In-house Professional Learning Activities (PLAs)

“I think the PLA’s this year and the reading group sessions have been enriching with respect to pedagogy and raising awareness of very important ideas.”

– SASB Teacher, June 2018

Professional Learning Activities and materials

Our up and coming PLAs (2021-22)


The first PLA of this year will be on the Professional update process. The focus will be for staff who should have signed off in June 2021 but for whom this was delayed due to the pandemic.

Wednesday 15th September, 3:10pm via the Staff Development Google Classroom.





Past PLAs (2020-2021)

Live Stream Lesson CPD session

A PLA will be held on Wednesday 10th March, starting at 3:10pm and finishing at 4:00pm.  G McIntosh and C Miller will deliver a session for us, sharing their live-streaming lesson tips and techniques.

GTCS Professional Update and the sign-off process

A PLA will be held on Wednesday 16th September, starting at 3.10pm and finishing at around 4.00pm.

Whilst all staff are welcome to attend, it is likely to be of most use to colleagues who have not been through the PU sign-off process before and were due to undertake this in session 2019-20 or are due to go through it this session, 2020-21.


Past PLAs (2019-2020)

Monday 9th & Thursday 12th March 2020

On Monday and Thursday, a short PLA will be delivered in the Street via the big screen on Using Google Classroom in the Street. Several staff members will demonstrate how they use Google Classroom. The PLA will start at 3.15pm on Monday and if you can’t make that session, it is repeated on Thursday at 4pm.

As always, all staff are welcome and we expect the PLA to last about 40 minutes.

Wednesday 29th January 2020

Tom Morrison from Wesleyan Financial Services will deliver a PLA for us around teachers’ financial wellbeing. The seminar will focus on:

  • Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme changes
  • When you can retire
  • Your choices at retirement, including Winding Down and  phased retirement
  • How and when to apply for your pension scheme benefits
  • Choices regarding your lump sum
  • How to boost your retirement benefits
  • How your retirement income will be taxed
  • Income and Inheritance Tax
  • We can also talk about mortgages, savings & investments and income protection plans

The PLA will be held in the Conference room and will start, as usual, at 3:10pm.

Wednesday 4th December 2019 – Improving Gender Balance

Hannah Brown from Education Scotland will present her follow-up PLA on Improving Gender Balance. The first PLA looked at identifying our unconscious balance in schools and our classrooms. This session will explore practical changes that can be made to address gender imbalance.


Wednesday 23 October: Launch Event: ‘Empowerment and Teachers as Agents of Change’


Speaker: Ken Muir, Chief Executive, GTCS

As Chief Executive of the GTCS, Ken is responsible for the management of its strategic direction, for the operational efficiency and performance of its functions and for the delivery of responsibilities and duties placed on it by statute or by Council decision. He is also the official correspondent of the Council in its dealings with:

  • The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament
  • Employers and teachers
  • Teacher Education Institutions
  • Other public bodies within and outwith Scotland
  • Members of the public
  • The media

Empowered System diagram (Education Scotland)

Ken Muir’s presentation slides:

St As and StBs EK Oct2019 KBM

Blank coaching wheel template (GTCS)

References/further reading from Ken’s PLA:

Teacher Agency: An Ecological Approach by Mark Priestley et al (2015) – for an article by Mark Priestley on this, see

Collaborative Professionalism: When Teaching Together Means Learning for All by Andy Hargreaves & Michael T O’Connor (2018) – for an article by Hargreaves & O’Connor on this, see

Want to watch instead? To hear Andy Hargreaves talking about Collective Professionalism in a series of small clips, see

Andy Hargreaves: The Ten Tenets of Collaborative Professionalism


Refreshing the narrative on Scotland’s curriculum:

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler (1970)



Wednesday 2 October: ‘Autism’

Practical strategies to support Autistic children in class.

Presenters: Jacqueline Angell

Jane Muldoon and Dawn Connor, both Specialist Support Teachers (Early Years)


Wednesday 11 September:

Hannah Brown from Education Scotland will speak to staff on

‘ Improving Gender Balance and Equalities’


GTCS Webinar on Improving Gender Balance and Equalities



Session 2018-2019

Wednesday 19th June, 2019: Suicide Talk 

Training on Suicide Talk provided by Len Northfield. 3.15-4.30pm

Len is a writer and a mental health professional.

Wednesday 12th June, 2019: Peer Mentoring Webinar

Wednesday 5th June, 2019: Children’s Mental Health

Following on from the recent Professional Reading Group discussion on promoting social and emotional well-being, a PLA has been scheduled for the 5th of June to allow staff to explore this further.

Catriona Robb, Teaching Fellow in Children’s Mental Health at the University of Strathclyde, will deliver the after school PLA for us. She will be focusing on supporting children’s mental health and the implications of this for school staff.

Tuesday 4th June, 2019: Presentation by Brian Costello from HeadStrong

Presentation to staff and parents/guardians, 6.30-7.30pm on mental health, changing how you think and how to empower yourself and young people.

Previous PLAs (2018-19)

Wednesday and Thursday 22- 23 May, 2019: Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid course

This two-day course was held in school and allowed staff involved to undertake the full course which was facilitated by Clair Burnette.

Wednesday 8th May, 2019: Courageous Leadership

Isabelle Boyd, former Assistant Chief Executive: Education, Youth and Communities for North Lanarkshire Council, delivered a presentation on encouraging senior leaders and aspiring leaders to demonstrate ‘courageous leadership’.



Tuesday 5th February, 2019: Restorative Practice

SLC’s Psychological Service provided a full afternoon’s PLA for Guidance staff.


Wednesday 5th December, 2018: Timetabling

Jim Reid from SLC facilitated 4 sessions on different dates, attended by PTs and the SMT.

Wednesday 10th October, 2018: Insight

Wednesday 5th September, 2018: Welcome to GLOW

Time: 3:10-4:00
Venue: Please note this PLA will take place in ICT Rooms C103 and C104.

The first PLA this session was on GLOW and included advice on setting up your GLOW email and ironing out any uncertainty around the changeover. A quick demo on GLOW and the use of Google Classroom was also be delivered.


Our previous PLAs


Session 2017-2018


How young people’s participation in schools impacts on attainment and achievement.

Wednesday 13th of June

Michael and Kim from WOSDEC will be running a workshop to build on the initial Reading Group discussion from the 16th of May. It will allow participants to share approaches for exploring learner participation and different ways, as individual teachers and as a school, that we can utilise the resources that are available.

Kim’s Presentation

Time: 3:10-4:00
Venue: Please note this PLA will take place in the School Library
All welcome as always.

You can find the original reading material on the Professional Reading Group page (16th of May) and other connected materials, if you wish to do further reading, on the Pupil Voice page.

Closing the Wellbeing Gap

Wednesday 9th of May

Kevin Mullarkey, from Integrated Children’s Service, will present this PLA as we consider how improving the health and wellbeing of our young people can help us close the Attainment Gap.

Time: 3:10-4:00

Venue: Conference Room

All welcome as always.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework

Wednesday 21st March
Time: 3:10-4:15
Venue: Conference Room
All welcome as always.

Brian Kegan from SCQF will discuss the role of the Framework in promoting and supporting lifelong learning in Scotland.
Through the Framework learners, employers and employees can find out about all mainstream qualifications in Scotland and plan future learning. Therefore, this PLA will provide us with a better understanding of the many different pathways for our young people.

Sharing Learning and Practice

Wednesday 7th February
Short presentations will be made by colleagues on Peer Assessment, Nurture, Positive Mind-set and Reading for pleasure.
During these presentations, staff will briefly share what they have learned as part of their Master’s Degree programme and from their research and reading. The short presentations will be focused on how each teacher’s study and findings can impact positively on classroom practice.

Steven Dickie will discuss ‘Effective peer assessment’ and whether specific groupings of pupils impacts the quality of peer assessment. Robert Burns will present how ‘Nurture based practices’ within the classroom have a positive impact on pupil attainment and achievement. Michael Wilkie will discuss ‘Creating a reading culture’ – how reading for pleasure supports attainment and achievement across the curriculum. And finally Jason Milligan will present on promoting ‘Growth mind-set’ in pupils, based on Carol Dweck’s theories on growth mind-set.

Time: 3:10-4:00
Venue: TBC

Monday 11th December
John Hand will be in school (conference room) to meet with staff. See email to check what sessions are available throughout the day.

LGBTI issues
Tracy McDermott will be presenting this P.L.A. on Wednesday 6th of December. Tracy was responsible for leading the recent Authority in-services on LGBTI issues that so many staff had expressed an interest in attending.
Date: Wednesday 6 December 2017
Time: After school
Venue: Conference Room

Insight into INSIGHT
On Wednesday the 25th of October John Hand will present a P.L.A. on INSIGHT. Although this PL.A. will be specifically tailored for ‘Curriculum Leaders’ and those aspiring to become Curriculum Leaders, as always we have an open invitation to all staff.
Date: Wednesday 25 October 2017
Time: After school
Venue: TBC (location depends on number of participants)

The PLA will take colleagues through the methods of teaching the different numeracy strategies to help bring consistency to our pupils. Examples of level 3 work (and levels below) will be shown along with examples as to how these numeracy strategies are taught in the Maths department.
Date: Wednesday 4 October 2017
Time: After school
Venue: Conference Room

Google Classroom is a platform developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way. It allows teachers to share resources such as PowerPoints, notes, video links, and web links, issue homework, and create a class calendar.
In an effort to help teachers, Brian Nelson will deliver a PLA on this. He will have the 16 Chrome books available to allow the session to be as interactive as possible.
Date: Wednesday 13 September 2017
Time: After school
Venue: Conference Room

Session 2016-2017

Wednesday 14 June 2017
For those staff involved in this year’s Professional Update, there will be a PLA in the conference room after school on Wednesday. It will begin at 3.10pm and shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes.

Monday 5 June 2017

Unleashing Classroom Leadership, will explore the concept of teachers as leaders of classroom practice. Fearghal Kelly, SCEL’s Lead Specialist for Teacher Leadership, will explore the concept of teachers as leaders of classroom practice and he will look at practical approaches to developing leadership as classroom teachers.

Fearghal’s presentation

Fearghal’s blog post following the PLA:

What do we mean by leadership?

Wednesday 1 March 2017
Using Scholar

Wednesday 8 February 2017
Helen Murdoch will present a workshop on Using Powerpoint in the Classroom, suitable for all levels from complete beginners to staff looking to enhance their skills using the software.
The tutorial will take you through the basics e.g. inserting new slides, adding graphics, animating a presentation etc. to more advanced features e.g. inserting hyperlinks, using the master slide, inserting action buttons etc.

Wednesday 9 November 2016
The next PLA is on ‘Developing Scotland’s Young Work force’. This will be presented by Sharon McLean with contributions from staff from Careers Scotland and Skills Development Scotland. Further information to follow.

Wednesday 12 October 2016 – Using INSIGHT
This PLA, delivered by Kenny Slowey, will take place in C103. It will start at 3.10pm.

Wednesday 14 September 2016 – Professional Enquiry
This PLA is aimed at staff who are interested in learning more about undertaking professional enquiry, Charlaine Simpson, the GTCS’ Senior Education Officer for Research and Professional Learning, will outline the why, what and how of practitioner enquiry and discuss how it can be used as a powerful professional learning tool.

Charlaine’s presentation:

2016-09-14 St Andrews and St Bride's.pptx

Note: the handout Charlaine distributed was from her presentation (slides 13 and 36)

Session 2015-2016

(forthcoming/most recent first)

Wednesday 1 June 2016 – Coaching and Mentoring
Led by Ian Fraser

Friday 3 June 2016 – Professional Update (new date)
Period 5. Please see Bryson if you’d like to attend so he knows to provide cover if required. This PLA is aimed primarily at staff who are to be signed off this year or perhaps are retiring and wish to bring forward their ‘signing off’ to allow they them to go on supply. However, as always all staff are welcome.

Wednesday 4 May 2016 – Self Harm/Teenage Mental Health Issues
The PLA aims to give an overview of ‘The What’,’ The Why’, ‘The Myths’ and most importantly ‘How to help’. Alan Cresswell will be delivering this PLA.

Wednesday 24 February 2016 – Living Life to the Full (Staff Welfare)
Living Life to the Full is a life skills course based on the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) which aims to provide high quality, practical and user-friendly training in life skills. The PLA will be delivered by Lyndsay Malley and will provide an overview of how CBT can be used to tackle and respond to issues/demands which we all meet in our everyday lives at home and at school. We will look at the session “ Why does everything always go wrong?” which aims to help you spot and learn how to change negative or stressful thinking patterns.
For more further information on the Living Life to the Full programme, see

Wednesday 4 November 2015 – Recruitment
This session will be presented by Andrea Reid from SLC and will run from 3:10-4:00pm. Andrea will focus on the application and interview process for teaching posts in South Lanarkshire. The session is targeted at colleagues interested in applying for any position in the authority over the next few years.

Wed 7 October 2015 – Insight Benchmarking tool
The next after school Professional Learning Activity will be on the new ‘Insight’ online benchmarking tool, designed to bring about improvements in pupil attainment in the senior phase. Kenny Slowey will support staff in navigating their way round this new resource, providing all staff the opportunity to continue to address ‘Bridging the attainment gap’ agenda.

Wed 2 September 2015 – Bridging the Attainment Gap
Starting at 3.10pm in the conference room and finishing at 4pm prompt. The focus of this C.P.D. will on ‘Bridging the Attainment Gap. Bryson McGinlay will be looking at a number of practical teaching strategies to support departments and teachers to improve the attainment of all pupils but with the particular emphasis on boys, but on the lower attaining pupils in general.

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