'Are you really having an impact on others?'

18th March 2005 at 00:00
Early lead from Columba

Lindsey Robertson, headteacher, Castleview primary, Edinburgh - three weeks into the post

"The Columba 1400 programme was a life-changing experience. I was headteacher at Sciennes primary in Edinburgh, a large school within the city centre, and I was looking at where my career was going.

"Going on the programme gave me the opportunity to reflect on my practice and my abilities to make a difference as a leader. I wanted to take on a new challenge. Before then I had been thinking more of getting on that development ladder where you start off in a smaller school, then move to a bigger school and then become an education officer. I decided that was not the path for me.

"I am now working as headteacher of Castleview primary in Craigmillar, which is a different kind of catchment area and a different style of school. I probably would not be headteacher of Castleview if I hadn't been through Columba 1400. I left a 21-class set-up with 650 pupils to go to a school of 200 pupils.

"The Rev Norman Drummond had a huge impact on me. He asked: 'What are you doing with your life? Are you really having an impact on others?'"

Michael Currie, headteacher, Our Lady's High, Cumbernauld

"It was a very personal experience because you were allowed to be reflective on what your practice was - something I hadn't always had time to do. I do think more about the consequences of things and where they are going if I am initiating new ideas. Also, the whole question of being able to invigorate other people, particularly young people, is something I have always believed in but having that experience has made me even more of that opinion.

"When I went on the Columba 1400 programme I was deputy headteacher of St Mungo's Academy in Glasgow. Shortly after it I was interviewed for the post here and was successful. I am not saying that was solely responsible for it, but I think that the experience didn't do me any harm."

Jean Keenan, headteacher, Lainshaw primary, Stewarton, East Ayrshire

"What people would get out of it would depend on where they are in terms of their career. For myself it was more of a reaffirming experience; it renewed my confidence. It has renewed the sense in me that I can make a difference and that what I do is valuable. For some people it was a hugely cathartic experience. It was not that for me. Whether or not it is may depend on your own personality, where you are in life in general."

Donald Wallace, headteacher, Dalbeattie High, Dumfries and Galloway

"The traditional view of enterprise is encouraging pupils to think in entrepreneurial ways and do work experience. The other view is that it is about innovation and creativity that teachers can bring into the classroom.

I am not sure if that has been resolved.

"It has helped me to bring a more balanced approach to work. I think I am much more relaxed in allowing colleagues in school to have their head or take the lead, so the notion of delegation is more firmly embedded than before.

"It might be useful for prospective headteachers and deputy headteachers to experience Columba and SQH together. Columba is a much shorter experience, although just as expensive, or maybe more expensive, but it is more personal and gets us to reflect on our personal-professional work-life balance."

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