Thursday, 31 January 2008

You are what you eat or are you?

Secrets of … the Mediterranean Diet
A recent study has once again confirmed that people who closely follow ‘the Mediterranean Diet’ live longer than other Europeans. So what exactly is the Mediterranean diet and how does it exert this spectacular effect.
The Mediterranean diet is not a specific diet plan or diet program but a collection of eating habits that are traditionally followed by the people of the Mediterranean region. There are at least 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and food habits vary between these countries according to culture, ethnic background and religion. But there are a number of characteristics common to them all…
A high consumption of fruits, vegetables, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, bread and other cereals

  • Olive oil used for cooking and dressings

  • Moderate amounts of fish but little meat

  • Low to moderate amounts of full fat cheese and yogurt

  • Moderate consumption of wine, usually with meals

  • Reliance on local, seasonal, fresh produce

  • An active lifestyle

Earlier today I had a conversation with Shelagh Lee, our PT of Behaviour Support. Our discussion centred on what we could do to try and positively influence the diets of some of the youngsters whose behaviour in classrooms can sometimes create difficulties. One particular youngster we spoke about claims he needs a daily 'fix' of iron bru to get him through the day. Breakfast is non-existent; his first nutrition of the day tends to be the best part of a bottle of irn bru. I hasten to add that we stopped selling fizzy drinks at my school some years ago. Shelagh is currently working with this youngster and his family to try and change his diet and high sugar intake. I am keen to further explore how we might do this. Has anyone out there come across a school that has been successful in tackling inappropriate pupil behaviours through the diet route?

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Parent Council

Tonight was our first Parent Council meeting of 2008. Parent councils (made up of parents, staff, pupils and members of the community) came into existence on 1 August 2007. They replaced school boards.

In the case of our school we were very lucky to have had a very active and strong school board and parent teacher association (PTA). Pleasingly this has become an equally strong and supportive parent council and pta.At tonight's meeting, among other things, we talked about the impending HMIe inspection, our 50th anniversary celebrations and ways in which we can continue to develop strong relations with neighbours. 2008 promises to be another very busy and productive year at Liberton High.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Christmas Leavers

I came across an interesting article (and comments) on the perennial issue of how best to cater for Christmas Leavers on Don Ledingham's learning log. Definitely worth a read! go to Don's Learning Log

Don Ledingham is Head of Education in East Lothian.

The school leaving age regulations read as follows:

'Children may leave school once they reach their statutory school leaving date, this is dependent on date of birth. For children born between 1 March and 30 September it is 31 May of their 4th year of secondary school. For children born between 1 October and 28 February it is the last day of the December term of the school session in which they are 16.'

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Why do headteachers get paid more than other staff?

This is a question that arose this morning whilst I was chauffeuring my seven year old to her ballet class. I was in the process of trying to explain how a credit/debit card works when, out of the blue, she asked me if I got paid more than other teachers. I answered that I did get paid more, leading to the inevitable searching and innocent ''why'' that children of this age specialise in. I pondered for a few moments before answering; trying to find words and a rationale that a seven year old could understand. I have to admit that I really struggled.

Whilst adults might understand terms like 'increased responsibility', they may not necessarily agree. Do I as the ‘head’ carry more responsibility than Walter, our Head Jannie, or Liz who is in charge of our catering? Walter, at the flick of a switch, can create arctic conditions in selected parts of the school. Liz could choose to stop the daily supply of the 5oo school-made cookies thus creating near anarchic tendencies amongst hordes of hungry teenagers. Of course, there are many other examples I could draw on.

Before I could offer an answer, she suggested that headteachers attend lots more meetings than others. Perhaps, on reflection, I do merit the extra money after all.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

What makes me tick?

I am very clear in my own mind about what makes me tick. I absolutely thrive on sharing positive experiences and practices with others who are positive and, of course, learning from others. What is it that sets some people apart; able to inspire others and drive them on to higher levels of performance and achievement? Is it the passion they have for what they do? Is it simply that their enthusiasm is infectious? Is there something that can be bottled and uncorked to order? Is it something quite intangible that we can recognise and appreciate but can't really measure in an objective way?

Today I spent time with two colleagues whose enthusiasm and passion for what they do never fails to inspire me. Both perform quite different roles in the school. Firstly, I met with Gill O'Connor (Teacher o
f English) to review the work that she has been leading on the development of writing practice in our cluster of schools. Gill's enthusiasm and passion for the teaching of writing comes across so strongly. I experienced first hand why it is that so many pupils want to be in her class. I really liked the way in which Gill used her readings and reflections on the principles within 'Assessment is for Learning' to explain to me ( a scientist in a previous life) how she thought the teaching of writing should be developed. I look forward to sharing and discussing her ideas next week with my Primary Headteacher colleagues. My second such meeting of the day was with Christine Babbs. Christine is officially our school librarian but contributes so much more than this to the wider school community. For example, Christine organises the writing and production of our School Magazine, Liberton Link. At today's meeting we looked at how we might enhance the current format. We exchanged a few ides and thoughts and of course, Christine, being Christine, agreed that she would aim to have our next magazine completed and distributed by the end of February.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008


Our S4 prelim exams are now under way. This year, we decided to move the S4 diet until after Christmas following consultation with staff and pupils. To date, I am impressed at how well the vast majority of our S4 are coping with the inevitable pressures that prelims bring. We are however still at the stage where staff are more worried about the forthcoming national exams than the pupils. Those teachers out there who read my log may also be aware that there comes a point in the session when pupils become more concerned than their teachers. At that point chasing up folios, completion of homework etc becomes so much easier!

Monday, 14 January 2008

New Term

Last week, staff and pupils returned to a new term to learn that two members of staff (Mrs Reid and Mr Pretswell) had passed away in the past two weeks. Having now reflected on the events of last week I am immensely proud of how well staff and pupils coped with what was a very difficult and challenging week. The ways in which youngsters and staff supported each other made me a very proud headteacher indeed. I would also like to put on record my sincere thanks to Paul Beautyman (School Chaplain) for his enormous input to supporting our school.

As a school community we must all now endeavour to move on. We will never forget the immense contributions made by both of these very special staff.