Newsletter Four Newsletter 15, Winter 2000/2001
 
Newsletter
The newsletter was edited by Christine MacLean and produced by Gina Reddie.

Roadshow

Roadshow on the theme of Pupil Particpation
January, Friday 26th in association with Edinburgh CIty Council at Trinity Academy, Edinburgh. Keynote Speaker: Dr Julie Allan, Reader, Institute of Education, University of Stirling.
March, Friday 16th in association with Falkirk Council at Carronvale House, Larbert

For some time now, the Ethos Network has been working in partnership with local authorities to host Roadshows where both local and visiting good practice can be shared. We believe that both the Network Highland Conference!and a council can benefit from this arrangement. The Network has a partner who has inside knowledge of local practice and can help co-ordinate and publicise an event. For councils, co-hosting an event can promote the priorities they have and can offer an opportunity for schools in the area to find out more about what their neighbours are doing. Time commitments often make it impossible to be aware of good practice on our doorsteps.

In October 2000 the Ethos Network, along with the Anti-Bullying Network, travelled to Inverness to co-host a joint event with highland Council on the theme of Pupil Participation. This was a first for both Networks, working together on a local event, and for Highland Council who were thrilled to host such an event for the first time.National Conference Information!

Highland Council saw the event as a major opportunity to boost the Raising Achievement project across the Council area. Gordon MacDonald of Highland Education Services welcomed the chance to highlight the excellent work already going on in primary, secondary and special schools and, through the event, raise the whole profile of ethos across all Highland schools. Teachers and pupils had reason to be proud.   The level of sophistication, knowledge and leadership shown by the pupils was a sheer joy to see and hear.  Delegate evaluation backed this up:  the day was received as positive and stimulating.

Gordon MacDonald believes that the Pupil Participation event provided a useful benchmark for Highland schools. The fact that the event was held in the Council Chambers made a clear statement to the pupils of the high regard in which they were held and of the important role they played in the whole programme.  Council-wide plans are already underway to further capitalise on the event and to drive forward more initiatives for raising Achievement in Highland. To encourage a greater level of co-operation and communication between schools, all those who contributed to the day will be highlighted on the Highland Schools Raising Achievement website.

Contact: Gordon MacDonald, Education Centre, Castle Street, Dingwall, IV15 9HU, Highland.
e-mail:  gordon.g.macdonald@highland.gov.uk

 
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The Scottish Schools Ethos Award is presented every year. The award was set up as a direct response to the outstanding achievements of Scottish Schools in promoting a positive approach to learning and teaching and their readiness to take account of the views of pupils, parents and teachers.

Why an award?

  • To recognise the achievement of schools.
  • To encourage other schools to take a critical look at their ethos and to implement appropriate changes.
  • To signal the importance of evaluating and developing ethos in relation to pupils':
    - academic learning
    - personal and social development
    - personal safety and protection

Selecting a winner

2000 will be awarded to the winner and 1000 to the runner up

An Award Committee set up by the Network selects the winners using the following criteria:

  • The submission focuses on school ethos rather than classrooms or departments.
  • There is evidence of systematic evaluation of school ethos/
  • There is evidence of significant action arising from the evaluation involving pupils and staff in planning and implementation.
  • A continuing commitment to reviewing and developing school ethos using evidence as the basis for planning and sustaining action is demonstrated.

Putting it together

Submissions for the Award may be in writing (max. length 5000 words) or in video format (max. 20 minutes). Text, photographs and graphs can be used to convey messages about promoting and evaluating a positive ethos. Evidence to convey the impact of work on ethos can include, perceptions of pupils, staff, parents and others, changes in pupils' attainments over time or reductions in discipline referrals and exclusion rates.

...below, some of the Award winners talk about their work in developing a positive school ethos and applying for and winning the Award...

Craigie High School, Dundee, Winner 2000
When the group of staff at Craigie High School had collated their submission for the Award early this year they were taken aback by how much the school had done in the past few years in the area of ethos. The application helped to conduct an audit of a key area for the Standards and Quality Report and through this identify some areas to be considered for future development. Improving the school environment, reviewing the website and looking at the pupil council and the buddy system were some of the areas identified for future work.Craigie High School

Headteacher David May believes there are great benefits to be accrued in applying for the award. Gathering the evidence made the school realise how much had been achieved. Winning was a great tribute. In Dundee the director of Education and the Convenor of the Education Committee hosted a reception for Craigie staff where it was publicly acknowledged that the award was a national recognition of their work.

Contact: Roy Simon, Acting Headteacher, Craigie High School, Garnet Terrace, Dundee, DD4 7QD, tel. 01382 438740.

Pentland School, North Lanarkshire, Runner-up 2000
Pentland School is a specialist resource helping children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Emphasis is placed on supporting pupils to overcome their achievement inhibiting emotions. Headteacher Iain Porteous is quick to stress that staff have the privilege of being in a position to influence pupils' lives and future prospects. He sees this as demanding and difficult work and requiring Pentland Schoolstaff, in turn, to feel valued and confident in their individual and corporate ability to make a real difference.

Receiving recognition as runner-up in the Ethos Award has boosted staff and pupil morale. As a result of the award the school received a commendation for outstanding achievement from North Lanarkshire's Director of Education, Michael O'Neill. Recognition was made in the local press. Parents tell Mr Porteous that they are further assured that their children are receiving an education in the best possible environment. A recent test of the school's team spirit was a move to new premises. Staff believe that the school's already established positive ethos provided a secure foundation on which to tackle this potentially traumatic change.

Contact: Iain Porteous, Headteacher, Pentland School, Tay Street, Coatbridge, ML5 2NA, tel. 01236 420471

St. Ninian's High School, Kirkintilloch, Runner-up 1998
St. Ninian's joined the Ethos Network because, as Headteacher Tony Conroy believes, a 'good ethos is the foundation upon which everything worthwhile in a school is built'. By joining the Network the school set out to get in touch with a range of good practice from other schools which would help them to further enhance the ethos of the school. In entering for the Ethos Award the school felt that they would be able to reflect more closely on all aspects of their ethos. Winning was a great boost to pupil and staff self-esteem because it affirmed all the work they had done. St Ninian's High School

Has the development of and focus on ethos been worthwhile? St. Ninian's believe: 'without a doubt - yes!' HMI rated the school ethos as 'very good' and a key strength of the school. There has been a 66% improvement in the number of pupils gaining 5 credits at Standard Grade and 100% improvement in the number of pupils gaining 5 Highers. The school has also experienced a marked improvement in general behaviour and Tony Conroy sees St. Ninian's as a school community 'that feels secure and confident in itself an in its' ability, and this is reflected in all that it does'.

Contact: Tony Conroy, Headteacher, St. Ninian's High School, Bellfield Road, Kirkintilloch, G66 1DT, tel. 0141 776 1585

 

Spotlight on Pupil Participation The Ethos Network is highlighting pupil participation this year. This is the theme of our events and the focus of our case studies. Pupil participation has been recognised as an important ingredient in the establishment of a positive school ethos in various studies such as Helen Cowie's work on peer support; in John MacBeath's work with Fife schools; and most recently in Stirling Council's study of pupil councils. The requirement to involve children and young people in decision making has now achieved prominence in Scottish policy making. Through the Standards in Scotland's Schools Act 2000, Scotland is the first place in the UK where children have a broad right to be consulted on their school education. The Scottish Executive's Child Strategy Statement requires all departments to consider the implications of policies for children.

Development of practice in schools

The Ethos Network has been collecting examples of practice in the area of pupil participation through events and through data gathered via our registration forms. What is emerging is a picture of schools placing priority on areas such as education for citizenship, developing peer support through buddy schemes for example, and either setting up or further developing their pupil councils.

Below are some of the key ideas from recent studies and examples of practice. Some relevant organisations are also included. The Ethos Network wants to hear more about what is going on in Scottish Schools. If you are developing pupil consultation and participation in your school please get in touch so that we can improve our database of practices and have more potential for sharing what works and the lessons learned.

Pupil councils: what helps them to work Knowledge of rights: sources of help
  • Commitment by the Headteacher and the senior management team.
  • Active pupil council representatives.
  • Does the council have a clearly defined remit and are boundaries agreed?
  • Co-operation and support of staff.
  • Systems are in place for representatives to gather comments and report back to their class.
  • Regular feedback is given to the council.

'Active citizenship in Stirling  Council Schools: a research study on pupil councils' is available from Stirling Council Children's Services priced 5.00. 01786 479187

Article 12 promotes awareness of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the need to consult with young people on the issues relevant to them.  Priorities are:  lowering the voting age; education; and improving the minimum wage for young people. Save the Children publishes a resource pack called: 'Partners in Rights: creative activities exploring rights and citizenship for 7-11year olds. 'This and other publications on children's rights can be obtained from Save the Children in Scotland, contact: Joyce Sperber 0131 527 8200. Full list here.
Pupil Participation ...making it work Peer Support: the barriers
The ethos of the school must encourage participation.
Structures and systems must be in place to ensure rights to participation.
Conditions and the environment must be such to enable young people to exercise their rights.

Adapted from Green, D.R., in Political participation of youth below voting age, (1999) Riepl, B. & Wintersperger, H. (eds.) European Centre, Vienna

  • Some adults are reluctant to share power with young people.
  • The school environment can be aggressive.
  • Some peers are hostile and sabotage the system.
  • There can be a stigma attached to using the service.
  • Other school systems or rules inhibit the support systems working.
  • Fewer boys than girls are prepared to become involved as supporters.

The Peer Support Forum exists to share good practice on peer support systems. They can be contacted at the Mental Health Foundation on 020 7535 7400.

Participation Network
In partnership with the Carnegie Young People's Initiative, Children in Scotland has conducted a national study which examined young people's participation. Children in Scotland have agreed to facilitate good practice by the creation of a 'Participation Network'. Areas that the Network will address include evaluation of young people's participation, examples of good practice and building links. Schools were under-represented in the study, so input from schools to the Participation Network would be welcome. SSEN will be keeping in touch and participating in the network.

'Taking the initiative: promoting young people's participation in public decision making in Scotland' is available from Children in Scotland. Contact Anne-Marie Dorrian on 0131 222 2420 for the publication and more information about the network.