Home and Away

My main base is at Inveraray Conference Centre and this year I am trying hard to have at least one day a week at base to try and catch up with correspondence and strategic planning. My week is usually spent out and about and in various offices. This week was no different.

On Monday, I began the week with Community Services Departmental Management Team (DMT) where we examined many issues related to overall strategy of the Council in relation to finances, HR and particular elements related to Community and Culture and Education. This fortnightly meeting with the Executive Director ensures that all Education Service matters are represented within overall Council strategy. My words of “but it is different for Education” are often uttered.

The task for Monday afternoon was to consider the consultation document for Fairer Funding (https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/empowering-schools/education-governance-fair-funding).  This consultation set by Scottish Government is looking at how funding of Education should be addressed as part of the governance review. A group of Head Teachers, Union representatives and Officers had good discussion on this matter. Please feel free to add your own response to this very important matter.

It was a real privilege to visit Ardrishaig Primary on Tuesday morning. Simone MacAdam the Head Teacher showed Ann Marie Knowles and myself around the school. Simone and her team have been working hard both indoors and outdoors to establish a very positive and inviting learning environment. All the children and staff we met were focused on improving the learning and teaching for all the young people. Simone was sharing her thoughts on the wellbeing of the children and how this will raise attainment. A focus for their spend of Pupil Equity Funding is on PATHS and wellbeing. I will be delighted to see how this all progresses. The feeling of wellbeing for me when I walked out of the school and then being met with this view really improved my day.

In the afternoon we had an interesting meeting with the four Secondary Head Teachers from Mid Argyll, Kintyre and Islay (MAKI). The focused discussion was in relation to the recent awards for the schools from this year exam diet. We had time as a group to review the results and ask each other many challenging questions. It was a good opportunity to also identify areas schools could support each other and share expertise.

The day was completed by a meeting in relation to the works carried out on our school buildings and quality of the school estate. A yearly audit is taken and it was the opportunity to review this with colleagues.

On Wednesday the morning began with a consultation with the unions regarding classroom assistants and ASN Assistant numbers and posts.

Thursday morning saw me travel to Dunoon to meet with the Secondary Head Teachers from Hermitage, Rothesay Joint Campus and Dunoon Grammar again it was a very positive meeting discussing recent results for each school and looking to partnership working across the schools. I then met with Catherine Agnew, Care Inspectorate, we had a really good meeting around the implementation of 1140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare.

My final meeting on Thursday was with the Education Officers for HALCO and Bute and Cowal. The two officers have been busy getting out to schools and discussing the improvement plans and how these will be taken forward and reviewed by each school. It was good to have a clear view explained about the work of each school.

By Friday morning I was really glad to get in to my office at Inveraray to get some of the correspondence that hits my desk dealt with and to catch up with calls. I was also very lucky to pop down stairs to the school and meet the newest recruits to primary. Primary one have moved classroom and I so wanted to stay and play in the inviting learning environment.

There are two people based at Inveraray Primary who support me daily, even when I am not in my office. Jacqui MacDonald, Clerical Assistant and Andrew Sinclair, Janitor make sure I am well looked after and I appreciate their care and support. They ensure that if I am at home or away they offer great support. None of us can carry out our roles without the support of others.

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