Teen Spirit

Last week Kurt Cobain would have been 50. More frightening than that, it will soon be 23 years since he died.  I was about half way through college when Nevermind was released and for a while it was the soundtrack to student life.  While Nirvana never made it into my top ten bands half a dozen or so of their songs still revolve around my playlists.

You can draw your own conclusions as to why  think this track and band makes a really interesting introduction to the blog post.  The tweet below set the tone for this week’s staff training and was used by Sir Harry Burns at the Raising Attainment for All conference a couple of years ago, the focus being on raising attainment and reducing inequity.

I was part of the Raising Attainment for All programme in my previous job and heard this introduction live.  It was a very powerful, moving and inspirational talk and I’ve linked to it below.  If you have half an hour spare, watching it will be half an hour well spent.

As you might have read in previous blogs I really believe that understanding the context of the school is one of the keys to driving improvement and reducing inequity and this talk provides a really clear picture of the national context.  Watching this as a staff and then considering what it means to our work was a fascinating experience and really drove home to me the emotional involvement all of our staff have in their work.  While we considered strategic direction and possible interventions to improve attainment and reduce inequity, the conversation inevitably turned to how this will make things better for our children.  Everything we do in school should always have an impact on our children and the challenge at the moment is establishing what the impact actually is.  We will be developing our use of the model for improvement and a cycle of Plan Do Study Act.  Using this approach will provide us with a really useful evidence base for our work and highlight what interventions are working and,just as importantly, what interventions are not working.

Anyway Italy v England beckons on the TV…..


The Same but Different

I enjoy rugby, although nowadays it is all watching and no playing.  Having played for about 20 years and retired from 3 separate clubs I feel like my playing days are over although every now and again I have a wee inkling to rake out my boots.  Like many primary teachers I can be guilty of hoarding and hanging on to things just in case they are useful so I still have a pair of boots in the garage; just in case Vern Cotter gives me a call.

In honour of a recent brilliant Scots Assembly in school and a brilliant performance by the national rugby team I have chosen a Scottish tune.  My aunt and uncle used to live opposite my family home and I spent loads of happy hours raking through their record collection and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was one of my favourite finds.

All local authority schools in Scotland follow the same curriculum.  Curriculum for Excellence has been around for a while now and is intended to help children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21st century, including skills for learning, life and work.  The point of the title of the blog is to highlight the fact that although all schools follow the same curriculum we all do it differently and make sure that it fits the needs of our children and community.  Whether you prefer Tom Jones or Alex Harvey, you can still sing along.

One of the things we will be looking at as a staff at an upcoming InService day is how to plan effectively for learning and teaching within Curriculum for Excellence.  As research and evidence, experience and understanding develop then schools regularly find that processes and procedures need to continue to adapt and develop to meet these needs and this is something we are looking forward to tackling.  The other big news in Scottish education is the recent news regarding the Pupil Equity Fund where most schools in Scotland receive an allocation of funds to target children most effected by a poverty related attainment gap.  If you follow the links in the Scottish Government website you can see what each school received.  We have an additional allocation of £72 000 which is an enormous amount of money and will allow us to make some really ambitious plans over the next year.  There are a range of meetings coming up soon to go over the operational guidance regarding the spending of the allocation but we will also be working really hard as a staff and seeking further views to supplement the recent online family survey.