Who got that job?

12th June 2009 at 01:00
Ever wondered who got a job you saw advertised in The TESS? A positive frame of mind was essential for Lisa Houston

Lisa Houston is very positive about her new post - but then, so she should be. She is one of three people seconded to the Scottish Government's positive behaviour team.

Her geographical remit covers Perth and Kinross, Angus, Fife and Dundee, familiar territory since she has spent the best part of 30 years working in primary schools in the Perth and Kinross area.

The Positive Behaviour Team was set up to support recommendations in the Better Learning - Better Behaviour report in 2001 and Mrs Houston is still getting to know some of the key staff who are running initiatives that could be disseminated more widely.

So what qualified her for the job? She graduated in 1978 and her first teaching post was at North Muirton Primary in Perth - the same school where she was headteacher until taking up this post. She took a few years off to have her two sons, now in their 20s, working her way up to headships of three schools - Greenloaning Primary (a single-teacher school) in 1992; Stanley Primary in 1998; and North Muirton Primary in 2004 - graded "excellent" for its care and welfare in 2008 by HMIE.

"That was down to the staff working together to find solutions to support children and their families, particularly the most vulnerable," she says. "Teaching is all about relationships and learning, and behaviour is important to having successful relationships and learning, so it has underlined my practice."

A major focus at North Muirton was on developing strategies that would have a positive impact on children's behaviour and relationships, to develop a sense of achievement and an "I can" attitude. It led to fewer exclusions and better attendance, she says.

HMIE praised North Muirton's nurture class - Mrs Houston made a point of using a nurturing approach across the school. They also recognised the school's partnership work with parents, including after-school "Ready, Steady, Cook", computing skills classes for children and their carer or parent, and a "dads and lads club".

"Quite a lot of what we have done is based on an intuitive feeling about what is right. It might be to do with social and emotional behavioural needs, but it's also about learning styles. What will work with one child won't with another, and it's also about matching children to the adults within the school who could support them best."

The post appealed because it offered, for the first time in her career, the challenge of working outside a school environment. She could use her previous leadership experience and apply it, while learning from others and sharing their good practice. "I feel I'm at the beginning of an exciting new chapter," she says.

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