Today I cooked a bbq for close to twenty people. My three year old was birling about on her scooter around our small patio which made it tricky. Trickier still was my brother in laws’ small dog which kept doing figure of eights through my legs as I tried to stop burgers and sausages turning black.

As I prepared everything I kept two incinerated black stumps for my own roll and made sure everyone else ate well. You do that don’t you?

At this point I am reminded of Simon Sineks work on “Leaders eat last.”

It’s true I thought as I cooked, I had no inclination to eat first or second or third because I was making sure everyone was able to eat first.

I was also prepared to eat something less than appetising so others had the best I could offer.

I wonder if this was the vision for the National Improvement Framework?

By taking care of the professionals by serving up the drivers ; teacher professionalism, school leadership , school improvement etc it gives schools something to get their teeth into. It also is the best the government has to offer because it’s been informed by the international panel of experts and wider consultation.

The government then relies on feedback from the guests.

Feedback comes in many forms – can I have more please? you over did it, you under did it –  all fine because everyone’s perception matters. A well done here is another mans medium there – maybes yes, maybes no!

I always remember my brother eating his first steak in a restaurant and when he was asked “How would you like this Sir?” He would say “ rare to medium to well done.”

To be honest some people are like that – they want it all – empowerment with more detail and instruction and direction. A bit like my brother’s steak – it doesn’t work.

So frameworks are loose and light for the very same reason my brothers choice has to be more specific.

Schools have to be specific about the priorities which are right for their context and what are the drivers behind those priorities.

At this point it’s a question of mayonnaise, ketchup, brown sauce or even bbq sauce?

So back to the bbq – everyone got to eat, even the dog and my two daughters were happy as it was their birthday bbq as both are born on the same day exactly two years apart.

Anna scooted up and said “ Great job Dad, “ and I realised at this point no one had spoken to me for about half an hour as I was now out of the party enveloped in smoke, hissing and a crazy dog.

The governments role is to keep the bbq going so the rest of the country can do their thing. Do your thing and remember leaders eat last!

Have a great summer everyone…




“If you have the words…”

In 2010 a mine collapsed in Chile. After several days the owners of the mine decided to drill test holes to look for survivors. 33 men were working 700 meters below the surface and 2 miles from the entrance.

33 families ; wives, sons, daughters, grandchildren feared the worst. On the seventeenth day a piece of paper emerged from one of the test holes taped to the drill bit. It read “ We are well in the shelter down below, all 33 of us.”

Incredible, after 17 days. On the 69th day all the men were reached and rescued. Even more incredible. 69 days!

How amazing! How difficult must it have been to survive underground for those 69 days in such an intense environment with imagination and fear running wild?

Seamus Heaney wrote ‘If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ ll find the way.’

These miners literally found the words. The words necessary to talk to themselves and each other in a way that helped them through such adversity.

So words are important and the quality of life, whether it’s down a mine, in a busy classroom or a family home is all about the quality of your relationships.

Relationships are all about “the words.” Sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken. We know that often conversations can go on and on, long after the words have been spoken ; for days, months, years even.

Find the words, find the relationship. If we think for a moment about what we read then the words do not start and end on a page, they go on long after we finish. We know this, they live on in our consciousness.

We have had many words spoken about us this week.

Words were shared with the country about our school in a report. We know the words, we wrote the words.

Not with a pen but with every effort, gesture, mistep, embrace, consolation, congratulation and trial. Over minutes, days and years and this is why the words mean so very much.

Schools have been sharing our words on their feeds because they relate to the words. These are words we can use about every school : leadership, effort, care, wellbeing, determination and “journey.”

We have been using words this week like “Our friends in Moray,” “Our friends in Glasgow,”

Health institutions, Voluntary organisations, many are hearing and sharing these words.

And we mean it because above all in Scottish Education, and in the field of Care and Childrens’ services the relationship and friendships between all of us matter.

“We work for Scotland” and in so doing we work for each other, with each other and through each other.

Words matter in your town, village, street, boardroom, playground, canteen, across cluster, in your authority and across the country.

We are very thankful for the words. “If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ ll find the way.’

Have a great weekend everyone…and thank you for inspiring us all.

Let’s find our way together. “We work for Scotland.”

“If you have the words…”


I sat down to finish Harper Lee’s “To kill a mockingbird,” this afternoon and disappeared, literally lost in the words.

I was taken by how much the two younger characters, Jem and Scout were so brave, curious and aware of the world around them and reflective of it. Always asking questions of themselves and others. I thought about all the children in our school, my own children and how sophisticated their “play” really is.

I won’t spoil it, for anyone who hasn’t read it, but I was also drawn to the other leading character Atticus Finch, a man completely rooted in his beliefs.

To be “more like Atticus” or rooted in our beliefs we need to encourage children to be more like Jem and Scout. To play and find their own worlds.

To be more like Atticus ourselves we need to constantly be reflective of the world around us and ask questions through reading, writing and listening and talking. To do these things often in the quiet moments we may find of ourselves, for ourselves.

I blog and write and people often remark it must help you do your job otherwise you are busy, why would you waste time doing it? For me it keeps me rooted in my beliefs. There is no better use of my time, of our time. Especially if those beliefs are about being kind and helping others and making Scotland the best place in the world for children to grow up.

So my new motto is to be “ more like Atticus,” this week and we will see if any mockingbirds sing around the Carnoustie streets as we move into the month of June.

Remember …

. “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

Have a great week everyone.








“To me it is a prison.”

Depends on how you look at things doesn’t it? “Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.” William Shakespeare, Hamlet to be exact.

Now before we get carried away here, we aren’t in the territory of Alexandre Dumas or Faustus and Marlowe, but we are reaching for a similar map.

There is a lot of thinking and rhetoric about words and wee people at the moment in Scottish Education. All of it of course is reasonable as with any “change” there are different grooves that we may slide into it – denial, resistance, acceptance, performance.

I prefer to focus on the positive energy that words can create by “thinking it so.” So this is not a topical blog, rather it is a choice made by a professional to celebrate the power of words and wee ones this week.

As a school we are now underway working with the Allied Health Professionals ( Speech & Language) to help us with words; spoken words, written words, words that aren’t spoken or written but thought about.

Words, words, words. None of this new learning would have been remotely possible were it not for John Swinney, Pupil Equity Funding, Morag Dorward at NHS Tayside and the ingenuity of improvement enthusiasts who linked health with schools to close vocabulary gaps. These collaborations are spreading across the country like lights on the national grid.

We are more aware than ever (as a nation and a profession) that the most important person you can talk to is yourself.

This is due to the outstanding work of SAMH, Barnados and others bringing this stark insight to the fore.

My father had already shared with me this “truth” after reading “The power of positive thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale as a sixteen year old. He then went onto apply this knowledge to a highly successful professional football career to help him deal with playing in front of massive crowds including for Glasgow Celtic (Steve Murray).

What if your vocabulary doesn’t extend to letting you talk yourself into “thinking it so,” though? Do we take for granted those who can and those who can’t?

Does a lack of vocabulary create “behaviour” we see from children and adults? Of course it does and then again it’s not just vocabulary it’s the juxtaposition of words or how we choose to combine them which makes all the difference inside (and out).

This is a huge focus for our school and should be for the country.

How will we ensure children, our families and our workforce have the ability to talk to themselves with an expressive language which creates agency, resilience, positivity and enthusiasm? Or to talk with others for that matter.

The top and bottom mezzanine of our school is approx 100 metres long.

The bottom level can at times appear magnetised and the top level would appear to be electrified. I’ll explain.

I sometimes refer to the one downstairs as “running the gauntlet.” I literally start to walk along the P1-P3 area and I am immediately in a scrum of wee people like sticky willows, all smiling, covering my shirt and trousers and tie with glue, paint, snack and snot.

Hence the “running the gauntlet” phrase…it’s like a giant co-ordinated squash and a squeeze. Just as I think it’s over…I realise a wee person is still attached to my leg offering me the latest recount of his playtime misadventures whilst a wee girl is bouncing around me as if on an imaginary space hopper telling me how she has shown grit on a writing task….and with a gentle shake and a compliment …I’m through and relative calm is restored.

I say “relative” because as anyone knows if you have a play curriculum as a feature of your school, the word “calm” isn’t in your vocabulary it’s more like engaged or immersed. For good reason.

On Friday afternoon as I paced the top level corridor swerving around numerous children and adults the electricity was in full flow. The energy this top level area creates is in itself a force of nature.

It takes me probably a minute after school hours to get along both corridors. When children and adults are in it can take upwards of ten to twenty minutes or so.

On Friday afternoon on the top level, I paused several times to answer children who had the following to say ; “ How was your lunch Mr Murray?” accompanied by Chris opening up his hand for a handshake and patting my forearm like a world leader. Chris is ten by the way. His style always makes me smile.

Then onto Ellie “Hope you are having a lovely day Mr Murray?” always with both hands behind her back as if she is standing at a meet and greet and is the guest of honour at a wedding – she is eight…and then Kaylin, “I hope your day is going well Mr Murray?” as if she is checking in with me to make sure I’m doing ok and checking the barometer of the school. Because we all are, aren’t we? Barometers, conductors creating atmosphere.

These children though. Genuine, in context and inspiring communication which creates the energy all of us need to make the most of ourselves and each other every day. Super conductors. Initiators and responders. Give me five – we are beyond that – give me peace – unheard of. It’s just not who we are or what we do, is it?

I always respond, “ Thank you for asking,” and I mean it. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mess, the soup, the bolognese of life. Tangled.

So in our context we try and be present and listen to the quality of conversation happening all around us. At times it’s quantity and at times it’s quality but the most important thing is everyone is modelling.

This week in our new learning we were introduced to tier 1 words, tier 2 words and tier 3 words. I prefer to think about conversations in the same way.

How many conversations will you have with children and families this week? Pay attention to the quality and the quantity and remember always, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so…”

There is much to be proud of in Scotland and in Scottish Education, the Friday afternoon scrum, snack and snot tells me so…oh and the words help too…

Be kind to yourself this week…

Have a great week everyone…and remember together as a profession we can do this…


“To me it is a prison.”

“The little Iceberg”

The water stretched for as far as the eye could see. You would be forgiven for thinking someone had drawn a thick blue line and coloured the bottom half of the drawing in, completely. Well, almost completely because in this grand and majestic ocean there floated a tiny speck, a jagged little piece of ” I really don’t know what …. ” but it was, it most definitely was …

The tiny piece of “I don’t really know what …” grew and grew and became a little iceberg. All icebergs start out that way… dont you know? Or maybe you already knew that …I do like to remind people of these things before we all forget and the world moves on.

Tiny, drifting, getting colder and colder and bigger and bigger. No one pays any attention, after all , there are lots of other icebergs of all shapes and sizes in the ocean.
So she grew and grew and grew and it got colder and colder and colder and eventually she was so big no one could get anywhere near her. What you may not know is underneath the surface.. an iceberg is seven times as large …I’m not kidding …seven it’s absolutely incredible isn’t it?

The little iceberg grew sad because deep down she knew she didn’t want people to be frightened of her. I’ll let you into a secret …she was frightened all the time herself. Anytime, anyone came close they would crash against her and end up hurting themselves.

She had been the cause of lots of sobbing and wailing and had sunk the hopes of many….all because strangers had come to close …

Then one day a little bird came and landed on her. The little bird said nothing and pretty much did nothing as far as the iceberg could tell for the whole of the first day! At times you would be forgiven for thinking it was nothing more than a statue or worse still a figment of your imagination. It didn’t move it was just happy to be on the cool thick blue ice. When it started to get dark the little bird flew off without a sound and the iceberg noticed it had left a tiny twig on the ice shelf.
“I wonder what the little bird is up to?” thought the iceberg. ” I wonder if she will come back?” “I don’t care if she does silly little bird,” and the iceberg groaned a bit because she couldn’t get comfortable before closing her eyes as the flying fish jumped all around her and the whales sang their haunting songs.

The very next day the bird appeared and hovered gently above the ice as if it were waiting on an invitation to land. It eventually landed so lightly the iceberg didn’t even feel it’s touch, in a different place this time from the last don’t you know, how strange? She appeared to be watching with her head tilted to the side as if she were listening to the shifting of the ice which creaked and groaned like an old pirates kneecaps, the bones made weak by the years of scrubbing the decks and being soaked by sea and salty air.

She looked slowly and very, very carefully all over the ice at the white crystals, the scars, the twists, the scratches, the watery blue diamonds, the ridges, the buffs and scuffs and seams. She looked so intently, I swear it was as if she was trying to look through the ice itself but that was impossible …especially on the upper parts of the iceberg which were thick and crusted like angry waves which had frozen in time.

Up, down from side to side and back again and then whoosh off she flew just as the dark started to set in. Again the iceberg noticed a tiny little twig and a faint smell of lavender. “What a strange bird who would bring such things to me” thought the iceberg. She closed her eyes again tight as a short sighted shark bumped into her side and thrashed its tail in fright.

On the third day without so much as an introduction, without a word she started pecking away at the hard ice on the upper part of the little iceberg. The bit I was talking about yesterday which looked like the lip of a glassy wave just before it breaks at its highest point before spraying the world with its white water.

All day, every day little touches of its beak and then at long last… a tiny bit of the iceberg fell off and the iceberg felt much better. A bit like when you are carrying something heavy, far too heavy and you get a chance to put it down or better still someone polite asks if they can help by carrying it for a bit…

Every morning the little bird would arrive and stop for a moment. The little bird would listen to the creaks and groans of the iceberg and know where to start each day …

This little bird must be a very clever bird …thought the iceberg  – she said “How do you know where to start each day little bird ?”  The little bird cocked its tiny head to one side and replied  “I listen. ”

This happened everyday, the little bird would listen and seemed to know exactly the right place to start. One day a big piece of ice fell off and nearly crushed the little bird. The little bird flew away and didn’t come back all the rest of the day. The iceberg was very sad. “Where did you go?” said the little iceberg.  “I went to find my friend.”  said the little bird between pecking  ” What’s your friend called ? “…..  “Courage,” remarked the little bird and kept pecking.

The ice berg didn’t like the fact the little bird had left her so he growled at her all day. The growling got louder and louder until suddenly the little bird began to sing. She sang the same song over and over and over. “Whats the name of that song?” said the iceberg having stopped groaning. “Its called compassion” and very soon the little iceberg stopped groaning once and for all and started listening to the beautiful singing which echoed far across the ocean …at times the little iceberg began to hum along too…

Some days the little bird would work all through the evening until the darkness came and then work some more. The iceberg would tilt its head and allow the moon to shine as the little bird worked. This only happened now and again when the little bird was trying to open up a large seam in the ice and wouldn’t give up till the work was nearly done. “What a brave little bird, it must be so tired working without rest,” thought the iceberg. The iceberg thought ” I will help the little bird” and it began to move and sway with the bird and suddenly the seam became wider and the ice came tumbling down as easily as a knife slicing through warm butter …except it wasn’t butter was it? It was thick twisted ice and the white jagged pillars disappeared deep into the green water below, tumbling hurtling somersaulting towards the deep and the darkness below.

Over the days, weeks, months and years the little bird would often slip and fall but would not make a fuss. Sometimes the little bird would shiver but she would always remain connected to the ice – no matter how cold or fierce the wind blew …she was always connected.

On one of the days a terrible storm came out from nowhere as if it had been hiding in the thick white envelope of fluffy clouds high up in the sky and waiting to play a sinister trick on the earth below. By now though they were used to the storms which would come often and without warning but this storm tonight was like none other.

The clouds were black as if someone had just taken a brush and dipped it full of black paint into clear water in a jam jar and started to stir …fast, faster, furious…the iceberg began to be frightened and it felt itself shake as electric bolts clattered overhead …the little bird said ” Do not worry you are safe I am here, we have been through storms before and this will pass.” The bird asked ” What do you need from me? ” and the iceberg drew the little bird in for a little more connection, using its frozen feathers as protection…After a while the bird said ” How will we calm down?” And the iceberg shook its head …so the little bird held one of the tiny twigs, (you know , the one it had brought on the very first day.) The iceberg suddenly remembered that there was a time and a place of calm before the storm had ever begun to rage and this thought was enough to hold onto just as the little bird held onto the twig with the strange and sweet smell all through the night.

The storm passed as soon as it had began and both the iceberg and bird breathed in the fresh air as if they had been submerged beneath the waves for centuries. They had fun breathing to counts of four, then fix then six and starting all over again. “What a marvellous thing breath is”
said the iceberg as it watched the tiny birds belly rise and fall and white smoke came out of its beak like a friendly fire breathing dragon, except it was only the tiny bird and the iceberg thought ” what a powerful thing imagination is if it can make a fire breathing dragon out of a tiny bird’s rise and fall?”

One day the little iceberg realised there was very little ice left and as soon as she thought it the little bird immediately said “Our work is done, I must go ” and she flapped her wings and rose into the air.
“But what is your name little bird? said the tiny piece of ice …for in all the years they had been together she had never even asked …being together, connected had somehow been enough …

The little bird swooped down low over the piece of ice and sang one word …“Kindness” ….stopping for an instant to give the little iceberg a tiny kiss and then was gone – forever.

The little iceberg began to melt and was a little afraid she would disappear forever into the deep….after all cold was all she had ever known until she had met the little bird  … but she remembered how brave the little bird had been and so the little iceberg closed her eyes for the last time and when they opened she was a part of the ocean.

Warm and clear. She could see the colours of the rainbow in the fish and the plants underneath the surface. She felt part of the world for the very first time.

From time to time she would look up and see tiny birds flying overhead and she smiled because she knew …the secret to happiness was kindness …a brave little bird who listened, who stayed connected …no matter how fierce the wind blew, singing songs of compassion had taught her that…


“The little Iceberg”

Scotland “the brave,” or Scotland “the braver.”

It’s about time we subdue the wee voice in our head warbling on about a crisis of confidence and stand up and embrace the light. I was always told confidence was a belief inextricably linked to how likely you feel you are going to succeed. We are moving forwards, as a profession, we aren’t there yet but we are moving.


A new dialogic, immersive and improvement focussed approach to inspection. Having just been through one myself, the professional learning I gained across such an intensive experience was transformational in my own way of thinking. Inspiring how dedicated these professionals are to capture and tell the story of a school’s journey and work shoulder to shoulder on your Improvement priorities.

Regional Collaboration

The terrific work of the Northern Alliance and the product and process which emerged has established a real legacy for other newly formed regional collaboratives to learn from, emulate and improve upon. This work can only be of benefit in terms of divergent thinking and collaborative professionalism. Initial meetings in our own Tay collaborative have given us a real sense of clarity and confidence about improving outcomes for all our families.


The newly developed framework driving forward high quality leadership support and training offers at all levels is impressive and purposeful. The recent awards ceremony highlights the commitment of professionals to challenge themselves to undertake rich learning to improve outcomes for self and others.

Education Scotland

The guidance on reporting and moderation (to name a few) are beginning to promote a culture of innovation and translation to improve our systems in every corner of the country.

Local authorities

Due to balancing the books “the centres” are thinking SMARTER and putting the very best people into support roles. Our own experience working with our Maths lead on conceptual number is testament to this.


School communities working together to learn from last years spending plans and have a relentless focus on delivering equity. Schools being ambitious in their planning like our own transformational work using a Pedagogy team across the school.

Research informed practice

Whether it’s Oriris/Sarah Philp and Hattie, Suzanne Zeedyk and ACES, George Gilchrist and Practitioner Enquiry, Andy Hargreaves and Collaborative Professionalism or the Education Endownment Foundation… the country is benefiting from this focus on evidence based practice.

Learning & Wellbeing

Schools across the country are firmly committed to innovate and promote children’s and families wellbeing. A focus on children generating wellbeing outcomes and unfolding these capacities for themselves is beginning to emerge.


Similarly play curriculum is beginning to become a fixture in schools’ improvement agendas championed by Upstart. Thanks to the courage of our staff we didn’t use a single worksheet on P1 in term one.

Data and improvement methodology through NHS / Scil

Leaders across the country are beginning to engage in the work of Deming and others to begin to understand metrics and the variance which exists in every context. Who would have thought that you would be talking about “ value added” interventions with someone you bump into at your three year old daughters swimming lesson.


A first national conference in September will influence national policy in understanding Adverse childhood experience which can only be a positive pursuit and investment in our children’s futures.

So let’s keep moving forwards, even if at times it’s a meander …we are still moving, together and make our country the best we possibly can for all our children.



Scotland “the brave,” or Scotland “the braver.”

Toast, Chinese Opera & Wellbeing

Today, we had a terrific experience watching a Chinese opera involving our P6 class. This was due to a partnership with our friends at the Scottish Opera and the Confuscius Institute at the University of Strathclyde. Standing next to Mrs Liu, our Hanban / Mandarin teacher you could see quite clearly she was absorbed by the Scottish Opera translation of the Dragon of the Western Sea. We all were! It was celebrated by parents, grandparents, children, carers and staff.

Mrs Mitchell, Mrs Hoggan and Mrs Bell’s smiles were as bright as the theatre lights overhead. It was also celebrated by our P5 classes who attended the dress rehearsal and were transfixed by the exotic costumes, the spectacle, the performance.

Even today as the children lined up to have a slice of toast at the toast bar I overheard, “ I was a pirate,” “I was an African,” “ I was Chinese,” “Do you know we learned all those dances in an hour and forty minutes Mr Murray.” Not the usual toast bar discussions outside our office this morning. A member of the leadership team joins the toast queue and sits, relaxed taking part in the animated conversations.

Thanks to our parents group (council ) we fund a “give us a BREAKfast,” this allows children who need a breakfast or a chance to have an enhanced check in to take it, no questions asked. This toast bar is the seed for an ambitious project firmly focussed on children’s voice, family learning and above all wellbeing. This will be run by our voice of the pupil group ( pupil council ) and we will make good use of the new guidance from Education Scotland on learner’s voice and participation.

Sometimes the line is long for toast because payday is a few days away at the end of each month or on a Monday because the children have slept in as their weekend habits aren’t the same as the school week and they were rushing to be in on time. Something has to give – usually the hair style and the breakfast. Lots of bed heads and grumbling tums.

Today, it was pretty long because children just needed a wee bit of time to talk and celebrate the performance…even if it meant we used up three loaves and some cherry jam donated by a parent. We trust our children to be responsible and respect the toast offer. We don’t make a fuss we respect their choice to come or not.

So what does wellbeing and making a decision to use our toast bar have to do with a Chinese themed opera?

Simply put, we are of the belief you don’t “find” wellbeing without first creating it for yourself.

We are exposed to all manner of texts growing up which empathise this ideal of “finding.” Finding vocation, redemption or ones true self. All of course are noble pursuits. To pursue something suggests you know what it looks like, sounds like and feels like and it takes sacrifice, energy and effort.

We give children opportunities to apply and reflect on their experiences about wellbeing daily through check ins, check outs and discussions about our school aims for this very reason. We talk about wellbeing and have a relentless ebb and flow of chats throughout every day.

As Michaelangelo said “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” Isn’t this what an education should create? To go after wellbeing like an artist emboldened to create his or her own masterpiece. A craftsman who uses the tacit knowledge to give the illusion their work is effortless, but, as we all know …the truth is it’s acquired through countless mistakes, tears, escalations, held breaths and lessons learned. Who is doing the chiselling? Teacher or child, family? All three? Or is it the relationship which is emerging between mind and experience. Or environment and child? We know the brain is very different from mind.

We are committed to learning about science and the biology of behaviour in our school but the mind is something more. We are not just impulses and drives, we are much, much more than this.

This evening we were visited by CAMHS Education Officers who gave a spellbinding performance of their own, giving all our staff the benefit of their expertise. The staff were having lightbulb moments across the evening as they connected experience with theory and practice. Thank you to Kerry & Ruth at NHS Tayside. We look forward to learning more to continue to support all our children and develop our use of the right strategy at the right time. This I might add could even include something as simple as a visit to the toast bar. We are planning to use their support to map our own strategies onto a continuum to support an ever growing toolkit to promote mental health and resilience.

So how do you “create” your own wellbeing?

First of all we encourage children to make choices.

As Robert Frost so poignantly wrote, “ I took the road less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. ” Children are encouraged to reflect on the “why” behind their choices each day. “Why did you choose to use this strategy?” To consider like Frost “What is making the difference.” This applies to wellbeing just as much as writing a story or solving a number puzzle.

Children are also encouraged to make connections across as many different points of learning as they can. It’s more likely to be applied, if it’s meaningful and memorable. This is why we have developed a partnership with Allied Health Professionals who will performing a whole school communication audit to enable all our children to communicate effectively. We can’t promote questioning of any description if a child lacks the vocabulary to construct a response whether that’s internal or external. Monologue or dialogue. We believe this expression of thought is an imperative if we are to support all children to bring meaning to experience.

We also believe in supporting children to make decisions.

Take for example the opera today in our gym hall. Do I take part or not? Do I go for a big part or a small one? How do I respond if I’m disappointed with the outcome? Do I wear a costume? Do I sing or mime? And so on….

“People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves,” as Pablo Coehlo once wrote. This takes time and patience and an unwavering belief in the power within the decision making process. A wee example of this power ensues…

Stradivarius made the best violins in the world, seemingly effortlessly. However despite thousands visiting his workshop and studying his methods. Despite his own sons working with him, when he passed away – no one could make a violin like he did. It just did not sound the same. Why? Because he learned through experience and could change the sound of a violin in a heartbeat with the tiniest of adjustments. We are all capable of becoming a Stradivarius in our lives whether that’s as a parent, a professional or a brother or sister, son or daughter.

The ability like Stradavarius to make those almost imperceptible adjustments to keep our wellbeing on track. This takes practice and feedback and courage to try again when things don’t go to plan. We try and be mindful of the need to be brave at all times in our decision making as staff whether it’s trying to support a distressed child in their own home (which happens) or school or taking the time by folding our priorities over momentarily on our daily to-do list so we focus on the now. We are always learning.

This is why schools are constantly striving to find innovate ways to create the conditions for self regulation and self directed learning at all levels. How you learn as a professional is just as important as what you learn. We are all so very different…we must remain open and celebrate the diversity within collective thinking around the same subject and respect people will find their own way to consensus. Or respectfully disagree and find some common ground to brush ourselves down and start again.

So why am I making the link between wellbeing and learning?

These experiences, which schools across the country try so hard to provide, illuminate a simple yet fundamental concept linked to wellbeing.

Learner agency. The ability to do things for oneself. As Mark Twain apparently said “Don’t let schooling get in the way of your education.”

You need to have trust in others and be willing to be guided. This relies on the quality of relationships. It’s that simple …the decision making landscape is full of texture and colour, engulfed by sunny showers, downpours, thunderstorms and the occasional blue sky. It’s always better appreciating a vista with another.

In our school we are absolutely committed to supporting children to learn to unfold the capacities which underpin wellbeing for themselves. Sometimes they lack maturity. Sometimes we lack maturity and “immaturity” is defined as the inability to make sense of something for oneself. This is where intervention is required. Is it easy? No, nothing that’s worth doing ever is…but the ability to create wellbeing must surely be worth it…

Good luck everyone….



Toast, Chinese Opera & Wellbeing