Pupil Motivation Seminar

I was invited to take part in the Scottish Parliament’s
Education Committee seminar on
pupil motivation.

The event took place at Dynamic Earth with members of the committee joining various break out groups- see below

Group 1

? What steps should be taken to emphasise further the fundamental importance and value of education?

? What can be done to build earlier careers education and advice into pupils’ school experience and to demonstrate links between success at school and career success?

Group 2

? What should be done to ensure leadership skills are further developed within the teaching profession?

? What action can be taken to maximise the levels of motivation amongst teachers?

Group 3

What actions should be prioritised to enable teachers to address the learning needs of individual pupils ?

What can be done to help pupils take responsibility for their own learning and develop their commitment to lifelong learning?

Adamson, Bruce Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People
Ledingham, Don East Lothian Council
McLean, Alan Glasgow City Council
Sandford, Kate Quarriers

Group 4

? How should concerns over the challenge presented by the transition from primary to secondary school be addressed ?

? What further steps should be taken to enhance the status of vocational courses?

Group 5

? How can the parents and the wider local community be better engaged in developing a feeling of ownership of a school ?

? What further steps should be taken to ensure that individual schools and local authorities share and promote best practice ?

I took part in Group 3 along with MSP Fiona Hyslop. We came up with a couple of key recommendations :

1. Schools should introduce a formal mechanism to enable pupils to provde feedback to their teachers about the teaching and learning process.

2. Pupils should be able to take more responsibility for their own learning through project work as Alan McLean described it – Gradual Autonomous Support (GAS)

After the event I had lunch in the Parliament with Alan McLean – what a fantastic building! We explored the notion of a variety of entry points for teachers as we have been exploring in East Lothian. Alan has been struggling with a similar question and liked the notion of motivation being the linking factor or goal.

I then caught a
debate in the chamber about the Bichard Inquiry and the Local Government Finance Bill. I have to admit to being a great supporter of the
Scottish Parliament – the Scottish people now have real access to govenrment. I think it will evolve into a very positive force for change in Scotland over the next 10-20 years.

Back to the office to pick up on correspondence and phone calls.

Efficiency savings

9.00 – 10.30 Education Committee agenda setting meeting. This is a meeting with John Ross and Maureen Talac (convener and vice-convener of the education committee) about the papers that are to be presented at the next education committtee. We finished the meeting with an update of the budget suituation. It is likely that we will have to make a number of efficiency savings in order to enable the council to manage its budget. The consequences of the
Single Status & Equal Pay and the
government funding allocation to local authorities could have a
significant impact. It’s a key part of my job to manage any such efficiency savings and the next few couple of months are going to provide a challenge if savings have to be made.

10.30-1.00 Worked on development plan guidelines and correspondence.

1.00-1.45 Met with Liz Morris, EIS , to discuss one of her members.

2.00-4.00pm Sport and Education Group – agenda – Active School Co-ordinators update; Active schools Group update; Primary visiting specialists; cluster planning; East Lothian athletics track.

4.00-6.00 Caught up with Alan Blackie for a quick chat, made some phone calls to headteachers and finished correspondence

Budgets – budgets

9.00-10.00 Maureen Grainger and Claire Sime of our Educational Psychology Service showed me some of their work relating to summarising educational theories and learning styles. This section of our website has the potential to provide easily accessible and useful information to teachers about learning theory.

After a brief chat and demo' Claire and Maureen worked on putting up some of information up on the site. Many thanks to them both.

10.00-11.15 Departmental Budget Meeting with Councillors Maureen Talac and John Ross. Agreed to prepare a number of briefing papers relating to issues which we need to resolve prior to setting next years budget.

11.30-12.00 Policy and Procedures Review Panel agenda meeting with Councillor Margaret Libberton. We agreed the agenda for the meeting which enables councillors to scrutinise the business of the department. I'll be making presentations relating to 5-14 results, individual secondary school results, anti-bullying policy and MIDYS standardised test.

12.30-2.00 Finally caught up with my paperwork

2.00-3.00 Met with Alan Borthwick and Derek Haywood to prepare for my meeting tomorrow with Phillip Rycroft Head of Schools division at the Scottish Executive. We are keen to explore a number of budget issues with him. Anthony Gillsepie joined us for part of the meeting to explain more about GAE (Grant Aided Expenditure) – the money which comes into the council from the Executive and its relationship with final budgets allocated to education. I think I'm just starting to get my head around this – it's only taken four months.

3.00pm-4.00pm Department budget meeting with representation from finance, pupil support, early years and schools division. Useful discussion about budget allocations and how various predicted overspends can be covered

4.00 Quick chat with Paul Raffaelli.

4.30pm Pete Gray popped in to discuss exc-el – Pete helped me to enable the comment facility – see below. Without Pete's help and patient advice exc-el would not be in existence.

5.50pm Hometime


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!!

Website takes shape

Met Maureen Jobson, education officer, at 8.30am. We talked about the work she has been doing this week with all our nursery nurses and teachers. The sessions have been looking at how we can improve the planning process. There can be no doubt that an enriching and well structured nursery experience provides a very sound foundation for subsequent education to build upon.

We set up a trial nursery nurse section on the website and the potential of creating a community of professionals helping each other to improve their practice is a very exciting prospect. It is of relevance that nursery education is leading the way in this respect for the whole authority. We also set up some of Maureen's notes on planning for nurses and teachers to access and download.

Attended the Pupil Support meeting at 9.00am. We have agreed that an education officer should attend their fortnightly meeting on rotation to ensure linkage between the teams. This will be reciprocated by Sheila Ainslie attending the weekly education officer meeting.

Met Graham Sales, one of our management information support officers, at 10.00am. Graham has been setting up an Access database which collates and enables easy acces to any information about our schools. I was very taken by the system he showed me. If we can be rigorous about collecting and inputting data then we would certainly apear to have the means to extract useful and meaningful information to suppport our work and help us to know our schools better.

Meeting with Councillors John Ross, Education Committee convener, and Maureeen Talac, Depute Convener, at 12.00 with Alan Blackie and Alan Ross. These briefings take place on a regular basis. I updated them on the attainment action plan and the exc-el website.

Attended the nursery education training event at North Berwick Nursery School. I was struck by the fact that there are more similarities than differences between the challenges facing nursery teachers and nurses and teachers in secondary and primary schools. We all need to be clear about our desired outcomes of the teaching and learning process; we all need to well prepared in terms of our planning; and we all need to consider next steps. The challenge is to undertake these planning tasks in away which supports the teaching and learning process in a manageable and sustainable manner.

Returned to John Muir House to meet Caroyn Walker, our Personnel officer. Carolyn briefed me on her work and that of the department.

Correspondence and e mail until 6.15pm

Attainment action plan

I’m working on a paper to take to the Education Committee in September. The paper will set out an attainment actin plan for the next three years. The starting point is an analysis of East Lothian Attainment in comparison with our comparator authorities. The results of this analysis are very positive and demonstrate that we have made more progress than other similar authorities over a ten year period. However, we are still some 5% points behind the best performing authority in our grouping.

Given the near completion of PPP it would seem appropriate to refocus our attention on improving attainment. My paper refers to recent research which demonstrates that raising attainement levels has the greatest impact on ensuring children avoid social exclusion. The attainment action plan will have four strands – each of which emerges from our existing Service Improvement Plan. These strands are: Leadership development; Teaching and Learning (The Exc-el project); Performance Monitoring and Improvement (with a focus on gathering data which can be used to compare schools' rates of progress; and Curriculum (with a focus on more flexible curriculum plans in the secondary schools linked to more freedom of subject choice for students).