News RSS FeedCopyright (c) 2019 Activeditionen<![CDATA[A difficult transition: your questions answered]]>Following a successful webinar talking about their research into pupils with learning differences transitioning from secondary to tertiary education, Jasmine Miller and Sarah Strachan have answered some questions asked by webinar attendees.

Q: Isn’t dyslexia an identification rather than a diagnosis?

The term ‘diagnosis’ has strong medical associations for most people so ‘identification’ of the individual’s profile is very valid. Dyslexia is a spectrum and it is important to identify learning differences which are largely to do with information processing.

The identification is primarily about making sense of a student’s profile in order to be able to adjust teaching and learning styles so that the process of learning becomes more accessible.

Q: Would you feel that having a Personal and Social Education (PSE) programme that builds in transition to tertiary education would be the best route or should it be integrated into all subject areas?

 Ideally both integration and PSE would be the best route, ensuring that students are having opportunities to transfer their learning between subjects and between settings.

Q: What apps would you recommend for people to use to help with dyslexia, dyspraxia etc.?

There are a multitude of useful apps for students with learning differences, for example apps for mind mapping, text to speech, audio notetaking, text checkers/spellcheck/dictionary etc., organisational apps to name but a few.

CALL Scotland ( have app wheels for Apple and Android which could be a useful resource for all students, with or without learning differences.

Dyslexia Scotland also have some information

Q: Is there the opportunity to work closer with tertiary education institutions to ensure a continuity of support for our young people. If so, how? Or is it more about giving our students the skills/resilience to cope?

There are opportunities for both schools and universities to ensure continuity. There are certainly some universities in Scotland who will send ambassadors out to schools to talk about transition and there are also opportunities for prospective students to visit/stay in the university during the summer holidays and familiarise themselves with campuses. These would be worth exploring in your area by contacting universities directly.

Skills Development Scotland also has some useful information on their website -

Q: Did the research show what had helped the group with mental health?

No, it was outwith the scope of this study, however it could be a fruitful area for further research.

Our research showed that students were not confident with knowing where to go for support with mental health needs. It is important that they not only know where to go and how to initiate discussions about support, but also realise that there is a huge variety of support available for mental health issues.

Q: Is there anything teachers need to be aware of in terms of spotting potential masking by girls?

With both identifying and making sense of learning differences, it is important that teachers know their students well enough to recognise subtle changes in behaviours which might indicate that a student is feeling stressed or anxious. It is often about recognising a consistent 'spiky profile' that can be seen between potential and performance whereby the picture 'doesn't fit'.

Q: I think one of the main problems is underdiagnosis as I think pupils who are diagnosed at school receive at least some support. How can we support pupils at school to actually seek a diagnosis as it's hard to support someone when you don't know there's an issue?

In terms of diagnosis, sadly there is a lack of services available to meet the needs of all students with learning differences.
  • In terms of teachers supporting pupils to seek a diagnosis, it relates back to the previous question about a picture which ‘doesn’t fit’. The mismatch between potential and performance should start alarm bells ringing as to what is going on for this student
  • In school aged students, ultimately it is the parents who are still responsible and staff may be able to initiate a discussion about a student through direct contact with the parents
  • Parents might be the first to highlight an issue for a child who is masking the problems at school- for example, girls may appear to manage the school day without any problem, but on returning home, may crumple and become tearful, angry etc. as a way of releasing the tension that has built during the day.
  • In some schools, students want a diagnosis for themselves in order to be able to make sense of what they are experiencing.

As experienced teachers, we have a responsibility to find ways in which we can support students with learning differences, whether there or not there is a formal identification. This can be a very useful area to explore in looking at our own personal development. There are a multitude of different CPD opportunities to develop skills in areas relating to learning differences.

Q: How can we best prepare our students for a smooth transition?

There are two main aspects of preparation for a smooth transition to tertiary education. In our experience, the following are areas where students have found difficulty in the transition process:

  1. Academic - Independent study skills such as:    
    • How to plan an assignment, clarity over what should go in which section of an essay- balance of words: 10-15% introduction and conclusion, balance of word count spread evenly over paragraphs providing a balanced argument
    • Referencing skills, linking into library skills
      Robust study regime: Importance of studying with breaks – e.g. Pomodoro technique (25 minutes plus five-minute break, x4 for two hours before a longer break)
    • Reading, notetaking and summarising; familiarity with longer academic articles
    • Exploration of suitable software and IT support with time to develop familiarity
    • Time and stress management relating to revision and exams
  2. Pastoral – Independent living skills such as:
    • Timetabling: getting a good balance between work, recreation, keeping fit and household chores
    • Importance of good sleep routine
    • Basic cooking, budgeting etc.
    • Early referral to disability services for appropriate support
    • Identification of stress reduction techniques: self-awareness, mindfulness, exercise etc.

Download the research report:

<![CDATA[Professional Update Validation for West College Scotland]]>

West College Scotland has received Professional Update (PU) Validation from The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

West College Scotland group pictureThe validation follows an event held in the Paisley Campus in June 2019 when a GTCS Panel heard about the college’s strategic direction for professional learning.

The new Professional Review and Development (PRD) process had been in place for a year and focuses on the learning and development of staff. A clear commitment of the college, that was present throughout, was that of career-long professional development as an entitlement for all. The Panel was impressed by what West College Scotland has to offer its staff, as well as their plans for future development. “Building our Collective Future” was identified as a valuable document, which set out the vision and values of the college and expected behaviours to assist in the continued development of a learning organisation.

Vikki Robertson, Senior Education Officer, GTCS said, “The Panel is pleased to fully validate West College Scotland for their professional development policy and processes. The Senior Leadership Team’s commitment to ensuring staff are encouraged and supported to engage in high-quality professional learning is to be commended.”

Cathy MacNab and Kenneth MuirCathy MacNab, Assistant Principal, Performance and Skills, West College Scotland said, “West College Scotland is delighted to be accredited by GTCS in recognition of our commitment to the continued development of the professionalism of our staff.

“We aim to increase the numbers of our GTCS-registered teaching staff and this validation enables us to fully support their development as professional and reflective practitioners, delivering a high-quality learning experience for all of our students. We will use our successful validation to promote positive engagement with the professional standards framework and direct our CPD offering to staff.”

Ken Muir, Chief Executive and Registrar, GTCS said “We are pleased to award West College Scotland with the PU Validation quality mark, in recognition of the clear commitment they have shown to supporting learning and career-long development for their staff.”

Since 2016 college lecturers registered with GTCS have been required to commit to engaging in ongoing professional learning across their career. This process is called Professional Update and it is a requirement of professional registration with GTCS.

The process requires lecturers to engage in career-long professional learning through the PRD process in college, self-evaluate using the Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland's Colleges and/or GTCS Professional Standards, maintain a reflective professional learning record and discuss the impact of this professional learning through professional dialogue with a line manager. This ongoing process is signed off every five years through GTCS.

Find out more

Visit the Professional Update section of our website to find out more about the process.

<![CDATA[Glasgow Clyde College validated for Professional Update]]>Glasgow Clyde College has received Professional Update (PU) Validation from The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

Ken Muir, Jon Vincent and Dr Carol Langston at Glasgow Clyde College PU PresentationThe validation follows an event held in the Cardonald Campus in May 2019. The college’s Professional Review and Development (PRD) policy and process is supported through its organisational development and includes tools for self-evaluation and reflection on practice including a commitment to identify and discuss development needs.

The college was committed to supporting induction, accessing and gaining teaching qualifications and continuing academic and professional development. The Panel heard that the college has a robust four-stage induction programme for new lecturers supported by learning and teaching fellows, called the Learning and Teaching Professional Pathway. Lecturers can access this pathway as a new employee as well as during and after gaining the Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE).

Vikki Robertson, Senior Education Officer, GTCS said, “The Panel was pleased to fully validate Glasgow Clyde College for their professional development policy and processes and commitment to ensuring that staff are encouraged and supported to engage in high-quality professional learning.”

Jon Vincent, Principal and Chief Executive, Glasgow Clyde College said, “I am delighted that Glasgow Clyde College has received GTCS validation of our Personal Development Process which demonstrates unrelenting commitment to personal and professional development. Our mission is ‘inspirational learning; changing lives’ and we can only achieve this through the continuous development of our staff.”

Ken Muir, Chief Executive and Registrar, GTCS said, “Glasgow Clyde College has shown great commitment to engaging with the PU Validation process and supporting staff in their professional development. We are pleased to award them this quality work in recognition of their progress.”

Since 2016 college lecturers registered with GTCS have been required to commit to engaging in ongoing professional learning across their career. This process is called Professional Update and is a requirement of professional registration with GTCS.

The process requires lecturers to engage in career-long professional learning through the PRD process in college, self-evaluate using the Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland's Colleges and/or GTCS Professional Standards, maintain a reflective professional learning record and discuss the impact of this professional learning through professional dialogue with a line manager. This ongoing process is signed off every five years through GTCS.

Find out more

Visit the Professional Update section of our website to find out more about the process.

<![CDATA[School Library Improvement Fund opens for bids]]>Scottish schools are being encouraged to take advantage of a national funding programme aimed at improving school library services.

The School Library Improvement Fund (SLIF), which is administered by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) on behalf of the Scottish Government, is open to all state-run schools in Scotland and is designed to support creative and innovative projects within the school library sector. SLIF aims to support activities which meet key priority areas, including information and digital learning, health and wellbeing, and the curriculum.
Education authorities have until Monday 30 September 2019 to place their bids for a share of the £450,000 fund.
Launched in September 2017, the Scottish Government pledged a total of £1 million to the fund.  Since then, £550,000 has been invested in a range of innovative projects. Deputy First Minister John Swinney with pupils
During the first round of funding in 2017, 15 projects throughout Scotland were awarded a combined total of £100,000. These included a programme in the Highlands which established sensory reading groups, allowing pupils to engage in all types of reading materials. An initiative in Clackmannanshire helped to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues by empowering children and young people to understand, manage and improve their health and wellbeing via self-help reading.
Last year’s successful applications included Edinburgh City Council’s ‘Escape, Connect, Relate’ project, which secured £18,100 worth of backing. The programme was set-up to tackle the issue of mental health misdiagnosis through bibliotherapy, a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support positive mental health. Funding allowed young people and staff to create a toolkit which highlights the resources available to support mental health, and guides librarians in how best to support pupils with bibliotherapy.
SLIC also accepts collaborative bids made by two or more schools. Recent joint projects include ‘Reading Rockets’ which aims to boost literacy and library use in the Western Isles. Activities such as synchronised reading events and storytelling will help to engage children, ultimately raising the profile of school libraries in the Western Isles.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney said:
“School libraries have a vital part to play in supporting literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and improving attainment across the Curriculum. Our investment of £1 million in the School Library Improvement Fund helps strengthen this role.
“Over the last two years we have seen schools receive funding for a wide range of exciting and innovative initiatives. These projects are helping make school libraries inspirational and engaging places for our children and young people.

“I would encourage all schools to consider applying this year and to use the investment to help realise the full potential of our school libraries.”
Pamela Tulloch, chief executive, SLIC said:
“SLIF has had a huge impact so far, with funding going to several innovative projects that have enhanced the school library provision. The range of previously successful bids not only reflects the popularity of this funding initiative, but the sheer variety of activity happening in school libraries.
“It is encouraging to note an increasing focus is being placed on school library services, which now form part of inspections. The combined support of SLIF and the national school library strategy means we are making progress in improving the valuable role of libraries in education and learning.”

Find out more

For more information about the fund and how to apply, please visit the SLIC website.

<![CDATA[GTCS appoints new Director of Education, Registration and Professional Learning]]>Dr Pauline Stephen, previously Director of Schools and Learning, and Chief Education Officer with Angus Council, has joined the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) as Director of Education, Registration and Professional Learning (ERPL).

She will take up the role in October 2019, following the retirement of the current Director of ERPL, Ellen Doherty.

Dr Stephen has had a varied career in teaching and educational psychology, with a focus on additional support needs.

Dr Stephen said, “I am delighted to join the GTCS. It is exciting to join an organisation with such a positive national and international reputation.

"I hope to enhance the world-class work the organisation is currently doing and to continue to improve the services we provide the education profession in Scotland.”

Kenneth Muir, GTCS Chief Executive and Registrar, said, “We are pleased to welcome Pauline to the GTCS team. Her wealth of experience and knowledge will allow us to continue to add value to the work we do on behalf of teachers and other education professionals in Scotland.”

“I would like to thank Ellen for her passion and commitment to GTCS and wish her a happy and healthy retirement.”

<![CDATA[Beano and YoungMinds launch 'BOUNCEBACKABILITY' lesson plans for primary school]]>Beano Studios and UK Mental Health Charity, YoungMinds have launched a new series of free lesson plans for Primary School classes based around mental health and wellbeing.

Beano character Dennis the MenaceThe 11 new ‘BOUNCEBACKABILITY’ lesson plans are curriculum-linked (KS1 & KS2 PSHE) and cover everything from understanding emotions and being brave through to understanding stress and change. The programme also includes additional lesson materials focussing on mobile phone use.

Created in collaboration with Beano’s charity partner YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for young people’s mental health, the plans feature Beano favourites including Dennis, Gnasher and Minnie and are designed to help equip pupils with the superpower of resilience. 

The free lesson materials, all now available for download here, include lesson plans, presentations and activities linked to the English, Welsh and Scottish National Curriculums.

Emma Scott, CEO of Beano Studios, said “Beano has been making kids laugh for over 80 years and we are 100% dedicated to that mission. Alongside our partners at YoungMinds, we want to use jokes to help unleash everyone’s inner awesome while helping kids discover new skills and build resilience.”

Tom Madders, Campaigns Director at YoungMinds, said “We’re delighted to be working with Beano to help schools promote resilience and emotional literacy. Having a laugh can help children to build relationships, cope with challenges and express themselves – and we hope these fun but informative lesson plans will help students deal with issues they face and have healthy conversations about their mental health.”

The new set of lesson plans follows the successful launch of Beano’s “SPAG LOLZ” programme, still free to download on designed to focus on joke writing techniques taught through SPAG.

More information

For more resources on building resilience and looking after the wellbeing of teachers and your pupils, visit

<![CDATA[New Football Heroes competition for primary pupils includes VIP trip to Wembley Stadium]]>Following the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the National Literacy Trust and Bonnier Books UK have launched a new reading and writing competition for pupils aged 7 to 11. The competition is based on the bestselling Ultimate Football Heroes
series, which recently launched new Women’s World Cup editions.

 The competition asks students to nominate their own ultimate hero, giving compelling reasons for their choice. The hero could be their favourite footballer, someone they admire from the local community or even a family member — all heroes are welcome!

The winning pupil will receive the full set of 38 Ultimate Football Heroes books for their school and the opportunity to watch a top football match at Wembley Stadium in a VIP box. The first two runners up will receive a set of 23 Ultimate Football Heroes books to keep, including Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar. The second two runners up will receive a set of the fantastic new Women’s World Cup Ultimate Football Heroes books, including England’s Fran Kirby and USA co-captain and Women’s World Cup winner, Alex Morgan.

The first 15 schools to sign up for the competition will receive a free audio version of one of three Ultimate Football Heroes titles: Kane, Messi or Ronaldo. The competition opens on 8 July and will run until 25 October — making it a great activity for primary schools to do at the start of the new school year.

The National Literacy Trust has created a range of competition activities and resources based on these addictive and inspirational books. The resources aim to help children research their heroes, find out fascinating facts about them and make the case for why their choice deserves to be the ultimate hero and win the competition. The resources are free to download:  

Jim Sells, Sport and Literacy Programme Manager at the National Literacy Trust, said: “We’ve seen first-hand how bringing sport into the classroom can inspire pupils to get reading and writing. The nation was gripped by the World Cup and with a fantastic summer of sport ahead – including the Wimbledon Championships, the Cricket World Cup and The Ashes, the Tour de France and the Netball World Cup – children with have no end of sporting heroes to choose from! Children can also choose a hero from their community or even a family member – all heroes are welcome. We can’t wait to read about all the incredible people that inspire children.”

Kate Manning, Group Director of Sales, Marketing and Publicity for Children’s Trade at Bonnier Books UK, said: “We’ve had so much positive feedback on this series from teachers and librarians, to open it up to more readers is a thrilling opportunity. It’s so important for children to be inspired by their heroes and also to enjoy reading — the Ultimate Football Heroes series does both.”

How to enter

This competition is completely free and open to all UK schools. Entries are invited from pupils aged 7 to 11.

To access resources and enter the competition, you need to be a member of the National Literacy Trust, whether that is through a paid membership or a free basic membership. Find out more about the benefits of becoming a member.

Further information about entering can be found on the National Literacy Trust website.

The competition runs from 8 July 2019 to 25 October 2019.