Tag: planning

Curriculum Development at Hallglen PS

IMG_2666On 19th April, Yvonne McBlain popped back to gather staff feedback on their curriculum development so far at Hallglen Primary School. 10 staff members were kind enough to give their time and views during this informal evaluation activity. You can read more about Hallglen’s curriculum development process here.

Staff described the following impact:

  1. Increased knowledge of the curriculum – specifically their ability to interpret the skills, knowledge and understanding built into the experiences and outcomes. This has helped them to build their curriculum more effectively, and enabled better planning.
  2. Although they didn’t realise it at the time, they were moderating their teaching and learning in various ways – through collegiate discussion, learning walks, and then joint planning with stage and level partners. This has helped integrate moderation and collegiality naturally, and contributed to a positive ethos and culture of sharing good practice and ongoing self-evaluation.
  3. Have a powerful understanding of progression – know which E & Os needed to be consistently progressed, and which ones could be done less often.
  4. Topics in school have changed radically and are much more relevant and responsive to pupil needs. Everyone in school has  an overview of which contexts are being used – not just for their own stage or level. This has enabled more powerful and effective transition between stages, and teachers feel confident and clear about what they have to teach and why.There is greater consistency across the school – they have a shared language, u nderstanding and vision for their curriculum
  5. Learning walks, peer moderation and observation visits are all more purposeful and help staff evaluate their progress together.
  6. Next steps in curriculum development are therefore clearer to all, but staff are looking forward to their formal, whole school collegiate evaluation of the changes made this session.
  7. There is the facility to offer pupils flexible and responsive progression pathways across the curriculum


One of the new developments staff have worked on this session, is pupil understanding of the curriculum. This was felt to be a valuable way to increase attainment and pupil participation, and teachers developed specific learning experiences for their classes. Staff can see ways in which these lessons can be made more meaningful and appropriate to age and stage, and further development of these lessons will be done, but already the following impact has been observed:

  1. Children can have a genuine input into planning their learning.
  2. They now quite naturally reflect upon and evaluate their learning in action during a project as well as at the end.
  3. Pupils have the vocabulary and language to comment effectively on their learning.
  4. The curriculum lessons have “made the penny  drop” for a number of pupils – they can better understand the purpose and structure of the learning they need.
  5. Pupils have a better appreciation of what learning is and what they need to do to help themselves learn.
  6. They are now getting to know their curriculum and can see and comment on links across the curriculum. (Staff are therefore tackling the very challenging job of developing pupil understanding of interdisciplinary learning.)
  7. Pupils have the confidence to make respectful suggestions about how the teaching they receive could better meet their needs.
  8. They are better motivated and engaged by their learning.
  9. They think more deeply about their learning and can talk about it fluently.


The need for a pupil curriculum understanding lesson was discussed at the last inset day and staff agreed to teach their lessons at the same time in the session. A general lesson was provided which each staff member adapted for their class if they wanted to. Stacey Walker, Kara-Anne Kelly and Louise McGlynn all talked enthusiastically about what they did, why they did it, and what the outcomes were. Stacey,  Kara-Ann and Laura Hurren then gathered the photos of work and displays shared in this post. Click here to listen to their description of this work. Yvonne would like to thank everyone involved for their time, especially Stacey, Kara-Anne and Laura for taking the time to record these files.

Deanburn Nursery Jack Frost Storyline

Yvonne McBlain from Falkirk Education Services curriculum support team is working with the nursery team at Deanburn Primary School on a Jack Frost storyline. Caroline McKay, principal teacher, and Karen Stewart, Senior Early Year’s Officer wanted to explore how the storyline approach could help their children learn about winter in a creative way. The whole nursery team were keen to explore new ways to fit in all of the essentials of planning, assessment, observation and recording of pupil progress.  For the last two weeks Yvonne has supported the team in the nursery for one half day per week. The team have then developed, observed and responded to the children’s interests over the rest of the week in order to evaluate impact on learning and develop next steps. For more information about what has been done so far, click on the documents below.

Click here to see the planned learning for 20.1.14

Click here to see the planned learning for 27.1.14

Click here to see the planned learning for 3.2.14

These simple plans are put into the large-scale floor books where the team are recording how the children use the Jack Frost character to develop their understanding of winter. This story  started the storyline off, and the team intend to use Twitter as one of their ways  to involve parents in the learning.

New Interdisciplinary Learning Blog!

Yvonne McBlain and Malcolm Wilson of Falkirk Council Service and School Improvement Team have created a new interdisciplinary learning blog. Yvonne will develop and maintain this blog as a major element of support for IDL across Falkirk Council education establishments.  She is working hard to fill the blog with useful material and valuable IDL practice. Click here to visit, and contact yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk if you have suggestions, ideas or  interdisciplinary learning practice to share.

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.

Get involved in Falkirk’s Town Heritage!

 Yvonne McBlain, Curriculum Support Teacher with Falkirk Council Education Services recently met with Julia Branch, THI Heritage Engagement Officer from Falkirk Community Trust. During this meeting, Julia and Yvonne explored a range of ways in which the Falkirk Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI ) http://glo.li/194nhCZ could contribute to the range of teaching and learning experienced by our pupils. The THI Team has been given permission to start, and are keen to work with interested establishments, practitioners and young people. The THI is grant giving initiative funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland & other local partners. The project’s overall aim is to breathe new life into Falkirk’s historic Town Centre by improving the physical appearance of the area and enhancing the things that make Falkirk special and unique. This will include repairing and conserving important historic buildings, restoring traditional shop frontages, and improving the public realm.  Alongside the physical regeneration work, Julia will be implementing a ‘Community Engagement’ programme, which will bring local history to life, offer the community and schools opportunities to learn about and promote Falkirk’s rich heritage. If you are interested in taking part in this part of the project or want more information please contact Julia via email julia.branch@falkirkcommunitytrust.org or phone 07739328530. Julia has created a really useful Pathfinder pack of classroom resources within Scran which you can access here http://glo.li/194nDtb , and more resources will follow.

New Higher Order Skills CPD

Yvonne McBlain, support teacher with Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team delivered some new professional learning around the Higher Order Skills on 7th November. Click here to take a look at this session and contact Yvonne on yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk for more detail about this course.

Feedback from participants in the course was very positive on the whole, and impact reported included:

I will continue to use the HOTS within the classroom and embed this within planning.

I will use the skills matching exercise as part of a professional discussion surrounding skills for learning which will take place within my establishment.

A greater understanding of the Higher Order skills and examples of how they can be used in practice.

A number of delegates suggested that the course was very comprehensive and would benefit from being run over two sessions and/or repeated, and Yvonne will be addressing this feedback.

Tapestry Masterclass – Making Thinking Visible

Yvonne McBlain was joined by a range of colleagues from Falkirk Education Service at the Tapestry Masterclass : Making Thinking Visible on 16th May. Mark Church was one of the main speakers – he is part of Project Zero at Harvard University. He suggested that schools should be learning cultures for adults, just as classrooms are for children. He posed a range of questions such as: Why does classroom and school culture matter to the learning that happens in this place? Click here to read an extract from “Making Thinking Visible : How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners” by Mark Church, Ron Ritchhart & Karin Morrison, 2011. Chris McIlroy then delivered a presentation entitled “Seeing what they mean” (click here to view his power point notes). Click here to view thinking routine resources produced by Visible Thinking of Harvard Project Zero. Unfortunately, Yvonne couldn’t stay to hear Anne Pearson, Graeme Logan and Frank Lennon in the afternoon but it would be great to hear  comments below from those who were there and can fill in the gaps.

Global Storylines Roadshow in Falkirk

 Yvonne McBlain and Anne Hutchison from Falkirk Curriculum Support team have worked with Diana Ellis and Marie-Jeanne McNaughton to organise a Global Storylines Roadshow event in Camelon Education Centre between 3.30pm and 5.15pm on 30th May 2013. This event is for primary and nursery practitioners who may be interested in joining a potential Falkirk cohort of teachers accessing this high quality professional learning next session. Diana  and Marie-Jeanne will share the content and format of this valuable global citizenship training, as well as the impact it has had on teachers and pupils. A number of teachers in our schools have already expressed a firm interest in being part of this Falkirk cohort. This event is designed to ensure that everyone has a chance to find out more about what is involved. Click here to read the descriptor for this course – applications should be made through your CPD co-ordinator in the usual way. You may also want to visit the Global Storylines website . Here are the thoughts of a teacher and a pupil who have taken part in tha Global Storyline project:

 “My confidence in teaching these current issues has really increased and I can now use what I’ve learned to develop Global Citizenship right across different curriculuar areas and incorporate the drama techniques in all the different activities we use.” Principal Teacher

“It makes you think about it, because unless you look at something, it’s quite hard to imagine how people feel in real life, you can’t just step out of drama and go back into real life.  When they’re in that position iit puts things into perspective.” 11-year-old pupil.

These testimonials express some of the benefits of applying storyline teaching strategies to progress pupil knowledge and understanding of global citizenship issues.

Early Years Conference

Karen Thomson –  Senior Early Years Officer, Curriculum Support Team, together with Daniel Barrie – Quality Improvement Officer, Heather Hush – Headteacher, Denny Nursery and Avril Robertson – Headteacher, Queen Street Nursery, organised the Early Years Conference on 13th February 2013.  This event was held at St. Bernadette’s Primary School in Larbert and participants were able to take part in 2 workshops throughout the day (from a choice of 13) as well as hear from Tam Bailie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People and Kerry Crichton, Health and Wellbeing Development Officer, Education Scotland.

Despite the snowy weather this event was a great success and the outdoor workshops still managed to take place due to the Yurts that were kindly loaned by Falkirk Community Trust.   

The workshops were:-


Mary Jalland and Siobhan Cunningham were kind enough to showcase the blogs they have developed at Westquarter Primary School and Nursery Class. 

Mary and Siobhan also gave delegates some introduction information in getting their own nursery/school blog started. 

Blogging links (information given out during workshop)

Here are some of the comments from the workshop:

“Thanks very much for the very useful handout and great presentation.”

“Can see the benefits to parents/carers and how they could be more involved in the life of the nursery.”

“very informative and a great presentation – will take ideas back to setting – thank you for all the information.”


Many thanks to Yvonne Manning from Library Services for facilitating the storytelling workshop – fortunately we had managed to get a loan of a yurt from Falkirk Community Trust which was very useful due to the snow that morning!

Here is a selection of the comments:

“good to see storytelling to children without books, using visual props and the child’s imagination.”

“I am going to get the sewing machine out and make my own story cloak!  Wil love trying out my abilities at oral story telling!”

“few good ideas for oral stories – liked snowdrop and story stick.  Seen some new stories to read.”


Many thanks to Avril Robertson, Headteacher – Queen Street Nursery for facilitating this workshop.

Here are some of the comments from the exit passes:

“A good tool for self-evaluation in line with Child at the Centre.  Good opportunity for idea sharing.”

“good ideas to support children with additional support needs and provide early literacy activities.”

“useful literacy development tools and being able to recognise different ways to help develop children’s literacy.”


Ashley Johnston, Principal Teacher, St Margaret’s Primary School has been develoing the Primary 1 space and shared the journey with the delegates.

Here are some of the comments:

“Greater use of variety of tasks for maths including outdoors.  More play for deeper learning and consolidation.”

“I will look at classroom organisation and how to move away from whole class lessons and speak to stage partner about possibility of changing use of classrooms.”

Seeing how well two Primary 1 classes can work together and also hearing that the the work we do in nursery is appreciated and useful to P1 teachers.”


Many thanks to Laura Jarvie, Depute Headteacher for facilitating the Parental Involvement Workshop.

Click here for Presentation

Here are the comments from delegates:

“I will always

make myself available for parents who just want someone to listen to and to make them understand they are not alone.  Will always try to give my best advice to make them feel valued.”


Jane Jackson, Outdoor Learning Development Officer, held the Fire Workshop at the Conference – this was not an easy task with the snow, however all participants managed to get the fire lit with a variety of materials/resources.

Some of the feedback from this seesion:-

“this has helped to develop my confidence to do this activity with pre-school children who will benefit from a valuable learning experience”

“Excellent workshop, covered all safety and fun aspects – brilliant!”

“Apart from the lovely smokey smell, the course was very well delivered,  The facilitator’s passion for outdoors and for re-introducing risk in a controlled way came across wel and is one I firmly agree with”


Many thanks to Belinda Tomasik and Carole Roberts for the Nurture Class Workshop.

Click here for The six principles of nurture groups

Click here for Nurture Class Presentation

Some of the feedback:-

“I now have a better understanding of what a nurture class is and the additional needs of some children.”

“The value of the team approach and the significant effect on the children and the support for parents/carers.”

“I am beginning to think of children that could be potential for our nurture room”

“I am going to consider how to make my class more of a nurturing environment.”

“Highlights the importance of what is going on at home and of building good relationships with the parent.”


Many thanks for Sharon Wallace, Caroline Sweeney and Chelsey Johnson for facilitating the Active Literacy Workshop. 

The feedback received was very positive – here are some of the things that delegates took away from the workshop:-

“The idea of creating a ‘bear hunt’ within our toic of Toys.  Loved the innovative idea of fan to blow ‘snow’ – great! Thank you!”

“More use of pair work to encourage working together.”

“I will use more visual aids and use some of the suggested ideas to enhance active literacy in practice.”

“I will access the North Lanarkshire Pack and use it within the nursery.  I will liaise with P1 teachers.”

“We do some of the ideas already but I now feel more confident in going back and going loads more, especially shoulder partners.”

“I will encourage the nursery to use terminology and partner work for active literacy.”


Morag Simpson and Morag Young, PE Specialists/PE Lead Officers showcased some activities that Early Years children can take part in during the nursery sessions.

Early Years Presentation

“Lots of good ideas that will be of use in our nursery gym time”

“The warm up acivities were excellent.  Great links to literacy and numeracy.”

“PE is great resources fro interdisciplinarly learning!  Fab presenters!”

“Great, practical, easy ideas.”

“A lot of good ideas for use with 0-5 and tips of how to adjust to level of child.  Lots of great ideas for topics and especially early literacy and numeracy.”

Here is the handout that was given to all participants.



Many thanks to Jan Baxter and the Peripatetic Support Team for the Learning Journey input at the Conference.  This gave participants an opportunity to look at some learning journeys from other establishments and raise any issues they have had while implementing these into their setting.  Click here for Learning Journeys Presentation

Here are some of the comments:-

“I will now use the children’s quotes in their Learning Journeys and continue to look at the child’s next steps.”

“Some reassurance that what we are doing is OK”

“I am going to collect some significant photos that could be used in future learning journeys.”

“Hurrah, I think the penny has dropped and should be able to fill in journeys with more confidence.”

“This workshop has clarified Learning Journeys for me and I feel we are making progress and are heading in the right direction.  We will continue to develop our learning journeys.”


Many thanks to Julie Buchanan from Grounds for Learning for delivering the Loose Materials Workshop (in the snow!)  It was great to see Outdoor Learning at it’s best in the weather.  Julie has thanked us for inviting her and let us know that she had a lovely day and it was great to be part of our exciting event!

Here are some of the weblinks that Julie mentioned during the workshop:-





Here is some of the feedback:-

“really good ideas.  A lot of everyday resources you can use that you already have.”

“the use of tarpaulin to make dens – simple but easy to use with children.  Will try to resource equipment for den making – it looks like fun!”

“Really liked the small loose meterials that can be used to be creative eg picture making and can then lead onto using other curricular areas eg storywriting about picture.”


Many thanks to Kirsty Wallace who demonstrated how Creative Dance Project can be included in the Early Years.

Some of the comments from the exit passes were:-

“Inspirational – good ideas – very good!”

“I feel more confident in using the pack and making dances up myself.”

“lots of good ideas to help the children have fun through movement and dance.”


Yvonne McBlain also facilitated the workshop “Strong Learning Intentions, Good Success Criteria AND Interdisciplinary Learning – How do we put it all together?”

Click here for the Presentation

Some of the evaluations are:-

“I am going to share different style of planning with management team.”

“Everyone is finding the whole LI and SC challenging and good to know others feeling the same!”

“The difference between learning intentions and success criteria is now a bit clearer!”

“writing shorter, sharper learning intentions and success criteria.”

As a result of this workshop Yvonne has been invited to deliver this again to all Denny Cluster Schools on 16th April at Denny Primary School.  For further details contact Lee Campbell on 50 8810.


Yvonne McBlain also facilitated the Higher Order Skills Workshop.

Click here for the Higher Order Skills Presenation

Here are some of the comments from the participants

“I now have a better understanding of blooms triangle.  I will think of this in my future work.”

“I know have a better understanding of how this could be implemented when planning for each child.”

“This wil help with planning and organising new topics for the children.”

“I will start to identify the specific higher order skills at planning.”

“I will obtain examples of skills and apply this to questioning and activities within the classroom.”


Here are just some of the excellent displays from Early Years Settings in Falkirk Council – more photos will be uploaded shortly.
 Bainsford Nursery
Wallacestone Nursery Class


Bankier Nursery Class


Bantaskin Primary School


Bo’ness Public Nursery Class