We all need a Champion

This past week the theme for me has been about being a Champion.

It started off with me watching a Ted Talk last Sunday which one of my daughters recommended by the late Rita Pierson. On Monday I also picked up the same message on a tweet on Twitter. It made me reflect on the whole concept of being a Champion and how in fact educationalists we also need a Champion.


I picked up on this as I performed my role as Chief Education Officer during the activities last week.

On Monday I was championing Education within the Community Services Departmental Meeting and ensuring our voice was heard within the strategic decisions being made. This fortnightly meeting ensures areas related to HR, Finance and Health and Safety are looked at within the senior leadership team.

The remainder of Monday was spent on finalising the papers for Community Services Committee which will be held on the 14th of September. There are a number of education papers which can be viewed at:


Tuesday the 5th of September was the first Head Teacher meeting of the new session with many new faces joining us at the event. I began the day with the strong message that this session is very much about the implementation of our new strategy and vision ‘Our Children, Their Future’. My expectations are that all educational establishments and all staff will be implementing the 6 key outcomes of the vision and strategy during session 2017/18. I related how our vision and strategy for our children and young people links to the National agenda and the focus we will be taking forward this session in relation to literacy, numeracy, and health and wellbeing.


Within the meeting we also had inputs from Digital learning Team in relation to the new strategy


Roslyn Redpath led a session on mental health wellbeing of pupils and staff. Ann Marie Knowles, Acting Executive Director led a session on the Education service within the council. The Council Leader Cllr Aileen Morton also spoke with the Head Teachers. The afternoon session had a focus on the new Scottish National Standardised Assessment.

Throughout the day the challenge was about leadership of learning and being a champion for our children.

On Wednesday I attended Argyll and Bute’s Children Strategic Group where much of the time was spent on reviewing the new Children’s Plan and ensuring the actions undertaken each had a champion who would lead and make sure actions did improve across the services for our children and improving their future in Argyll and Bute.

On Thursday I was delighted to begin the day by welcoming the new cohort of probationer teachers. My message was clear and strong that all our children need each and every one of our new colleagues to be a champion for them. The Education service in Argyll and Bute delivers for over 10,500 children and young people and I need all staff to provide the very best experiences for them to ensure children have the best start and succeed. I always enjoy this first presentation to our probationers and will be keen to see how their year develops in our schools. Once again the probationers are supported by an excellent team from the centre and in schools. My grateful thanks to all involved.

The remainder of Thursday and Friday was dedicated to a self-evaluation exercise to capture and reflect on the quality of improvements made since last September on the 5 key actions from our inspection with Education Scotland.   The 5 key area for action are similar to the 6 key objectives in Our Children their Future:

  • significantly improve young people’s attainment across the authority;
  • improve the use of data, ensuring greater rigour;
  • continue to improve the quality of educational provision with consistently higher levels of support and challenge from central officers and elected members;
  • improve relationships and communication, promoting a more positive ethos amongst all stakeholders; and
  • improve the quality of strategic leadership and direction at all levels within the education authority.

Everyone within the Education Service has been working hard to ensure actions have been taking place that will provide improvements. It is important to highlight the good work from classroom to strategy and to provide this evidence that proves we are an improving authority. We all absolutely need to champion improvements that will make a difference for all our children and young people.

I completed the week meeting with the CEO Ingrid Emerson from the Project Trust. The Project Trust is based on Coll. The Project Trust empowers young people to be confident, effective, creative, independent and resilient through a challenging volunteering experience overseas.

Acting as responsible global citizens Volunteers make a positive difference to their overseas host communities and share their learning and understanding when they return home. We spent some time discussing the Project Trust and their unique position on Coll. Some of our schools have worked with the Project Trust and I am keen to see how we can strengthen this partnership. I look forward to accepting my invitation to visit in the near future. The work taking place on this global context once again made me reflect on how important it is to create young people who can be champion for others.