Struggling and Succeeding

Struggling and Succeeding: Learning with a Growth Mindset on Tuesday 24th May at Sandown Park Racecourse – guest blog by Katie Hayes, Educational Psychologist

Following James Nottingham’s visit to Midlothian and his inspiring demonstrations of the learning pit, it was amazing to have the opportunity to hear him speak about growth mindset in Surrey on 24th May. He was joined by speakers Matthew Syed and Steve Ingle to explore how mindsets affect motivation and learning, and how we can nurture growth mindsets in ourselves and learners.

Matthew Syed, has just published his latest book ‘Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance’ and spoke about how important it is that we see success as a journey. Once you think of success as a journey you are more willing to take the necessary steps to get there. In the media, we so often see the ‘performance’ and not the ‘practice’, and this can reinforce the notion that people are naturally talented or that success ‘just happens’. Matthew Syed shared examples of how David Beckham practiced for endless hours as a child to get to where he is, and how behind every great invention there are countless prototypes that we don’t see. Did you know Dyson has invented a new noiseless hair dryer? And that there were 600 prototypes for this in the making!

James Nottingham echoed the importance of practice and persistence as well as focussing on progress rather than achievement. He made an important distinction between ‘effort’ and ‘process’ – it’s not just how hard you try at something it’s HOW you try; putting the emphasis on process and learning strategies is important. Steve Ingle even shared an  example from Lasswade Primary School and their  use of learning powers; it was great to hear Midlothian’s work being recognised and named checked down south in Surrey! James Nottingham challenged us all to think about the different ways that we can encourage growth mindsets by celebrating progress, for example, how often do wall displays include draft work as well as the finished product?

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The day encouraged me to reflect on the language that we use and the impact of this. For example, simple words like the power of adding ‘yet’ to turn a fixed mindset statement into a growth mindset statement; referring to process as opposed to simply effort; making sure praise is delivered as a verb, ‘good reading’ ‘good swimming’ as this puts learners in control of their learning; and making sure that we don’t talk about ourselves or others ‘having’ a fixed or growth mindset. ‘To have’ sounds fixed, but to talk about being ‘in’ a fixed or a growth mindset uses the language of possibility and hope.

Steve Ingle reminded us that mindset is a continuum and success for ourselves and for learners is messy. How can we ensure that we are walking the walk and creating a genuine culture of growth mindset in our schools?

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It was a fantastic conference and a time to think about the opportunities that we can create in schools. Sustainable growth mindset thinking in our learners requires constant opportunities for :

  • Optimal Challenge
  • Learning from trial and error
  • Making safe mistakes
  • Learning about learning
  • Developing self awareness


James Nottingham made reference to the role that outdoor education can have in this. It has an effect size of 0.52, and provides a platform for all of the opportunities above; it can facilitate a change of perspective that can really help to change our expectations of ourselves and others in a positive way. He recommended any opportunity to run an outdoor education experience at the beginning of the school year to give a shared experience that can be referred back to over the course of the year, helping  learners to remember the challenges that they faced that day, and how they overcame them.


Finally, my take home message from the day was that we need to help ourselves and learners to view challenge as interesting not just as something difficult. Again, it comes down to the importance of the language that we use to make sure challenge is not perceived as a negative thing. The title of the conference ‘Struggling to Succeed’ was a deliberate prompt to encourage us to think about how we view the word ‘struggle’ and whether it is a positive or a negative word in education? How can we help learners to see struggle as a good thing? Because this is the journey that will lead to success.








Exceeding Expectations with Shirley Clarke

Another guest blogger, this time Andrew Jones, PT Science at Beeslack High Schools haring his learning from the recent exceeding expectations with Shirley Clarke.

On Friday 13th May, I along with about 100 other teachers from across Midlothian (and a few from beyond) gathered in the lovely setting of Newbattle Abbey College for a day with Shirley Clarke.

Having read a couple of her books, including currently being on a second run through of her most recent one I came with high expectations of the day and I was not disappointed.

Whilst a fairly intense day with a lot of information crammed into it, the sessions were broken up nicely with time for personal reflection as well as discussion with colleagues nearby.

Shirley shared a huge variety of material encompassing an holistic view of formative assessment as a culture rather than covering the tried and tested ‘techniques’ we are all very familiar with. We started by considering the foundations of formative assessment practice by looking at creating a learning culture in the classroom and across the whole school covering Growth Mindset and involving learners in planning their learning. Having worked a lot on my own mindset over the last few years and being a big believer in the transformative power of a growth mindset, it was quite challenging to answer a questionnaire and front up my concern about how others perceive me and my abilities as being part of a fixed mindset….more work needed! The day continued by discussing lesson structure, talk partners and effective feedback.

The atmosphere and buzz in the room was great – obviously it was filled with passionate teachers wanting to develop their practice and excited about the material being presented. Discussions were lively and focused on the likely impact of what was being presented on our practice and in our classrooms.

For me the 3 things I took away and will work on are:


  • Formative assessment as a culture, ethos and foundation for practice rather than being a toolkit of techniques to whip out at certain points in a lesson.
  • Use of the SOLO taxonomy in lesson planning which fits in brilliantly with my current thoughts on differentiation and stretching our higher achieving learners, particularly as I consider the need for application of knowledge as evidence for security within a level in the BGE.
  • Effective feedback – seeing the learning relationship as a dialogue around learning and progress (and this ties in wonderfully with Hattie’s 3 key questions) and enabling and equipping learners to not only receive feedback but to act on it and to be able to give effective feedback to their peers and to their teacher.


One thing that struck me, and a few of my secondary colleagues was the rarity of secondary examples in the material and this is true not just of this day looking at formative assessment but also with the Visible Learning materials too. The challenge I feel is to work with both formative assessment and Visible Learning and to create the examples! This is a great opportunity for developing excellent practice that will impact learners in my classroom and beyond.

Exceeding Expectations with Shirley Clarke

Guest blog from Sarah Corcorran, Yvonne Somerville, Finn Gallacher, Kirsty Easson and Gillian O’Hara from Woodburn Primary School.

On Friday 13th May, we had the opportunity to attend the Shirley Clarke conference at Newbattle Abbey College. We were excited to hear from such a well-respected figure in Education and felt privileged to be amongst practitioners from across Midlothian and Scotland. The day began by looking at formative assessment. It was great to revisit some of the ideas such as talking partners and mindsets, which we have already been implementing at Woodburn and to think about the positive impact our current practice is having on our learners.

Shirley challenged our thinking by asking ‘do you truly have a growth mindset?’ and asked us to rank statements linked to fixed and growth mindsets such as ‘I worry about what my peers think of my abilities’ and ‘I like getting constructive feedback and criticism’. A few awkward glances later we realised that we need to continue practising what we preach! At Woodburn our learners have been introduced to the concept of a fixed or growth mindset and can identify the differences. However, Shirley made us realise our next steps should focus less on the discussion of and more on embedding this ethos into daily classroom practice (for staff and learners!).

Having been familiar with Shirley’s previous research we were all aware of and using learning intentions and success criteria in our classroom practice. She posed the question “why do we focus so much on ‘I can’ statements?”. She made us think about those learners who reach the end of a lesson and have not achieved the success criteria…does this mean that they have been unsuccessful learners or are they continuing on their journey towards achievement? She suggested that the language should be changed to ‘I am working towards…’ as this emphasises the learning process rather than the end product. This was a big talking point at the lunch break, how a few small word changes can have such a big impact.  We were reminded about the importance of involving learners in co-constructing success criteria, ensuring more accessibility and relevance to the learners; a move away from it simply being a planning and paperwork process. This is something which we all agreed with and are keen to look at ways to adapt our plans next session.

Our thinking was particularly challenged as Shirley encouraged us to think about how we value and challenge every learner. This linked clearly with John Hattie’s research on the effect size of ability grouping. As a school we have been using differentiated challenges this year with the introduction of ‘mild, spicy and hot’ activities. However, we have noticed that some children have already become fixated on which challenge to accept. Shirley opened our eyes once again to how changing the vocabulary of these challenges could influence the learners’ approach. By using words such as ‘incredible, fantastic and amazing’  to categorise challenges and alternating the level they correspond to regularly, the children would be encouraged to look more closely at the task and focus on the skills required.

As a final point to the day, Shirley highlighted the importance of thinking carefully about the phrases that we use in our daily classroom practice and how some common phrases such as ‘good girl’ or ‘try your best’ can impact upon a child’s view of their learning and ability. This made us think about the words and phrases we use on a daily basis and the important role we play in shaping children’s confidence and self-belief.

In Midlothian we often use or hear the phrase ‘know thy impact’ and having the opportunity to attend Shirley’s conference made us realise that small and seemingly insignificant changes to our classroom practice can have huge benefits to our learning community. Following her inspiring delivery there were so many ideas that we were excited to get back to implement as soon as possible; some of them tweaking existing practice and some completely new. We are excited for the year ahead!

Challenging Learning with James Nottingham

The great thing about Visible Learning is that it provides a comprehensive framework for change based on the evidence about what works best.  This allows us to draw on the work of key educationalists to inform and refine our practice and most importantly the impact we have on Midlothian learners.  We are in the privileged position of learning directly from James Nottingham and Shirley Clarke this term.  On Thursday / Friday last week James and his cameraman Andy travelled north of the border; they thoroughly enjoyed their trip to Midlothian and working with classes in four of our schools.  I think we also impressed them with our twittering!  If you missed the tweets you can have a look at the storify here.

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Oh no…it’s a Gruffalo! 

James worked with P5 in Woodburn Primary, P3 in Mauricewood Primary, P7 in Newtongrange and S3 (Geography) in Lasswade High School.  Staff from other schools were able to observe the sessions which proved to be a popular and inspiring professional learning experience for them.  James used the Philosophy for Children (P4C) approach to demonstrate how we can take children into the learning pit by creating cognitive challenge.  James is incredibly skilled at P4C and socratic questioning and it was great to see the impact of his questions or ‘thinking out loud’ on the pupils’ thinking.  The sessions have been videoed and will be edited to demonstrate key elements of the learning challenge.  We will share the links to these when they are available.

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Challenging learning, challenging thinking

On Friday afternoon, 130 teachers (including some from our growing VLNetworkUK) were entertained, challenged and inspired by James. It was helpful to start the session with the bigger picture of learning how to think (not just what to think) and the importance of challenge and how these relate the the learning pit.  After this James took us into the learning pit and really challenged our thinking about thinking he showed us a wee video from the 90s when the ‘world wide web’ needed its full title!  This is worth a watch (and maybe a giggle – sorry James) to see the challenge created in the ‘granny or a goldfish dilema‘.

We explored the key concepts of the learning pit (the learning challenge) as James originally intended it. We were also lucky enough to be the first to see the new graphics that Challenge Learning have developed.  The one below has now been shared on Twitter so it’s ok to share it here.   The learning pit starts with a concept, so as long as you can extract a concept from the knowledge/ content/ facts you are working with you can create challenge.  From the concept we generate questions; these questions are used to create cognitive challenge.


Being in the learning pit is characterised by having lots of ideas (rather than none) and this creates the cognitive challenge from which new learning, resilience and the skills of thinking develop.  Creating cognitive conflict creates more thinking more of the time – sounds like something worth doing, doesn’t it?  The learning challenge works really well alongside Carol Dweck’s research on mindset, the power of mistakes and developing resilience in learning.  There are of course direct links to the Visible Learner & Inspired and Passionate Teacher strands of Visible Learning.  James argued that our role as teachers is to block the normal thinking route and create mental or cognitive ‘wobble’ and if we expect our learners to ‘wobble’ we also need to be prepared to ‘wobble’.

‘children are great imitators so let’s give them something great to imitate’


James gave us some really practical tools for creating challenge in learning for example, question starters which can be used in any learning context.  I particularly liked his reflection that he had kept these questions to himself until one day his class asked for them, sharing them opened up the opportunity for greater questioning. I noticed that a lot of us liked the formula; if A =B then does B = A?  We played around with this using a few different concepts.  A few more question starters are provided below:

  • What is…?
  • How do we know what …is?
  • What is the difference between…and…?
  • Is it possible to…?

We need to create the habit of challenge, remembering that challenge does not mean more difficult or proving others wrong.  The tools shared with us are useful ways of developing the habit of challenge for ourselves as teachers as well as our learners.

The final stages of the learning challenge are to construct or to establish a better understanding of the topic and to consider. Consider is the point at which we explicitly focus on the transfer of learning to other situations.  We know that transfer of learning can be a difficult thing and it certainly does not happen by chance.

We asked teachers to leave us a post-it note of the key messages they were taking away from the session.  I have summarised these in a sketchnote. Moving forward a focus question for all of us is ‘do we have enough challenge in our learning?’  I look forward to hearing and seeing more challenge and conflict across our schools and judging by the buzz in the room on Friday I am confident our teacher do too.


For further information please have a look at James’s website or following his work on twitter – @JamesNottinghm @ChallenegLearn @TheLearningPit.

Visible Learning Into Action

On Friday we took another big step forward on our Visible Learning journey with 67 teachers from schools across Midlothian coming together to take part in day 1 of the Visible Learning Into Action programme.  This programme introduced teachers to the Visible Learning research in a way that enables them to make connections to their classroom or learning environment. Teachers were shown how to carry out a Visible Learning ‘impact cycle’.  It was immediately clear how this complements the Evidence Into Action programme school leaders have engaged with.  There was a buzz in the room as teachers shared their reflections on their current context, what they needed to find out about and developed plans to carry out an impact cycle.

During day 1 the focus was on the two strands of Visible Learners and Know thy Impact with the following driving questions:

  • To what extent are my learners assessment capable learners?
  • What do my pupils think about learning and how we learn?
  • What is the impact I am having on all of my pupils?

This was a fantastic opportunity for teachers from schools across Midlothian from Early Years through to Secondary to come together and focus on learning and the impact they have on the learning of all pupils.  This opportunity has great potential for us in further shifting the culture, knowledge and action in our schools.  The quality of the discussion and dialogue was strong and focussed on the things we know make the biggest difference.

The teachers who attended were overwhelmingly positive about how practical the day was and how it will help them to move forward in their context.  We asked that each school that participated send two teachers – this will be really important in the next stage as they will support each other in their impact cycles.  I was delighted to see and hear so many teachers leaving the day with plans in places to achieve these impact cycles in the term ahead.

Carrying out impact cycles over the next term will give teachers time to ‘have a go’ with an impact cycle and familiarise themselves with the process.  We will meet again for day 2 in August when we explore the strands of effective feedback and inspired and passionate teachers.  This will be a great way to start the new session with a focus on learners, learning and impact.  For those who do not stay with their current class they will be able to share their impact cycle and next steps with the new teacher – there was some excitement in the room at how useful this would be.

Our aim is to create a culture of irreversible delivery and to unleash the alchemy of relationships (Deliverology 101, Michael Barber).  Visible Learning into Action for Teacher was another step along the road and a really exciting one!

At the Visible Learning World Conference in January John Hattie talked about the new number one effect size – collective teacher efficacy which has an effect size of 1.57, nearly four times the hinge point. Collective teacher efficacy is when teacher collective believe that they can make a difference to learners; that they can improve outcomes for their learners.  In Midlothian we have the foundation for collective teacher efficacy not just at school level but also at authority level through our collaborative approach to developing Visible Learning.  This is where John Hattie’s 10th Mindframe of ‘I collaborate’ also comes in, we have the potential and vision to develop the culture of collaboration further and with greater focus on collaboration when and where it can make the biggest difference.

#VLNetworkUK gathers in Midlothian


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As you will know from our previous post, the #VLNetworkUK met in Midlothian on 11th March. It was quite an experience to bring over 40 professionals together who were all there because they are interested in Visible Learning and in particular they wanted to see the impact it is having in Midlothian.  We (Midlothian) were excited and nervous about this and we embraced the mindframes of inspired and passionate teachers and gathered all the feedback and evidence we could from the visit.  To see ourselves through the eyes of others was a truly uplifting opportunity and one we cannot minimise as we continue on our Visible Learning journey.

Where are we going? How we are going? Where to next?  

The three key questions, not just for our learners but for us a leaders as well.  Midlothian aspires to become a world class education system; nothing really to argue about there but what does that really mean? What does that mean for our learners and our communities?  We want all our learners to be visible learners and we want them all to have a year’s growth for a year’s input. We want our learners to be able to talk about their learning, to know how they learn, to be able to talk about their progress and their next steps in learning.  Visible Learning has offered us an evidence informed framework for working towards this across Midlothian and within this the capacity for each school to develop their own creative and innovative approaches to do this.  The framework also focuses us on measuring the impact of these developments so that we can scale up what works.

We have had a strong focus on developing visible learners so far; this is what our data told us we needed to focus on.  When our schools asked the question ‘what makes a good learner?’ most of the responses were about behaviour e.g. sit up straight, look at the teacher, don’t shout out, put your hand up.  This is not what we know about ‘good learning’ but it told us something about the culture and ethos of our learning environments, of the language we used and what we talked about.  This was our baseline and the most important thing was that we take action.  I am reminded of a phrase I have seen often as I visit schools around Midlothian ‘it’s ok to fail but it’s not ok to not try’.

Schools have been gathering their evidence, setting baseline and aspirational statements and developing action plans.  Although the focus has mostly been related to the strand of developing visible learners this has naturally linked in with other strands such as the inspired and passionate teacher of effective feedback. Schools also identified the knowledge and skills teachers need to be able to support the development of visible learners and in most cases there have been a range of collaborative approaches to professional  learning; reading groups, professional dialogue, peer visits, sharing practice etc

As you would expect, within these impact cycles they have been measuring impact and progress towards their aspirations.  Roslin Primary School recently shared one example of this through their blog; you can see from the chart below the nature and amount of impact. The chart shows the shift in responses to the question ‘what makes a good learner?’, the question was asked in December 2014 and again in March 2016 and you can see the shift quite clearly.



  Other relevant Attitude/


What to do if stuck Behaviour Works hard/ listens
Dec 2014 13% 27% 7% 37% 13%
Mar 2015 27% 43% 17% 12% 1%

Schools across Midlothian are engaging in a process of evidence gathering, action planning and measuring progress and impact. Each school will have a different action plan as their baseline data will be different and this is used to inform their next steps.  The process of measuring impact refines and develops practice over time.  Schools therefore know where they are at any given moment and the #VLNetworkUK gave us the opportunity to see if others would validate this.  Overwhelmingly this was the case (obviously we can only say that for the schools they visited).

There isn’t a Visible Learning recipe book; it provides a framework which requires you to think deeply about what you do and what impact it has.  This is not only applicable to schools but it requires the same of the Education Leadership and Quality Improvement Team.  As Principal Educational Psychologist it has also helped me think about the impact of the Educational Psychology Service as we have been heavily involved in supporting schools on this journey so far.  Educational Psychologists work with every school and are therefore ideally placed to support and scaffold the evolving understanding and impact of Visible Learning across our learning communities.

Teachers see learning through the eyes of the learners…

Through the #VLNetworkUK we had the opportunity to see ourselves through the eyes of others.  We are inspired and motivated by what they saw and the feedback we received.  We also know we have a lot more to do and the impact of this feedback has reaffirmed that we are focusing on the right things, the things that make the biggest impact.  This also requires us to rethink how we do things at a system level and to reflect on what we do to actively enable to development of visible learners, inspired and passionate teachers, a culture of effective feedback and how well we know our impact at school and system level.

We are still at the beginning of our Visible Learning journey but we continue to gather evidence of our progress towards our long term goal.  Change is often a difficult thing to plan, manage and lead and if we really want to create an irreversible culture of delivery we have a to do things differently to the way we’ve done them before. This requires us to be bold and amongst other things to move away from prescriptive plans and towards what Michael Barber describes as ‘real life messy plans with coffee stains’ on them.

The quotation below sums up how I felt in January and February.

The wire is high and the roar of the crowd may be less positive than before but this is not time to wobble

Guardian Editorial quoted in instruction to deliver 196

We didn’t wobble, we stayed strong, consistent and focused on our goals and we have come out the other side.  Some might say we have made it out of the ‘learning pit’ and like with all good learning, I have no doubt we will be back in the pit many more times, each time we find new strategies, connections and collaborations that add to our system capacity. The feedback gathered from the #VLNetworkUK confirmed that we have a strong foundation with learners and staff on which to continue to build our practice within the strands of effective feedback and know thy impact.

Where are we now and how are we going?

The #VLNetworkUK identified the following strengths.

Visible Learners

  • The language of learning is clear and evident in our pupils; our learners can talk about their learning and understood what this means for them.
  • Our learners can talk about their next steps in learning.
  • There is a clear focus on ‘learning’.
  • Pupil voice is strong.

Effective Feedback

  • Relationships are based on trust within and across schools and between staff and pupils.
  • Collaboration has been key to the progress made so far.

Know thy Impact

  • Evidence has been used throughout to inform the action required and to measure progress and impact.
  • The 3 key questions guide the measurement of impact.
  • Research is used to inform action plans and professional learning focus.

Inspired and Passionate Teachers 

  • The enthusiasm of staff was infectious.
  • Collaboration is evident throughout and based on relational trust.
  • There is a culture in which teachers are learners too.
  • There is a shared language and framework for thinking about learning and impact.
  • Twitter and blogging are useful tools for sharing practice, ideas and impact across schools locally and nationally.

Visible System

  • The ‘one size fits one’ approach within a shared framework is evident.  The shared framework provides a common language a focus but with flexibility for schools to develop in different ways.
  • The principle of making learning visible is evident also at system level as schools share their learning as a school in a variety of ways.
  • The strategic approach to Visible Learning is evident across the system.  We have benefitted from having Visible Learning as a shared priority.

Where to next?

The timing of #VLNetworkUK was perfect for us as it allows us use this evidence and the evidence from school improvement planning to shape priorities and ways of working for next session.  We know where we need to go next but that’s for another post.

Thanks to all those who joined us on 11th March!





Stepping back to leap forward


Where do I start…

On Friday the #VLNetworkUK gathered in Midlothian for a truly inspiring and uplifting day.  We were excited and nervous to open our doors and welcoming so many people in, many more people than I ever imagined.  I have to say a huge thank-you to Mayfield Nursery, Lasswade Primary, Hawthornden Primary, Roslin Primary, Cuiken Primary and Penicuik High School for facilitating a busy morning of visits to your schools.

The first meeting of #VLNetworkUK was at Pembroke Dock Primary School in South Wales.   I remember the visit very clearly and I remember driving away filled with aspirations for our learners, staff and schools in Midlothian.  I also remember that slight feeling of anxiety, could we really do it, could we really engage so many people in a way that would create system change across education in Midlothian.  Friday was an amazing opportunity for all of us to step back and capture our progress and the impact Visible Learning has had.   We have gathered feedback from our visitors and this will be used to help us to take another leap forward in our improvement journey.  Many visitors thanked me for an ‘inspiring day’ and that it was ‘humbling’ to hear our learners talk about their learning.  Some days are hard and sometimes we all wonder if you are moving forward but Friday has given us all a very clear message about impact and the importance of collaboration in our progress.

So from a small group in Wales last year the #VLNetworkUK grew to welcome 42 visitors from all corners of the UK. Spot the difference below.


We all met at Lasswade High School and there was a real buzz in the room as new connections were made and I overheard ‘oh I follow you on Twitter’ being said a few times!  Before heading out to visit schools the #VLNetworkUK was welcomed by Grace Vickers (Head of Education) who shared how Visible Learning delivers an evidence based approach to learning in Midlothian and how it relates to How Good Is Our School 4 and the National Improvement Framework.

Despite the fact that we had to get 42 people to different schools across Midlothian, it all went very smoothly.  Everyone managed to visit two schools where they were able to see learning in action, speak to learners and teachers and hear about different elements of the Visible Learning approach.  There was no show put on, this was an open and honest insight into where are and where we’ve come from.  Each school has a different starting point and Visible Learning has taken them in different directions but within a consistent framework and through an evidence based and evidence informed approach to improvement.  The strongest message that people gave after visits was how confidently learners could talk about their learning. Most schools have had a focus on developing Visible Learners so this feedback is particularly important; it means we are doing it! To view the tweets from the day, click on the link below – it is a great summary of the day.

Storify of tweets from the day

We asked for feedback following the visits and in true Midlothian fashion we used  post-it notes and sharpies!  We still need to analyse this data and I hope to do that with a group of colleagues this week – it is important that we continue to own that data and feedback collectively and agree our next steps.  In the meantime here are a few key messages that emerged throughout the day.


If collective teacher efficacy has an effect size of 1.57 (John Hattie at #VLWorld2016, unpublished) when teachers collaborate to focus on the impact of their teaching what impact did #VLNetworkUK have on Friday?  I know it will have a significant impact on our next steps in Midlothian and I hope the same for those who visited.

Thanks to all who came; thank-you for your feedback, we will use it!

Thanks to the schools who facilitated visits but most of thanks to our learners in Midlothian who continue to inspire us to keep getting better.





VLNetworkUk & Collaborative Impact

There was a strong theme of collaboration and in particular collaborative impact running through the Visible Learning World Conference in January. We are lucky enough in Midlothian to have a Council wide approach to Visible Learning and we benefit from the shared language and focus this offers.  We also lucky to have connected with Bader Primary in England, Pembroke Dock Primary and Merllyn School in Wales and have had the pleasure of learning visits to both Pembroke Dock and Bader through #VLNetworkUK.  We have even benefited from the visit that 2 teachers from Bader Primary made to Stonefields School in New Zealand by skyping with Marc on his return and picking his brains about what he learned and what impact this had on his practice. (Reading over this it probably has very little to do with luck and much more to do with  high intention and effort’).


On Friday we welcome 42 visitors from England, Wales and across Scotland to Midlothian and as Tracey (Merllyn School) said, ‘oh how our wee group has grown’.  Our #VLNetworkUK gathering has certainly grown this time, the growing interest in Visible Learning in Scotland is really exciting and we look forward to establishing new relationships with our colleagues in Scotland.

Mayfield Nursery, Cuiken Primary, Roslin Primary, Hawthornden Primary, Lasswade Primary and Penicuik High School are opening theirs doors and welcoming our visitors.  They welcome them in the spirit of learning from and with others with a focus on impact, we plan to share how Visible Learning has shaped our improvement journey at teahcer, learner, school and Local Authority level.  We know we still have a long way to go and we are really only in year 1 of Visible Learning but we are willing to share our learning so far and share the impact it has on our learners.

The strand of ‘know thy impact’ embraces a relentless focus on impact and the gathering of the #VLNetworkUK is no different. We know that teachers working together to find evidence of their impact has a significant effect of attainment, so just imagine the magnitude of the impact we could achieve on friday.  Not only will there be teachers from different schools talking about impact, there will be teachers and systems leaders from across Local Authorities and the UK talking about impact.

In the afternoon we plan to have time for professional dialogue and one of our themes is ‘#VLWorld2016 – next steps’ and I’m excited to see what that brings.

Check back next week for an update!


Round 2

Laura Kearney joined us again yesterday for the second round of schools engaging with the Visible Learning evidence into action programme. It’s always a full on day with a lot to get through and a lot of professional dialogue but we always wish we had time for more. It was great to have so many colleagues working together and reflecting on the strengths of their learning community.  They also spent time identifying areas where they need more information and creating a plan for how they will do this. The EPS will support with the evidence gathering and analysis. 

We also hosted a Visible Learning themed #scotedchat on Thursday night. It was a fast hour with a lot of tweeting and some great dialogue with colleagues from across the UK. Check out the #scotedchat for more info.