Archive for March 2012

Assemblance of key ideas

Assemblance of key ideas

I love my job. I enjoy teaching, but it would now be self-indulgent to do a lot of it. I’m a spoiled actor and am always up for a performance. Amid the sometimes demoralising aspects of being a headteacher in these troubled times, it’s relating to our […]

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Why do some parents find school alien?

Why do some parents find school alien?

My holiday reading was Janice Galloway’s This is not about me, an account set in Saltcoats of a late 1950s childhood. With an alcoholic father, a depressive mother and a manic older sister, her childhood was never going to generate a reminiscence of an idyllic past. Coincidentally, […]

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Let them go if you want them to come back

Two sixth-year girls asked me how to get to Glasgow University for an open day. I was delighted at their ambition and sense of adventure. Relatively few of our students go to university; a lower proportion still leave Edinburgh. On the day of the open day , I […]

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Pros and cons of the selective generation

Pros and cons of the selective generation

I left Paisley Grammar in 1969. In June, more than 40 of us celebrated that anniversary. Animated conversations, photographs and school magazines stirred memories but also illuminated the experiences which had made us, the last selective generation, the people we are. With (nominal) fees, higher entrance qualifications and […]

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But due to, because it’s problematic

But due to, because it’s problematic

I’m not a pedant. Language is fluid and developing, but it saddens me when I hear or read greengrocer’s apostrophes, split infinitives and sentences ending with prepositions. I recently had an argument with the editor of a respected publication for which I occasionally write: he insisted on […]

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3Fs of growing up: fun, friends, frank

I recently checked a third-year class’s homework diaries. Those belonging to some of our more troublesome girls had few notes of homework due but were liberally decorated with a recurring “mention”: 3 Fs!!!= I was dumb-foundered and frankly concerned. I guessed what one of the Fs would […]

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A woman to be reckoned with

Judith McClure, headteacher at St George’s School in Edinburgh, retires this summer. Those of us who have had the privilege of working with her know that her retiral will mark a huge loss for Scottish education. I first met Judith (although I had known of her and […]

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Bring back schools for all age groups

Bring back schools for all age groups

Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson prioritised presentation over content in politics. Alas, the spin-doctors’ pernicious influence also affected education. The phrase “a 3-18 curriculum” sounds attractive, with its implications of continuity, progression and growth. As used, it is meaningless. My school and its associated primaries and nurseries […]

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Young hearts need re-engagement

Young hearts need re-engagement

It was 9.15 on the Thursday morning before the last Edinburgh derby. My business manager, leaving school for a meeting, passed the Tynecastle ticket office. He spotted three of our students in the queue. “Back to school, lads,” he called. No response. He phoned me. I walked […]

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Bursaries bail out selective schools

I was recently approached by an inspiring individual with an admirable record in Scottish education of supporting schools, especially in areas of poverty and social and educational failure. His aim was to develop, among their young people, assertive, ambitious leaders with strong ethical commitments. He had, in […]

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