One of those days

No, not one of those days, I mean one of those days when everything goes right!

We had an exceptional meeting this morning involving all secondary headteachers, a Depute from their schools and number of education officers to consider curriculum and timetabling issues. We kicked off with a review of some of the mind maps I'd been working on for A Curriculum For Excellence. This provided a context for the rest of the meeting where each school shared their structure of the school day, their curriculum plans and choice sheets. This threw up some really interesting points but more importantly enabled a truly professional and stimulating debate about what it is we are trying to achieve in schools through our curriculum and delivery mechanisms. We then considered the place of pre-voactonal courses in schools and established a small working group who will come up with a rationale for us to take forward. This was followed by a discussion of how we might make use of ICT to deliver some subjects, particularly at advanced higher level – we are going to set up a pilot project which Derek Simpson will lead. Then we looked at the Options and Timetabler software which I used last year at DGS. It looks like most schools are going to invest in this and I'll arrange to take a more formal training session when they all have the software. Finsihed off the morning with a review of the NFER and MIDYIS cogitiv ability tests. There wasn't much between the two but we finally decided to implement the MIDYIS test for all our S2 students. This will really provide some useful data with which to compare schools progress.

Finished meeting at 2.00pm followed by a meeting with Paul Raffaelli about Dunbar's School of Ambition application. Hopefully the school can be successful I have every confidence in Paul to ensure the project has real impact upon the school. After that I took the opportunity to take a wander round the office to speak to a few folk who I hadn't seen since they got back from holiday.

4.00pm First meeting of the exc-el board. This group composed of Jackie McKinnon, HT Aberlady PS, Jim Cram, PT Art and Desin Preston Lodge HIgh School, Alan White, teacher of computing at Musselburgh Grammar, Robert Whiteside, classroom teacher at Haddinton Nursery School, David Gilmour, a newly qualified teacher who is doing supply work and myself met for an hour and half to explore how we might take forwards exc-el. There was no agenda, no minute taker but a real sense of purpose and fun. We were free to think, challenge and create ideas. Out of a wide range of ideas the most powerful was that we will not formally launch the site. I had been considering writing to every teacher but we felt it would be a much more powerful strategy to let it grow by word of mouth and the fact that people will use it because it is useful – not because the Head of Education says it is worthy. We'd like to mirror what google and amazon have done by making it a welcoming experience which meets the needs of its users – we also want to make it fun! We are going to explore using video casts and audio podcasts but this will require more webspace – which should not prove to be a problem. The group will meet again before Christmas but it was a joy to be in the company of such creative and enthusiastic people – if we can just replicate this spirit on exc-el then I think we have a bright future.

Finally chaired Additional Support for Learning Public Meeting at Haddinton Townhouse from 7.00-8.45pm. This was quite well attended and Shiela Ainslie and Liz Herd really demonstrated a mastery of their brief and this was well received by all those present. A good day!!

PS Welcome to Kirsty Parkin