Job swap

Do any East Lothian teachers or social workers fancy a job swap for a day?

Over the last few years I’ve had a number of colleagues from the Department come into shadow me for a day. Typically they have been senior or middle managers, or on occasions managers from Scottish Government.

Here’s an insight from one of those observers on what they made of their shadowing experience.

I’d like to open up the shadowing offer again this year – this time to non-promoted staff, but with a bit of a twist. The twist is that I’d like to come to your place of work for a day, engage in your preparation work and perhaps undertake some predetermined tasks, perhaps teach a class, conduct an interview, or whatever we agree.

Given the challenges we face in public service I need to fully understand what it’s like to be on the frontline if I am to fully represent this perspective in strategy and policy decisions.

If you are interested drop me a line, explaining why you think it would be good for me to job swap with you for a day. I intend to undertake two job swaps, one with a teacher and one with a social worker. The swaps would take place between January and June of next year.

My e-mail address is

Hospitality and Tourism Academy

East Lothian Council’s  Education and Children’s Services Department, Jewel And Esk College, and Queen Margaret University have been jointly exploring the possibility of establishing a Hospitality and Tourism Academy for young people aged 14 – 18.
The concept is based upon the Engineers of the Future, which was a college, university, employer partnership with a view to promoting engineering as a career and  engineering qualifications ranging from vocational to higher academic levels.
Hospitality and Tourism are key growth industries within East Lothian and are currently  two of the most likely destinations for young people leaving school. Jewel and Esk College and Queen Margaret University specialise in offering Higher National Qualifications and under graduate and post graduate courses in specific and associated fields of study.
The Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council have prioritised the need for links to be established between schools and the Further Education and Higher Education sectors. The Scottish Curriculum for Excellence guidelines require all schools to make positive changes to their curriculum at all levels, with a particular focus upon making the senior phase more related to employability and lifelong learning. Those priorities, together with the More Choices More Chances agenda for promoting positive destinations for all school leavers, combine to provide a unique alignment of circumstances for partners in our respective fields to collaborate in finding new ways of delivering and connecting learning experiences for young people.
Our plan is to combine three elements for the Academy: vocational, business, and academic. These aspects are not hierarchical but are rather inter-related, i.e. a person can be working on a single aspect, work through from one aspect to another, or combine two or three of the aspects at any one time.
The Academy will have 45 students in a single cohort, made up of 15 students from each of the three schools serving the areas of highest levels of multiple deprivation in East Lothian. Within each cohort one third will be focusing upon vocational routes, one third on business, and one third on academic.
The Academy will have three year group cohorts :Year 1 equivalent to S4 (15/16 year olds); Year 2 – S5 (16/17 year olds); and Year 3 (17/18 year olds). Graduation from the Academy can occur at the conclusion of any one year.
Access to the Academy will be open to any student attending any of the three schools within the prototype programme. Students and their parents will be introduced to the Academy at the end of S2 and invited to apply to join the application year programme. This programme will involve students attending three evening sessions over the course of the coming year, one at a hub school; one at the college and one at the university. In addition they will have their commitment to personal study, academic progress and any work experience monitored throughout the year. A final interview at the end of S3 will select the 15 students from each school, with the proportions following the previously explained vocational, business, and academic criteria. The most important selection criterion will be evidence of personal commitment, e.g. attendance, timekeeping, dedication to a personal interest.
The Academy curriculum will be a combination of existing school-based courses which can be related to hospitality and tourism, and some compulsory and elective units which will be delivered in the evening at nominated schools, the college, or university. We have considered the possibility of offering some courses before the start of the school day, thereby reflecting some of the realities of working in the industry and also maximising the assets in our schools.
As students progress through the Academy we will seek to enhance their school curriculum with college, or university based courses/modules, with a greater proportion of their time being spent outside school as they progress.
Of course, one of the vital elements missing from this description relates to the role of employers and the world of work. Our intention is to form strategic partnerships with a number of prestige companies involved in the hospitality and tourism industry. Through linking with their training divisions and drawing upon their expertise we would intend to create a very high quality learning experience which will be worthwhile in it’s own right, regardless of a student’s eventual employment destination, but also one which is eventually seen to be a of high regard by future employers in the industry.
We would see work experience to be a fundamental part of the Academy programme with the hope that some students will eventually graduate into full time employment with some of the placement employers.
Our next steps are to continue with our deliberations and seek to establish partnerships with employers to involve them in the design phase. In addition we will work with the Funding Council, the Scottish Government and local individuals. Our strategic steering team will be complemented by an operational group who will work out the details of the programme, consult with young people, parents and employers, and prepare for the first cohort to commence in September 2012.
We see the benefit of this project to extend beyond those who might participate. By establishing strong links between schools, the college and university, and employers we begin to create a new form of learning experience for young people and explore new forms of collaborative delivery which blurs the distinctions between providers and employers. By creating a motivated group of students, who have a strong commitment to personal learning within and beyond school, we shall create a group who will influence others by their behaviour.
Finally, the Academy concept has the potential to be replicated in other schools and in other fields of study and industry, which may reflect local opportunities and connections.

Headteacher Pay: England Vs Scotland

Given today’s Scotland Vs England world cup rugby fixture (we’ll not refer to the result) I thought it might be of interest to try to compare headteacher pay between the two countries.

The English pay scales are set out in  Pay and Conditions for Teachers in England Wales and I’ll use this document as the basis for what follows.

In this example I will  use a secondary school of 900 students, split equally into six year groups of 150 students..

The English system is based upon the concept of pupil units.

For example a student in Key Stage 3 – equivalent to S1 – S2 (12-14 yrs) – is worth 9 units; a student in Key Stage 4  (14-16 yrs)  is worth 11 units; and a student in Key Stage 5 (16-18 yrs) is worth 13 units.

Using the 150 students in each year group this translates into 9,900 units.

The units are then compared to a school group table – for the sake of this exercise I’m only going to refer to the scales for schools outwith the London area.

The scales are:

Group                             Pay range

1  –  up to 1000            £42,379 – £56,950

2  – up to 2,200            £44,525  – £61,288

3 – up to 3,500             £48,024 – £65,953

4  – up to 5,000            £51,614 – £70,991

5  – up to 7,500            £56,950 – £78,298

6   – up to 11,000         £61,288  – £86,365

7  – up to 17,000          £65,963 – £95,213

8  – beyond 17,000       £75,725 – £105,097

In our example, the headteacher of a school of 900 students would be paid – at the top end – and most of them seem to be at that level £86,365, whereas in Scotland the pay is a maximum £66,000 for an identical school.

The final level of a headteachers’ pay is determined by the Governing Body (i.e. parents) within the scales set out above – although there is some leeway for awarding additional discretionary payments.

There are addditional scales of pay for headteachers of “special schools” but for the sake of simplicity I’ve ignored them in this comparision.


There does not seem to be a significant difference between the level of pay for basic grade teachers in England and Scotland but there are very significant differences in the pay of headteachers – particularly at secondary level. English headteachers would appear to be  paid between 20 – 30% more than their Scottish counterparts.

The key differences in terms of expectation is that the English school governing body can set performance targets that they expect the headteacher to achieve, and the fact that English Headteachers have a greater range of devolved responsibilities than their Scottish counterparts.

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

Acting opportunity

No, not some advert for a stage show.  I’ve been appointed as (Acting) Director of Education and Children’s Services for East Lothian Council. I went through a very rigorous interview process involving a 90 minute in-tray exercise on Tuesday and  90 minute interview on Wednesday in front of a panel of seven elected members.

I’m excited about the opportunity and will try to set out my goals for this period over the next few days.

That Was The Week That Was


No posts for over a week but life has been something of a blur.

I’m probably earning my corn at the moment with some major challenges facing us in relation to efficiency savings having to be made in the education budget.  Every meeting and piece of correspondence seems to be connected to this issue and I’ve got 100 letters on my desk from concerned parents of a primary school.  One of the things which helps me to remain focused on the needs of children are my visits to schools and I was glad I made time to get out to Prestonpans Primary School.

I’m  very lucky to be working with such professional people, in the form of staff in the centre and headteachers out in the schools. One of the things we have benefited from in the last 18 months has been our attempt to move to a totally transparent system in relation to budgets.  People now understand how much we have in our budget, where it goes and how it’s all connected.  In systems which are less transparent it’s possible for people to think that there are secret pots held within the centre which can be used at my discretion.  Through our Finance Advisory and Scrutiny Group we have established the fact that the budget is a single pot, or as I sometimes say “the pot is the pot” i.e. if someone in the system is to get more money then someone else has to get less – the pot does not expand.

In addition to budget issues I was out at three evening meetings with parents in the last week.  Tuesday was our first cluster meeting with Parents’ Council Reps from the Tranent area – the other areas will be covered in the next five weeks.  These meetings prove exceptionally useful and although a lot of the time was spent on budget matters we did get the chance to explore the idea of parents as customers – hopefully this is a theme which we can explore in the other meetings.

On Wednesday I was at a public meeting in Dunbar to share information about the new primary school provision.  The meeting was very positive and I think the parents and the community appreciated seeing some of the details we have been working on.  Having worked very hard to develop our communication strategy in relation to this matter it was good to see it starting to bear fruit.

On Thursday I went to speak to the Haddington Infant School Parents’ Council to brief them on the long leet interviews for the vacant headteacher post. We now involve a parent on the long leet panel as part of our response to the Parental Involvement Act and I think it’s made a really positive difference. We have chosen three excellent candidates to progress through to the short leet process.

Lastly, I have decided to apply for the Acting Director of Education and Children’s Services post. I was delighted for Alan Blackie, my boss, colleague and mentor when he was recently appointed as Chief Executive of East Lothian Council, although he will be a great loss to all of us involved in education and children’s services he will really make an impact on all services in East Lothian..  The job will be for two months in the first instance, as the administration want consider the possibility of new structures.  If I was fortunate enough to be appointed it would give me a chance to see if I enjoyed that broader role and also allow the administration to see if I could actually do the job.  Given that I acted up in my present post for the first year I’m not uncomfortable with that possibility.

Secondment opportunity

We put out information to schools in East lothian today about a unique secondment opportunity as the Schools Communicator for Dynamic Earth and the Scottish Seabird Centre. We are partners in the venture and are linking it our strategy for promoting A Curriculum for Excellence

The secondment will be for the rest of this session – in the first instance.

If you are interested – and have the approval of your headteacher – then please contact me before the end of the week expressing your interest.  I’ll send you further information and an application form –

Leaders of Learning Network

I met a teacher today who has been applying for Principal teacher jobs without success.

One of the problems is that many jobs ask for leadership experience – but how do you get that experience if you’re not in a leadership position?

Many people manage to gain such experience by being in the right-place-at-the-right-time – i.e. they are lucky enough to get formal acting-up experience due to circumstances in their own school.  We’ve tried to address this at senior management level by opening out all such opportunities to external candidates but we can’t take it below that level due to the impact it would have on class teaching.

However, we’ve had a number of conversations recently which have stressed that ‘leadership’ is not something that is the sole preserve of people in ‘leadership’ positions. The question is whether or not we could come up with some kind of scheme for people who aspire to leadership positions in schools by linking a school-wide responsibility, which they might have volunteered for, with a formal leadership network?

For example, I might be leading a group on formative assessment in my school. By joining the network of “Leaders of Learning”, who lead learning and teaching groups in their own school, cluster or even authority wide, I have a recognised leadership position within the authority.  The network would meet regularly, have links to other groups and authority wide initiatives.

We could also provide specific training opportunities for the network which would link with the possibility of formal qualifications.

When applying for a promoted position in the authority I would have the formal recognition that I have held a leadership position – thereby addressing one of the dificulties so many people face by not being in the right-place-at-the-right-time.

I much prefer this kind of system to a fast tracking scheme – as the police use – as it’s inclusive and links nicely with our priority to share leadership and develop learning and teaching.

My only concern might be that some people might see this idea as getting people to take on leadership responsibilities on the cheap – is this exploitation?

Leadership – Nature Vs Nurture or Nature Plus Nurture?

In a meeting this week we were exploring some of the essential criteria we might use for promoted posts such as Principal Teacher, Depute Head Teacher and Head Teacher.

For example –

Should anyone who wishes to become a Depute Head Teacher have been a Principal Teacher in more than one school?

Should a prospective Head Teacher have held promoted positions in more than one school?

Does someone have to have held a Depute Head Teacher’s post for a certain period of time before they can be considered for promotion to HT – e.g. three years?

The underlying assumption behind all of these possible criteria is that you cannot be regarded as being ready for promotion until you have “served your time” and “have experience of more than one school”. 

Some questions:

Does “serving time” in a promoted post really prepare people for the next step?

Does it mean that if I’ve done five years a Depute that I’m automatically ready for Headship?

What if the cut-off for consideration is three years and I’ve been in post 2 years and ten months – does two months make such a difference?

What if I’ve held a promoted post in a school where I’ve been given no autonomy by my Head Teacher – should that be the same as someone who has maybe taken on leadership responsibilities in another school but without being at the same promoted level?

All this takes me back to the title of this post Leadership – nature or nurture?

I do believe there are some innate traits which good leaders should have but that it’s not necessary to have the “full set”. – that’s where nurture comes in. Experience in a variety of posts does help – and can be considered essential in some cases – as long as the person is learning from these experiences.

We are relaunching our Exchange Programme next term where teachers/PTs/Deputes/ and HTs will be able to seek an exchange with a colleague in East Lothian in the coming session. Hopefully this will give some individuals who wish to broaden their experience the opportunity to do so within a nurturing environment.

(I’ll be exploring, in a separate post, what “experience” and why it might be a necessary criteria for job selection)

Link – nature versus nurture

Come and join us

We now have four vacancies for Primary Head Teachers in East Lothian.

Two are currently advertised – Musselburgh Burgh Primary School and Prestonpans Primary School, whilst the other two, Longniddry Primary School and East Linton Primary School will be advertised commencing 18th April.

We held our third Head Teacher conference of the session yesterday and I was struck by how lucky we are to have so many committed, caring and professional colleagues in leadership positions in our schools.

If you think you might like to join our community and have something special to offer education in East Lothian then why not give it a go?