Category Archives: Airth Primary School

Falkirk Learning for Sustainability Showcase Had a “Great Buzz”

WordleOur first Falkirk Learning to Achieve Showcase took place on 4th June between 4-5.30pm at Camelon Education Centre. 64 practitioners came along to get ideas, or to share work they had done with pupils relating to the themes in the Learning for Sustainability word cloud (top left).

17 pupils from St Bernadette’s RC PS, St Francis Xavier’s RC PS, Deanburn PS, Larbert HS & Stenhousemuir PS – stole the show with their enthusiastic and passionate explanations of their work. They very naturally demonstrated that they were confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens. Ellie Williams, a pupil from Bo’ness Academy, held the room spellbound with her performance of her own song “Train Track” then “Ae Fond Kiss”. Her music and lyrics powerfully communicated her feelings about her own community and were so evocative when combined with her beautiful, note-perfect singing.  IMG_4660

Anthony Hutcheson, Development Officer for Learning for Sustainability, Education Scotland opened the event with a brilliant, concise presentation of what LfS is all about. He really set the scene for the event and has been a great support for our LfS mobilisation team (Jane Jackson ,Yvonne McBlain, Megan Farr & Tony Bragg) and our emerging Falkirk Learning for Sustainability network.

IMG_4682During the short formal part of the event programme we were delighted to celebrate the achievements of 7 teachers who have gained Professional Recognition from GTCS for their Global Storyline development work. Kim McAuley, Global Education Advisor with the West of Scotland Development Education Centre (WOSDEC) kindly presented the following teachers with their certificates Liz Stephen & Laura Beattie (Deanburn PS), Heather Nicol (Carron PS), Holly Keenan (Bonnybridge PS), Brenda Bennie & Gemma Douglas (Kinnaird PS), Jennifer Main (Wallacestone PS). Our education service is proud to recognise this achievement, and it was great that the audience attending were able to help us celebrate their contribution in a public way. IMG_4658

Jane Jackson linked the content of Anthony’s presentation really well to set the scene for Ellie’s performance and then the mingling and sharing of good practice began.

17 establishments were represented at the event: Mariner Support Service, Kinnaird PS, Rannoch Nursery, Bonnybridge PS, Deanburn PS, St Francis Xavier’s RC PS nursery class and their SCIAF project, Stenhousemuir PS, Larbert HS, St Bernadette’s RC PS, Carrongrange School, Larbert Village PS, Wallacestone PS, Slammanan PS, Limerigg PS, Denny HS, Airth PS and Grangemouth HS. Our own Learning Resource Service took over room 13 and turned it into a wonderful cornucopia of resources useful for supporting teaching and learning around Learning for Sustainability – as always, these were beautifully presented and selected.   Visitors could circulate from this room, via the sustainably decorated improvised café (where consultation on LfS in Falkirk could be left, and leaflets could be picked up) into the main market place, then into the foyer where all of the stalls and displays were set up.

IMG_4680The event was made even more valuable by the participation of a number of organisations who support teaching and learning through Learning for Sustainability, and/or can provide professional learning for practitioners. These included Communities along the Carron (CATCA), Scottish Development Education Centre (SCOTDEC), Project Trust, the British Red Cross, and Grounds for Learning. The John Muir Trust, and Traidcraft were kind enough to send in leaflets and materials for distribution at the event. Yvonne McBlain and Jane Jackson would like to thank everyone involved for their enthusiastic participation, and for creating that lovely BUZZ.

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Visitors from the Flemish Community in Falkirk.

Anne Hutchison (Support Officer for Professional Development), Hazel Cunningham and Nicola Soroka (Probationers Supporters) and colleagues in the Curriculum Support team welcomed educationalists from the Flemish Community. This gave them a flavour of life in Falkirk’s schools and an overview of the unique support provided by the Council for Probationer teachers.
In the morning, the group visited Airth Primary School, Grangemouth High School and St. Mungo’s RC High School, where they had the opportunity to meet staff and pupils.
In the afternoon, the group participated in the Induction Meeting for next session’s Probationer teachers.
We would like to thank GTCS for providing the opportunity to work with a great group of people! Thanks also must go to Julie McKenna, Paul Dunn, Stephen Phee and their colleagues for making the group welcome in their schools.

Safe and Responsible Use of Social Networking Peer Education Tour

Well done to the Larbert HS Pupils who planned and delivered  a fantastic Theatre in Education  social networking education tour for Larbert cluster primary schools. The primary pupils loved the experience and were very clear what they had learned from it.

“I won’t give out my personal details”

“I will think carefully before I post a picture of myself”

“I will consider others feelings when posting comments”

 This tour was part of an accredited Theatre in Education Project  for Creative Industries.  The pupils  took responsibility for planning the entire project which included liaising with each primary school, creating questionnaires for primary 7 pupils  on their social networking use that was used to inform what they included in the drama.  The pupils had to plan and create the drama and have regular team meetings to evaluate their progress and set targets to meet deadlines for the completed  script and devised workshop activities. At the end of the tour the pupils have to evaluate their own contribution to the process and identify improvements that they could make to the planning of the project that could be carried forward to the planning of another project.

Active Approaches to Numeracy

 

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Service and School Improvement Team recently organised a professional learning opportunity entitled ‘Active Approaches to Numeracy’. 57 colleagues from Primary, Secondary and the Curriculum Support team (including QIO) spent the day examining a range of active strategies to improve attainment in mental mathematics.

 Helen MacKinven, from Big Maths provided an overview of strategies including: jigsaw numbers, CLIC and partitioning. Colleagues were also treated to the experience of a ‘Beat That’ mental maths quiz.

Clusters then worked together to look at ways forward to improve attainment in mental maths. Feedback from this day has been extremely positive.

A number of colleagues have put their names forward to be part of the Numeracy Mobilisation Team. This work will inform the update of Falkirk Council’s numeracy strategy. The first meeting for this group is being held on 12th February. For further information on this, please contact Sharon Wallace at sharon.wallace@falkirk.gov.uk

Coffee, croissant, controversy Planning Meetings

Yvonne McBlain and Karen Thomson of Falkirk curriculum support team facilitated two lively sessions recently with principal teachers, depute and head teachers. The initial session explored how our establishments were including each element of the NAR planning flow chart in their planning processes. Discussion focused on the numbers of layers of planning being used, and how this was contributing to the improvement of teaching and learning. Participants requested a second session to enable them to bring along and share their planning layers and documentation.

So, on 10th December Julie McKenna shared how Airth Primary are using a digital tool to manage their planning. Staff use this system to create discrete and interdisciplinary units of work in the form of planning wheels with skills and other information noted. They are able to track both the depth and coverage of experiences and outcomes and the progression of skills. At Airth PS, all staff collaborate to create the annual long term plan, and their planning wheels form the rest of their planning structure, with any other detail being recorded in the weekly plans. Julie and her staff now intend to develop how they integrate their  assessment and recording into their planning. 

 Jill Stocks and Andrew Watson from Bonnybridge Primary shared how they use the Learning Unlimited tool “Realistic Record Keeping and Powerful Planning”. Bonnybridge PS staff work from the experiences and outcomes to create annual master plans for literacy, numeracy, and non core learning. Further detailed planning takes place in weekly plans, meaning that the school has two layers of planning. You can click here to see a collection of the master plans for second level. Staff are also using maths pathways to support their planning of progression in specific numeracy skills – click here to view. Jill and Andrew now intend to develop their tracking of coverage and depth of learning within the E & Os. They value the way this planning tool has enabled a significant shift away from a resource-led approach to planning, increased focus on the principles of curriculum design, and a reduction of paperwork for planning. Early years senior managers also shared their development of floor books as their main planning layer  in nursery settings. They value the way floor book planning makes visible the relevance, personalisation and choice and progression of learning for pre and ante-pre school children. It was noted that not all practitioners are comfortable yet with not having additional layers of planning and documentation.

The rest of the meeting consisted of really valuable discussion of how to effectively integrate assessment, manage tracking and monitoring, and how to enhance awareness of when each of the four contexts for learning is being addressed. Click here to see the power point presentation for this second meeting.

Larbert Cluster Interdisciplinary Planning

Yvonne McBlain of Falkirk Curriculum Support Team was thrilled to attend the first of a series of cross-sector cluster interdisciplinary planning sessions on Tuesday 17th September 2013. As chair of the Commonwealth Games Interdisciplinary Project sub-group, Linda-Anne Reid worked with colleagues to co-ordinate this collegiate planning. Early year’s practitioners and primary 1 teachers met in Stenhousemuir PS, first level teachers met in Carron PS, and second and third in Kinnaird PS. All staff were given relevant planning materials and information in advance, including the cluster plan, NAR planning flow chart, NAR planning flow chart  instructions and Falkirk Community Trust/Active Schools Going for Glasgow Accreditation paper. Isobel Edmond provided early level practitioners with a very clear introductory overview of the potential benefits of this interdisciplinary learning context.  Morag Carson then explained that each of  the 3 hour-long planning sessions would involve same stage groups planning within 3 bundles of E & Os. This means that the Larbert cluster will generate at least 3 interdisciplinary plans per level which meet experiences and outcomes from: Social subjects & Expressive Arts, Social subjects & Technology, & Social subjects and Science. They are more than happy for these plans to be made available across the authority when complete. Once these groups were established, their first task was to identify the small bundle of E & Os they felt could be progressed by this context, for their learners. Yvonne and Linda-Anne enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of the nursery and primary 1 groups, and then nipped up to Kinnaird PS to pop into the second and third level groups. The staff involved had already made choices about their E & Os , and begun to consider learning intentions, and the best activities to develop knowledge, understanding and skills within the Commonwealth Games context. There will be 2 further planning sessions on 30th October and 21st November, but some groups have opted to do one double session instead. Although clearly linking into national events taking place in 2014, this way of working across-cluster offers potential benefits on many levels: the planning of robust interdisciplinary learning, development of understanding of skills progression, and the sharing of practice generally. All in all, a really active, purposeful form of collegiate professional learning!

Active Literacy – P6/7 Training

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Curriculum Support Team has carried out Active Literacy training over the past two weeks with 54 teachers. The two three hour sessions examined the writing programme incorporating spelling and the reading programme.

Session one looked at how teachers can support pupils in becoming independent spellers. Pupils are taught strategies to use their previously learned knowledge of phonemes and spelling rules to more complex, polysyllabic words.

 The course examined the programme for spelling strategy work, alongside the new addition of ‘vocabulary building’, homophones and common confusions. Trials of the programme so far indicate that pupils are really enjoying the investigation element of prefixes and suffixes and how these affect the meaning of words.

The session also examined the writing genres covered at second level looking at incorporating writing trios, chunking, use of genre success criteria and next steps.

Session two focused on the development of the six key comprehension strategies across a range of texts. These strategies are:
1. Prior knowledge and prediction
2. Metalinguistics
3. Visualisation
4. Inference
5. Main ideas
6. Summarising and paraphrasing.

Sharon demonstrated how to develop these skills using a traditional ‘novel’ text, moving image (film trailer) and a poem. The course also looked at using online tools such as Powtoon, go animate and twixster to develop reading skills.

Colleagues were given a ‘Stories Allways’ resource containing a range of Scottish myths and legends as well as two CDs. This is a great resource as it provides pupils with a range of challenging questions, tasks and a synopsis of each tale.

Colleagues enthusiastically participated in a range of Active Literacy activities across the course of the two sessions and feedback so far has been really positive.

“The course was delivered extremely well by Sharon Wallace and the resources provided were very useful.”

“The course was presented over 2 days in which it provided an overview of the key methodologies and strategies as outlined in North Lanarkshire’s Active Literacy 6/7 programme. I thought all aspects of the course were useful and it enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the 6/7 programme which I will now be able to confidently implement in the classroom.”

“I am new to teaching as well as the Active Literacy programme. I had very little knowledge and understanding prior to the course however I now feel I can confidently implement active literacy in the classroom.”

“Sharon is a very enthusiastic presenter and it is clear that she wholly believes in the Active Literacy Programme. Her passionate delivery and ideas instil in you, the confidence to have a go in your own classroom.”

GTCS Validates Falkirk Employee Review and Development

General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) validates Falkirk Council Education Services Employee Review and Development (ERD) Framework

As part of the ongoing development of our ERD strategy, a team led by Norrie McKay from the GTCS visited Falkirk today to carry out a validation exercise. Along with Margaret Mackay (West Dunbartonshire) and Tara Lillis (NASUWT), Norrie met Anne Pearson, Service Manager of the Curriculum Support Team and Anne Hutchison, Support Officer Professional Development with the Curriculum Support Team as well as four groups of GTCS registered staff.

The groups included:

  • Permanent class teachers
  • Temporary and supply teachers
  • Promoted teachers
  • Specialist teachers ( Art, Music, PE, Outreach, Preschool Home Visiting, Specific Learning Differences teams)- Centre based staff ( QIOs, Pupil Support Manager, Curriculum Support Officer, Probationer Supporters, Support Teacher – Effective Learning and Teaching)

The purpose of the visit was to endorse the validity of the ERD process for GTCS registered staff in relation to Professional Update.

Anne Pearson and Anne Hutchison presented on the history of PRD in Falkirk. They discussed the big messages about the development of the revised ERD process (Glow log in required)and shared three key papers that explain the rationale and processes related to ERD. An engaging professional dialogue took place which was informative for all!

To validate the assertions made by the accountable officers, the GTCS team then met with 4 groups of staff who are involved in the new process and have informed opinions about their work profile & self evaluation prompt materials (Glow login required) . Once the triangulation process had been carried out, Anne Pearson and Anne Hutchison rejoined the validation team to hear the outcome of their scrutiny. Norrie McKay shared the team’s evaluation verbally and the service will receive a written report by the end of the session. This will be shared with all schools.

Overall, the feedback was highly positive and we anticipate that no conditions will be attached to the forthcoming validation report. Key strengths were identified:

– a quality process with quality documentation to back it up

– a clear vision for ERD in Falkirk with exemplary short, medium and long term planning

– coherence with other processes ( e.g. Recruitment, School Improvement Planning, Distributed Leadership)

– clear focus on the impact on teaching and learning

– high levels of trust in the process

– a continually improving process that responds to evaluations/feedback ( e.g. HT & validator survey monkeys)

– High quality partnerships with staff

– Staff think the central team has its finger on the pulse in relation to professional learning

The following recommendations were put forward for consideration:

– ensure involvement of temporary and supply staff

– continue to develop advice on evidence portfolios for Professional Update

– continue to reflect on the revised standards ensuring alignment

– continue to develop the quality assurance processes

This is a cause for celebration and another example of the great work that is going on in Falkirk schools. Thanks to all who gave up time today. Thanks also to all who have given up time over the last 2 years designing, delivering, participating, testing and SUPPORTING!

Click here to go to the Glow Group for Falkirk Council Education Services Employee Review and Development

Airth Primary Staff use Teaching for Deep Learning Session 5

Yvonne McBlain, Support Teacher effective learning and teaching, facilitated a collegiate session with teachers at Airth Primary School using session 5 from the Falkirk Teaching for Deep Learning Programme. This session uses an interdisciplinary learning quiz to help evaluate existing practice. Staff involved said it was useful to “discuss how we effectively plan and deliver interdisciplinary learning, as well as highlighting our next steps.” In addition, the session “defined the different types of interdisciplinary learning and the need to make it obvious what skills were being used in type 1 and type 2”. Yvonne was able to adjust the content and format of this session so that staff could consider how to track the knowledge, understanding and skills being developed in the interdisciplinary work done at Airth PS. The session resulted in identification of some initial specific tasks for the staff as a whole, as well as individual next steps for teachers which included:

Think more about type 1 interdisciplinary learning and its place in my class

Look for type 1 IDL in the experiences and outcomes

Continue to encourage children to make connections between curricular areas.

 Click to take a look at the power point notes for Session 5 , and here  to take a look at the whole Falkirk Teaching for Deep Learning Programme in Glow.