Solutions-focussed schools

I had the opportunity of visiting two Catholic schools in Glasgow: St Lukes High School and Our Lady of the Rosary Primary.

St Luke’s is led by Patricia Scott, a really passionate and articulate leader. Patricia is also an associate assessor with HMIE and joins inspection teams in secondary schools across other education authorities. She has really taken self-evaluation to a new level. She took me on a ‘learning walk‘ around the school and we had a good discussion about moving schools from good to great.

St Luke’s drives its improvement through an ‘enterprise and creativity’ program that builds partnerships with businesses, community and industry to encourage teachers to do things differently. As Patricia said, “we don’t have problems – we are a solutions-focussed school!”

They are totally committed to the health and wellbeing of its entire school community. For staff this means engaging in ongoing professional learning, collaboration and celebration of achievements. Building trust and relationships provides a solid foundation for ongoing change and innovation.  Staff travel within the UK and overseas to build partnerships and extending their learning.

The Scottish Government is currently rolling out its new learning framework: Curriculum for Excellence and Patricia views this as an opportunity to further personalise student learning and encourage greater teacher collaboration as they work on the implementation process.

Our Lady of the Rosary Primary principal, Laura Mclean is just finishing her first year and is energised by the challenges and changes so far.  Laura ran a fantastic school in the east end of Glasgow before moving to her current school. Her agenda is to take a good traditional school to greatness!

The school community underwent a rapid transformation with a large influx of migrants, refugees and homeless people.  The student population changed almost over night and the school adopted a ‘solutions-focused approach’ to learning and teaching.  I visited every class and spoke to every teacher including the cleaner and found several common themes.

  1. The students love the school because they have great teachers
  2. They work hard because there is so much else to do at school besides ‘normal’ lessons
  3. They are connected to the outside world
  4. There is no bullying

Not a bad platform to move forward from. Teacher collaboration is core to the school’s strategic  direction.  They’ve set up learning partnerships with other schools (and are seeking some Australian buddies) to help expand their professional knowledge and practice.

Laura and Patricia are both driven by the fact that no matter how good the school is, they can and should being doing better.  Forget the problems, avoid the blame – just focus on finding solutions!

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