Stuart and I haven’t had a moment to relax since our very successful Innovative Teachers Forum last week. Last Friday, I ran a workshop at a school in Lewisham for school and local authority leaders going through BSF or other significant school transformation projects. And at the crack of dawn (actually, before the crack of dawn) on Monday, we both flew to Scotland for two days of visits with our new Innovative Schools, Calderglen High School in East Kilbride and Stirling High School in Stirling.
We started the visits at Calderglen High School, where we had a packed agenda for the day. We met our colleague Walter Patterson at the school, and the three of us were immediately split up and taken on tours of the school, led by three of the year 6 school captains. These kids were such stars, and I learned quite a bit about the school, the students, the classes, and more from my tour guide James. Over the course of the day we also sat in on portions of 6 classes, which gave us a good idea of the kind of teaching and learning that occurs across the curriculum, and enabled us to meet quite a few of the wonderful teaching staff at the school. We had separate meetings with the entire leadership team and the ICT leads team, and were able to have a candid conversation (no teachers present!) with student representatives from all years at the school. At the end of the day, Stuart led a very well-attended workshop on free ICT tools and ideas for Calderglen’s teachers (pictured at right).
One of the unique things about Calderglen is that it is partnered with a special needs high school, Sanderson High School, which shares the facilities. The photo at left pictures the student common area at Calderglen (called The Street), which has an open door to Sanderson. Kids from both schools can pass back and forth to attend classes or work together.
On Tuesday, we drove to Stirling High School, one of the oldest schools in Scotland in a gorgeous new building, pictured at right. Depute head Lesley Allen was our guide for the day, giving us a tour of the facilities (which included an indoor pool, rooftop garden and a Heritage Room containing wood panelling, tables and chairs from the original Stirling High). We sat in on two classes, one of which was completely taught by the students, and met with the other depute heads and some teachers who were interested in ideas for teaching with ICT.
The highlight of the day for me was the lunchtime meeting with the school’s Eco Club. Stuart and I were very impressed by the cross-curricular learning that goes on in this award-winning after school activity. The students were passionate and articulate and were clearly learning a great deal and applying that learning in a way that helps the school and community.
Stuart and I headed back to Glasgow airport absolutely exhausted from the whirlwind trip, but energised and excited to work with both schools and their staff in the coming year.
You can follow our work with these schools on this blog, and on the Partners in Learning Network, where resources that these schools will receive from both the Worldwide Innovative Schools Programme will be made available to any school who joins and completes their school profile. You can also learn about UK Innovative Schools and Innovative Teachers workshops on the Partners in Learning Network, so that you and your school can take advantage of these free events as well. (Or follow Stuart @innovativeteach on Twitter, where he’s always Tweeting about these things and more…)
Thanks again to students, staff, and leadership at both Calderglen and Stirling for such a great start to our week!