Brains Trust 3: the Outsiders

We have been quiet on the blog for a while, but we are back in business and very excited about our next event which we are delighted to share with you here: Brains Trust 3: the Outsiders. bt3

In partnership with Polmont Young Offenders’ Institute and with the support of Braes High School, Falkirk we warmly invite you to our discussion forum on:

Wednesday 9th November

at Braes High School, Falkirk


This Brains Trust will build on our recent seam of work on social justice issues, and offers a platform for the voices of  ‘the Outsiders’: the children on the outside margins of our education system, who slip through our fingers often into downward spirals of offending, poverty and harm.

Speakers from Polmont Yong Offenders’ Institute, social work and schools for at-risk young people will offer a brief insight into the challenges they face and the work they do in supporting young people in their care. This will be the starting point for our discussion; contributions from audience are strongly encouraged!

Speakers include:

Charlie Kelly, psychologist at Polmont YOI

Eileen Cumming, Kibble Education and Care Centre

David Noble, Senior Teacher at Hillside School in Aberdour, Fife. Hillside is a residential school for boys with social, emotional and behavioural needs. David is co-founder and host of Radio Edutalk.

Gillian Maxwell, social work.

If you would like to attend this Brains Trust, please register for your FREE TICKET via this eventbrite link

Don’t delay – these events have proven extremely popular in the past. Coffee and Tea will be available on arrival.

Brains Trust – eh??!

What is Brains Trust? For those of you who’ve been before, you’ll remember that these events are quickly organised, pop-up style discussions which arise in response to interest, or as a result of collaborative work we have been doing, or possibly in getting to grips with recent events or policy announcements. This one could be said to represent all three of these stimuli!

Wikipedia has more information on the origins of the term: we like the allusion to a prized body of knowledge or expertise in a given field.This is our aim with Brains Trust – to give space for the discussion of a topic of interest, and hear from expert voices, who might be outside  mainstream channels of communication.

We very much look forward to seeing you on November 9th.

Unlocking Leadership and Management Potential in Different Contexts

An account of the BELMAS Conference (8th – 10th July 2016) by SELMAS convenor, Margaret Alcorn


For several years SELMAS has maintained a relationship with our sister organization BELMAS. This year, as in past years the BELMAS Committee invited a member of SELMAS to attend the annual Conference. After discussion at our committee it was agreed that I should attend on behalf of our organization


The conference was very different in scale, audience and atmosphere to our own annual event.  A total of 180+ delegates, almost exclusively drawn from academic circles, gathered for two intense days with 3 keynotes and a total of around 50 different sessions to choose from. The mood was very positive as many delegates connected with familiar faces, or indeed with those previously known only through social media. A significant proportion of the attendees (around 25%) were from overseas. This offered lots of new insights and different perceptions to emerge in discussions.


Day one started with a description of the work of the “RIGS”, the research interest groups which offer Belmas members an opportunity to share research, inquiry and knowledge in particular areas. Also on day one, two sessions were offered and I attended a roundtable discussion on “Unlocking leadership and management potential through a joint secondary/HEI partnership”. My second choice was “A key to inspired post-graduate leadership learning in regional Australia”


Day 2 started with Professor Stephan Huber of the Institute for the Management and Economics of Education at the University of Teacher Education in Zug, Switzerland who spoke about, “School Leadership Practices and Health”.  The second keynote of the day was from Philip Hallinger, an internationally recognised Asia based scholar, who addressed the issue of “Accelerating the Development of a Global Knowledge Base in Educational Leadership and Management”.  A further 3 sessions left us ready for the Banquet Dinner that evening.


The keynote on Day 3 was much more familiar to SELMAS people. Our very own Sheila Laing from East Lothian talked about “School Justice Leadership in Different Scottish School Contexts”. She took as her theme the Lao Tze quote, “Go to the people, live with them, start with what they have, build with them, and when the deed is done, the mission accomplished, they will say, “We have done it for ourselves”.


So – a very busy and intense learning experience, offering me lots of new learning. The atmosphere was friendly and informal, however although there were a few sessions which described joint HEI/practitioner projects, the focus was overwhelmingly on academic research. Lots more information about the conference can be found here.

Michael Apple seminar at University of Stirling


PORTO ALEGRE, RS, BRASIL, 18/07/2013: Abertura do I Seminário Internacional de Educação, promovido pela SEDUC. EM destaque, o palestrante Michael Apple Foto: Pedro Revillion/ Palácio Piratini.

The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling will be hosting a seminar ‘Are Current Educational Reforms Really Democratic?’, led by Professor Michael Apple The seminar will take place on Monday 20 June, at 4pm. Professor Apple is one of the foremost educationists in the world, and the seminar promises to be both stimulating and challenging, as well as very relevant in the context of current educational reforms in Scotland. To sign up for this free event, please reserve your place on our eventbrite link

SERA Leadership in Education event

Our friends at SERA are holding a free network discussion on Closing the Gap. Please follow the link below if you wish to attend.


We are hosting a joint event between the SERA Leadership in Education and the SERA poverty networks focussing upon Closing the Gap. It will take place at the University of Strathclyde on Tuesday 26th April 5.30pm – 7.30pm in the Graham Hills Building, 40 George St, Glasgow. The event is free and open to SERA and non-SERA members (please see leaflet). If you are interested in attending the event can you please register here and pass this communication on to any other colleagues whom you think would be interested.

SELMAS annual forum tickets now on sale

 “Closing the Achievement Gap: An Impossible Challenge?”


We  cordially invite you to register for our much anticipated annual forum

 “Closing the Achievement Gap: An Impossible Challenge?”

May 12th 6.00pm (Drinks from 5.30pm)

St George’s School Conference Centre

Garscube Terrace
EH12 6BG


Register online with eventbrite

£32 per person or £35 per person with invoice payment


  Food for thought will be provided by our speakers:

sb Sue Brooks Governor of Polmont Young Offenders Institute

Sue Brookes joined SPS in 1987 as a Prison Governor and has worked in 8 establishments in Scotland with all types of offenders ( of all sentence lengths), as well as spending two periods in SPS Headquarters  engaged in organisational policy and planning and a short time on project development at the Scottish Prison Service College .

Sues’ current operational posting is as Governor of HMYOI Polmont working with young men aged 16-21. Most of her career has been spent working with high risk, long term male offenders, often in small unit settings, though she was also Governor of Cornton Vale (Scotlands prison for women) between 2002-2006 , and Governor of Edinburgh Prison before transfer to Polmont.

Sues’ most recent previous role in HQ as Head of Offender Strategy and Partnership Development included close liaison with the Community Justice Authorities and the Scottish Governments’ Reducing Reoffending Programme. Sue has contributed to the development of SPS strategy for both  Women and Young People in custody and in 1997  wrote the ‘ACT’ strategy which continues to form the basis of the SPS approach to the care of vulnerable prisoners. Sue was also responsible for a national review of SPS incident management policy and practice in recent years.

Sue was previously a Board member of Families Outside , APEX Scotland and  a member of the Sentencing Commission for Scotland. She has participated in or given evidence to  a range of Scottish Government policy development groups and scrutiny bodies and worked closely with Local Authority partners whilst in HQ and establishment roles.

Sue holds an LLB in Law from Oxford, an MSC in criminology from Edinburgh and an MBA from the Open University and is married with three children.

Paul Reynolds

Paul Reynolds

Paul Reynolds Headteacher  Ross High School

Raised in Lanarkshire and finishing his schooling in the States, Paul went on to study Physics at St. Andrews University.  He started his teaching career in Zambia through Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) before returning to teach in St Modan’s, Stirling.  Paul then moved to the Highlands where he taught Maths and Physics in Mallaig HS, eventually becoming PT Guidance.  In 2006 he started as the Curriculum DHT in Lochaber HS, Fort William.  After 5 years he moved remit to Pupil Support.  In 2013 he became the Head Teacher of Ross High School in Tranent.  He has a strong belief in the importance of Education for all and this rests firmly in the Aims and Values of the school.  When not in school, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife, Emma, and two young children, Ruby and Nina; with the occasional trip to Gullane Golf Course.  As part of the Senior Management Education Board in East Lothian he is part of the strategic group in the Council looking at how best to raise attainment for all children.

Craig Munro Executive Director, Education and Children’s Services, Fife Council.

Craig Munro December 2015 #2


Craig was appointed as Executive Director of Education and Children’s Services in Fife Council in December 2013, overseeing Education and Learning, Children and Families Social Work and Criminal Justice. Craig was previously Strategic Director at Education Scotland with responsibility for school inspections, implementation of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), performance improvement and corporate strategy. He started his career as a physics teacher in Perth and has held various school leadership roles in Perth and Fife before being appointed as Head of Education in Fife in 2007.


Craig speaks regularly at national conferences and has been involved in a range of boards advising on many aspects of national policy development. He is the Chair of the ADES Director’s Forum and is currently a member of the strategic board developing the National Improvement Framework as well as the CfE Implementation Board.


Joe Wilson Youthlink Scotland, Scottish Learning Partnership127df83

Joe  is the former Chief Executive of the College Development Network and  currently an Independent Educational Consultant working on a number of assignments for Awarding bodies, Universities and public agencies across UK and internationally.

He is currently one of the UK Ambassadors for the Association of Learning Technology, A Microsoft Innovative Educator, Board Member of Youth Link Scotland and a Trustee of the Clyde Foundation.

He has also been a non-executive director and board member of the SCQF Partnership, The Scottish Adult Learning Partnership and served on a number of College Boards of Management.

Previously he has been – Head of New Ventures and Business Manager at the Scottish Qualifications Authority, senior Project Manager at the Scottish Further Education Unit, and held a number of management posts in Colleges.

Joe began his career in education as a teacher of English and History

His interests lie in bridging the academic/vocational divide; the skill sets and cultural changes needed to embrace digital change in learning; quality and standards in vocational education.

An active blogger and tweeter you can follow Joe on his blog or @joecar on twitter

He holds an MA (hons) , MBA, DipEd and PGCSE but increasingly develops his skills through massive open on-line programmes from a range of global providers and is building up a collection of open badges and new forms of credential.

Joe lives in Glasgow with wife , two children , two cats and an 80 year old  tortoise.


 Between courses of excellent food accompanied by a glass of wine, you will have the opportunity to discuss your thoughts and ideas, and join in the debate with colleagues from different educational settings. You can then put your questions and comments to the panel at the end of the evening.


The evening will be hosted by Margaret Alcorn, Convenor of SELMAS and chaired by Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Cyrenians. We look forward to seeing you there!



Forthcoming events – Democracy and Education; Foucault @90

SELMAS friends and members might be interested in these two forthcoming events at the University of the West of Scotland:


Democracy and Education

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of John Dewey’s famous work Democracy and Education. This conference aims to reflect on the legacy and significance of Dewey’s thinking for 21st century education, but also to consider the more general issue of the relationship between democracy and education in current times.
Keynote speakers include Richard Pring, and Walter Humes. Based at our attractive Ayr campus, on the scenic west coast of Scotland, this conference promises to be a stimulating and enjoyable event.
Details of submission for abstracts and applications can be found here: Democracy and Education UWS Conference


Foucault @90
2016 also marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of the French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-84).This interdisciplinary conference aims to reflect on the work of Michel Foucault and in particular on the question of its abiding relevance and value.
Keynote speakers include Stephen Ball, Mark Olssen, and Clare O’Farrell. Based again at our attractive Ayr campus, on the scenic west coast of Scotland, this conference promises to be a stimulating and enjoyable event. Foucault@90 UWS Conference