Educational Leadership Metaphors

I’ve started a small piece of research using Twitter  – the hashtag is #leadershipmetaphors

I’m asking people to identify the predominant metaphor they would use to describe effective educational leadership. I’ll run this through until the 27th April.

The score so far is:

Ship’s captain 2

@Mary10478: Captain of the ship: an eye to the horizon; navigate dangerous rocks; steady in storms; motivate crew; be brave far from harbour

Architect 1

Marathon Runner 1

“@johnoneill13: Marathon runner not sprinter.

Diplomat 1

Farmer 1

Theatre Director – 1  Has a clear idea of the overall structure & works as an ensemble with the actors to create the best end product

Master baker 1

Conducter 1

Jazz band leader 1

@realdcameron: It has to be the band leader -like Prince, brings the vision and imagination, lets the band take it on and can still pull it together if it goes off

Air traffic controller 1

“@atstewart: Air traffic controller. (Don’t like word controller) but allowing take off providing safe space as well as safe landing fits.”

Master Builder 1

Tour Guide 1

Submariner 1

“@KarDoh: I like the concept of the submariner – sometimes you can cruise along + enjoy the sunshine but mostly you need to explore deep down”

Virus 1

Gardener 1

Lens 1

Teacher’s TV and other resources

I’ve been putting up some additional links  to provide easy access to a range of educational research resources.

One of these resources is Teacher’s TV which frm what I can see in Scotland is a most under-rated and under-used facility.   I recently came across this interview with Tim Brighouse who remains one of the most influential figures in my own development as an educational leader.

Professor Tim Brighouse

I’d welcome any other suggestions for educational research resources which I would place on this site..

Setting and the need for differentiation?


I had an interesting conversation with a teacher today about there being little need to differentiate in classes which have been set (put into ability groupings for certain subjects e.g. maths, english)

Such an assertion must be based upon the premise that all pupils are placed (through accurate assessment) in the appropriate set and that the class – which might number 25-30 – are a homogenous group.

I’m interested in this point of view as I haven’t been able to come across any research which proves that setting is more effective than mixed ability classes. I have often heard the argument that setting makes the teaching process easier.  Maybe that’s because there’s no need to differentiate? Or is there?

Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology

I met Ian McGowan today who is one of the Directors of INPP in Scotland.

I was interested to find out more about this programme which I’d heard can have positive outcomes for children with Developmental, Specific Learning and Behavioural Difficulties.

I hope to invite Ian to Haddington to speak to him with some colleagues before we make any commitment to active involvement. However, I am convinced that motor difficulties can have a very negative impact upon a child’s development and that there is potential for using such programmes in an early assessment and intervention programme.

 I will back this up with a research literature review.


SELS session at Knox Academy

I was invited to the Haddington Cluster to speak about our Student Evaluation of Learning System (SELS) . Watch a flash presentation on SELS here or the quickstart manual here

If you have a login and password you could access the Knox Academy questionnaire here at Knox Academy survey – on the other hand – if you don’t you won’t.

All East Lothian schools have this system in place to enable a robust self-evaluation process.

Here’s an actual table of results:

SELS table

Milton Keynes

9.15pm Kentish Hills Conference Centre, Milton Keynes. Arrived via Luton Airport at 3.30pm Managed to get to the final afternoon session. Presentations covered research about the perceptions of school leaders. Some interesting facts – most notably, for me, that people regarded mentoring as being one of the most effective forms of professional development for headship. The second session focussed upon an analysis of a school management team by an external researcher. Once again some cogent observations although I was forced to query the notion that a management team should be open amongst themselves but not with the rest of the staff. In response to my question the speaker used an unfortunate example “if we were going to invade Iraq we wouldn't tell people about it” I responded by pointing out that this was an unfortunate metaphor as it corresponds with the oft heard claim by some Heads “I'm prepared to lose a few battles as long as I win the war”. Such a statement perpetuates the concept of “them” and “us” which must be destriyed if we are to make real progress. to be fair to the speaker he had not intended to give that impression.

John Christie and I met Simon Clarke from University of Western Australia. Simon originally hails from England but has lived and worked in Australia for the last 17 years. Simon's field is effective school leadership and improvement and is speaking tomorrow about leadership in small schools – which will have some relevance for John and I.

I showed Simon some of our weblogs and described our intention to create a martrix of perspectoves\with which to track and reflect upon the change process. Simon suggested that it might be very useful to track some individual issues and write a narrative/story which would prove useful to helping teachers to make sense of their world. I agree with this idea, as the power of the story is not employed enough in explaining our world, whereas we the world of numbers and data is often held up without scrutiny – there is a place for both.

Time for bed.