Carole Craig has written extensively on Scottish people’s ability to undermine ourselves and the fact that we believe that we shouldn’t “blow our own trumpets”.

I was reminded of this today when I was speaking to one of our head teachers.  I suggested that she was always seeking to push the reasons for any success in the school to her colleagues and was not prepared to accept any of the credit.

When I acused her of being self-deprecating she said “other people are a lot better at being self-deprecating than me”

 Why do we have such a problem accepting praise? 

Management blogs in education

Over the last few weeks I’ve been looking for other educational manager’s blogs from across the globe. The result of my search has been to find a quite disproportionate imbalance towards bloggers who are not in significant management positions.

The result of this phenomenon seems to be growing clamour from educational bloggers to have their managers actively engage in social media as participants, as opposed to being distant “controllers” of a world with which they are not necessarily engaged.

Such a perception only serves to reinforce the notion amongst some that blogging is essentially a subversive activity, which in turn reinforces the traditional “them” and “us” mentality in education.

I have a number of manager friends (not necessarily in education) who describe how their workplace cultures would not support the productive use of social media .  Their concerns centre around five issues:

  1. I don’t have time to do something so frivolous;
  2. Everything I do is confidential and so what could I write about?;
  3. People are not encouraged to express a personal opinion about the company;
  4. If I let people disagree with me in a public forum it would weaken my position and make my job impossible;
  5. How do I control the risk of people possibly damaging the company reputation from within – particularly if it damages our share price?

From personal experience I would like to reassure people that blogging, from my perspective, is perhaps one of the most important things a manager could to do have positive impact upon their organisation. The problem with most organisations is that managers are seen to be remote from their colleagues – and even if they’re close the SNAFU principle often means they don’t hear the truth.

I’m not suggesting that blogging necessarily means that anyone will become a better manager or leader by blogging – but the I would argue the likelihood is greatly enhanced. I know that keeping a blog and the receipt of comments has had a significant impact upon how I behave and the policies and processes we have put in place in East Lothian over the last 18 months.

Loretto Primary School – classroom observation

Lorreto Primary School

Originally uploaded by Don Ledingham.

I was out at Loretto Primary School this afternoon to speak with the staff about our Learning and Teaching policy.

We had a really useful discussion about unconditional positive regard, pupil engagement and collaboration between staff.

We then touched upon the issue of classroom observation. Our policy is that classroom observation should focus on aspects of the learning and teaching policy – as opposed to being mini-crits, i.e. emulating teacher training observations which focus upon teacher competence. In our approach an observer – who might just as easily be a peer as a school manager – focuses upon an aspect such as Information Literacy. A school might adopt such a focus for observations to fit in with the school development plan. This focus can change throughout the year.

I discussed the ideas I’ve been exploring in relation to accountability and the need for us to move away from practices which are only there to “cover our backs” – a line of consequence (which classroom observation can sometimes become) to a point where the practice is designed to help us improve what we do for children.

This does not mean that “anything goes” – classroom observation can form part of a fromal disciplinary process where competence is called into question but that this would follow an agreed process involving teacher associations and strict policies – we also recommend that senior management should be regulary visiting classrooms on an informal basis to maintain a high profile and to know their school.

Integrated Children’s Services – the child at the heart

Chief Officer’s Group – Children’s Services

Originally uploaded by Don Ledingham.

The Chief Officers Group for Childrens Services met this morning at Musselburgh Racecourse.

In what was a very productive meeting we looked at how we can improve the delivery of services to children.

I was asked to make a presentation on the new quality indicator framework for evaluating children’s services. The framework was released today but it was available online last night so I had downloaded sections for us to consider.

It will be used to evaluate the effectiveness children’s services in Scotland from the end of 2008. We intend to use the framework to evaluate our current practice prior to entering into our new development phase.

It struck me that local clusters will have use this framework to judge their delivery of integrated children’s services.

Probationer Training

I led two sessions today for all of our Newly Qualified Teacher (probationers). The feedback’s been positive and I certainly enjoyed meeting, listening and talking to these new members of our profession.

The content covered included:

Their personal perspective on teaching as member of staff;

Our culture – using multiple metaphor model;

Key principles of our Learning and Teaching Policy;

Formative assessment techniques;

Adopting a positive perspective; Martin Seligman

A Curriculum for Excellence;

Extreme Learning;

Teachers as reflective practitioners;

Social media – blogging; wikis; exc-el.

If today was anything go by the future of education in East Lothian and Scotland is in good hands.

Sheila McKendrick


Originally uploaded by Don Ledingham.

Sheila retires on Friday as Manager of Learning and Teaching. In my year and half in post Sheila has provided me with guidance, support and incredible patience.

She certainly deserves a long and happy retirement and is about to set off on a remarkable voyage down the Amazon. Probably no different to having worked with me – meandering; unpredictable; and difficult to navigate. Sheila – thanks – you will be missed by everyone.

Extreme Learning

It was with no little trepidation that I arrived at the Marine Hotel for the follow up meeting to the initial Extreme Learning that had been held in September – would anyone turn up?

Well – they did – a full turnout ,aside from those who had given their apologies.  We had a very productive session and now move to the the next phase which is to “play” with ideas in our schools.

You can follow the development of the approach – which we have agreed is to be called Extreme Learning” – on the wiki – please feel free  to contribute – the next meeting will take place towards the end of January 2007. Thanks.