Resolutions for 2008

4th January 2008 at 00:00
What does 2008 hold for people working in and around education? We offer examples of some people's new year resolutions.


Bruce Robertson

Director of education, learning and leisure, Aberdeenshire Council

My resolutions for 2008 are:

- to complete my visits to all Aberdeenshire schools. I am about half-way through the list of 175;

- work out why it is good to have 18 pupils in P1-3 and up to 33 in P4;

- secure investment for much-needed new schools in areas of expanding population;

- leave my Blackberry behind when we go to Nairn for the weekend;

- get consensus for a new curriculum framework for Aberdeenshire;

- beat my three-year-old grandson at the Wii!;

- revisit Berneray - a wonderful island between Uist and Harris - and walk its four-mile beach;

- take John Stodter's rock band seriously (the general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland);

- tidy the garage - if my wife tidies her wardrobe(s);

- stop taking my golf seriously and in so doing reduce my handicap by two shots!


Karen Crichton

Probationer teacher at Denend Primary in Cardenden, Fife, and winner of the George Gray Award for best thesis by a final year BEd student; her subject was the influence of a commercial computer game on enterprise education.

I'm now halfway through my probationary year and it's time to make some new year resolutions.

Personally, I should like to become more confident and adventurous when teaching music. In order to do this I will seek advice from, and learn from, my more experienced colleagues who always seem to have a wealth of ideas for every subject or lesson.

Finally, with a little help from my pupils, we have decided that I should follow their example and resolve to keep my desk tidy in the new year.


Norman Drummond

Founder of Columba 1400, a social enterprise on Skye, devoted to leadership development

In 2008 I would hope to see as many headteachers, deputes and teachers, in primary and secondary, benefiting from Headteacher and Ambassadors' Leadership Academies. The impact on schools of pupils who, following their ambassadors' programme in Skye, are then able to run leadership academies for fellow pupils, is remarkable.

Columba 1400 has also been asked by parents to run leadership academies for parents. This would be an exciting, new and appropriate development.

Columba 1400's relationship with local authorities will again be crucial in 2008. The provision of shared service leadership academies has already seen powerful synergies and partnerships helping leaders of services such as social work and education to work together.

A final challenge and opportunity for 2008 will be a visit from a multiracial group of South Africans who want to deliver Columba 1400 in two of the toughest townships: Soweto and Alexandra.


Larry Flanagan

Convener of the education committee of the Educational Institute of Scotland and principal teacher of English at Glasgow's Hillhead High

Three reports in recent weeks have clearly shown there's a lack of opportunity for the poorest kids. Glasgow does not get significant extra resources to deal with that. Other parts of Scotland face similar issues.

So my resolution is to raise the profile of deprivation and the need for education to promote social justice, and to get poverty established as a political priority.

Everybody acknowledges it as an issue, but I think if you take away Schools of Ambition there's not a lot else happening. I'm not a great fan of things such as the Hunter Foundation - I think the changes have to be in the system, rather than a patch-on approach that might only change things for a small group of kids.

Smaller class sizes in areas of deprivation would be a start in meeting the needs of pupils in these areas.


Ross Deuchar

Strathclyde University senior lecturer

I want to spend more time with my three-year-old son, Alan. I've been reading Sue Palmer's Toxic Childhood and she writes about trying to wind down in the car when you're on the way home and "think little people" - to think in terms of their world.

I like to have a couple of hours of quality time with my son in the evening, when I'm not thinking about this piece of work or that email. In the world of work we're having to multi-task all the time, but when you're with your son or daughter you should just be focusing on that one person.

I should also like to rediscover the art of face-to-face communication. Sometimes you write an email and it can be misinterpreted; other times you receive an email and it can seem quite curt. More problems can arise than are solved.

I think sometimes we're trying too hard to phrase things in the right way in an email. If you're looking for favours from someone, you have to have a relationship that can't come from email contact alone - you have to actually speak to each other. There is going to be more collegiality if you know each other and talk as colleagues.


Elaine Flanagan

Development officer, assessment of achievement and national qualifications at Learning and Teaching Scotland

A feature of my job in 2007 was to identify and celebrate examples of good practice in Scottish schools and local authorities and I have resolved to do a lot more of that over the coming year.

I want to continue raising awareness among students, probationers and experienced teachers of national qualifications online - It contains a wealth of peer-reviewed resources, case studies and examples of good practice.

This year - A Curriculum for Excellence is going to gather momentum, and I want to encourage teachers to read and reflect on its emerging outcomes and consider their influence on teaching national qualifications.

Later on in the year I'll be returning to my substantive post as faculty principal teacher at Braidhurst High in North Lanarkshire. Working with Learning and Teaching Scotland has really allowed me to get my teeth into national policy. Now I have a strong foundation in A Curriculum for Excellence and am determined that that experience and expertise will benefit my school and authority.

On a personal note, as of next year I also resolve, when I'm travelling to a local authority centre, to get there successfully (AA route finder and Multimap have been my saviours this year); and adapt to sleepless nights before the arrival of my first child in April.

Violence reduction

George Hosking

Founder of Wave (Worldwide Alternatives to Violence) Trust

Wave Trust was formed in 1996 to identify and promote global best practice in tackling violence and child abuse. In 2005, we published nine years' research in Violence and what to do about it, described by one police commander as "the single most impactive thing I have seen in 30 years of policing", and by another as "the most significant paper on strategic crime reduction in recent years".

Thanks to this, Wave in 2007 has been advising the Prime Minister's office, Home Office, Centre for Social Justice and Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. One Cabinet Minister stated the report was being used daily. The World Health Organisation has invited Wave to help shape a global violence reduction strategy. Yet until six months ago, Wave had no employees and was run by volunteers.

Our resolutions for 2008 are:

l establish Wave on a sound and enduring financial footing;

l develop detailed action plans for successful implementation of our strategic recommendations at local authority level;

l update and republish Violence and what to do about it, incorporating the local implementation proposals and Wave's recent global study on gang and serious youth violence;

l deliver a new therapeutic programme for teenage gang members.

My personal resolution? Achieve all the above in less than 60-80 hours a week.


Brian Miller

Headteacher, Dalziel High, North Lanarkshire

I have resolved to try and remain below the inspectors' radar - not just this year, but for the next two years, 11 months and three weeks, by which time I will have retired. However, that's unlikely given we were last inspected seven years ago, so I hope then to have a successful inspection.

This year we will be going for Charter Mark again. We have had it three times and want to be the first school in Scotland to get it for the fourth time.

So I've something to help me through the next two years, 11 months and three weeks. I hope North Lanarkshire Council delivers the promised fitness suite in the school. That should help me maintain the drive, enthusiasm and commitment I've shown over the past 18 years. And generally keep me going.

Dalziel High is high-performing and high-achieving, with the characteristic ethos of such a school. I hope to maintain that over the coming year and build on our Scottish Qualifications Authority performance over the last few years, which has been terrific.

On a personal and a sporting note, I'm hoping the double comes up, which for me is Rangers to win the Premier League, and Motherwell to win the Scottish Cup, finish second in the premier league, and thus qualify for the Champions League.

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