I love you, Miss. I love you, too


TESS reports that teachers should not be afraid of saying they “love” the children they work with, according to two of Scotland’s most influential figures in young people’s lives. ‘Margaret Doran, Glasgow City Council’s head of education and social work, and Kathleen Marshall, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, argued that love was an important factor in working successfully with children. They made their comments at a leadership event for primary school heads last week, creating a talking point that dominated the coffee breaks and split delegates into two clear camps.’

Many struggling pupils suffer from poor memory – report

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2260317,00.htmlThe Guardian reports that children who under-achieve at school may just have a poor working memory rather than low intelligence, according to researchers who have produced the world’s first tool to assess memory capacity in the classroom.

The researchers from Durham University surveyed more than 3,000 primary school children of all ages and found that 10% of them suffer from poor working memory, which seriously impedes their learning.

Nationally, this equates to almost 500,000 children in primary education being affected. But the researchers found that teachers rarely identify a poor working memory and often describe children with this problem as inattentive or less intelligent.

Working memory is the ability to hold information in your head and manipulate it mentally – for example adding up two numbers spoken to you by someone else without using pen and paper or a calculator, or memorising verbal directions.

Draft experiences and outcomes for literacy and English and literacy and Gàidhlig

The draft experiences and outcomes for literacy and English and literacy and Gàidhlig are now published on the Curriculum for Excellence website. These documents have been designed to provide information for all staff in all education establishments on the context and scope of the draft outcomes; they also explain what schools and centres should do with the draft outcomes.

Putting literacy at the heart of learning

Reading, writing and spelling are to be embedded in all aspects of the new modern Curriculum for Excellence skills to give young people the best start in the 21st century workplace.  Under the Government’s new Curriculum for Excellence, literacy is being put at the heart of teaching. There will be renewed attention on spelling, comprehension, punctuation and debate in all their learning, whether it’s in the classroom or through new technology outside. Maureen Watt, Minister for Schools and Skills, said: “We teach children how to understand, analyse and communicate using words on paper and rightly so. We’re not going to stop that – indeed we want people to be properly equipped with better literacy skills. At the same time, of course, we get our news and information more from TV and the internet than from the newspaper. We communicate through email and text messaging and social networking more than writing letters.

MOVE in East Lothian

The East Lothian MOVE programme got an excellent write-up in the latest edition of TESS (page 14 of the Feb 8th issue). This followed on from a very successful publicity and celebration event last September which was attended, and enjoyed, by staff pupils and parents from East and Mid Lothian.

MOVE is an actvity based programme which helps young people with disabilities develop  the skills of sitting standing and walking so that they can become more independent.  The TESS article focuses on one pupil in one school but acknowledges that MOVE is  in place in other schools and that a number of staff are involved. The success of the programme in this authority is down to the hard work and dedication of all the staff, parents and pupils who have been involved. We are one of the few authorities in the UK who are using MOVE (but the number is growing) and it is great to see the efforts of everyone involved being recognised and acknowledged. 

 The MOVE programme is another area where East Lothian is in the forefront of developing innovative, inclusive  practice which supports young people to develop their potential.

If you are interested in finding out more about MOVE go to www.move-europe.org.uk . If you want to be involved in developing the skills to work with pupils on the  MOVE programme we will be organising training events later this year. You can contact me at lherd@eastlothian.gov.uk if you would like more information about the training or MOVE in general.

Liz Herd

Inclusion and Equality Officer

Settling Back to School after Illness

GIRLSometimes pupils have to be absent from school for extensive periods to have hospital treatment. This can be disruptive to the class but even more so for the individual pupil.

One example was a P.2 pupil who  was diagnosed with Leukaemia while attending nursery class.

As the chemotherapy treatment goes on for 2 years, with some hospital stays , the family learns to cope with the various effects of drugs which can alter behaviour, appetite and brings  nausea, etc . She had not had the opportunity to settle well into P.1 so P.2 was daunting for her.

Unfortunately a well meaning volunteer from a support organisation had decided to teach her to read by the ‘Look and Say’ method and not phonics so  she was feeling very confused by sounds and letters.

A swift phone call to the volunteer and a visit to meet her teachers began to clear the path for confidence to grow.

A conscientious probationary teacher sent me weekly emails detailing what the class was doing in school. The pupil was able to complete the same work at home whether it be making a cardboard cereal packet model of her house which could be put on the wall with all the others, or being on the same reading book as her group.


One happy child ready to return to school full-time with no further anxieties.

Mental Health and Young People: All In The Mind?

Children studyingWe all meet  some brilliantly inspiring characters in East Lothian Schools  and I don’t just mean teachers.

Some of the young people we teach are struggling to come to terms with illness and become anxious about falling behind in school work.

Occasionally they look well  but their illnesses are of a psychological nature and they need all the help we can give to ensure that they are well supported to achieve and reach their potential. Continue reading

Dawn of the digital natives

The Guardian reports that a US study by the National Endowment for the Arts study, called
To Read Or Not To Read http://www.nea.gov/news/news07/TRNR.html, says reading is on the decline but says Steven Johnson it completely fails to consider the amount that we do every day on our computers.

The NEA makes a convincing case that both kids and adults are reading fewer books. “Non-required” reading – ie, picking up a book for the fun of it – is down 7% since 1992 for all adults, and 12% for 18-24 year olds.

Johnson challenges the basis of the study. He says, ‘I challenge the NEA to track the economic status of obsessive novel readers and obsessive computer programmers over the next 10 years. Which group will have more professional success in this climate? Which group is more likely to found the next Google or Facebook? Which group is more likely to go from college into a job paying $80,000 (£40,600)?…’

 I’m not sure that economic success is necessarily a good measure of effective literacy skills, although I do agree with Johnson that reading from a screen is just as much about literacy as consuming novels.