A message from out-going SELMAS secretary, Alex Wood

Dear Colleague
I attach a copy of the draft minutes of last week’s committee meeting.
There are several key pieces of information from that meeting which I wish to draw to your attention.
Margaret Alcorn (margaret_alcorn@yahoo.com )and Gillian Hunt (Gillian.Hunt@edinburgh.gov.uk ) have been re-elected as convenor and treasurer respectively.  I have stood down from the secretary’s post.  The new secretary is Bob Cook.  Bob can be contacted onbobcook@blueyonder.co.uk .
I also attach our updated Aims paper.  At the March committee meeting the old Aims paper was amended in various sections.  One of the amendments was to add a sentence into the paragraph describing committee membership.  That sentence reads:
        Membership of the committee is open to anyone who is willing to attend at least half the committee meetings and to assist in the running of SELMAS’s major events.
I want to emphasise that no-one expects any of the committee members, who are all busy, committed professionals, to attend all meetings.  There are usually at least four meetings a year.  In the year that is drawing to a close there were five committee meetings.  Two out of  five is not, I firmly believe, an over onerous commitment to seek.  We had over 35 members on the committee mailing list.  Some had not attended a committee meeting, or indeed a SELMAS event, for two years.  Attendance at this year’s committee meetings were 9, 14, 12, 13, 10.  In the circumstances, the statement which we added to our Aims document sought to do two things:
  • to clarify that membership of the committee represented a commitment to make a practical contribution to the operation of SELMAS
  • to reduce the level of correspondence to colleagues who can no longer participate.
A few colleagues have indicated that they will no longer remain on the committee.  I have also removed from the committee mailing list the names of colleagues who have not attended for two years.  I am circulating these minutes to the remaining 30 members on the committee mailing list.   Let Bob know if you no longer wish to be circulated for committee meetings.
Please also note that Neil Craik-Collins is coordinating the organising committee for the coming year’s Conference.  If you are willing to help with that task please contact Neil: ncraik-collins@ross.elcschool.org.uk
Please note that the next meeting will be at 3.00 pm on Wednesday 2 September in Waverley Court.
Finally, this will be my last communication as Secretary.  It has been a pleasure and an honour to act in that capacity and I have thoroughly enjoyed the professional companionship and intellectual stimulation, which have long been the hallmarks of SELMAS, and the support of SELMAS’s two dedicated officers, convenor Margaret Alcorn, and treasurer Gillian Hunt.  My thanks and best wishes are extended to you all.  I am certain that Bob Cook will do a great job for SELMAS and that SELMAS will remain one of the most important, independent and challenging of educational organisations.
Best wishes.

Learning Rounds in Lithuania March 2015

lr2 lr3 lr4In May 2014, following discussions with TGA team members, a colleague (Catriona Oates) and I were invited to talk to a group of Scottish and Lithuanian teachers in Edinburgh about the Learning Rounds model of professional learning.[1] We were interested in the potential of the model to promote the TGA aim of building teachers’ confidence and capacity to incorporate citizenship into their teaching. We also hoped that participation in Learning Rounds would promote a shared understanding of the importance of a values-led approach in the classroom, and help educators consider how they might begin to evaluate this. Finally, we hoped that by taking part in this internationally valued programme, Global Ambassadors would be better equipped to lead global learning in their schools and communities.

Our optimism in this regard arose from a number of the distinguishing characteristics of the Learning Rounds model. These included the democratic nature of the approach which involves teachers learning from teachers, the emphasis on describing learning rather than judging teaching, the requirement for group observation in order to inform learning and the focus on the learning experience of the pupils.  The model which originated in Boston, USA is now popular in Scotland as a support for school self-evaluation and improvement planning.

Last year’s presentation was well-received and promoted lots of discussion. As a consequence, the TGA Project team offered further support to those present in terms of running a Learning Rounds in their own school. The Lithuanian teachers in particular were very interested in this concept, and a suggestion was made that perhaps I could travel to Kaunas to train a small group of TGA teachers, and to lead the very first Lithuanian Learning Rounds.

Further discussions with TGA and JKC in Kaunas allowed us to identify a host school (the Kauno Jono ir Petro Vileisiu Mokykla – Daugiafunkcis Centras) and a further 3 local schools who were keen for their teachers to participate.  A total of eight teachers were brought together for the training event on March 18th 2015.  Over the course of a day we revisited the key principles of Learning Rounds and examined the practice. The host school had already established the theme of “classroom relationships” as the focus for the next day’s observations, and we spent some time considering what we would be able to see and what evidence we might be able to gather if classroom relationships were working well.

We also spent time on the very important question of “So what?” considering what outcomes we believed should emerge from the Learning Rounds experience for those teacher present, and also for their colleagues.

We started Day 2 with a discussion in our two observation groups. It was very helpful that the host School Director joined one of the groups and participated in the observations. We then saw a total of 4 lessons each, following the Learning Rounds pattern of short, focused interwoven observations.

Each of the groups then discussed what they had seen on their class visits, and we came together to record what the teachers had learned about the learning experience of the pupils in the school. Our key questions were, “Did we see learning happen?”, “How did we know learning was happening?”, “What did the pupils do/say that promoted learning?”, “What did the teachers do/say that promoted learning?”. As this was a pilot, and intended to develop the skills and confidence of all of the teachers involved, it was very helpful that the observed teachers were able to join this conversation. A very animated discussion followed on strategies and actions that the participating teachers felt could be considered at individual and at school level to bring about improvement.

The day ended with a strong endorsement of the model and of the value of the learning that had occurred. There was a commitment by all of those present to take this forward as participators and as leaders.





Some reflections

I was anxious as to the impact of my inability to speak or understand Lithuanian on the quality of the experience. The teachers coped excellently, and with some peer-to-peer translation and the service of Greta Gedgaudaite of JKC who had translated the slides and handouts that I had sent over earlier, and offered a first-rate interpretation service, we managed. In previous Learning Rounds I have observed that an outside person, who can ask key questions, and raise difficult issues is invaluable. My lack of Lithuanian meant that I was not able to be as helpful in this regard as I would have wished.

Because of the timing of the Learning Rounds and the nature of the population of the school, our observations were limited to only four classes, and these were fairly formal settings. It would have enhanced the learning, I think, if we had seen a wider range of classes, including practical learning, such as Physical Education, Art and Design, Science, etc.

We all agreed that this should be viewed as a pilot. In this guise it certainly created

interest, with a strong commitment to seeking ways to maximise the impact of the learning on school improvement.  In part this success certainly benefitted from the highly motivated, lively, committed teachers who formed this first Learning Rounds.

If the model is to be further rolled out in Lithuania, consideration should be given to the leadership of the project. My experience of leading Learning Rounds in Scotland is that is very helpful when the model has a passionate, committed champion to push it forward. Too often, those who have it “assigned” to them can feel overwhelmed by what can appear complex, and so progress in establishing the first Rounds can be slow. This seldom outlives the first event however, when the energy and experience of high quality learning means subsequent Learning Rounds become much easier. It would be good if the group who attended the recent training could be encouraged and supported in leading the model in their own workplaces, for example by establishing themselves as a learning circle.

I began this adventure wondering if Learning Rounds would “work” in Lithuania and if it could help promote the TGA aim ”to build teachers’ confidence and capacity to incorporate Global Citizenship into their teaching, enable them to support pupils to become ‘active global citizens’ and to lead on Global Citizenship activities within their schools and local authorities”. I believe we have made a useful start with this pilot. I hope that the shared experience has created a learning community among the Lithuanian participators, and this will be enlarged to include the Scottish teachers who are planning to run their own Learning Rounds in the weeks ahead. It will be very useful to bring together the two groups at a future date to compare experiences and to build a community of practice around the model.

Margaret Alcorn

March 2015

[1] See the Appendix 1 –  outline for the May 2014 presentation

SELMAS committee minutes 26th March 2015

  1. The annual SELMAS takes place in St George’s on 14 May.  Over half the places have already been taken – which is great news.  If you have not booked a place, please do so now.  (Booking pro forma on the SELMAS web site.)
  2. The SELMAS paper has been expanded by the Committee and is attached to the minute.  Please take a few moments to read this as it represents our statement to the profession and the public as to what we are and how we operate.  Please note that we have made a slightly tighter definition of committee membership.  As a consequence the committee has asked everyone who receives this (which by definition means that you are currently assumed to be a committee member) to confirm their intention of continuing as a committee member.  Please email me to so confirm.
  3. The June committee meeting (4 June) will be an AGM.  If you wish to nominate yourself or any other committee member for any of the officers’ positions, please intimate that to me by email at least one week prior to the meeting.
  4. Rehana Shanks has secured two free places, for which we’re very grateful, for SELMAS members at the BELMAS Conference (10-12 July 2015, Wokefield Park Conference Centre, Berkshire https://www.belmas.org.uk/Annual-Conference-2015 ).  Any committee member who has not previously attended and is interested in doing so should inform me by 3 April.  Please note that anyone taking up this offer will require to meet their own transport costs.
  5. One City Event, Glasgow: notice of this event from Martin Taylor is attached and colleagues are invited to attend.
  6. Leading Creativity in Education: Jude McKerrecher has provide ten free tickets, for which again we’re very grateful, for SELMAS members to a conference of Scottish and Chinese HTs on 29 April in Glasgow. Any committee member who  is interested attending should inform me by 3 April.
  7. If your biographical details are not on our web-site……why are you so shy???  Send them to Catriona Oates, catrionaoates@gmail.com

Update from the National PL Network

In our customary tradition of collaboration we have been invited by the chair of the National PL Network, Gillian Hunt to share the latest update on their work. Thanks Gillian, I’m sure this will be of great interest to SELMAS members.

Welcome to the March Digest!
Lots has been happening in the Scottish Professional Learning Network with our first Network Day of the year taking place on 23.2.15 at the University of Edinburgh, our Professional Learning Network Committee meeting on 3.3.15, the announcements made by Nicola Sturgeon about the new qualification for headship and additional funding for masters and planning for our next Network Day on Tuesday 26.5.15.
The Network is comprised of all 32 local authorities, 8 Universities, the General Teaching Council of Scotland GTCS, Education Scotland, Scottish Government, the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL), the EIS, AHDS, SLA, NASUWT, ADES, VSCS, SCSSA, SQA and a number of other organisations such as the Scottish Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society (SELMAS) Keep Scotland Beautiful, Scottish College Development Network, Skills Development Scotland and Character Scotland. Our Network’s purpose is to bring together local authority officers and other national partners in a community which offers mutual support and benefit to its members. There are five key objectives of the Network:
 Inform and shape national policy
 Lead and develop professional learning and leadership at all levels nationally
 Innovate and inspire across all aspects of professional learning
 Support collegiate and collaborative practice
 Act as a communication hub to support local and national professional learning policy implementation
At our Network Day on 23.2.15 the key messages/issues were:
Scottish Government Update
 Teaching Scotland’s future Legacy Event 6 May 2015 in Edinburgh.
 GTCS e-portfolio – some local authorities using own. If LAs wish to use GTCS one must opt in
 Aspect Review of TSF Partnerships taking place now practice and emerging good practice. Report to be published autumn 2015
 Raising attainment – Improving attainment/closing the gap. There will be £100m over four years with a first tranche of £20m for 2015/16 announced. Focus will be on literacy/numeracy/health and wellbeing in the primary sector.
 Nicola Sturgeon announced on 23.2.15 that the new qualification for Headship will be mandatory 2018/19 (legislation to come) for new head teachers. SQH or FRH already awarded are valid. Those with that qualification and new to headship may wish to engage in the ‘Extended Induction’ (see below).
 £3 million further investment into masters over three years (£1 million 2015/16)
Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)
 DYW is the full expression of Curriculum for Excellence and we need to concentrate on the how of it, which is a challenge
 There is no argument on why we do this, we have buy in from stakeholders
 Not for teachers only, has to be for all practitioners – teachers, lecturers, CLD workers, parents
 June 2014 report was published – 53000 young people didn’t know what they will do, society has no use for them
 Our biggest challenge and the most exciting aspect is collaborative working. We need to let go, move away from what we’re known for, our reputation
Scottish College for Educational Leadership
SCEL Board
 The Board is not representative – people were selected for their knowledge and skills and there is now a co-opted teacher on the Board
 Now a team of 6: Gillian Hamilton; Lesley Whelan; Tracy Henderson; John Daffurn; an Organisation Manager and a Communications Intern
 Other posts will follow and an advert for consultants is out now. Consultants are required to deal with capacity and can be from within and out with education profession. Expressions of interest are also sought from recently retired colleagues. Consultants will not be advising SCEL on what to do but to take forward pieces of work over a fixed period. Paying £250-400 a day.
 SCEL is for all teachers and encompasses age 3-18
 Its purpose is to bring coherence, not delivery or brokering (though will do some delivery)
 Framework for Educational Leadership – to be used by individuals to plan their professional learning, by Local Authorities to plan professional learning for others and by other providers to plan professional learning
Regional Networks
 There will be 8 regional networks, each with a network leader
 Link to existing networks, such as Professional Learning Network
 Each Local Authority will have a link person
 For experienced head teachers, at least 5 years’ experience
 End of first cohort – worked as a pilot, with participants and stakeholders, success leads to award of fellowship and fellows represent and work on behalf of SCEL
 Second phase just recruited
Headship Qualification
 Will work from strengths of SQH and FRH and will have online aspects
 60 credit programme (Into Headship)
 Not a generic leadership programme, it’s about headship
 Programme outline by end of March 2015
 Will recruit in time for start in August 2015
 Applicants will be asked to evaluate self against the Standard, it will be about readiness for headship (a HT in next 2-3 years)
 There will be a Masters degree (180 credits) – 60 Middle Leadership, 60 Into Headship and 60 ‘Extended Induction’
Reach of the Network
We asked the following questions:
1. What are the ways we support the roll out of information and ideas across our organisations?
2. What are the barriers to the flow of information?
3. What are the successful ways information gets shared and discussed?
4. Where do we need to build our capacity and what would help?
5. What next steps should the PLNetwork take?
The collation of responses will be posted soon.
Network Day 26.5.15
At the Committee Meeting on 3.3.15 we discussed the Network Day on 23.2.15 and began thinking about the next Network Day which is on Tuesday 26.5.15 at the University of Strathclyde. Some of the ideas we came up with are: approaches to professional learning/work-based learning; reflecting on the impact of professional learning; learning for sustainability; Developing the Young Workforce – possible cafe conversations exploring what professional learning looks like, how primary schools contribute to DYW, how early career teachers are encouraged to think about DYW; and an update from Scottish Government.
It was agreed that whatever we feature will be a follow up to the TSF Legacy event on 6 May 2015.
The planning group taking this forward are: Roseanne Fitzpatrick; Celia McArthur; John Daffurn; Susanne Batchelor; and Rebecca Chad.
From Our Network Day 23.2.15
Posted: 09 Mar 2015 08:53 AM PDT
It was great to welcome 56 members of our Professional Learning Network to the University for our first Network Day of 2015!
At that event we had an update from David Roy from Scottish Government, a session on Developing the Young Workforce (the Wood Commission) with Joan MacKay of Education Scotland, a comprehensive update on the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL) from its Chief Executive, Gillian Hamilton and her colleague Lesley Whelan and an activity session on the reach of the Network.
It was a great day and we’d really like to know more about what you thought of it so are going to send you 4 questions (by email)
1. What was most useful to you and why?
2. What would you like more of?
3. What are you willing to share at a future Network Day?
We were delighted to welcome 56 delegates and most of you used the room to network with colleagues prior to our 11.00 a.m. start. However we did lose many delegates throughout the short day and by the time we were on our last session (2.00 – 3.00 p.m.) on the reach of the Network we were down to 29 delegates. So with that in mind our last question is around start/finish times with a view to holding onto delegates for each of our sessions.
4. Would you prefer an earlier start/finish time to enable you to stay for the whole event and are there any suggestions you have in terms of timing/length/organisation of the day?
Gillian Hunt
Chair of the Scottish Professional Learning Network

SELMAS committee minutes 27th January 2015


Thursday 27 January 2015, in Strathclyde University


Present: M Alcorn (in the chair), S Beattie, R Cook, G Hamilton, G Hunt,  J McKerrecher, D Murphy, C Oates, J Robertson, G Walsh, A Wood.

  1. Apologies: V Donaldson, A-M Higgins, J Horsburgh, H Kinnear, D McCallum, P Sharp, G Thomson, D Torrance, T Wallace, K Westacott , I White
  2. Minutes and matters arising: the minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as an accurate record.
    1. SELMAS Forum: the usual format, including flowers, will operate. Margery McMahon will facilitate the evening.  Speakers: Brian Boyd, Juliette Murray (Surgeon), Jim McColl (Clyde Blowers/ Newlands College).  Discussion centred in part on costs and it was agreed to repeat the discount for new SELMAS attenders, £30 per ticket, with discount tickets for new attenders of £50 per pair.  AW to discuss with St George’s the possibility of a wine at the end of the session.  The publicity should mention, in the context of drivers, the availability of drink.  AW will send out publicity over the coming weeks.
    2. SELMAS Banner: the banners have been purchased and are on show. Thanks were expressed to colleagues who helped purchase and transport these.
    3. Conference Focus Group: a meeting of the focus group (agreed at our last committee meeting) will take place on Wednesday 4 February in Waverley Court to consider how best to plan for next year’s conference.
  3. Guest, Gary Walsh, Character Scotland: Gary thanked SELMAS for the invitation and welcomed the opportunity to work collaboratively.  Character Scotland is a charity operating since 2009.  Its schools based programme, a legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, is Inspire, Aspire.  It has reached some 55 countries across the Commonwealth and seeks to encourage an international dialogue among school students and young people generally around values and attitudes.  The second strand looks at character education more generally and seeks to create a space for discussion and debate around such issues.  The charity is project funded until August 2015.  The project is culminating in a 2-day conference on the 15-16 June in the University of Glasgow with Avis Glaze as one of the key-note speakers.  Unfortunately, Judith McClure, one of the speakers for tonight’s event has had to withdraw.
  4. SCEL, possible joint event: Gillian Hamilton noted that she had now been in post at SCEL for five months and a full board is now in place.  Senior staff have been recruited form a range of sectors and the service of consultants is also being pursued.  SCEL is now at the stage where it must move from strategy development to practical work.  SCEL will now focus on three or four priorities, including its headteacher programme, and seek to build its potential over the next period.  In building SCEL’s profile, the organisation is keen to develop cooperative working relationships with a range of relevant organisations, including the strong possibility of a joint SCEL-SELMAS event.  The possibility of a joint event focussing on a question such as ‘What is, and how can we best develop, leadership among teachers?’ was discussed.  There was discussion about filming/recording such an event (and other such events) for the website.  It was agreed that such a joint event would be desirable and there was discussion about administrative approaches to facilitating such an event.  Jude McKerrecher intimated a joint Scottish-Chinese Headteacher event on 29 April organised by KISS.
  5. Centre for Confidence and Well-being, possible joint event (MA): MA mentioned the interest which had been generated by Danny Murphy’s new book. DM spoke about the conclusions of his book around the inequitable nature of the recognition and accreditation of achievement by young people in schools and the possibility of some unified form of ‘Scottish Graduation Certificate’, one not simply about academic attainment but about a wider profiling purpose.  GH raised the question of whether such an event should be incorporated into the 2015 conference or as an event to precede the conference.  The possibility of such an event in September 2015 was discussed further and it was agreed that MA would meet again with DM and CC to discuss this further.
  6. Reviewing and updating SELMAS Aims paper (GH): GH offered a range of ideas to update and sharpen the SELMAS Aims paper.  It was agreed this would be discussed further at the next meeting.
  7. Review of Committee functioning (AW): AW warmly endorsed GH’s paper and suggested that the definition of the functioning of the committee could be enhanced in the ‘What Can You Offer SELMAS?’ section of GH’s paper, including attendance at meetings and active work. MA also stressed the need for broader representation on the committee.  Agreed to circulate draft and that this also would be discussed further at the next meeting.
  8. AGM (AW): Agreed the June meeting would be an
  9. Trasurer’s Report (GH): G Hunt presented her treasurer’s report (attached). Last Scottish government payment March 2014; agreed to pursue further now and possibly also to approach the Gordon Cook Foundation.  Agreed that our general approach should be that events should pay for themselves.
  10. AOCB: there was no further competent business.
  11. Next Meeting: It was agreed that the next meeting would be at 00 pm on Thursday 26 March 2015, in Waverley Court.

Collaborative event: Character Scotland, University of Strathclyde and SELMAS

On 27th January 2015 we will be co-hosting a discussion with our friends at Character Scotland and the University of Strathclyde. The theme of the discussion is:Questions of Character – supporting children and young people to flourish. You’ll find more information and the booking process here – please join us if you can for an open and stimulating discussion.

Committee meeting: 3rd November 2014


Thursday 3 November, 2014, in Liberton High School, Edinburgh


Present: J Robertson (in the chair), N Craik-Collins, V Donaldson, S Gibson, G Hunt, S Kelly, H Kinnear, C Oates, R Shanks,  P Sharp, G Thomson, D Torrance, A Wood.

    1. Apologies:               M Alcorn, S Beattie, J Horsburgh, D McCallum, J Polglase, T Wallace, K Westacott , I White
  • Minutes and matters arising: the minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as an accurate record.
  • SCEL Event: it was agreed to send two committee members, Neil Craik-Collins and Hazel Kinnear, to the SCEL event on Tuesday 25 November.
  • BELMAS twitter chat: every month BELMAS organises a chat on twitter and Rehana has been asked to host this month’s chat. Social justice and engagement with the community were seen as a possible theme as was ‘Who really holds the power in schools?’
  • SELMAS Conference:
  • AW reported that a total of 69 delegates had attended on the day from a final (approximate) total of 76 bookings. There had been a considerable number of last minute cancellations, primarily because of lack of available cover for schools. It had also been made clear in various informal conversations that tight budgets, in schools and other organisations, had had a major impact on bookings.
  • It was agreed that all three speakers had been informative and stimulating, Lesley Riddoch and Sheila Laing being particularly inspiring.
  • The website has a wide range of blogs and posts indicating the values identified as priorities by the conference and highly positive responses from participants.
  • We require however to consider venue and costs and attendance for next year. The possibility of moving to a Friday (or a Saturday) and lower costs were considered.
  • It was agreed that AW would ask for feedback from Committee members re theme and speakers for next year.
  • It was agreed to invite a focus group from those who had attended to meet, evaluate and consider how to improve the event: AW and GH would organise this.
  • After considerable discussion and debate, it was agreed to continue the matter of next year’s conference to a future committee meeting.
  • Character Scotland: the event on 27 January in Strathclyde University, to be addressed by Joan Mowatt and Judith McClure, will be badged as a joint-SELMAS/ Character Scotland event . GH also reported on a Character Scotland Conference on 15/16 June. It was agreed to invite Gary Welch of Character Scotland to the next committee meeting.
  • SELMAS Forum: it was agreed to proceed with St George’s as the venue on Thursday evening, 14 May 2015. It was agreed that the broad theme of Social justice: who holds educational power? How is it used? could be continued by examining issues such as vocational education, raising ambition, positive destinations, school starting ages, health and welfare. The question was posed as to whether we can we run the forum as a debate or two debates? It was agreed, in the aftermath of the excellent organisation of last year’s programme that GT, supported by NC-C, SK, RS, VD would coordinate the programme for the Forum. GH and HK to coordinate flowers, tables etc.
  • AOCB: it was agreed to purchase a stand-up banner for SELMAS. JR would pass material held to CO who would report back to the next committee meeting.

Educational Colloquium, University of Glasgow

alex woodThe next meeting of the Educational Colloquium will be on Thursday 4th December, 2014, in the CPD Suite, St Andrews Building, Glasgow University, Eldon Street, Glasgow.  Speaker: Alex Wood, Retired Head Teacher of Wester Hailes Education Centre.  Topic:  “Local Authorities & Head Teachers.”  All welcome. Contact the secretary directly for booking information.