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Episode 138 Here Come the Girls!

65991837_c63b3c6d94_nTonight sees a special edition of the podcast as Anne Glennie hosts a Ladies Night on Inside Learning. Joined by Manjit Shellis, Director of Learning at UFA and Gillian Campbell-Thow, Language Teacher, Adviser and Guru, the ladies talk about everything from the current problems with the new exams in Scotland to the issues surrounding summer born babies and their progress at school to how secondary schools should be allocated.

Anne also raises the issue of gender balance in education, asking if women could do more to ensure their voices are heard.

But perhaps the best summary comes from one of Gillian’s tweets: “mammies, manolos and methodology” ; which we hope you’ll agree makes for an interesting conversation.

News links:

Gillian Campbell-Thow’s chosen story about CfE implementation support in Scotland at present

Anne’s quote about “women leaning in” comes from this book by Sheryl Sandberg

Manjit’s story about the use of “lotteries” to allocate school places in England

 Picture from StephenJohnBryde through Creative Commons on Flickr: Thank You



Episode 137: It Should Have been messier!

thTonight Bill and Steve steer the podcast through the slalom of bad punning, into a couple of news items before discussing some of the issues raised by the Real David Cameron (Podcast tart) in last week’s episode: namely, the challenges of assessment in relation to Curriculum for Excellence.

This is not simply a Scottish story, since the narrative raises huge issues about how education systems align their practices through curricula, pedagogy and assessment.  It is an ongoing story, one that has important lessons for all interested in education reform.  Bill argues that the dialogue and interest generated by the curriculum is a very positive aspect, but that the longer term bedding in might have been eased by tacking the difficult issues at the start – it should have been messier earlier!  As Peter Senge (5th discipline) used to say, the easiest way out can lead straight back in to the old problems.

Bill points us to Mark Priestley’s excellent blog on this subject, link here, where the issues are discussed in some depth. Mark is a Professor of Education at the University of Sterling.

News item links:

“’Fear is good’ says head of independent school” Richard Garner in the Independent

“We don’t vote because we feel ignored, say students” Guardian Education

“EIS calls for bureaucracy cut ahead of new Nationals exams”  BBC

Anne Paterson - February 23, 2014 - 4:46 pm

Fantastic podcast on CfE. Absolutely true to my own views and philosophy. Wondered if I was becoming a lost voice but so glad I am not. Enough to give me renewed energy to get thinking about the real meaning of the 4 capacities and not these Es and Os which seem to dominate teachers planning.

Episode 136: Voices from the choir

51d8b139a859dc5e8456da8808c6e81f_biggerAddicted as we are to well informed and influential guests, tonight we are delighted to welcome back on to the podcast, the Real David Cameron.  Matthew introduces us to a story about gaming and the curriculum, and before we know it our conversation takes in the purposes of education, the curriculum, and assessment.  Matthew, despite suffering some horrible echo in his headphones, asks David to talk about how issues with assessment and Curriculum for Excellence can be simplified.  Following his ‘tour’ with Sir Tim Brighouse that took in a TeachMeet or two, David has  grounds for optimism that some headteachers and classroom teachers are not prepared to be buried under the deadweight of audit data and their focus on learning will bring about innovation and change.

For those who like that sort of thing, some links:

Gaming – Minecraft project opens up new worlds of creativity

NAHT: “Profession takes lead on assessment after the end of levels”

Richard Garner, Independent, “Government to set stricter new literacy and numeracy targets in primary schools”

David mentioned Goodison Group in Scotland and Kenny Piper’s blog

Episode 135: A hard road to travel

photoTonight we enjoyed a rich conversation with Bruce Robertson: Twice Director of Education both in Highland Council and in Aberdeenshire, Bruce Robertson joins us to explore the challenges of strategic leadership at a local level. Bruce currently consults for the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland.  A verse from the song made famous by Jimmy Cliff fits the tenor of the podcast well as Bruce points to hard decisions to be made but does so with an obvious determination and faith in the job ahead:

 I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough rough way to go
Said it’s a hard road to travel and a rough rough way to go
But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop
My faith will see me through
Bruce has written an opinion piece for the TESS recently, entitled (weirdly?) “Let’s join the middle ages”.


Also talked about tonight: Saving Private Gove, or the Secretary of State for Education makes another ‘interesting’ speech.

“Gove calls for state schools to be more like private” BBC story

Shameful and sad state of lack of primary education around the globe. UNESCO report here and BBC story : “The 70-year wait for primary school” By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

EP 134: The Sunlit Uplands Matthew welcomes back Jay Helbert (@learningjay), a podcast stalwart making an all-too-rare appearance, and we are joined by Bill ‘The Literacy Adviser’ Boyd (@literacyadviser) to look at what’s fresh on the educational news front. First up though, Jay has been reviewing the latest project from educational guru Sugata Mitra (@Sugatam).  Mitra is the instigator of the ‘Hole in the Wall’ project, which showed the amazing ability of children to learn when presented with a single, isolated, internet-connected computer – lodged literally in a wall in India. The “School in the Cloud” project is taking it to the next level by creating 5 ‘schools in the cloud’ or self-learning environments (SOLE), 3 in India and 2 in North-East England. Mitra himself says he is not sure where the experiment will lead but asks us to imagine a world where you ask a child ‘Do you go to school?’ and he replies ‘I don’t know.’

Watch Sugata Mitra talking about Schools in the Cloud on YouTube

Back on earth and well below the clouds, attention turns to three apparently connected news stories. Bill looks at ‘the strange case of the vanishing GCSE pupils’, a Guardian report which investigates the story behind a school’s dramatic improvement in examination results, to discover that the practice of removing low-achieving pupils from school rolls before exam time is more widespread than commonly thought ( with some 5,500 secondary pupils mysteriously disappearing from the records in 2012 alone).

Staying on the examination theme, the CBI have been making news in The Independent with their claim that schools are increasingly becoming ‘exam factories’ and failing to provide school-leavers with the ‘behaviours and attitudes that are vital for success – including determination, optimism and emotional intelligence’, while the TES were highlighting a report from teachers across the globe which suggested that young people are leaving school without the critical thinking skills required for university or the world of work.  The research, from Cambridge International Examinations, also revealed that 85% of teachers interviewed ‘thought it was the skill their students most commonly lacked when they began their post-16 courses at school’, a worrying statistic, given that the same teachers are at least partly responsible for developing the said critical thinking skills.

So there you have it. Exam factory schools turning out unthinking zombies completely unfit for work, study or life. How true is it, and even if it contains an element of truth, what can be done about it? Tune in and find out what our panel thinks.

With all that, a dash of Seth Godin, and a look at Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest offering, David and Goliath, tonight’s podcast offers a substantial dish of food for thought to help sustain you through the long January nights. Enjoy!

Thanks to Asbjorn Floden for the Creative Commons image. Beautiful!

Lynne Jones - February 1, 2014 - 6:29 pm

Hear more from Dr Deirdre Torrance on distributed leadership on a recent podcast from Radio EduTalk at

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