Taking a Critical Stance

March 2008

This event encouraged delegates to explore how we think about and evaluate the work we do with children and young people who are disengaged or disaffected from learning and schooling. It proved a rare opportunity for delegates from across sectors to consider some fundamental questions in respect of ‘taking a critical stance’ and what this means in terms of our practice with children and young people. The event was chaired by Addie Stevenson from Aberlour Child Care Trust.

More about the day is available by following the links below:

Addie Stevenson: Chief Executive Aberlour Childcare Trust. Our Chair introduced proceedings with some introductory comments about the necessity for the sector to build capacity for reflection and a commitment to evidence based practice. Addie asked delegates to consider the following crucial questions:

  • Are we critical enough of our practice and that of others?
  • Is there a culture of reflection in the voluntary sector and in Scotland’s schools?
  • When we seek evidence of our impact what are we looking for and how do we measure it?
  • How do we know that our practice makes a difference?
  • Does reflection sit comfortably in a culture of targets, outcomes and inspection?

Margaret Martin: Senior Lecturer Educational Studies University of Glasgow

Unexamined common sense is a notoriously unreliable guide to action

Margaret explored the different understandings of reflection and what we might mean by ‘the reflective practitioner’. Margaret touched on what is being done to foster reflection by Scotland’s teachers and then went on to highlight ways in which all practitioners can develop critical skills which will enhance professional knowledge, understandings and practice.

You can download Margaret’s Power Point presentation HERE

Margaret recommended S. D. Brookfield’s book ‘Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher’ (1995) as a really useful text for all practitioners interested learning more about reflection and becoming a reflective practitioner. You can buy Brookfield’s book at Amazon UK

David Watt: HMIe Inspector

David explored how successful schools and other providers are in meeting learners’ needs. His attention focused on how schools are expected to deliver the highest quality outcomes for those learners who are disaffected or disengaged from schooling. He then touched on what might be expected from voluntary sector agencies as they work in partnership with schools, children and families.

You can download David’s Power Point presentation HERE

David’s presentation touched on Journey to Excellence, a new online resource developed in partnership between LTS, HMIe and the Scottish Government. Journey to Excellence focused on 10 dimensions of excellence in schools and early year centres and is important to everybody concerned with the school experience of disaffected and disengaged children and young people. The website contains video-based snapshots and case studies of Scottish schools which illustrate features of excellence in their day-to-day work. Journey to Excellence is available from the dedicated website HERE

Professor Bill Whyte: Director Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre University of Edinburgh and Steve McCreadie Assistant Regional Director Aberlour Child Care Trust

Evaluation is more effective when built into the fabric with practitioners, middle and senior managers all involved

Our final presentation of the day came from Bill Whyte and Steve McCreadie who presented on a current example of action research and critical reflection to improve practice; provoking questions for us all about how we make practical use of reflection in our work to improve services and outcomes for children and young people.

You can download Steve’s Power Point Presentation HERE

You can download Bill’s Power Point Presentation HERE