Steve Munby recently spoke at our East Lothian Learning Festival and told a story about when he swapped roles with a teacher when he was Director of Education for Knowlsley Council, in Merseyside.  The idea appealed to me and I rashly offered a job swap on Twitter – never imagining that anyone would take up the offer.

You can imagine my dismay when my bluff was called and Pam Currie a Depute Headteacher from Law Primary School asked me if I’d like to come and teach her Primary One class of 25 five year olds. Hoist by my own petard I had no option but to agree and so we arranged for me to come to the school last Friday to teach for the morning.

We met the week before and Pam ran through the programme of work that I would be expected to cover: PE, Music, Numeracy, and Storytime.  As we chatted about the Autumn theme that the class are working on I suggested that the PE class could be a dance lesson using actual leaves, and that the numeracy lesson could make use of the same leaves in an outdoor context.

During the week prior to my visit my most important task was to collect enough dried leaves of sufficient variety to provide a stimulus for the lesson.

Now I hadn’t taught a dance lesson for something approaching 17 years – and hadn’t taught a primary class for closer to 30 years – but I suppose teaching is a bit like riding a bike.  It felt great to get back into the classroom and connecting with young people again. The kids responded brilliantly to the leaves and as I tipped the sack out onto the floor they loved the sounds, smells and colours.  We experimented with holding different leaves and letting them fall to the ground – and then trying it again with a different kind of leaf. Then we explored how we might copy the movement of the falling leaf with our own bodies.

Then we looked at how leaves are affected by the wind. Using a fan heater we blew a light breeze towards a pile of leaves and looked at how they rustled – a child came up with a great Scottish word when he said the leaves were “shoogling”. We then tried to copy the rustling leaves while I gently shook a tambourine.

The third stage was to ask the children to blow their own leaf as hard as the could across the floor. Once again we copied that movement with our bodies.

The final stage was to look at how leaves formed piles, where the leaves lay one on top of another in different shapes.  This was the riskiest part of the lesson where children could have been jumping on top of each other but they handled the task superbly and moved into the piles in a very convincing and safe manner.

The last part of the lesson was to put all of these movements together into a final performance.  I think the lesson was recorded so I’d hope to put a link here to youtube whenever it’s put up.

I’d gone into the jobswap with the intention of having fun – and without a doubt that key criterion was satisfied throughout the whole day. But what did I learn?

Firstly, teaching is an exhausting business.  The teacher is constantly having to be attentive – there are no points when you can switch off and let the children get on with things while you do your own work. This is reinforced when the range of needs is as varied as it was in my class.

Secondly, lesson preparation is crucial to engaging the children in the learning process – I’d put a fair bit of work into planning for the morning – but what must it be like planning for an entire week?

Thirdly, the school staff work as a team.  The staged assessment meeting I attended at 8.30, where six teachers talked about a single child’s needs, was hugely impressive and reassuring. The morning break showed that team spirit in a different way where pink cakes were on offer in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness and every member of staff wore pink.

Fourthly, I saw 100 children engaged in a break-time aerobics session being led by P7 pupils – a wonderful example of children being supported and encouraged to do it for themselves!

Fifthly, I saw teachers who cared about learning; who cared about young people; and who cared about each other.  A humbling and inspirational experience which will stay with me for a long time.

Law Primary School – thank you.




Play might be the highest form of research – but does it have a place in secondary education?

“Play is the highest form of research” (attributed to Albert Einstein)

Einstein’s quotation came to mind last week as I watched a four-year-old experiment with sand and water at one of our nursery schools.  He was completely absorbed in his task, trying to build a ring of sand to create a small pond effect.  He came to realize that he needed to wet the sand first to get it to stick together in order to make the walls strong enough and high enough to trap the water.

Time and again he tested his theory until – at last – success!

What struck me was that he was learning so much through the medium of play, where he had set the task, decided upon the success criteria, and established the timescale in which he would address the challenge.  The result? – total and absolute preoccupation and focus.

The father of play psychology Johan Huizinga defined play as follows:

“Summing up the formal characteristic of play, we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly.”

Over the years I’ve become a complete convert to the early years’ approach, where children are encouraged to learn through play and active learning.  It’s been interesting to watch this approach percolate up through the primary school where play is often used in a productive manner with older children.

Yet when I consider the secondary school curriculum the notion of using play, as an approach to promoting learning is rare – and in some subject areas completely unknown. But rather than criticising my colleagues I would much rather prefer to attempt to understand and explain why this may be the case.

The secondary school curriculum has evolved into a set of formal learning outcomes that often lead the teacher to adopt a methodology where they have complete control over the nature of the learning process, the criteria by which success will be measured, and the duration of the learning experience.

This is driven by a tacit expectation that “good” teaching requires such explicit goals and formalised learning steps. Yet compare that to the learning that took place in the nursery school, where the child was able to create the task in response to the materials provided and encouragement to play.

There are three main obstacles for the adoption of play in the secondary school. Firstly, It has been suggested to me that teenagers don’t naturally respond to opportunities to “play” and that they prefer concrete and explicit learning tasks.  Secondly, the notion of teenagers being set free in a classroom to experiment with a range of available materials is simply a recipe for disaster!

The third, and potentially most compelling objection to adopting a play methodology is simply that teachers do not have the time to spend in such indulgent activities, given the pressure to get “through the course”.

Certainly this latter obstacle was a reality in an over-crowded and time limited S1 – S2 curriculum. But perhaps this is where an advantage can be derived from a properly conceived and delivered broad general education that extends across the first three years of secondary school.

There’s a lot of talk these days about deep learning – where the student has the opportunity to go beyond the typically shallow level of understanding and reasoning which characterised the early years of secondary school education. What can be deeper than to enable young people to create their own experiments and test their own theories about a subject area? I’m not simply talking here about experimentation in the scientific or technical mode.

It’s at this point that we can begin to draw upon the emerging practice where teachers are beginning to use play in a constructive and exciting manner to enhance and liberate the learning process.  Here are three examples I have gathered through an appeal via Twitter:

1. I get Higher pupils to create & act out missing scene (subtext) in novels/plays studied – need to know text to understand sub-text! & can make misssing scene personal to own community/situation – Tennessee Williams on the croft in Gaelic. ‘Play’ can make it relevant, personal and memorable. Seniors like chance to ‘play’ -when relevant- amongst such serious study.  I know when they go into exam hall they remember own interpretation of what is important in the text & they love that they played. @doglaunchers

2. Today I used Geogebra software with S2 for 1st time. I let them play with it for 15 mins rather than teaching them how to use it. They were completely absorbed in exploring what the software could do. I gave them no direction as to what they should be doing. @jonesieboy

3. This week we used  sand trays and water to encourage students to simulate coastal actions. I was very clear that I wasn’t looking for a definitive answer to anything, but I did want students to observe and record their findings before trying to link to actual coastal landscapes. The freedom allowed students to just try things their own way, experiment and probably make some different conclusions from mine, but some similar ones which they will ultimately keep from a memorable lesson. There are so many pieces and links we can pick up from this in future lessons, even if the learning was messy, with a different structure and an unusual way to explore the new topic.  @kenny73

Such powerful examples provide evidence that change is taking place in our schools – and that to certain extent we are seeing teachers “playing” with their pedagogy.  Now Einstein would have been impressed!

Shoe design

During my visit to West Barns Primary School (Dunbar) I encountered some incredible design work in a P2/3 class.

Each of the children had designed and made their own shoes – and before you ask the task had been completed in school (no parents!).

I’ve never seen such high quality work from such young children.

Making Space for Change

I’m scheduled to speak at our Early Years Conference on Tuesday 7th February.  “Healthy Happy Bairns” This event is aimed at service providers, community members and elected members with a role, or interest, in tackling health inequality through a focus on the early years of life and supporting parents/carers.

The title of my input is Making Space for Change:

Scotland is a country with ambition and in East Lothian I think we have aspirations for excellence – to be the best of the best – we are good but we can be better.

For me the journey to excellence starts with getting it right for every child in East Lothian – and we need to get it right from the start – from the very start – not only from pre-birth but from pre-conception.

We cannot be excellent, and we cannot get it right for every child, unless we tackle the inequality in outcomes for education, health and social well being that exist in Scotland and are mirrored in our own community. For many of you this is a straight forward social justice issue –  the level of inequality in our community is wrong and we have to do something about it. However, speaking as someone with responsibility for running a major public service – it is also about efficiency and effectiveness and ultimately the resilience of public service in a time of reduced government spending. The resource costs of dealing with the consequences of inequality in our community are huge and ultimately unsustainable.

Report after report has called for greater emphasis on early intervention – and to achieve this we need to change.

The Chrsitie Commission has recently helpfully summarised some of the key pillars of change.

  • Shift towards prevention
  • Local integration of public services, driven by better partnership, collaboration & effective local delivery
  • Investment in people who deliver services by enhanced workforce development & effective leadership
  • A sharp focus on improving performance, through greater transparency, innovation & use of digital technology.

Shift towards prevention

This seems such an easy objective but in reality so much more difficult to achieve.  So much of our budget is spent addressing outcomes for children when we haven’t got everything right, for example, a child placed in secure accommodation for ten weeks costs East Lothian Council £50,000, a year would be £260,000.  Such young people are at the extreme end of negative outcomes but surely we have to believe that if we had taken earlier collective action as a community so much earlier that such outcomes need not be a child’s destiny.

Local integration of public services, driven by better partnership, collaboration & effective local delivery

The first law of corporate inertia reads: “for every action there is an equal and opposite objection”. Corporate organisations, such as councils, do not find it easy to naturally forge partnerships especially when it means giving up some power. We say we do but if you look for substantive success in partnerships such as shared services and it’s much easier to point to failures than achievements. Of course this has real resonance for us in East Lothian as we move towards shared service provision for education with Midlothian Council. Underpinning all of that work has been a recognition that the status quo is not sustainable, especially if we wish to maintain front-line services and focus an even higher proportion of our budgets on prevention.  

Investment in people who deliver services by enhanced workforce development & effective leadership

When budgets get tight the one area which comes under immediate pressure are training and workforce development budgets. I’ve done it myself as a head of service – cutting a training budget and maintaining a teacher in a classroom. Such dilemmas are going to be an ever-present for us in the short to medium term so we need to think creatively about how we develop our workforce – for with out such development we cannot hope to improve. Ideas such a peer support; learning communities; networking; and protected learning time are required if we are to make progress. Such thinking has to be embedded in the minds of leaders at all levels, i.e. “How do I help my colleagues to work together and learn from one another?”  But it’s not just learning from other professionals which is going to make a difference, it’s got to be learning from and with a wide range of other service providers where collaborative learning is the order of the day.

A sharp focus on improving performance, through greater transparency, innovation & use of digital technology. 

In East Lothian we have a notion to become the most improved authority in terms of outcomes for children and young people.  Many of these outcomes can be easily measured, such as attainment, exclusions, positive destinations for school leavers. Yet at a community level there’s a danger that we impose a simplistic “bean counting approach” solely focused upon quantitative data. I would argue that if we are really to empower our communities and trust them to come up with solutions which work for them we must come up with an alternative to methodology that works on a larger scale. That alternative must be based upon the cumulative impact of lots of small actions (outputs), none of which might have an observable impact, but taken together add up to contributing to the overall well being of the community. We need to tell our little stories, and together these stories will add up to a big book.  By linking how people are feeling with the outputs and hard outcomes we have areal chance to making a real difference to our communities.

Don’t underestimate this – to make these kind of changes will be very difficult. For positive change to happen we have to create the right environment or space that will foster and support it.

Being an Equally Well test site has helped to develop our thinking about how we create a space for change

Firstly, the importance of a shared vision or understanding about what  we are trying to change and why – I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that the concept of resilience should be part of that vision and shared understanding about what we want to achieve.

Secondly the test site has shown the importance of being ‘connected’ – Dr Harry Burns tells us about the importance of being connected socially for good health – but it is also vital in creating a space for change. We need to allow our staff from across the range of agencies to connect with each other if we expect them to be creative in the way they work with communities and each other. This doesn’t mean endless meetings and talking shops, but mangers need to support staff to achieve the kind of connectedness that will deliver better outcomes for children and parents. Shared learning space that helps staff from different backgrounds and agencies develop ‘connectedness’ is an important practical step that can help create a space for change.

Thirdly the test site has emphasised the need for involvement or engagement with the community. We need a new partnership between community and public service that is more equal and recognises the strengths that are in our communities as well as their needs and problems. In government policy documents this is being termed co production. The next phase of Support from the Start seeks to try and create that sort of partnership and you will hear more about this from my colleague Ronnie Hill this afternoon, and hopefully through the workshops you will be participating in creating that new partnership.

Fourthly, you need a bias for action – do what you can now and plan for what you can do tomorrow but be prepared to take some risks. Doing nothing fails children. A plan that doesn’t come off quite right is something you can learn from. Having a bias for action helps people identify the often small changes which can have big impacts – that impact may be for only one or two children – but that doesn’t matter, what matters is those children’s lives have been changed for the better.

Finally – a bias for action leads me onto the importance of leadership in creating a space for change – or as I would prefer to call it ‘space for innovation’.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes and I could spend a day talking about styles of leadership, but the key thing is that leadership is a quality and a skill set we can all develop – it is not invested in a few special people.

The changes that we want to see don’t tend to happen without people driving them or making it happen.  Those people might be managers they might not be, it may be a parent, it may be a child who is driving innovation – whoever it is they are the champions we need, and we have to link them to others who can help and support them. The test site developed a model of champions for innovation because  we recognised from the outset the importance of leadership at all levels. We want to help more and more people be champions for early years in our communities

Strategic leaders have a particular leadership responsibility in creating the space for innovation. The ethos and rules that staff and community members work within set the parameters for engaging in change. If you want change keep the rules simple, and give people permission to try.

Overall being a test site for Equally Well has been positive for East Lothian and I hope others can find something in our experience that is useful to them. It’s too early to be specific about the impact that the test site has or hasn’t had on inequality in East Lothian but we have a positive story to share and that narrative doesn’t end with the test site – we will add to it and develop it in the next phase of Support from the Start











Microfinance: supporting social enterprise for student and community benefit


Option 29 described in the curriculum for excellence senior phase post was described simply as: Establish a microfinance investment fund for student application.

I’ve been asked by a number of people to explain what I meant by this and how it might work.

This option has a number of threads but the starting point is founded upon a perceived need to encourage students to actively create social enterprises which will benefit their communities, and in turn,themselves.

The idea is not new and is rooted in the Grameen Bank  concept, although with more of a focus upon community benefit and personal/group development, rather than tackling poverty. The scheme should certainly tackle some of the symptoms of poverty within communities.


The concept is based upon the establishment of a microfinance fund using donations from local business people and other sources – councils included.  This money would be placed in a trust to which students, or other members of a community, could submit an application for a micro loan which would allow them to establish and develop their social enterprise. The only stipulation – aside from the viability of the plan – would be that the proposal must have a direct benefit to their local community.

An example we have been developing relates to an Elders Buddy Scheme. Let’s say that a student (or students) at the school applies to the fund for an interest free loan to set up the buddy scheme, which will involve families or individuals paying a minimal fee for a young person to spend 5 hours week making an evening home visit to an elderly person. The social entrepreneur/s, would use the loan – to a maximum £1000 – to pay for advertising, information materials, recruitment, training, disclosure fees, and other costs.

The microfinance fund would seek to provide additional support through a business /community mentor and a further network of relevant contacts  and fellow social entrepreneurs.

Areas of possible community benefit include; early years and child care; elderly care; youth programmes; disability support; and environment.

Obviously there are numerous working details missing from this description but in order to keep this post brief and to the point I’ll focus upon the benefits to the indviduals and the community they inhabit, and the possible problems.

Here’s a list of possible benefits:

  1. Young people are introduced to the world of work and enterprise in a real and meaningful manner.
  2. Communituties would benefit from the services provided.
  3. Experience in developing and running a social enterprise would be highly regarded on applications for employment or further/higher education.
  4. Young people develop real experience in financial management.
  5. It gives meaning to other academic studies as they become contextualised in a world of work and social duty.
  6. If  recognised as part of a young person’s senior phase curriculum it would enhance and  deepen that experience.
  7. It would promote comunity engagement and awareness of young people with/about their community.
  8. It woukd raise the positive profile of young people in their communities.
  9. Encourages young people to take the next step into running businesses for themselves.
  10. Promotes and entrepreneurial spirit in a community/school.

And possible problems:

  1. Loans are not repaid
  2. Enterprises collapse as young people leave their communities for further study or employment
  3. Services to vulnerable groups are not sustained
  4. Existing services with full time employees are placed at risk due to competition.
  5. Schools do not recognise the value of the scheme and only allow high achieving students to particpate or do not facilitate time  for involvement.
  6. The scheme does not offer sufficient support in the initial stages
  7. The bureaucracy of the application process is too off putting and complex.
  8. Funding is too short term.
  9. Insufficient number of financial backers.
  10. Works only in areas of high net worth and not in communites which might really benefit.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

Further reading:

What can social finance learn from microfinance

Social innovation

Peer to peer microfinance for young people

Youth enterprise

Microcredit for young entrepreneurs

Reconfiguring services – meeting the challenge

We held a very successful “Corporate Parenting” Conference today at the Marine Hotel, North Berwick. .

Adam Ingram MSP , Minister for Children and Early Years gave a  well informed and committed keynote address and emphasised the need for us to collectively address the needs of Looked After and Accommodated Children and to focus upon the improving outcomes for such children, namely:

  • Raising Attainment
  • Improved Leaver Destinations
  • Reducing offending
  • Improved Health

In the follow up questions Adam was asked a question about the need to reconfigure services and his vision for the future.  He alluded to an extensive vision but focused upon Early Years support and intervention encouraging us to reprioritise around this point if we are to make a difference to chidren’s lives.

In recent discussions with colleagues from many different fields I’ve found a similar willingness to engage with this agenda – although it remains to be seen if we can begin to reprioritise budgets to this area. Having said that we had a very useful example last week when we were able to redirect some work towards early years.  In a meeting with Diane Littlejohn we were discussing our parenting strategy and Diane was telling us about the transition work she is doing in one of our clusters to help all parents make the transition from being the parents of a child to the parent of a teenager (which any of us who have been parents will tell you is quite an adjustment). Nevertheless, we were able to connect the conversation to a recent meeting we had about a desperate need to support parents of very vulnerable young children to help the child adjust from home to nursery and nursery to primary school.

The emerging proposal was that we would be better directing Diane’s expertise to this age group with a view to making a long term impact – as opposed to trying to intervene in a situation which might be beyond help.  Now I know the danger here is that we have a “lost generation” but if we are serious about making a difference we need to move from “trying to fix” to “trying to prevent”.  As I’m finding out the consequences of reprioritising funding from previous areas of emphasis to other areas can cause significant distress and concern amongst those who perceive themselves to be losing out in this adjustment.

I reckon the solution/challenge here is to engage with all interest groups to describe what want to do, why we are doing it and involve them in the solution – without this dialogue the system can begin to break down with single issue groups only focusing upon their own needs and challenging the wider agenda which is to advocate for the needs of all children.

It’s this agenda which I’m finding professionally challenging but the potential rewards for taking this approach seems to me to be too good to miss.

Solution Focused Planning


The power of our strategic groups came to the fore this week at our 3 -18 Strategic Learning and Teaching Group.

This group has 25 members who represent a wide cross-section of those of us involved in education in East Lothian.  I know its accepted logic that such a large group can’t operate successfully but it’s the very size of, and representation within the group that actually makes it effective.

We started the meeting reflecting upon the impact of our Learning and Teaching policy in the last year.  By splitting up into groups of 3 we were able to identify a wide range of observable changes in our practice throughout the authority that would evidence our emphasis on learning and teaching.

The second part of the meeting was given over to considering our Service Improvement Plan for the coming session. I showed the group a range of the possible outcomes which we have been exploring.  One of the draft outcomes read as follows:

“All children will achieve Level B in reading by the end of P4, level D by the end of P7, and Level E by the end of S2.”

We discussed the thinking behind this desired outcome and the reaction it might stimulate amongst teachers. The problem lay in the notion of “All” and the idea it just seems to reaffirm a focus on attainment – which many teachers just see as a means of keeping the Authority and HMIe happy – as opposed to helping individual children learn.

I’ve written so many plans for departments, schools and authorities now that I’ve become acutely aware of the dissonance between what the writer of the plan might intend and the perception of the plan by those who have to implement it.

The idea behind the outcome is that we would like every child to be able to read by the age of 9 – at least well enough that their reading ability does not limit their progress in any other area of the curriculum. As we wrestled with the problem of how we might come up with an outcome which was clear, kept our focus on reading, but didn’t antagonise teachers we struck upon a solution. That solution was to take the problem to the teachers – let them know what we wanted to achieve, why it was important, and  some guidance on the characteristics of an outcome – and let them come up with the answer.

The power of this idea is that has so many advantages:

  1. It engages teachers with the rationale of the outcome approach;
  2. It will enable us to generate an agreed outcome which has a wide range of stakeholder ownership;
  3. It will enable us to have the impact we desire, i.e. make reading a central focus of our practice in schools.

It’s only through talking through a problem like this with such a wide ranging group that such solutions can be generated.

Christmas Leavers


Ever since I started teaching I’ve been frustrated with the idea of “Christmas Leavers”.

The school leaving age regulations read as follows: 

Children may leave school once they reach their statutory school leaving date, this is dependent on date of birth. For children born between 1 March and 30 September it is 31 May of their 4th year of secondary school. For children born between 1 October and 28 February it is the last day of the December term of the school session in which they are 16.

It’s this latter group which cause such concern.  It never ceases to amaze me how many of the most challenging children are in this group. I can’t track down the link but I know there is a correlation between low attainment for boys and the age they started primary school education, i.e. the younger they were the lower their attainment in S4 (there is no such correlation for girls). Rather than trying to tackle this by ensuring that boys don’t start school too early we exacerbate the situation by demanding that these (often) disenchanted young people have to stay on at school for another four months.  Ridiculous!

Developing a developmental approach


It’s peculiar how sometimes things just seem to come together in an unexpected and unplanned manner but I had a meeting today where that very thing happened – and I would put it down in no small part to the discipline of keeping a Learning Log.

The various elements of this web of connections are as follows:

  1. My observations of classes with a focus on learning intention and learning task;
  2. The early years Active Learning approach which I have observed having such a positive effect upon children’s learning;
  3. The developmental approach being used in Maths Recovery;
  4. Our strategic decision to place Learning and Teaching at the heart of A Curriculum for Excellence;
  5. The notion of universal and targeted intervention strategies.
  6. The importance of children being functionally competent by the age of 8-9 to access the rest of the curriculum
  7. Our emerging early years strategy which will link pre-school education; child care; nursery and early years at primary school; and focussed care for vulnerable children and families

There are probably many other possible connections but the above will suffice for the purposes of this post.

The meeting I had this afternoon was with Mike Jess and June Murray, from Edinburgh University and some colleagues from our Active Schools Team. The focus of the meeting was the Basic Moves programme which has been operating in East Lothian Schools promotes an innovative approach towards teaching physical education.


“The Basic Moves Programme sets out to help all children develop the basic movement competence that lays the foundation for lifelong physical activity. The importance of basic movement competence cannot be overemphasised as it means children are able to pass through the proficiency barrier between the simple activities of early childhood and the more complex activities of late childhood witconfidence. As Seefeldt, Haubenstricker and Reuchlien (1979, cited in Graham, Holt, Hale and Parker, 2001, p. 32) have said,

Children who possess inadequate motor skills are often relegated to a life of exclusion from organised and free play experiences of their peers, and subsequently, to a lifetime of inactivity because of their frustrations in early movement behaviour.

Simply, developing children’s basic movement competence as the foundation for a lifetime of physical activity cannot be left to chance and must become the focus of children’s programmes in the future (Jess and Collins, 2003)……

The programme is based on the need for adults and children to have a shared understanding of the Basic Movement Framework and for adults to consistently offer children developmentally appropriate, inclusive and integrated experiences that lead them to develop this critical foundation. Children’s basic movement competence has been left to chance for far too long and we must now take the opportunity to rectify this situation once and for all.”

The purpose of of our meeting this afternoon was to consider the next steps when the current programme in East Lothian comes to an end in 2009.

Emerging from the meeting was a fledgling strategy which begins to tie together some of the strands I mentioned at the begining of this post:

1.      Basic Moves needs to be embedded within our evolving developmental approach towards ensuring that every child reaches a level of competence in literacy, numeracy, movement, and social and emotional development to enable them to fully access the educational opportunities provided for them beyond the age of 8.


2.      The strategy needs to adopt a focus upon pedagogy and a shared understanding of a developmental approach which builds from where children are starting from.


3.      We need to develop and implement a range of proactive intervention strategies which target and support children whose rate of development might be compromised by socioeconomic reasons or other family circumstances.




Learning from each other – overcoming our reticence


I visited Dunbar Primary School this afternoon and observed a nursery class and two P3 classes. I was particularly interested in the planning process for nursery classes as I’d sat in on a session during yesterday’s In-Service at Preston Lodge where a group of nursery teachers had been discussing how they lan their work over the session, term, week and day.  I was fascinated to learn how they manage to weave the huge variety of experiences into a meaningful and coherent whole – mind maps played an important part. Contact Cockenzie Primary School for more info’.

When I followed this up this afternoon I saw co-creation of the curriculum in action when Rachel Muray showed me how they involve the children in the planning process – three year olds!!! – brilliant stuff.

I also heard how there might be need to extend the range of staff development opportunities for our early years staff. The range of courses on offer is relatively limited and once you have attended them there is nothing left in our brochure as these tend to repeat from year to year – perhaps a solution might be to ask teachers and nursery nurses to offer to lead a short session on an area they are developing . From what I’ve seen over the last few weeks we have a huge range of exciting things going on in our nursery classes which would be well worth sharing with colleagues – the problem is that many people don’t want to ‘”push” themselves forward as being anything special. If only we could overcome this “Scottish” trait!