Shared Ownership?


In the spirit of provoking a dialectic of possible worlds I came across an interesting model of football club ownership this weekend when I read about Ebbsfleet  United Football Club:

Fans’ community website MyFootballClub has agreed a deal to take over Blue Square Premier outfit Ebbsfleet United.

The 20,000 MyFootballClub members have each paid £35 to provide a £700,000 takeover pot and they will all own an equal share in the club.

In a landmark for English football, members will vote on player selection, transfers and all major decisions. BBC November 2007

 It’s interesting to reflect upon David Sullivan’s reservations about the scheme:

 “My heart says it’s marvellous that fans can own a club and vote on any decision of consequence, but in reality it won’t work.

 Contrast that with the fact the team recently won the FA Trophy Final and appear to be going from strength to strength.

And my point? – would it work for schools???

Do we really want to promote enterprise?

“How many students who participate in “enterprise activities” go on to become entrepreneurs?”

So I was asked this week. It stumped me for a while but it set off a line of thought which I wanted to explore. It seems that Enterprise in Education has been around ever since the Margaret Thatcher set up TVEI in 1982, whilst Young Enterprise goes back even further to the early 60’s. 

One of the implicit outcomes of such schemes is that they will encourage an entrepreneurial mentality and generate economic benefits to society.  However, I can find no evidence that any of these have directly resulted in more entrepreneurs or growth in the economy – although I invite anyone to correct that assertion.

Looking back over the last 20 years education has successfully turned the rather offensive idea of wealth creation into a more educationally acceptable activity which is about promoting enterprising attitudes – an outcome much more palatable to the sensitivities of those of us in education. The two graphics linked to this post perhaps characterise the fears that many teachers have had about promoting capitalism in schools, i.e. greed, selfishness and a focus on money at the expense of all else.

I wanted to consider how things might be different if we were more explicit about the outcomes of “enterprise” in schools. What if we really did encourage children to set up businesses which were focussed on making money – which the child kept? What if we found ways of supporting them with loans and advice about how to make more money from their ideas? Imagine a 13 year old who sets up her own dog walking business in a town and receives financial support and advice to get her idea off the ground.

I love the idea behind the Grameen Bank established in Bangladesh:

Grameen Bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity.

Could we establish a Scottish version of such a scheme where young people could access loans to set up their own company? Could Tom Hunter take the place of Muhammad Yunus in an enterprising Scotland?

Perhaps its just me but I think such an opportunity would have excited me as a teenager.

Out of the mouths of babes!!!


During my visit to Preston Lodge this morning I asked a class why they throught they were able to produce such outstanding work in the Art Department – and believe me it is outstanding.

The answer blew me away!!

“They take what we know and help us learn more” Natalie

Jim Cram, the Principal Teacher, explained that the teachers in the department try to give the learners space to work things out for themselves and to act as “waiters” – there to serve and anticipate the next step. I gave this more thought on the way home and I quite like this analogy – the (good) waiter provides a menu, provides advice and guidance, provides the tools and resources with which to eat, anticipates the needs of the diner throughout the meal and try to remain as unobtrusive as possible. As ever with metaphors – the more you strecth it the weaker it gets but I certainly know what Jim meant – and, what’s more, so did the class.

As Jim pointed out such a process involves significant preparation but the rewards are worth it – from what I saw today they certainly are.

Using the coaching model in the classroom

I was out in Humbie Primary school yesterday afternoon.

Humbie have embraced the active learning approach for early years which have seen the introduction of pre-school approaches into early years of primary.

The school are now exploring the use of the coaching in the learning and teaching process. Some of the teachers in the school were exposed to the GROW model and now want to extend the active involvement of learners into the upper primary school.

One of the lessons I observed was one of a series which had been planned by the teacher in conjunction with the pupils using the GROW approach.  The topic was the body.  Here’s an example of how the GROW model was being used in relation to the heart:

Goals: What do we want to find out? – How does your heart work?; is the heart soft or hard?

Reality: What do we know/have already? – We have a model of a heart; Sara knows an experiement; Our teacher knows an experiment.

Options: What might we do? Loook at a model of the heart; research; interview a doctor; use stethescopes.

Will do/Wrap up: What will we do? – We’ll do all of the things we identified under options.

The teacher had generated the entire topic through this form of dialogue with the pupils.  In this way they had co-created the curriculum and were actively engaged in, and responsible for, it’s success.

It is the quality of this dialogue that makes this approach so successful – with the teacher being a partner in the learning process – as opposed to the director.

This was experimentation in action and I gave out one of my “Permission to Learn” cards for the first time as the teacher was worried about taking risks.

If you are interested in trying out the approach in your own classrooms I suggest you contact the school.

Entrepreneurial Leadership in schools

I gave the welcome to our Depute Head Teachers this morning at their first annual conference.  The theme for the day was “Entrepreneurial Leadership”

I began by reinforcing the difference between entrepreneurial leadership in a “for-profit” environment” e.g. Alan Sugar, and entrepreneurship in an educational (not-for-profit) environment – i.e. social entrepreneurship.

I shared three definitions of Social Entrepreneurship:

“innovative solutions to immediate social problems and mobilises the ideas, capacities, resources and social arrangements required for sustainable social transformations” Alvord and Brown 2004 

“social entrepreneurs are not for profit executives who pay increasing attention to market forces without losing sight of their underlying missions” Bronstein 2004

“social entrepreneurs play the role of change agents in the social sector by :

  • adapting a mission to create and sustain social value;
  • recognising and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities that serve that mission;
  • engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaption and learning;
  • acting boldly without being limited by resources currntly at hand.”   Dees 1998

Having set out this definition I reinforced the key role Depute Head Teachers have in improving education within East Lothian and that they have the capacity to operate as social entrepreneurs within their own schools and as a network.

I concluded by referring to Stephane Deneve and the notion of invitational leadership.

The challenge for us all is to create a context where people feel comfortable and able to accept that invitation.

Depute Head Teacher Conference – a challenge

We’re holding our first Depute Head Teacher’s Conference on Tuesday at the Marine Hotel, North Berwick.

The theme of the conference is Entrepreneurial Leadership. 27 Deputes will be in attendance.

I’m opening the conference, followed by Paul Raffaelli giving his perspective on Leadership in East Lothian.

Ewan MacIntosh will then present an on-line video presentation on an alternative curricular/school model he came across from Norway.  Alison Wishart then concludes the introduction by summarising some of the curricular approaches which are being developed in Australia.

The Deputes will then spend the next four hours in groups of four/five (a mix of secondary and primary) trying to take an entrepreneurial approach to solve the following hypothetical problem.

East Lothian is about to embark on a radical building programme where we will be building new school for 10-15 year olds.

Each school will have 700 pupils, 45 teaching staff and 20 support staff (there are no other limits on the school design or facilities)

Your solution should address the following – but not necessarily as separate points. This list is not exhaustive.

  1. Describe the aims of your school
  2. Design your school building.
  3. Design the staffing profile – subject specialists etc.
  4. Design the leadership structure
  5. Design the curriculum structure
  6. Design the timetable structure/units of study
  7. Design the organisation of classes/learners
  8. Design the assessment structure
  9. Describe how best you will make best use of the community
  10. Describe how all pupils will be included and supported
  11. Describe how you will make best use of technology
  12. Describe the place of  home learning
  13. Describe how teachers will develop their practice
  14. Describe how the school will link with other schools, employers, further and higher education
  15. Describe the self-evaluation process you would set up in our school.
  16. Describe some of the unique featuire sof your school and children’s experience
  17. ??  – any other suggestions for this scenario?

Groups will have access to a laptop, flipcharts and pens.

Each group will be invited to make 10 minute presentation at the end of the preparation period.

A prize might be on offer for the best proposal.

Discussion will take place about how limited we might be in relation to our current practice by “what we know” and our fear to take chances.

We will try to identify ways in which we can remove some of the barriers which might prevent tus fulfilling some of the more desirable elements of our proposed solutions.

Maureen Jobson will wind up the event by placing it in the context of what we are attempting to create in East Lothian.

We’ll be using these suggestions as a platform for our Curriculum Architecture Conference we are holding in the autumn.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how people work together and the ideas which this task generates.

“A Space to Grow?”


How would you like to work in a place which set itself out as “A Space to Grow”?

A place where you could:

Achieve your personal goals;

Provide an outstanding service;

Fulfil your sense of vocation.

A place where your employers:

cared for your personal welfare and well-being;

focussed upon the impact of their service to users;

were flexible and willing to take decisions based upon consideration of circumstances – as opposed to being locked down by policy;

trusts that their employees want to do their best;

encouraged innovative and entrepreneurial practice to meet the needs of service users.

Sound a good place to be?

Well that’s an insight into what we got up to today at our first Leadership Team meeting for East Lothian Council’s Chief Officers.

Alex McCrorie – our new Acting Chief Executive – clearly set out a new agenda of change and opportunity where we are determined to listen, respond and work with our users and colleagues to improve the quaility of service we provide.

Despite the challenge provided by recent circumstances and the on-going concern over single status I was – in common with my colleagues – excited by the prospect of creating a new and vibrant culture for East Lothian Council.

A culture which is shared across all services and which shapes the practice and behaviour of all leaders in our organisation.

A culture  where we learn from our short-term experiences and translate them into new forms of practice.

A culture in which people can take pride and satisfaction in supporting, benefitting from, and promoting.

Determined to Succeed?

Determined to Succeed

Determined to Succeed is the Scottish Executive’s strategy for delivering enterprise in education. It aims to help Scotland’s young people develop self-confidence, self-reliance and ambition to achieve their goals – in work and in life.

I was delighted to learn that an extra £1 million of funding for enterprise education was announced today as a report on the first three years of the Executive’s Determined to Succeed programme showed that a record number of pupils are involved in enterprise learning.

Our own Determined to Succeed programme championed by Scott Lavery is having a significant impact upon the experience of young people in East Lothian – as even a cursory review of both of these links will show – so I’m confident we can put additional money to good use.

And so it was today that I had a conversation about whether or not the initiative is missing out on a key group – teachers.

The focus of the programme “aims to help Scotland’s young people develop self-confidence, self-reliance and ambition to achieve their goals – in work and in life.” Where it mentions teachers it descibes the development of enterprising approaches to learning and teaching.  But I wonder why we don’t explicitly say we want to create enterprising and entrepreneuriual teachers and educational leaders – which might even lead to a more enterprising Scottish educational system?

The Hunter Foundation Partnership are investing in a range of events aimed at supporting teacher and leader development, but the conversation that I had today asked if we, as educationalists, had something to learn about how how to run our business from entrepreneurs themselves – not just from them investing in our development?

I’ve explored this issue before on this log but it’s definitely something I’d like to follow up.

Formative Assessment of schools

 In my recent post about Entrepreneurs in Education I quoted from a new book about entrepreneurs in education which stated:

“One critical factor is making available more transparent, timely, and relevant information about student and school progress, which would enable educators, parents, and community leaders to make more informed decisions and set the stage for entrepreneurs to create new approaches and organizations based on need.” Educational Entrepreneurs.

This elicited a comment from from David Gilmour:

Educational Entrepreneurs.

“One way to improve information provision would be, where possible, to make it available in real-time, on-line and not via batch-processed paper reports. That way, there’s no need to “push” out stale, batch reports with all the work that involves: people can “pull” relevant information in a timely fashion – and act on it.”

I think David makes a really important point here. If we could move away from the “summative assessment” – which takes place at inspection, school evaluation or school review process – to more a a “formative assessment” where data is available “on tap” at any time and the idea of “preparing” for a visit becomes completely superfluous.  This kind of links into the discussion I had with Rick Segal about how the use of SELS and other “on tap” information could leave schools free to focus on improving learning and teaching and school improvement.

The only “however” I can see in this is the problem of convincing schools of the importance of collecting and recording reliable and valid information in way which wouldn’t be seen as being a stick to beat them with.