Jotter - The bright side of life

10th April 2009 at 01:00

Positively the last word on the retirement do for emeritus professor Brian Boyd. The best musical contribution of the evening came, appropriately, from Nigel Osborne, distinguished composer, peace activist and, er, professor as well (Edinburgh University). This wise man from the east suggested that Brian's retirement was only an intermission - after which he produced a guitar and led a rendition of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" (with mixed-ability group whistling) from Life of Brian. Lovers of the film will appreciate Osborne's introductory remarks: "Brian's been a long time in education, and has therefore spent time at several crucifixions." We won't even mention the Second Coming - but it started this week on page 22.

Come on down

Nominations for teachers desperate to stand in the elections to the General Teaching Council for Scotland open in 10 days' time. To help people make up their minds, the latest issue of the council's Teaching Scotland mag has helpfully rounded up some key figures to spell out the excitement that is the GTCS. Chief executive Tony Finn suggested that serving on the council was a significant CPD "opportnity" for teachers. Mmm.

Nae respect

Perspective is all, as Keir Bloomer illustrated at a recent meeting of North Ayrshire heidies. The daily diary from the head's perspective might begin at 8.10am with mail to sort out, followed by interruptions by a succession of teachers, phone calls from the office about forms, dealings with a difficult parent - finally departing at 6.20pm, which allows for some thinking time on A Curriculum for Excellence ("two minutes").

But from a teacher's viewpoint, the head's day might look something like: arrive at 9.25, coffee at 9.30, daily crossword at 9.40, complete crossword at 10.15 while supervising the school by looking out of the window, make a note to learn Sudoku at 10.30, write to the director of education at 10.35 to complain about lack of support for headteachers, pursue community liaison at the local golf club at 11.05.


Scotland's school leaders are clearly a highly-literate enclave. At the conference for secondary heads to discuss A Curriculum for Excellence, David Cameron, leader of the directors of education, came under fire from heads who feared the new curriculum lacked structure.

Have no fear, he declared: "The structure is there in the experiences and outcomes - in fact, they offer as much structure as the works of Dostoyevsky".

To which Brian Cooklin, head of Stonelaw High, responded: "I'd like to thank David Cameron for his reference to Dostoyevsky, because there are elements of this programme that remind me of Crime and Punishment."

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