Category Archives: Weeknote

14 December: #03

This week I’ve been

attending the launch event in Blackwell’s in Edinburgh of Iain MacWhirter’s book Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won A Referendum But Lost Scotland. In his Sunday Herald column (18-12-14), Macwhirter reckons that things can only get better for the Labour Party in Scotland, but…

discussing different approaches to the SCQF/SQA accreditation process with my opposite numbers in SNIPEF; and

negotiating how best to standardize the not entirely dissimilar outcomes that we independently produced; and

realising that after I’d done some work on what we’d agreed that I’d made a potentially fatal error in how I’d redistributed 100 hours of learning. I’d done it in such a way that the hours didn’t carry over their credit. That was pretty mind-blowing… honest, it really was! (I think I’ll explain this in a longer blog post). Thankfully nobody reads this stuff.

booking a place at the SCQF conference in February 2015

watching this Sexplanations video after discussing sex education and the presence of religious representatives on local authority education committees

signing up for Holyrood magazine weekly Education newsletter

buying books on Amazon about Outdoor Education for the STEM Camp that I’m taking pre-apprenticeship students from West College Scotland to the SYHA Stem Camp in 2015; and

Outdoor Edu books

contributing to a funding bid to help pay for this; and

writing up my (unpublished) thoughts on the ethics of how parents might best be involved when a FE establishment proposes to take engineering students, who are aged 16+, on a residential trip; but

acknowledging that I need input from experts on this

re-learning Faraday’s Law and Lenz’s Law  so that I could add them into the Electrical Installation Science portfolio that I’m writing for the new Electrical Installation SVQ.

reading the newspapers and:

shaking my head as both blue and red Tory politicians court the education vote.  Firstly, there was Nicky Morgan in The Observer, trying to undo four and a half years of Govean blobbing, and the following day Jim Murphy attempting to woo teachers in Scotland with a plan,

I will introduce Chartered Status for teachers, to attract the best talent to those worst performing schools

which struck me as a bit of a kick-in-the-teeth for some hard-working teachers. A rough wooing.

When, at the end of the week when he became leader of the north Britisher branch of the Labour party, he called for “a growing middle-class” the policy was all the easier seen in its full ‘Blairite’ splendour

continuing to slowly pick away at Peter John’s book Analyzing Public Policy. I’ve been following the regular criticisms of private schools as a way of understanding how policy is formed, and over the Xmas holiday I might have a go at a post just to collate what I’ve been learning about

 reflecting on the value of doing this type of post; and

acknowledging that I slipped behind with the publishing of this post. I need to find a system that allows me to record things as I go along, and doesn’t then take four hours to pull together. I can’t say to someone that reflective blogging is a good idea, but that I can’t manage to keep it up, or that it “only” takes a half-day to write


8 December 2014: #02

This week I’ve been

feeding the birds in the garden with peanuts covered in chilli flakes and soaked in hot chilli powder oil. I learned from Frances Ashcroft’s book, The Spark of Life, that chilli peppers taste so hot to mammals because capsaican opens the same ion channel as high temperature, and that because the brain can’t tell the difference it interprets the capsaicin signal as heat. Birds, unlike squirrels however, have a mutation in the channel which means that they’re less receptive to capsaicin. Basically they can eat from the feeder for as long as they want without looking for the nearest cool puddle to drink out of, whereas the squirrel had a sniff round once, and left well alone.

considering the validity of Daisy Choudolourou’s seventh myth of education in relation to vocational education. I think she makes a fair point about the puppets in the Romeo and Juliet class, and one that probably needs be borne in mind

planning a business meeting for OpenDataGlasgow, the local group of Open Knowledge Scotland

continuing to read Introducing Friere by Sandra Smidt

driving to Aberdeen listening to the final chapters of I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and narrated by Malala Yousafzai and Archie Panjabi

discussing with Donna Thompson from SYHA, and Joe Mulholland from West College Scotland (Clydebank) how electrical installation pre-apprentices could benefit from STEM Camp. Very exciting stuff and I need to get up to speed quickly on outdoor learning

designing some sort of fold-out device to help make learning the language of the SCQF accreditation a little easier for newbies. I started off arranging words out on a mindmap and I’m now thinking about the type of physical object that I should turn this into. I suppose it could be an online thing but when I was writing out the accreditation paperwork for the first time recently I think I’d have preferred a physical object

reading the papers;

  • learning a little about the the influential role that certain religions still have in sex education in Scottish schools. I’d already noticed that on my local authority education committee there are three religious advisers
  • noting that two weeks after Tristram Hunt wrote in The Guardian that an elected Labour Government in 2015 would stop private schools accessing business rate relief worth £700m over the next parliament unless they do more to improve the quality of education in state schools, the “Honest, I’m not Westminster’s man” candidate for the leadership of the Scottish branch office, Jim Murphy, pops up in the Sunday Herald to “urge” private schools to share more resources with poorer communities. ‘Urge’ is a weasel word, if you ask me. It’s a bit strange given that the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee is already considering a public petition calling for independent schools to be stripped of their charitable status.

30 November 2014: #01

This week I’ve been:

wondering what it would have been like to board at school. By Vicky Allan’s account in The Sunday Herald it seems no fun at all.

helping organise the East Kilbride branch of the Radical Independence Campaign.

watching the videos of a workshop at the RIC conference where Liam Kane argues that RIC’s campaigning approach could learn from the popular education movement of Latin America.

reading Sandra Smidt’s Introduction to Friere, as a consequence of Kane’s talk.

participating in the SECTT, East of Scotland College Consortium.  I spoke about my experience writing the SCQF accreditation paperwork for the new SVQ in Electrical Installation. I also gave a brief update on my progress towards writing a new Electrical Installation Science course unit.

thinking about how to salvage what should have been a blog post about the SCQF process and ended up being a 3,000 word essay. It wasn’t a good blog post and it wasn’t a good essay either.

catching up with Ally Crockford to discuss possible MPhil work on the research topic of ‘Education in a radically independent Scotland’ (or something like that anyway). We chatted about the research angle and some engagement work.

finding out about how education policy is managed at my local authority level; and

making arrangements to attend my local council’s education committee meetings. I’m picking away at Peter John’s Analyzing Public Policy.

buying the new Scottish daily newspaper, The National. I do still like to read the Education section in The Guardian on a Tuesday, but there’s rarely anything about Scottish education in it. It’s simply that its focus is on the English education system, and at times The Guardian reads like it’s come from a strange place that’s going slightly mad.