Getting it right!


I was invited to a COPS meeting this afternoon.  No they hadn’t eventually caught up with me! COPS is a an acronym for Co-ordinators of Pupil Support.

This group meets up five times a year to share practice and highlight common areas of concern.  I was invited to take part in a discussion about the role and future of the group. 

Perhaps the main point I made was to repeat an opinion I expressed in November 2006 about the need to refocus and reshape our support systems in schools to allow us to fully target our resources upon those who need it most.

We have a lot of work to do to share the agenda of For Scotland’s Children and Getting it Right for Every Child

One key starting point is that one of the group will join our Integrated Children’s Services Operational Group, which meets on a monthly basis to ensure a link between secondary schools and multi-agency approach we are developing

The Teacher

I wrote the following a few years ago after speaking to some pupils of Dave Shanks about how he made their learning so successful – see Post


Passing through elongated hours
Like flat spinning stones,
Skimming across the surface,
Touching down and lifting off.
Sleeping with our eyes open.
Busily doing nothing.

He knew,
And we knew he knew.
Catching us as we sped by,
Pulling us down into his world,
Confronting us with ourselves,
Looking out through our eyes.

Speaking to me, speaking to us,
Thirty simultaneous conversations.
He cared, cared that we didn’t
And smashed us about our heads,
Armed only with knowledge
And love for his subject.

An unlikely orchestra
He played us, coaxed us.
Daring us to stretch beyond our reach,
To see something for ourselves,
To see something of ourselves.
A seed planted, that still grows .

The Power of Threes


As I mentioned in my last post Norman Drummond led our HT conference on Wednesday.

I had the pleasure of giving the vote of thanks where I mentioned the power of the tricolon, e.g. “I came, I saw, I conquered” – which is a technique that many outstanding speakers use to great effect – Norman being such a person. I was introduced to the tricolon by another of my former Selkirk High School colleagues in the form of David Shanks, erstwhile Principal Teacher of Classics.  Dave Shanks was an exceptional teacher, with the number of pupils taking Higher Latin at the school often exceeding any other school in Scotland (including all the private schools) – I’ll maybe post a poem I wrote for Dave in another entry.  Dave taught me that the power of three in oratory terms was an ancient as our language

I mentioned the power of three again on Thursday when I was talking to our East Lothian Council’s leadership team about the leadership programme we are hoping to develop.  A key aspect of that programme will be that people will work in threes as opposed to the traditional pairs arrangement. I was interested when David Spilsbury, our Head of Corporate Finance, supported that concept and referred to how the British Army worked in threes – as opposed to the U.S Army who work a buddy system. I’m sure I’ve heard this before but I can’t find a link to establish if indeed this is the case – pointers welcome.

To complete the link, Norman Drummond’s focus on Wednesday had been on co-coaching (the coach and the person being coached both benefiting from the process) I do believe that we too often set people up in pairs, e.g.  mentoring, coaching, buddying – when in actual fact a three way relationship can be much more productive.