Attainment analysis

8.15-9.30am Weekly Education Officers Meeting. Each person reports on issues that have arisen in schools over the past week. It proves to be a very useful forum to share information and to pick up on concerns.

Colin Sutherland (HT North Berwick HS) arrived at 9.30am to help us develop our attainement evaluation procedures. I'm keen that we develop a process which reinforces the idea of collective responsibility as opposed to reinforcing the idea of compeition between schools – is this too idealistic?

Before we got going we took 5 minutes out to allow me to give the second weekly departmental briefing – these seem to be well received and the fact that the idea arose from our communication group ensured that there was a good attendance.

Back to our attainment evaluation meeting for the rest of the morning. We explored the idea of looking at authority attainment from a subject perspective. For example, we looked at Higher English results from all of our six departments. Using the % of S4 roll who achieved a Higher we were able to create a spreadsheet which showed the decile for that department; the % As, A-Bs, A-Cs; progression value; and relative value. This analysis threw up some very interesting and unexpected results. At first glance this approach might appear to be reinforcing the idea of a league table mentality which forces departments to compete against each other. However, we intend to use this data to reinforce the connections between schools by sharing ideas, good practice and materials on a subject by subject basis.

We are considering bringing subject PTs or reps together to present the data and to look at ways in which we can learn from each other with exc-el being a possible vehicle. Pauline Sales is going to work on producing the data over the next couple of weeks and will presnt the data in the three year average which gets rid of the variation which occurs fomr a year to year basis. Having Colin at the meeting with Sheila McKendrick, Ruth Munro and Pauline Sales was a very effective strategy as Colin has exceptional ability and experience in this area.

I took Colin out to lunch to thank him for his contribution. Back to office for report from Adam Whyte regarding the Investors in People Award. Adam informed us that we haven't quite achieved the revised standard which is much more difficult to achieve than the previous stndard. However, he had some very positive words to say about our department and has recommended that we complete a few action points and will return within three months by which time we should have reached the standard. I have to admit to being slightly unsure of IIP (as someone once described it to me “Investors in Paper”). However, having seen the process close up I think it is an accurate measure of how effective an organisation is in looking after the welfare and development of its members – I'd recommend it to anyone who might be thinking about applying.

Then on to meeting with Callum Stewart (DHT Preston Lodge) and Derek Simpson (DHT Dunbar Grammar). They have been looking at a pupil tracking and monitoring software system known as “On the Button” There have been a few concerns about the system from a technical point of view but these concerns have now been resolved. They are going to make a presentation to HTs and others on the 10th November although PL are going to make a start straight away.

Meeting finished at 3.45pm and then had the luxury of a couple of hours at my desk – I almost enjoyed the experience. Met my brother for a pint on the ay home – looking forward to the weekend.

PS – welcome to Richard Wilson

Thursday 13th October

9.00 – 11.30am Departmental Management Team Meeting. A significant part of this meeting was taken with discussion of the restructuring of the department. Things are gradually beginning to take shape. I’ve been charged with writing up the cluster purpose paper; the integration team link to cluster; and the education structure.

12.00-1.20pm Meeting with Provost Pat O’Brien and Councillors Peter Ford, Willie Innes and Margaret Libberton. These councillors represent the areas comprising the Preston Lodge cluster. I found the meeting to be very worthwhile as we discussed a range of issues most of which pertained to the attainment action plan. They were very supportive of the idea of looking at attainment from a cluster perspective and liked the notion of collective responsibility. Amongst other things we reflected upon: budgets; teaching and learning; standardised testing; school linkage with East Lothian Council; 5-14 attainment; and leadership. From this meeting I’m going to offer to meet with the councillors representing each of our clusters on an annual basis.

1.30pm Back to the office for meeting with Liz Morriss, EIS District Representative. Range of issues which I’ll follow up and get back to Liz.

2.00pm Met Eilish Garland to finalise complaints policy ready for final publication and circulation.

3.00-4.30pm Finance Meeting – this is proving to be a very valuable monthly meeting with our three finance officers. We explored a range of matters – I’m keen to find ways in which we can reinstate the funding for childcare strategy which was removed at our last meeting; fund finance officers for primaries; and cover a projected overspend in our predictable needs budget. I’ll be taking up these matters with Alan Blackie.

4.30pm – 5.45pm Fifth Deputes’ seminar. Smallest group so far but no less worthwhile – from a rough guess I’d reckon we have over 85% of deputes attending the sessions which is remarkable given they are voluntary and after school. I received an E mail from one of the depute’s after the event. She – quite rightly – challenged me for giving the impression that the only good depute is one who is seeking to become a Headteacher. Undoubtedly I had been exploring why people didn’t want to become HTs and also looked at ways in which we could help people to become HTs However, it had not been my intention to characterise anyone who wished to remain a DHT as someone who was not fulfilling a very worthwhile role in education – I must be more careful!!