We are delighted that the Fife Pedagogy team shared their account of their first Brainstrust experience with us – read how they got on in the account below. Thanks to Ross for sending this in.
Four members of the Fife Pedagogy Team attended the SELMAS Brainstrust event centred on ‘Leading Change in Changing Times’. Peter McNaughton, Head of Education and Children’s Services in Fife spoke passionately about what he believes are the key attributes and qualities of effective leadership in times of significant change.
Key messages which particularly resonated with us were those of building strong relationships with pupils, staff and parents and empowering leaders at all levels in order to create a shared vision.
‘Releasing Energy’ in such a way throughout our learning communities, involving all stakeholders and their skillsets, can drive improvements and deliver effective and sustainable change.
We also recognise that in a continually changing world, schools/leaders must be ready to evaluate existing practices within their setting, using data, first of all to support collaborative planning of models and then throughout to ensure that any change in approach has a positive impact on our learners.
Our team were delighted to have the opportunity to discuss the key challenges in relation to the changing educational landscape. As various discussions generated a number of key reflection points to consider moving forward.
The team look forward to learning more about future SELMAS events to connect with our partners to effectively support young people.
Fife Pedagogy Team
We don’t like you to miss out so, in case you missed it, here is the full programme from our recent conference with presentations embedded, where possible in the presenter’s name. Here are some SELMAS members and speakers working hard on the day!
SELMAS Conference: 6th February 2018
Risk and Change: The Challenge of Leadership
Jay Helbert Head teacher Glassary Primary School and Tayvallich Pre-school and Primary School
Lesley Riddoch Commentator, broadcaster and author
Practitioner session: Gillian Hunt: Independent Educational Consultant
Janice Macinnes Senior Education Manager (Early Years), Schools and Lifelong Learning, City of Edinburgh Counci
Fiona MacDonald Head teacher, Cross Arthurlie Primary
Kate_ROBINSON_ Head of Strategic Operations, HundrED
Anthony Dunn Working with schools to transform internal and extended communities
Louis Moore – Louis’ Eggs. Student entrepreneur
Practitioner session 2: Gillian Hunt, Stephen Ross Head teacher Craigroyston High School, John Davis Professor of Childhood Inclusion, University of Edinburgh
John Swinney Deputy First Minister
Conversation – DFM and Keir Bloomer
Reflections : Keir Bloomer Independent Educational Consultant
Following last year’s highly successful conference in the Caves, on the theme of “Equity and Aspiration in Education”, booking is now open for this year’s event.
The theme will be “Changing Futures: Believing in our young people” chosen by the SELMAS Committee to continue the focus on issues related to the educational experiences of those young people whose needs are not being met by our current system. As always we have signed up a number of spirited and challenging speakers to stimulate discussion and reflection.
These will include:
John Swinney MSP, our Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills who will outline current Government strategies designed to “Close the Gap.”
Mairi Breen, headteacher of Braehead Primary School who will describe how her teachers are making a real and lasting difference to children in their school who are living in poverty.
John Carnochan who as a senior police officer worked for many years in some of the most deprived communities in Scotland where the levels of poverty and deprivation were usually matched by a sense of hopelessness and disconnection from society.
Cathy McCulloch, Co-Director of the Children’s Parliament which works with children in the context of family, school and community. The Parliament connects children with each other, with adults, with their communities and allows them to influence the development of better services for children.
Sarah-Jane Linton and some of the young people from Who Cares? Scotland which is a national voluntary organisation, working with care experienced young people and care leavers across Scotland.
As always the Conference aims to offer stimulating and creative thinking around this key issue for all educators, and an opportunity to engage with others in thought-provoking discussion.
The venue is the Radisson Blu Hotel, 80 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TH and the date is February 2nd 2017
Book via eventbrite: http://bit.ly/SELMAS020217
This conference is supported by and in partnership with SCEL, the Scottish College for educational Leadership
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.
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
Equity and Aspiration in Education; The Caves, Edinburgh
Reflecting on the conference I was struck by one particular issue raised by Carol Craig, Chief Executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being and author of ‘The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence’. After the last few months of witnessing the unfolding of the refugee crisis in Europe, 13 November saw two opposite and equally momentous events unfolding. At almost the same time as Scotland welcomed the first group of refugees from Syria and offered a hand of friendship and opportunity, the people of Paris were subjected to a horrific attack on their liberty. I considered how the values of equity and aspiration are reflected in completely opposite ways in these events and Carol Craig raised this very issue in her keynote address.
Carol spoke of the way in which the balance of equality and equity in society equate to citizens’ general sense of self-esteem. She explained to the conference how research indicates that, as these values decline, low self-esteem becomes a breeding ground for the outworking of actions such as bullying and race related violence by those who feel they are at the bottom off the social pecking order as they seek out others whom they see as even lower than they are to blame and lash out at. I contemplated whether or not this might be part of what we are witnessing in the sink estates of Paris?
On a lighter note ….
This year’s conference was organised to take place in a unique venue and at the outset Neil Craik-Collins provided us with an insight into its historical significance. During the 18th Century the Caves were one of the venues used by the Oyster Club whose members included James Hutton (father of modern geology) David Hume (philosopher), Joseph Black (chemist) and Adam Smith (economist). Members engaged in deep thinking and debate about the issues of the day, this we intended to emulate while stopping short of eating oysters, drinking claret, and indulging in communal orgy!!
Neil reminded us that, although Adam Smith is remembered as an economist and is often misquoted in the context of capitalist thinking, his intent was to ensure that an economic system would provide an equitable society where every worker would have the means to “wear a linen shirt”.
Our own Oyster Club namesake, Professor Walter Hume provided the first keynote address .Walter, by his own admission, is well known for disturbing the status quo and did not disappoint!
His amusing and yet incisive comments challenged current political policies aimed at ‘Closing the Gap’ and raising attainment as inadequate since school equality on its own will not achieve social equality while reminding us of the notoriety of politics as a short term game where politicians often use “policy a spectacle” [e.g. standardised testing?] and only add to the problem.
Considering leadership he questioned the current emphasis on school leadership, pushing responsibility (and blame?) onto head teachers while their hands are tied by the policy makers. How would you assess the quality of leadership at the upper levels of the educational establishment?
So…..what impact is all of the policy making, discussion and debate really having on young people? Care leaver, ex young carer and now poverty campaigner, Chris Kilkenny’s (twitter: @KilkennyChris) experience, in a society which prides itself on providing free education for all, provided a real wake up call. As a young boy Chris’s story was used as part of the ‘Wrong Trainers’ series and he explained how his choices at school were limited because there was no money in the family to pay for things like Home Economics, school trips etc. Without blame or self-pity Chris articulated how it really is and what really can make a difference to a young person in poverty. His solutions were not sweeping policy changes or grandiose schemes but a considered plea to simply care. Care about the young people in your class, school and community. Ask if they are OK? Keep asking even if they reject you, don’t let anyone be invisible, make sure education really is free. Chris challenged us to consider: What one thing could you do to make a difference to one young person today?
Jim McColl has certainly taken that challenge personally and is currently making a real difference to the lives of the young people who now attend Newlands Junior College, Glasgow. Seeking to close the ‘opportunity gap’ for ‘young people who are trapped’ in the poverty cycle, Jim echoed Chris’s plea for relationship building with the young people and their families, challenging the lack of parity between vocational and academic education. While I admire this initiative and am grateful that someone is indeed doing his bit to make a difference, it seems to me unfortunate that Jim has had to develop an independent school in order to achieve this. Perhaps GIRFEC really means that there is a need to provide more appropriate provision to meet the needs of our young people in more diverse ways and not maintain what we have been guilty of in recent years i.e. an interpretation of inclusion which forces the impossible on comprehensive schools, expecting them to be ‘all things to all men’ and recognising that one size will not fit all!
Meanwhile, within the state system, Gerry Lyons was able to provide a positive and encouraging account of his very successful comprehensive school where 67% of the young people live in homes on the lowest 15% income brackets. Using what he says staff affectionately call a ‘Stalinist’ approach his mantra is “never settle for second best”. By applying this to every aspect of schooling from employing the best teachers to assertively encouraging and supporting young people, he described obstacles as things which you can jump over or get around but commented that sometimes you just have to have the courage to barge through them. Schools need to have ‘extra mile’ people who are committed to doing everything they can to help young people achieve to the best of their ability. For me another reminder that whatever the policy makers decide it’s relationships with the young people and their families that will make the difference. Everybody needs to be doing the right thing Gerry challenged us to consider……….. What is your right thing?
While the Cabinet Secretary for Education reminded us that the government is committed to equity and excellence I came away encouraged that there is a recognition and a will amongst professionals who recognise that equity is not just about school education, it is about the whole system surrounding families and communities and not ignoring the resources the people themselves bring.
Schools can however be the places which make a real difference for young people. Lead by head teachers who have the courage and the conviction to make decisions about budgets, about people, about curriculum structures and about partnership working that will sustain a culture where not only young people, but professionals themselves, are encouraged, supported and given permission to do the right thing.
Jayne Horsburgh, SELMAS committee member