Investors in people

Straight out to North Berwick Nursery for a meeting with Sue Leach and Donald McGillivary. we were looking at a range of topics and I've agreed to go back and speak to all staff on the 28th Oct. Stopped off at Athelstaneford Primary School on the way back. Quick tour of the school with Ronnie Grieve. I could see how the school had received a series of outstanding inspection reports. Ronnie has a remarkable talent for engaging with children which is marked by a caring, committed and calm approach towards working with childern . They obviously repsond well to such and apporach and Ronnie is obviously well supported by his staff. I'll look forward to visiting the school again.

Back to the office for a meeting with Patrica MacCall and Valerie Irving about cluster working. We are keen to develop a clear rationale for how cluster – primary schools and associated secondary school – work together. I’m going to write a paper on the topic but we felt a cluster should be characterised by the following:

Consistency; continuity; collegiality; creativity; and collective responsibility

It will be a key role of the cluster to take collective responsibility for educational attainment and welfare of every child in their care. This is quite a dramatic shift in that we are usually only responsible for children in our particular schools. Cluster meetings will fulfil a number of purposes:

Interface between schools;
Raising and resolving issues;
Consultation mechanism;
Representation mechanism;
Development and progression of teaching and learning;
Staff development
Mutual support;
Deployment of resources;
Oversight of children at risk of social exclusion;
Management of integration.

I was then interviewed by Adam Whyte who is a consultant currently appraising the department for the revised standard for Investors in People. He asked some challenging questions but I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting – we find out on Friday if we have been successful.

Met someone to provide feedback about an interview in which they hadn’t been offered the position. This is perhaps one of the hardest parts of any management job but also one of the most important. What makes it even more difficult if the person was very close. I take copious notes throughout any interview for this very purpose.

Then fourth Deputes’ seminar – this was another really good meeting. A number of very challenging questions were raised about the level of support offered to schools particularly to Headteachers and senior management teams. A large number of those present did not see themselves as being prospective HTs – primarily because they are put off the job by what they see it doing to their HT. I’m concerned by this on two counts – firstly- it will prevent people from applying – secondly, how sustainable is it for HTs to continue working as they are? The coaching scheme was well received as was the opportunity to meet as deputes.

Tuesday 11th Oct

Second time around – A bit frustrating but I just tried to upload my weblog and lost the lot. So here goes again from memory.

Directorate meeting – 8.30 – 10am joined by councilors John Ross and Maureen Talac Covered a number of issue most notably pre-vocational education. A number of questions arose from our chat. Should such opportunities be reserved for those who wish to follow a trade? Should such opportunities be open to all? If places are short should preference be given to those who wish to follow a trade? Should we include those students who have behavioural problems? – some FE colleges suggest that putting such students onto courses is only used by schools as a “dumping ground” We also explored the potential of using sub-contracted lecturers to deliver pre-vocational courses in schools.

Met with Steven McLachlan and Chris Lawson about emergency planning. We are going to set up an emergency scenario involving the destruction of a school to test our processes for getting a temporary facility in place. We are also going to produce a policy and procedures wall chart. This will be an A3 wall chart with each of our important policies summarized by a number of bullet points. In an emergency it can be used a an easy reference aid to guide practice whilst the actual policy can still be used to gain more detail. For example the emergency closure policy could be summarized by 10 bullet points. The chart will also have emergency contacts.

I met the curriculum leaders form Knox Academy. I was interested in finding out more about how Knox Academy had managed to improve attainment over the last ten years. they put it down to a consistent expectations and consequences relating to pupil behaviour and strong focus on teaching and learning. I asked them abbout the thuoghts about East Lothian Council. It didn't come as surprise that they regarded a a fairly distant entity aside from being a resourcing – I think this is probably a fairly common perception in many schools and it fairly focusses the mind on addressing the problem.