Publications

Over-egging the custard

Over-egging the custard

Language changes. That is usually a good thing but not always. A wise educational veteran, speaking to me of interviews for teaching posts, recently illustrated that. “What is your vision for the school/your department/your subject?” is now a standard interview question. “When I first came into teaching 40 […]

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Alastair Steven

Alastair Steven

Alastair Steven Born 6 January 1945, Belfast Died 20 May 2013, Edinburgh Alastair Steven, born in Belfast in 1945, was George and Sheila Steven’s oldest son in a family of five.  Alastair won a scholarship to Methodist College Belfast, where he excelled, before attending Queen’s University Belfast […]

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What future for the school librarian?

What future for the school librarian?

Edinburgh Council has found itself in the middle of a major spat over proposals to reduce librarians in schools. The proposal is to rationalise library provision by moving secondary school library resources into public libraries, reduce the number of school librarians by 50% and subsume the school […]

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Nature’s Peace, a Celebration of Scotland’s Watershed

Nature’s Peace, a Celebration of Scotland’s Watershed

Scotland is traditionally divided into north and south, Highland and Lowland, but Peter Wright’s ambitious works, Ribbon of Wildness and Walking with Wildness offered another perspective, an east-west divide based on the watershed. From Carter Bar to Cape Wrath, the watershed creates a line dividing the waters flowing eastwards into the […]

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Are vocational skills the sole purpose of education?

Are vocational skills the sole purpose of education?

A senior civil servant’s recent off-duty comment, about the role of higher education, sent shivers down my spine.  “I can’t see why the tax-payer should pay for young people to study English or History.  Graduates in such disciplines acquire no useful economic skills.” He was not alone.  […]

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Inequality: the elephant in the room

Inequality: the elephant in the room

  I recently participated in a professional development event in one of Edinburgh’s well-known private schools. The private school head spoke first. He was kind and courteous, proud of his school’s “inclusive” tradition of offering “foundation” places to the children of “fatherless bairns” (suitably amended for the […]

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Can you feed their hunger?

Can you feed their hunger?

One of the joys of being semi-retired is the time for other activities. Since retiring I have helped co-ordinate the annual book festival in our town. One task delegated to me as a former English teacher was organising the festival’s Young Writers’ Competition. After a first sift of the […]

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Brought to book

Brought to book

It’s that stressful time of year again.  Council budgets are being struck.  While schools will certainly be affected there is another sphere of local authority expenditure reductions which will impact directly on education. Moray Council has already agreed to close seven of its fifteen public libraries.

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Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

We need to keep our eyes on educational developments in England, to watch, analyse and learn. In April the Governors of Pimlico Primary, a newly established ‘free school’ in Westminster, appointed a new headteacher.  Annaliese Briggs was appointed as the head while still studying for her postgraduate […]

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Dealing with impossible dilemmas

Dealing with impossible dilemmas

Leadership is a much-lauded educational trait. Former headteacher at Crieff, McLaren High and Lornshill, and a driving force behind the Scottish Qualification for Headship, Danny Murphy, has thoroughly credible leadership credentials.

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