Your NHS, Your Future Care


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Health & Well Being | Posted on October 27, 2008

Dumfries & Galloway Secondary Schools Question Time Event

27th October, 2008     Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries

An excellent event in Dumfries for young people (S3-6) was held today at the Easterbrook Hall. In celebration of 60 years of free healthcare through the National Health Service, students from Dumfries & Galloway schools were invited to give their considered views on how the NHS might best meet a range of challenges in the future. Professor Phil Hanlon (Glasgow University) led a stimulating and entertaining session in the morning where the young people were encouraged to discuss and share their thoughts on a variety of scenarios and issues. Professor Hanlon praised the participants for the depth of their thinking, ideas and insight. ‘Roving’ microphones manned by organisers John Glover and David Mackie allowed students to share their thoughts with all 100 school representatives. Education Chairperson Sandra McDowall welcomed all to the event and Schools’ Service Director Colin Grant gave an introduction to the day and to Professor Hanlon.

After a buffet lunch, a Question Time event was held with an expert panel chaired by Superintendent Kate Thomson (Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary). Students were given the opportunity to raise some interesting and challenging questions following on from their deliberations in the morning. This was an excellent event for both young (and not so young) where ‘pupil voice’ was given a serious hearing. Young people attending the event reported that they really valued the opportunity to give their views on such important matters.

Excellent materials were provided for all participants including a booklet ‘Scotland’s Road to Health’ celebrating 60 years of health improvement. In this booklet I recognised Mr Happy Smile from my Primary 1 days; reminding me of the dental health programme I took part in at Carolside School, Renfrewshire in 1963!

Keir Bloomer – Leadership for Learning


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Leadership for Learning | Posted on October 8, 2008

Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries       Tuesday 7 October, 2008

An excellent day in Dumfries as Keir Bloomer, former teacher, Education Director, Council Chief Executive and key player in developing Scottish Education’s ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ led a group of promoted teachers, heedies and central education staff in a day of discussion and reflection looking at Leadership for Learning.

He set education in the context of a rapidly changing world, giving examples of dramatically escalating football transfer fees over the years highlighting the fact that we are now seeing the effects of globalisation. He also raised the issue of an exponential increase in knowledge and that teachers are now teaching for a future we cannot see.

As a proud grandfather, Keir was able to use pictures of his lovely grand-daughter to illustrate that human beings are ‘the greatest learning machine on earth’. She isn’t taught to talk, but is of course learning to talk. She will succeed in learning to talk because she is well motivated, observes, experiments, performs and imitates  –  a sound learning process. Young people learn best through intrinsic, natural ways by constructing their own reality  –  all true learning is like that.

Keir stated that intellectual development is sometimes inhibited by giving students too much visual information, thus diminishing the capacity for imagination. He outlined the cognitive apprenticeship model of (1) the master modelling, showing by example how  (2) supporter, giving help where appropriate (3) fading, where the master withdraws and (4) coaching. Learning can be like an apprenticeship.  

He looked at the world of education over past centuries with references to seats of learning and their specialist/reductionist approaches, which has been deemed a success in the eyes of academics and many others. However, that was then and this is now. Another view is that learning can be lateral  –  just look at websites. This form of literacy demands you access information laterally, not sequentially.

Schools need to send young people out to the world of work or further education as lifelong learners keen to engage in learning and not having been put off learning because they’ve been stuffed with content/knowledge in a way that’s put them off for life.

Which brings us to the rationale for Curriculum for Excellence and the purposes namely; successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

In addition to the core areas of literacy and numeracy, Keir outlined the importance of recognising the key 21st century skill set of information handling, problem solving, synthesis and creativity. The curriculum is not an anthology of content, but a development of capability.

Most of us would probably not fare too well if we had to re-sit certain exam papers again; however the issue is not about recalling content, it is about the development of the capacity to think effectively. Education is what remains, when we have forgotten all that we have been taught.

The challenge for schools is to ensure young people are challenged and enjoy their learning. Enjoyment is not the same as fun with a teacher cracking jokes throughout the lesson – it is more that pupils are truly engaged with a sense of purpose, possibly even in a state of ‘flow’ where they are totally engrossed in the activity. Depth in learning is also very important where pupils can see real meaning in their work and are motivated to learn more. Relevance is also a new theme within Curriculum for Excellence. Keir stated that aspects of Personalisation & Choice are more challenging to develop as schools still echo the Victorian organisation of 100 years ago.

Children should have a stake in their own development and teachers should be led to adopt an increased professional self-confidence.

Keir also outlined how school leaders can make a difference. The key thing was to focus on things we can actually do something about. School leaders can make a significant difference in 3 key areas. These are; Pedagogy, Relationships and Innovation. The biggest potential difference for children is in the classroom with their teacher. If a teacher’s practice can improve, this will make a positive difference to learning outcomes for children. Keir’s winning formula in classrooms is for children to have challenging goals and effective feedback.

However, the single most important factor to being ‘a good school’ is the development and nurturing of good relationships.

We look forward to working with Keir during the current session as we seek to develop leadership capacity at all levels in our schools.



Posted by upbeat | Posted in ICT | Posted on October 6, 2008

Woodside Conference Centre 3-5 October 2008

An excellent weekend in Kenilworth for ABRSM Course Leaders and Mentors was enjoyed by all in attendance. Long drive for myself was very much worth it  –  great sessions on the power of music (if somewhat emotionally draining!), online training/mentoring possibilities and stimulating group discussion on issues related to the professional development courses run by the ABRSM. Caught up with Walter Blair and had great reminisces of times, people and places in Scotland. Not seen Walter since making an ascent of the Castle Toward ramparts at midnight 14 years ago!

Anyone interested in further consideration of feedback for students might be interested to look at the Journey to Excellence section on Learning Teaching Scotland’s website. Very short movies are available on a variety of learning/teaching themes. The link below relating to feedback features Dylan Wiliam. (Yes, just one L in Wiliam!)

Well done to Richard Crozier and his team for a great weekend.

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