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)

Leadership in Scottish Education Network [LiSEN]

Here is a great new opportunity to engage in a new leadership network. Dr Margery McMahon and Dr Joan Mowat would like to invite you to join the SERA Leadership in Scottish Education Network which is open both to SERA and non-SERA members.

The next network event is  on

Wed, 29th April 5.00pm – 7.00pm 

University of Strathclyde

With a keynote address from Ken Muir(CEO of the GTCS) on the topic of how the GTCS & SERA can work together to promote a research culture in Scottish schools. Tickets are available via  this eventbrite link.

You can find out more about the network in this SERA Leadership Network Newsletter [Print view] and if you’d like to join fill in  this form Leadership in Scottish Education Network [LiSEN] and email it to the organisers.

A future event is planned in June –

Official launch of the Network with guest Gillian Hamilton (CEO of SCEL).

Tuesday, 2nd June 5.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue(in Glasgow) to be intimated. To obtain a ticket, please follow link on e-mail.

Join the conversation – collaborative discussion event with Character Scotland and the University of Strathclyde

Questions of Character: supporting children and young people to flourish.
character 1

A discussion event brought to you in partnership by Character Scotland, SELMAS and the School of Education, University of Strathclyde.

Date and Venue

27th January 2015, 5pm-7pm

University of Strathclyde, Court Senate, Collins Building, 22 Richmond Street, Glasgow, G1 1XQ


To book a place please click here

According to Dr Avis Glaze, first time recipient of the Robert Owen award; “If we want a society in which citizens care about one another – in which qualities such as honesty, integrity, fairness, courage, and optimism are pervasive and violence of any kind is discouraged – we have no choice but to nurture these qualities in our homes, in our schools, and in our communities.”

She urges educators to reach across all diversities, ranging from race and gender to social and economic status and places of origin, to “find common ground on values.” That common ground could be enhanced by “character education, building communities of character, and character in the workplace,” she concludes.

‘Questions of Character’ is a discussion event for educationalists, the SELMAS community and members of the educational charity Character Scotland. We will be exploring the resurging field of character and values education and its implications for young people and educationalists in Scotland. The title of the event has a double meaning: firstly we will be posing complex and challenging questions which deal with some of the intractable issues in our education system. Secondly, we will be posing questions about the field of character and values education in order to put it through it’s paces.


Margaret Alcorn, SELMAS Convenor



Dr Joan Mowat, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Strathclyde

Dr Judith McClure CBE, former Headteacher, St George’s School for Girls

Colin Mair, CEO, Improvement Service

Gary Walsh, Executive Officer, Character Scotland


Book a place – please click here

  • Details:Supporting children and young people to flourish
  • Location:University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
  • Date:27th January, 2015

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.

The Scottish Education Professional Learning Network


Welcome to The Scottish Education Professional Network – connecting leaders of professional learning across Scotland. In common with its predecessor, the National CPD Network, it brings together local authority officers, universities, Education Scotland, GTCS, SCEL, and other educational partners such as SELMAS, Keep Scotland Beautiful, etc.

You can find out more by visiting the new blog at

Friday November 7th was the date for the most recent meeting. The planning group had responded to calls for more variety in the venues by moving the event to Aberdeen University, where I can confirm the high quality of the bacon rolls.

The theme for the day was “The Enquiring Professional” and the morning centred round café conversations led by four educators (Sarah Gordon of Broomhill Primary in Aberdeen, Fiona Lindsay of Keep Scotland Beautiful, Deborah Carter of Tomacross Primary School and George Roberts of Danestone Primary) who described their experiences of engaging in practitioner enquiry. This led to a lively and engaged discussion of the issues raised.

There was a very helpful update from David Roy of the Scottish Government on the work of the Implementation Partnership, and of the progress with SCEL. He also alerted the Network to the big national push that is coming around the recommendations in the Wood Commission report. He suggested there would be national funding for associated work.

The day was a very welcome opportunity to get together with colleagues to share practice, aspirations, issues.

Margaret Alcorn, SELMAS convenor

Message on behalf of Gillian Hamilton, chief executive of SCEL

Please see below a circular from SCEL, firstly, inviting nominations for the final place on the SCEL board, secondly, advertising vacant posts with SCEL, and, thirdly, inviting responses, from individuals and from organisations, to a consultation on Models of Leadership Development.  SELMAS encourages all interested parties to consider these matters and to respond to this invitation to contribute to SCEL’s vital work on Leadership Development.

I am writing to provide you with an update on a number of important developments at the Scottish College for Educational Leadership.

Firstly, the appointment process for the SCEL Board of Directors is now complete, and the names of the new Board members can be accessed here:

There remains one outstanding place on the SCEL Board of Directors. As you are aware, SCEL has a key role in developing leadership at all levels in the education system in Scotland, and we are keen to appoint a teacher to the Board with current, excellent experience as a practitioner within a school, with good knowledge of the professional and leadership needs of teachers and / or middle leaders, and with evidence of demonstrable competence in leading an aspect of learning within a school. We plan to fill this place on a co-opted basis, so it would be helpful if you could share this information with teachers in your local authority who you feel would meet this criteria. Further information can be found on the SCEL  vacancies page.

We are also recruiting two members of staff to join the team at SCEL: A Director of Programmes / Depute CEO and a Development Officer (teacher secondment). Information about both vacancies is available on the SCEL vacancies page. The posts are also advertised today in TESS, the Herald and the Scotsman, with the closing date for applications Friday 31st October at 5pm. Again, if you were able to share this information with colleagues in your local authority who may be interested in applying, that would be really helpful.

Finally, today sees the launch of SCEL’s consultation on National Leadership Pathways and a National Headship Programme.  The Consultation Report and a respondent pro-forma are available here with the consultation open from today until Monday 3rd November. We welcome responses from both individuals and organisations. Local Authority feedback on the consultation is really important, and if we can provide any further information on the consultation at this stage, please let me know.

In the round……Instructional Rounds, Learning Rounds and a little bit more…..

MArgaretMargaret Alcorn, SELMAS convenor  reflects on Learning Rounds: The story so far

In 2006 and 2007, two groups of Scottish educators were sponsored to attend the Harvard Summer School as part of the Scottish Government’s International Thought-Leaders’ Programme. Their mission was to engage with leading American educationalists and to soak up ideas, perceptions, strategies and innovative practice.

As a direct result of this initiative, Professor Richard Elmore was invited to Scotland in 2007 to share his work in the area of System-Wide Improvement, and specifically to demonstrate and illustrate the Instructional Rounds Programme which he was then trialling in the Boston and Philadelphia areas. Throughout his visit Professor Elmore led a number of presentations and workshops across Scotland, in which he focused on his central message of the need to develop the teaching profession through a core practice, with a clear and shared core language. He described Instructional Rounds as a way to ensure and develop accountability as teachers select courses of action by adopting common norms, and by making claims and taking action based on evidence. He concluded his visit by leading an Instructional Rounds in a high school in Fife.Richard_Elmore_2

The response to this visit was extraordinarily positive, and the Scottish Government commissioned the National CPD Team and SCSSA to take forward the development of a Scottish model, based on Elmore’s key theories, and which became known locally as Learning Rounds. This development was intended to support schools and authorities in developing internal accountability, and to create a powerful form of professional learning aimed at helping schools and systems develop the capacity to educate all children to high levels.

In developing the Scottish model, the team was careful to maintain a focus on the key characteristics that had led to the success of the Instructional Rounds model in the States. These included a commitment to observation in groups, clear and established protocols for observation, analysis of the observations on site, and a focus on the key question, “What is the next level of work?”

Several years later, and it is clear that the Instructional Rounds model continues to deliver in the States. A veritable flurry of publications by the Harvard Education Press have explored the protocols, practice and impact of the model. It is perhaps a good time to reflect on the experience across Scotland in the last few years.

There is little doubt that Learning Rounds is popular with educators, who like the personal ownership of their learning offered by the programme. Many talk positively about the opportunity it offers to talk to colleagues about pupil learning in a structured and non-judgmental group, and of the powerful insights and new understanding which can emerge as a consequence.

There is however some evidence that we have yet to see the full potential of the programme realized. A group of three Edinburgh schools worked together over the Spring term, in partnership with a team of local authority officers and consultants, to try to identify how the positive outcomes of the Learning Rounds programme could become more firmly embedded in practice, in order to achieve a more significant improvement in the impact of the experience. This was Learning Rounds+. Although the programme has not yet been fully evaluated, key issues emerged which are of some significance for those establishments planning Learning Rounds in the year ahead.

Where the impact of involvement in Learning Rounds had been less clear, it seemed to be related to a pick ‘n’ mix approach to the protocols. The programme is best when it is followed as a whole. While each individual element can offer a valuable learning experience (lesson observation, table mat discussion, non-judgmental discussion, etc.) it is the totality of the programme that delivers success.  For this reason, the Learning Rounds + team agreed that it was helpful to have an experienced facilitator for the first go at Learning Rounds in any school.

The Harvard publications mentioned to above also refer to the need to see Learning Rounds (or Instructional Rounds) as a process, part of the way the school develops and improves rather than an event. In the most recent publication the author Thomas Fowler-Finn says:

It will be two to three years before what participants learn from rounds shows up in the classroom.” 

This time scale seems equally appropriate for the Scottish version.  In the Learning Rounds + programme, the establishment of a Learning Circle by the school leadership teams was a very positive way to co-coach and build inter-school collaboration.

The third significant theme to emerge from the Learning Rounds + programme was the need to link the discussion on next steps with other school improvement processes such as Professional Review and Development, school improvement planning, in-school in-service, etc. This helped to build the Learning Rounds culture within the school, and ensured that there was a sustained commitment to next steps of learning.

Finally, and importantly, Learning Rounds + taught us that the programme has the greatest chance of making a real difference in those which have created a culture of shared learning and trust. As with all the very best CPD, the best outcomes emerge when teachers are positive and engaged.