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 –

Dynamic Earth/Scottish Seabird Centre Outreach Programme

Dynamic Earth/Scottish Seabird Centre Outreach Programme

Originally uploaded by Don Ledingham.

I’m a member of the above steering group who meet to monitor and advise Dr Krista McKinsey (second on the right) who is developing and delivering an amazing outreach programme to schools which aims to bring the science curriculum to life using environmental resources. She can visit a school for a day and deliver four sessions – all for the grand sum of £86!! Her diary is filling up so first come – first served.

Contact Krista on or tel – 0131 523 1233. Krista has been aproached by schools from Moray to Bucharest – yet her focus is on schools in the Lothians and the Borders. You will not be disappointed!!

School visits

7.30-8.00 Completed budget paper for submission due by lunchtime

8.00-8.30 Met with Alan Blackie to pick up on Directorate agenda

8.45-5.00 School visits to all our secondary schools. Head Boy, Head Girl, two third years and two first years from every secondary school accompanied by a member of staff from each school toured Ross High School, Musselburgh Grammar, Preston Lodge, North Berwick, Dunbar and Knox Academy. We spent 45 minutes in each school looking at building highlights, brief presentation from students and questions and answer sessions. I was uplifted by the experience. We have a great deal to proud of about our schools – too often people focus on the negative – today would have impressed anybody. I suggested to the students prior to setting out that today would have been a succcess if they could come away with just one idea which they could think about using in their schools. The reality was that they came away with a great deal more than just one idea. There is huge potential if we could just find ways of just tapping into the the obvious enthusiasm there is for working together.

We had lunch at the Seabird Centre and I managed a chat with a few students over lunch – I'm glad to report that 12 of them have agreed to keep a weblog on exc-el.

5.00-6.45 Worked at my desk to clear backlog of correspondence.

7.00-8.30 Tranent School Cluster meeting. I spoke about the attainment action plan and the proposed cluster working arrangements. One of the evening's questions was “have all staff bought into the plans?” I explained how such cultural change takes a long time to establish. It's funny how this runs counter to the comment I received last week that I'm trying to move things too quickly. It's a fine balance between the two.

Donald Henderson

8.45am meeting with Sheila McKendrick, Derek Haywood and Sheila Ainslie to further develop our cluster-based ideas for the restructuring of services. I hope to finish the paper this week. I had a useful chat with Alan Ross later in the morning about the same issue and I don't think we are a million miles away from each other on this one. I'd left my glasses at home and my wife, Gill, who was coming up to Edinburgh anyway dropped into the office. I showed her round and we managed a quick cup of coffee together. I think it's important for family to have some idea of where you work as so much of your time is spent there and at least now Gill can visualise where I am. John Muir House is an attractive environment and we are lucky to have such a pleasant place in which to work – it's certainly not the case in all council offices.

Visited Tom Brock, Chief Executive Officer at the
Scottish Seabird Centre at 11.00am. I'm to be the council's representative on the Board. The centre really is one of East Lothian's crown jewels and it would be a tragedy if it ever folded. I'm keen to explore ways we can establish a closer link with the centre and our schools. It would seem to me that there is some potential in the eco-school initiative linked to John Muir and an environmental focus in East Lothian. It set me to thinking about what would be the three key characteristics of East Lothian education, in the same way as we might ask a school to identify its characteristics. How about as a first step “connected to our environment” – other suggestions welcome.

Back to the office for a meeting with Donald Henderson, who is Head of Teaching Resources at the Scottish Executive. Donald and his team meet each educatyion department on an annual basis to reflect upon issues arinsing and the impact of executive strategies and policies. We had an interesting chat about the focus upon the lowest attaining 20% of students and what the executive reckoned was the underlying purpose of this focus. I don't think Donald and I disagreed on the purpose but we maybe used different language. I look forward to discussing this point further with Donald at a more suitable time.

I talked through our attainment action plan and they seemed interested in our on-going work in relation to 360 degree evaluation; talent identification; leadership coaching; student evaluation of learning and the exc-el initiative. As I've stated earlier in my weblog it is our hope that we can underatke some research to explore possible relationships between high student evaluation scores and high levels of attainment.

Finished the day with a useful meeting with Ruth Munro to explore the new six point HMIe evaluation scales and what it means for inspections. Home for 6.30pm. As usual about 60-90 minutes work to be completed at the kitchen table. I usually sit down about 9.15 having had a meal with the family, watched some telly and over the past few weeks taken some exercise in our garage where we have a running and rowing machine. I have to admit to being really out of condition but I'm enjoying getting back into some regular exercise.

Time for bed.