The Child Outside the System: SELMAS Forum 2017 by Jay Helbert

 

This is a guest post from Jay Helbert of SCEL. Jay chaired this year’s forum and also wrote this interesting reflection about his impressions of it – thanks on two counts, Jay, from your friends at SELMAS.

This year’s forum took place at St George’s School, Edinburgh with a focus on the child outside the system.  This was my first time at a SELMAS forum and as chair, I took this as an opportunity to challenge those in attendance to be provocative, think creatively and be brave in their conversations and beyond.  This is not to say I think teachers and education leaders are fearty or faint of heart.  In fact to do the very jobs we do requires great doses of fortitude, courage and resilience.  Rather the challenge was to use the forum as a space to imagine and think beyond the system.

We were joined at the forum by a number of innovative thinkers who, more importantly are also innovative doers.  First of all, Paul Blackwell, of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service told us of how a chance conversation with a colleague in Police Scotland led to him tackling the issue of gang violence and anti-social behaviour.  This is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when people think beyond the traditional and prescribed parameters of one’s role or agency to create sustained change.  Paul’s message was clear and reflected what was to become a theme of the forum:

“Be the person who brings change about, often it starts with you.”  His philosophy of developing solutions with gang members rather than delivering solutions to them, or worse doing things to them is an example of genuine engagement.

The second speaker of the night was Fiona McKenzie, a former music teacher who now runs Centre Stage Communities Ltd, an organisation that uses the arts (and food) to engage people of all ages – current members range from 3 weeks to 106 years old.  Fiona’s talk achieved that rarest of things by having people laughing one moment and choked up the next.  This wasn’t mere ‘edutainment’ though.  Fiona discussed her team meetings where, when new ideas are discussed, staff are encouraged to ask, “What’s the best that can happen?”.  This take on an old question shifts the emphasis to encourage people to imagine a preferred future and then set about making it happen.

He drew a circle that shut me out –

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in!

–          Outwitted by Edward Markham

 

Fiona was followed by Ian MacMillan, an experienced leader from the financial industry and third sector.  Ian is a non-executive director and chair of Cyrenians, a charity that re-engages those who are excluded, from education, employment or society. Ian was very honest about the fact that teachers and school leaders face a wide range of challenges, from bureaucratic demands, through to the changing nature of curricula and assessment arrangements.  He did, however encourage us all to remember the passion we have for education and continue to kindle the spark that glows within.

“You can’t light the spark in others of it’s not burning brightly within – the greatest thing a teacher does is light a spark, create a trigger moment which creates passion, confidence and allows learners to be free.”

Ian shared his learning from David Marquet’s experiences as a submarine commander when he turned USS Santa Fe from the worst rated ship in the US Navy, into the best.  The key messages can be found in this inspirational and short video clip.

Our final speaker of the night was Gillian Hunt, who reminded us of some stark statistics about the number of young people who leave school without a ‘positive destination’ or more worryingly without a sustained positive destination that enable independent living and positive life experiences.  Many children leave school at 16, but moany of these have disengaged by time they are in second year.  Again Gillian was clear that the majority of young people are engaged in school and are served well by schools, however she is seeking a solution for those to whom school is perhaps not the most conducive environment for learning.  Inspired by Newlands Junior College, Gillian is working with a range of partners from the public, private and third sectors to establish a junior college in Edinburgh.

The forum finished with a very lively panel session where we explored the question – should we have to leave the system to bring about real change?  This led to some deep discussion about the definition of ‘the system’ (are we not all the system?), the power of Mavericks (should we subvert the rules if we know it is the right thing to do?  If so what risks do we take?) and how any individual can change such a vast system (one lone actor can seem like a nut, but when followers join, you have a movement).

“We but mirror the world.  All of the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body.  If we change ourselves then the tendencies in the world will change.”  Mohandas Gandhi.

Throughout the night, I was reminded of an analogy my first head teacher, used to use; some people are like thermometers – they are good at telling you it’s too cold.  Others are like thermostats – they figure out that it’s too cold and then do something about it.

It’s up to you folks.  Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?

 

Personal Note: This blog is a personal reflection of the night as experienced through my eyes and ears.  The beauty of SELMAS forum is that because of the structure and wonderful people present, every single person will have had a unique experience – it would be great to hear yours.

 

 

SELMAS annual forum tickets now on sale

 “Closing the Achievement Gap: An Impossible Challenge?”

selmas

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
Edinburgh
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 www.joewilsons.net 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!

 

 

SELMAS forum 2015

Hope everyone enjoyed the forum on 14th May 2015. Ewan McIntosh, educational innovator and founder of NoTosh attended for the first time and shared his thoughts on the discussions in not just one, but a series of blogposts! Many thanks for sharing this with us, Ewan. It would be interesting to see if we can keep this conversation going……..(also see our LinkedIn discussion group)