7.30-900 am correspondence and paperwork. 9.30am Out to Ross High School Severe and Complex Needs Unit. Really enjoyed my morning meeting the staff and students. There is no doubt that it takes a special sort of person to work with children such differing needs but the rewards are enormous. I met Alec, Nicola, Sean, Elizabeth, Lewis, Nicole, Rachel and Sam. There was an atmosphere of love, support and productive activity. I had morning break with the students in the canteen and then chatted with some of the staff in the staffroom. Then met with Helen Alexander for an hour to discuss a number of issues relating to the unit and the school.

12.30am Back to the office to meet Gillian Reilly, our Staff development Co-ordinator. Building upon the suggestion by Richard Parker we intend to hold an admin support conference for all school and centre admin support staff. We’d like to hold it in at the racecourse. Once we have a date I’ll write out to schools to set up a small group of representatives to devise the programme.

Secondary Head’s Meeting 2.00pm. Very busy agenda – perhaps too busy – but I’m learning. We made significant progress on a number of issues such as: 360 degree competency review which was generally very well received; coaching system for Deputes; Student Evaluation of Learning; and standardised testing – we will decide on which test we will use next week, after a brief presentation about the two alternatives – NFER and MIDYIS. As one might expect there were a number of operational difficulties such as ICT and PPP which are still causing problems. In future I think we need to focus upon one or tow key strategic issues and gain agreement. However, there is a need to get a few quick fixes in our attainment action plan in order to build a foundation for the future.

I was contacted by recruitment agency about a national job linked to education – flattering to be asked but not of any interest to me. It did set me to thinking about how we recruit for headteacher jobs – perhaps we should be more proactive?

Tuesday 4th October

8.30 am – 10.00 am – Meeting with Derek Haywood and Sheila McKendrick to continue our discussions regarding the restructuring of the Department.

We focused much of our attention on the links between Education and Children’s Services and explored further the notion of and Education Officer attached to each Cluster working closely with Integration Officers and a Cluster Support Team.

Once again I chuntered on about our focus being upon improving pupils life chances and the opportunity for social mobility.

We considered a timeline from 0 to 18 with the Early Years time being a particular focus for tackling social inclusion.

The role of the Integration Team will particularly come in to play through the Staged Assessment and Intervention process thereby linking vulnerable students with appropriate agencies throughout their time in school.

Following this meeting I met with Alan Ross, Raymy Boyle, Clare O’Sullivan and Shaun Rafferty to further explore the restructuring process from a Children’s perceptive.

Once again we spent some time discussing the purpose of an integrated services Department and I suggested that our aim should be “to provide the quality of life chances for all children born in East Lothian”.

We recognised the tension that exists in schools between a drive towards academic attainment and a broader concern for the well-being, welfare and life chances of all students in the school, particularly if some students would be appear to be intent on disrupting the learning of other students.

This will provide a significant challenge for myself in the coming session to promote an approach which is truly inclusive in all our schools. I am heartened by approach I encounter in the vast majority of schools and classrooms in East Lothian where such a philosophy would appear to underpin current practice.

Working lunch with other Chief Officers on Racial Equality this was an interesting discussion and focused upon how East Lothian could improve its standing as a Scottish Local Authority which promotes racial equality. It would appear that one of the most significant problems we face is that people do not regard as having a racial “problem” due to there being small number of people coming from ethnic minorities.

2pm – Meeting with 3-14 Assessment Group. This was a very stimulating meeting with a significant amount of debate and discussion. We agreed that there is a need to stream line and simplify some of our assessment and teaching and learning policies with a view to articulating what the baseline expectation should be in each classroom.

We come up with the following expectations to formative assessment. Teachers should:-
1. Share their intentions with learners.
2. Provide quality feedback to children
3. Summarise the lesson at the end of the teaching period
4. Use appropriate questioning techniques to further childrens’ learning
5. Expect that every child will contribute
6. Provide and reinforce the context for learning.
7. Provide advise about what children can do next to improve
8. Provide regular opportunities for children to give feedback about their learning experiences
9. Be prepared to modify their practice in response to children’s feedback.

I will circulate this to members of the group but would welcome any further suggestions.

We are keen not to let this grow to far but in a sense it should be a basic entitlement to students in any classroom in East Lothian. The rest of the meeting was concerned with standardised testing, 5-14 moderation and involvement with international assessment programmes.

Then met Gillian Hole, and a Child and Family Support Worker on the Integration Team, who will be taking responsibility for the new Children’s Services Section on the website – which out for updates. From there to a meeting with Raymy Boyle in the Railway Inn for a welcome pint!