Moray House School of Education and Sport

'Closing the gap in extraordinary times' - webinar series

We are delighted to offer a new series of webinars for teachers and educators focusing on raising attainment and closing the gap, taking place on Thursdays 10 September, 24 September, and 8 October.

Video: Video: Closing the attainment gap webinar series
Video asset for PL section of MHSES website

Closing the gap in extraordinary times: a fresh perspective

Moray House School of Education and Sport (MHSES) is delighted to have been able to offer a series of free webinars between May and August this year (see recordings) and is pleased to develop further this series in September and October as continuous profession learning for all.  In order to do so, a small charge will now be applied for attendance.  We will also continue to offer some free events each year.

Our forthcoming set of three new, interrelated, online learning opportunities will focus on what we have come to term ‘closing the (attainment) gap’.  It does so at a time when both education and society in general have been rocked by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The approach we will take in this series will differ from that adopted in our recent free webinar series: this will be much more ‘hands on’ in nature!

So, in these extraordinary times, what are we offering?

Our offer is to work closely with you in taking a fresh look at ‘closing the gap’ in your school or centre.  In doing so, we will work with you in addressing what we believe to be fundamental issues:

  • How do we best ascertain the ‘starting level’ of attainment and achievement of our learners generally?
  • What is/are the gap/s in our class/department/school and how do we know?
  • Are these the same gaps as we had identified 6 months previously?
  • What do we know from research, innovation and practice about where the gap has been successfully ‘closed’?
  • Is ‘closing the gap’ still the right term or are there other and better ways of looking at this fundamental issue – while still achieving a positive outcome for our learners?
  • Is there a risk that we are too narrow in our approach when we might be better served seeking new and more innovative solutions to this challenge?
  • How radical are we prepared to be in addressing this longstanding issue?  

We are offering a series of three sessions on this important topic:

  • Thursday 10 September - Closing the gap: pause and reflect
  • Thursday 24 September - Supported reflection on your own experiences in closing the gap
  • Thursday 8 October - Closing the gap: building for the future

Information on each session

Session 1 - Thursday 10 September: Closing the gap: pause and reflect - SOLD OUT

This session will reintroduce us to the whole issue of closing the gap

  • What does this term actually mean?
  • What does it mean in the current economic, social and political climate?
  • Is ‘closing the gap’ still the right term or are there other and better ways of looking at this fundamental issue – while still achieving at least as positive an outcome for our learners?
  • We will look closely at national advice and how this might be likely to develop and evolve
  • What do we know from research, innovation and practice about where the gap has been successfully ‘closed’?

Find out about key messages from the recent Scottish Government-funded research ‘Reconceptualising attainment through shared learning spaces which promote achievement, health and wellbeing (June 2020)

Session 2 - Thursday 24 September: Supported reflection on your own experiences in closing the gap

Session 2 will allow you to start to zoom in on the specifics of your own experiences. Importantly, we will introduce a self-evaluation ‘toolkit’ which we will explain and explore. We will touch on key questions, including:

  • How successful have you been in closing the gap?
  • How do you know?
  • Is your success short-term or sustainable?
  • Could you have achieved more?
  • How has the period of lockdown changed the situation in your school: positively, negatively, somewhere in between?

We will then ask you to undertake some real-time self-evaluation of where your school stands in terms of closing the gap, using the toolkit provided.  This will be undertaken between session 2 and session 3.

Session 3 - Thursday 8 October: Closing the gap: building for the future

Session 3 will build on the self-evaluation you have completed between session 2 and session 3. Building on your findings, we will explore the key issues and themes emerging. In collaboration with course leaders and other participants, we will pick out emerging themes and start to look at what we might do to address issues arising. The final element of this learning experience will look at the crucial areas of how we measure impact and capture progress in all of this: never easy, but always possible. Having completed all three sessions, you will now be in a confident position to address or re-address your school’s approaches to closing the attainment gap.

Who are these sessions designed for, principally?

It’s everyone’s job to do our best for our most vulnerable learners so this input can be of benefit to all.  Colleagues who lead in their department or school on raising attainment or closing the gap may be particularly interested.

We would also suggest that it may be beneficial to have more than one colleague attend these sessions. For example, involvement of both a senior leader (Headteacher or Depute Headteacher) along with a class teacher with an interest in, or responsibility for, raising attainment, could have various benefits in terms of ensuring maximum ‘reach’ and impact across a school.

Will the sessions be theoretical or practical in nature?

Our aim is to offer a helpful blend of research, policy and practice, all of which is designed to empower you in your delivery. While there will be reference to related policy and research, ultimately these sessions will be practical in nature.  To help ensure that this is the case, the more policy-centred and research-based aspects will be complemented by input from experienced and successful Headteachers who will share their own experiences on important aspects of closing the gap and improvement methodology. 

Are the sessions for Early Years, Primary or Secondary staff?

The sessions are for all!  

The issues facing all sectors are largely similar, so where appropriate, we will bring together colleagues from different sectors.  However, in order to allow participants to gain as much as possible from this experience, we will also ensure that there will be some time built in for colleagues in the same sector to work together. 

In summary:

In taking part in these sessions you will:

  • revisit the whole issue of closing the gap
  • work with a range of experienced professionals
  • have an opportunity to pause and reflect
  • receive a self-evaluation toolkit and advice on how best to use this
  • undertake quality discussion involving colleagues heavily involved in policy development and experienced headteachers 
  • have the chance to ask questions and share comments with speakers and fellow participants
  • receive slides and additional materials; and
  • have the chance to network from colleagues from other parts of Scotland.

Information about the presenters

Peter McNaughton

Peter McNaughton is currently a part-time Senior Teaching Fellow at Moray House School of Education and Sport. Until last year, he was Head of Education and Children’s Services in Fife Council where he had responsibility for quality improvement, leadership and curriculum development in the BGE. Peter co-chaired the University of Edinburgh Teacher Education Partnership for a number of years and he led the Quality Improvement workstream in the South East Improvement Collaborative. Previously, Peter has held roles as a primary school teacher, as a Head Teacher, as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors within both HMIE and then Education Scotland, and as Head of Education in Midlothian Council.

Juliet Hancock

Juliet Hancock is the Director of Professional Learning at Moray House School of Education and Sport. She has a strong international background in early years and primary education, with teaching experience in Scotland, England and Zimbabwe. Juliet previously had roles in local government as well as national roles promoting and developing early years education in Scotland, with the Scottish Preschool Play Association and with Learning and Teaching Scotland. At Learning and Teaching Scotland, Juliet was responsible for taking forward Scotland’s first national guidance on birth to 3, as well as leading developments on pedagogy in early childhood education, curriculum and listening to children.

Joanna Findlay

Joanna is currently Head Teacher of Woodburn Primary School, Midlothian. Her teaching career has been rooted in the Lothians area. However, she has also had experience of teaching south of the border. A Head Teacher for the past 11 years, as an educator and leader Joanna is committed and passionate about making a difference for children, families and communities. She has a particular interest in learning and teaching pedagogy and supporting communities in areas of high deprivation. Joanna enjoys participating in research-based practice, working collaboratively with colleagues to drive school improvement.

Fiona Smyth

Fiona has been the Head Teacher of St Columba’s Primary School, West Lothian for four years and holds leadership roles across two local authorities. She is particularly interested in the STEM agenda and international education. She has made professional learning visits to Sweden, Holland and Australia and these have had a significant impact on her professional practice. Fiona is keen to make a difference to the children and families she works with and to ensure that children are at the heart of any decision made in school.

Phil Black

Phil Black retired recently and now works as an educational consultant. Phil is an educationalist and author with 40 years of experience in both primary and secondary schools.  He was formerly headteacher of Glenrothes High and then Bell Baxter in Cupar, both in Fife.  More recently, Phil was a Head of Education and Children’s Services with Fife Council.  His responsibilities  included the Senior Phase of the curriculum and Psychological Services and Support Services. Phil’s particular areas of interest include leadership, curriculum, regulation and Foundation Apprenticeships.

Catrina Hatch

Catrina Hatch is a Senior Development Officer in West Lothian Council, seconded from her substantive post as headteacher of a large secondary school in West Lothian.  She works with all secondary schools in West Lothian on raising attainment and quality improvement.   Catrina also works with all authority schools on Pupil Equity Funding.  Catrina has a particular interest in 'Closing the Gap' and creating flexible opportunities for young people in order to maximise achievements.  She is an Associate Assessor with HMIe/Education Scotland.  

Booking Information

Each session will start at 3.30pm and finish at 5.00pm

The cost is £25 per individual session.

We offer a maximum of 80 places on each webinar.

Each of the three sessions will be related.  Each will also have value as a standalone session.  You are free to join us for one, two or all three of the sessions.  Our advice, however, would be to approach this as a three-session package.
Important information about the online platform:

Please note that the webinars will take place using the online platform Blackboard Collaborate. You can find information regarding the platform by visiting the information pages. We recommend using Google Chrome, but you can also use Firefox or Safari. If you use other browsers (eg Internet Explorer), you are likely to experience technical issues. Please ensure that you have good internet connection before taking part inthe webinar.

Please note we can only accept card payment.

Book a place on ePay

Booking terms

The Professional Learning Office does not offer refund. If you are unable to attend the webinar after booking a place, please contact professionallearning@ed.ac.uk to discuss transferring your booking to another person of your choice. 

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