very interesting idea and is worth putting to the Heateachers for consideration.
We also considered the debate regarding Standard Grade or Intermediate courses. We realised that many schools are struggling with this question. Should the authority establish a policy? It might help some schools. Perhaps we should bite the bullet and go for Intermediate courses and drop SG? The writing does seem to be on the wall and at least we could plan for changing resources in a sensible manner and also ensure that we can share practice and materials across all our schools in a focussed manner.
The last area we covered was the variation in time allocate to Maths and English in schools – we will carry out an audit and report back to schools with a view to establishing a minimum figure.
11.30 Out to The Shed our Pre-vocational Centre with Gordon Brown. Gordon is leaving us at the end of this month to take up a secondment with the Scottish Executive on Determined to Succeed. He and Jennifer Tulloch have done a tremendous job building up a series of pre-vocational courses which can be accessed by S3 and S4 students. I was very impressed. Hopefully when we set up our timetabling group we can look at how we build these courses in to the curriculum in a more structured fashion. Jennifer is going to set up section on this website to publicise the work of The Shed.
Took the chance to pop into the ELIS – East Lothian Inclusion Service – students who are at risk of permanent exclsuion are allowed to continue their education here with a view to helping them get back into school and to manage their behaviour. I'll visit again soon to see it the children. Then a short vist to Pathway – this house caters for 6 children who are in care. Very comfortable and homely atmosphere.
Back to the office for the luxury of three hours uninterupted work (almost).