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Teaching Scotland Blog
6 May 2016
We hear from Caroline Farquhar, founder of MindJump, about how her health and wellbeing programme aims to help the ‘whole’ school grow mentally, emotionally and physically.
Challenges happen and knowing how to deal with them is important. I started MindJump four years ago, only back then I didn't know what it was. At the time I was going through some really tough personal challenges and I embarked on several self-help courses and realised that the Mindful techniques were not only having a huge positive affect on my health and wellbeing but making a big difference to the behaviours, confidence and happiness of my own children – it was magic. So I wanted to find out more and trained with other leading practitioners. That was when I created MindJump – a health and wellbeing programme to help the ‘whole’ school grow mentally, emotionally and physically.
The MindJump programme looks at six key areas, encouraging staff to improve their own health, happiness and wellbeing by learning new and easy strategies to enhance their experience and gain an understanding of how to thrive during challenging times. Doing this encourages a growth mindset whilst creating a sense of calm and wellbeing in our schools. Supporting experiences and outcomes as part of the Curriculum for Excellence, the fun and innovative tools and techniques can be lifted into the classroom and used with great success across curriculum areas in a variety of ways including at whole class, group or individual level. The programme can easily be delivered to the wider community so that they can get involved and support the activities.
As part of the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge, it’s vital that we improve health and wellbeing in our schools and we can all benefit from helping make positive choices and learn to deal with challenges in a much more confident way. Using a combination of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Neuro Linguistic Practice, Calm Kids Meditation, Reiki, Emotional Freedom Therapy and Rainbow Kids Yoga, MindJump offers tools and techniques that provide skills for life mentally, emotionally, socially and physically that can be taken from early years into adulthood.
What can MindJump do?
- Encourage positive energy
- Reduce stress and absences
- Improve relaxation and sleep
- Increase focus and attainment
- Build resilience and confidence
- Improve mind and body connection
How do we do it?
MindJump looks at the ‘whole’ person by concentrating on these six key areas.
- Exercise – having a healthy mind and healthy body is really important as we all live in a ‘doing’ culture that measures everything we do or possess. Being over stimulated means that we are seldom allowed to ‘just be’. Meditation when done regularly allows us to discover a deeper sense of wellbeing and allows everyone to start from a place of balance. The benefits of this are: reduced stress, improved emotional control, reduced aggressiveness and anxieties, increased focus, memory and concentration, help to release negative thoughts and build self-confidence. Combining meditation with yoga improves our mind and body connection and promotes an overall sense of wellbeing.
- Environment – encouraging us to accept that what goes on inside our bodies affects our outside world and what’s happening outside also affects what goes on inside us too. In life, challenges show up; for some they might be small, daily ones and for others they might be life changing. It’s important we know how to navigate our way through these challenges and understand the way they make us think, feel and behave, learning to change what we can and let go of what we can’t is important to keep us balanced, happy and healthy. Using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy participants learn goal setting. Doing this improves their ability to plan and prioritise, prepare for change and improve focus and mental flexibility.
- Confidence – celebrating what we’re good at and learning how to cope when we’re not feeling our best is important for keeping us connected emotionally, mentally and physically. When we feel connected we feel really good about ourselves and our verbal and body language is positive; but what happens when we don’t feel like this? Negative thoughts and emotions manifest themselves as physical symptoms; understanding this means we can learn to control our unhelpful thinking by changing our thought process allowing for more emotional flexibility and strengthening impulsive actions.
- Sleep – recognising why sleep is important for all of us, the impact sleep has on our cognitive functions and how we can achieve the best sleep possible is covered in this area. Offering tools and techniques to set down healthy sleep habits for a lifelong practice, encourages key executive functions, connects home and school relationships and improves overall emotional, mental and physical health and wellbeing.
- Thoughts and feelings – emotional flexibility is important and understanding the full range of thoughts and emotions in ourselves and others is healthy, helping us to manage our behaviour better and build healthy relationships. This can be done by offering four simple questions. This tool helps to reduce impulsive behaviour, encourage emotional control, engage mind and body connection and raise self-awareness.
- Diet and hydration – this programme is not ‘eat this don’t eat that’. It is about making healthy choices around food and drink, helping us to stay balanced, happy and healthy. Understanding that the choices we make influence the way we think, feel and behave is important in establishing lifelong habits and encouraging positive choices. The link between mood and food is a two-way one; there’s a large emotional influence on what we eat and drink so by identifying the thought/feeling/behaviour/action we can help change the things we can and let go of the things we can’t. This encourages many more positive, healthy, lifelong practices.
Dundee University recently carried out research on the MindJump programme delivered in select primary schools in North Lanarkshire, measuring the impact on individuals mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. The feedback from the teachers, pupils and parents was amazing, with teachers saying 'they felt happier, healthier and calmer'. Pupils felt better too, adding ‘and it’s good because usually our classes they are noisy and so everyone was calm’. They were keen to share their learning in the playground and at home saying ‘I told my friend cos she was annoyed with someone. I told her to take like breaths in and like use the technique’.
MindJump is available to every member of staff in early years, primary and secondary schools across Scotland. Reducing stress levels in the staffroom leads to improved health and wellbeing in the classrooms. Delivered in-house to small groups by way of twilight sessions, in-service days or non-class contact time, all materials for use in schools are included.
I know from my own experience the difference MindJump can bring and the many benefits improving mental, emotional and physical health this programme delivers. Start your journey now.
Get in touch today to find out the difference MindJump can bring to you and your school.
Contact Caroline Farquhar on 07703 577005 or check out:
26 April 2016
We hear from Maureen McKenna, Executive Director of Education at Glasgow City Council, about the progress of the Making Maths Count group.
Transforming Scotland’s attitude to maths
As Chair of the Making Maths Count group tasked with increasing enthusiasm for maths, I’m delighted to update you on our work and our interim report.
As Executive Director of Education at Glasgow City Council, it’s no surprise that educating our young people is my priority. But, as a maths teacher, challenging the negative attitudes and myths that surround maths has been my lifetime’s work – so Making Maths Count is the place for me.
Our group brings together colleagues from education, alongside experts from the fields of business and science. This mix of expertise has been invaluable in helping us look at the issues from different perspectives and will be crucial as we delve into the detail of potential solutions.
In our interim report we’ve outlined three main areas of work we’ll be focusing on ahead of our final report this summer:
- Transforming public attitudes to maths.
- Improving confidence and fluency in maths.
- Promoting the value of maths as an essential skill for every career.
That first area I would argue is a must if we’re to succeed with the others. For some reason, similar to many western nations, too many people are happy to be labelled as being “no good with numbers”.
Harmless fun? No, this attitude is holding us back educationally, economically and socially.
Transforming attitudes is going to require everyone’s input. We’re looking at what can shift the nation’s psyche, but making maths fun and making maths relevant to real life situations are two of the messages coming through from the thousands of responses we had to our online survey.
We’ve seen a lot of work in recent years to encourage engagement with reading and writing. We want to look at what we can learn from that and how we can get across the message that maths skills are as important as literacy. After all we use them every day, whether it be reading a train timetable, budgeting or doing DIY.
Too many people think maths is all about numbers but it is so much more – patterns, shapes and problem-solving are all critical areas for skills for life, learning and work. This is not appreciated enough as too often people try to avoid using the word maths, because they know it can make people nervous. ‘Problem-solving’, and ‘logical thinking’ aren’t separate from maths. They’re part of the fundamental set of skills that that all should have.
Improving mental resilience and instilling learners with confidence will be key to enabling them to participate in maths, to whatever level they wish to take it to for their personal goals and ambitions.
That could be the individual we spoke to who is faced with managing their diabetes and finds the calculations involved are really quite daunting. Or the wonderful pupil who described how she uses maths on the football pitch. Being good at maths will certainly never hold you back.
So whether it be mastering fundamental maths skills for everyday life, or going on to study Highers or beyond to open the door to a career in many vital and growing sectors such as digital technology or engineering, we want to show maths is for everyone.
15 April 2016
The Visible Learning team, Midlothian, recently held #VLNetworkUK to collaborate and share practice in Visible Learning.
Visible Learning in Action - #VLNetworkUK Gathers in Midlothian
On 11 March practitioners from all corners of the UK gathered in Midlothian to collaborate about Visible Learning and the impact it is having on teachers and ultimately learners. The buzz was audible; this was a fantastic opportunity for collaboration and professional dialogue. For us in Midlothian, the greatest impact was the feedback from our visitors about the impact of Visible Learning on the learners, teachers and the wider community.
Read more in our two blog posts:
To hear more from two schools in Midlothian as they develop Visible Learning you can follow their blogs:
15 February 2016
Elkie Kammer, Support for Learning teacher, shares her thoughts on equality and the attainment gap.
The attainment gap
I am more and more wondering whether the problem of inequality lies at least partially with what we are measuring as attainment. Assessments predominately focus on literacy and numeracy, although, as has been explored in Multiple Intelligences, there are many other areas in which people can excel. In our society it is generally accepted that work based on skills in literacy and numeracy is of higher value than work based on physical strength and manual skills. This is especially evident in the wage gap between different occupations. And yet, we all know that for example in a hospital the cleaners are of equal importance as the doctors, though in status and monetary value we treat both groups very differently.
In my opinion, in order to break the cycle of poverty and to close the attainment gap, we first have to change the ethos of our society and acknowledge that all skills are of equal value. We need to widen the curriculum and especially the assessment process to incorporate and recognise a greater variety of skills, be they academic, creative or practical. At the same time we have to narrow the huge wage gap in our society in order to reward more equally whatever skills people bring to the functioning of our communities. Maybe instead of talking about the Attainment Gap we should address the inequality in measuring and valuing attainment.
30 November 2015
Geoff Ogle, Chief Executive at Food Standards Scotland, talks about their new online game and teacher guidance, Cookin Castle.
We created Cookin Castle to educate eight to 12 year olds about healthy eating and good food hygiene in a fun and interactive way. It was important for us to create a resource for children as the diet of Scotland’s young people needs to improve drastically. The current intake of fruit, vegetables and fibre is too low and the consumption of sugar, saturated fat and salt is far too high. As a result, 29% of children in Scotland are already at risk of becoming overweight or obese when they enter adulthood, increasing their risks of developing type 2 diabetes.
The amount of sugar consumed by Scottish children has been a huge contributing factor to the fact that 32% of pupils in Primary One and 27% of pupils in Primary Seven have dental decay. All of this is entirely diet related and therefore preventable.
The game was successfully piloted by 500 pupils in schools across Scotland before the launch in September and we received many supportive comments after this, including one teacher who said the game “engaged a section of pupils who may otherwise not apply their knowledge, gaining further depth and understanding”.
Cookin Castle supports the Scottish Government’s Health and Wellbeing area of the Curriculum for Excellence so teachers are able to use the online game as an educational resource. Our chief goal is for schools across the country to use it as a tool in the classroom to help children make better decisions about food and take this knowledge home to their families. Educating and engaging with children on the importance of healthy eating and food hygiene is crucial to help halt the formation of poor dietary habits and instead encourage healthy behaviours to take them into adulthood. And if children start talking about what they have learned in school about healthy diets and that encourages more parental engagement that can only be a good thing. Diet in the home needs to be a whole family activity so that learning in school is translated to changes in the diet at home.
Cookin Castle is just one step Food Standards Scotland is taking to provide children with a solid foundation for establishing lifelong healthy eating habits.
11 November 2015
Charlaine Simpson, Senior Education Officer, talks about her journey from supply teaching to leadership roles, and now to a seconded post at GTCS.
My journey from Teacher to Senior Education Officer
Having graduated in 1992 from Moray House, I was let loose into an education system where permanent jobs were scarce. In the months from August to December, I did supply work in 14 out of the 17 high schools in what was Central Region. I think that this gave me a good foundation from which to develop adaptability and classroom management skills as I was in lots of different environments in quick succession (mostly with support but sometimes not!). I once had a group of S1 pupils believing I was a science teacher in the morning (which I was) then a music teacher in the afternoon (not in a million years!).
On the last day of term I was called to ‘interview’ for a part-time temporary job. I waited to be called – but no call came. At 12.30pm (the schools broke up at 1.45 pm) I called the school and got the job. Later the Principal Teacher told me it was only because I phoned back first!
Excitedly, I started the new session into a science department where I was the tenth man – yes, me and nine guys. It was a little daunting; I would comment that some department meetings were like ‘swimming in a sea of testosterone!’ During this time I was asked to take on responsibility for the 5-14 development as some of my colleagues were still not onboard with this change. This is where I cut my teeth in leading and managing others. I didn’t realise at the time but the skills I developed in this environment have formed the bedrock for how I interact and support colleagues throughout my career.
I quickly expanded beyond the department and got involved in whole-school activities. I adored taking part in events and continued to do so until I moved to GTCS this year. I had the privilege to learn with students in environments beyond the boundaries of the school. This gave me a whole new experience and lens through which to reflect on how children learn, and what inspires and motivates individuals. There have been a few bumps and scrapes along the way but these are opportunities I would strongly suggest that all teachers get involved in. It is exhausting, and it can be messy and basic (I don’t do spartan very well!), but these experiences are amazing and worthwhile.
Throughout my career I have taken opportunities and have learned to say yes when it feels 'right’ or ‘scary’, and then worked out 'how to' on the way. Being a Principal Teacher of Science has opened up lots of opportunities to work with some amazing people and to lead the curriculum. I am passionate about ensuring all pupils’ needs are met and have loved the chance to develop creative and innovate learning experiences through the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. Colleagues have inspired me to take risks, be reflective and make changes that we firmly believed to be right for students in our school.
I also had the absolute privilege to lead and manage the Creative and Aesthetic Faculty, which I still find funny! But this experience was incredible; it allowed me to put leadership skills into practice in a new context and develop new ways of working with the curriculum and with colleagues. The faculty colleagues were so supportive and patient when I asked again, 'Why is this not like this?' No-one rolled their eyes (that I saw anyway!), and someone would very carefully explain again that it’s more subjective and there is no correct response, unlike in science!
My first foray as Acting Depute really opened my eyes to a more holistic approach to leading and managing people. As Acting Depute, I was most excited when leading learning and teaching, working alongside colleagues to make improvements that would benefit our young people. Part of this was to lead a group of Aspiring Principal Teachers throughout the session, to give an impression of the Principal Teacher role and to allow space for professional dialogue and reflection. I was involved in supporting teacher learning via the first line ‘Lead or not to Lead’ opportunity and the Teaching for Deep Learning, supporting colleagues across the Council to develop pedagogical and leadership skills.
After completing the Scottish Qualification for Headship, I decided to complete a postgraduate certificate in Supporting Teacher Learning. At this time, I also became a Development Fellow for a time-limited project with the University of Stirling to develop an enquiry framework to support the transition of probationary teachers to career-long professional learning, and I was also a critical colleague to aspiring MEd candidates. These experiences really supported my development in research and helped me to develop a professional learning network through Twitter. This led me to Pedagoo and I have subsequently delivered at three Pedagoo events. I find Pedagoo inspiring as it is ‘for teachers by teachers’, and I love the sharing and learning that goes on at the events but also on a weekly basis as practitioners share their learning via the Pedagoo blog and #PedagooFriday.
So now I am seconded to GTCS as Senior Education Officer for Research and Professional Learning. I am amazed at the support that is offered by GTCS beyond its registration and Fitness to Teach processes. The wealth of knowledge and experience is astounding, given there are only five Senior Education Officers in the whole organisation, all with their own remits but having a commonality in supporting Professional Update. In taking up the reigns, I hope I am offering support to help practitioners engage with research and adopt an ‘enquiry as stance’ approach to their professional learning. I truly believe in the dispositions entailed in ‘enquiry as stance’ – this is the way in which we can continue to grow as practitioners but also improve the life chances of Scotland’s young people.
Charlaine will be presenting at Pedagoo's EnquiryMeet on Saturday 14 November at Grangemouth High School.
Follow Charlaine on Twitter:
Follow Charlaine's personal blog:
25 September 2015
Emma Hely, a History/Modern Studies teacher at Buckie High School in Moray, talks about her eye-opening experience teaching in Rwanda.
I am not entirely sure what I was expecting before the trip. I knew that there would be culture shock and I knew it would be pretty hot but I don’t think I was prepared for the reality of life in Rwanda. It is a beautiful country and the people there are welcoming and friendly. I worked in E.S. Kamabuye ( a secondary school) and spent a lot of my time in G.S Myange (a combined nursery, primary and secondary). Both schools are 15 minutes from Nyamata, which is a town in the Bugesra region of Rwanda. The location itself was great. We had access to a regular market and a paved, concrete road to and from our schools. We travelled by local bus that cost 50p and sat between 14 and 20 people. There was enough room for 14 at a push. Twenty was definitely crowded! We had a few power cuts but nothing we couldn’t handle. Water was an issue as it was the dry season combined with a drought meaning that many had to go quite a long way to fetch water. Houses and families were hoarding 25 litre jerry cans whenever water was available, as they knew it would not last.
I lived with Hollie Shearer, an early years primary practitioner at Strathburn Primary School. We worked side by side with Cledonia, our mentor, who was an educated and strong woman. She genuinely cared for the people she worked with and was passionate about improving practice and bringing in counselling and guidance to Rwandan education. Ugandan born, she was a friend and a guide to all things Rwandan. It was through working with Cledonia that I began to really see the challenges Rwandan teachers face.
Like many teachers here in Scotland I am used to a certain level of comfort in my classroom. Our expectations are that the power will be on and our classrooms will have projectors, white boards and maybe even a SmartBoard. We all face challenges in teaching and we all feel the pressure when our learning aids falter.
The contrast to the schools in Rwanda could not be more different.
The schools do not have the luxuries we do; in fact they are often without power for large chunks of the day. The one computer I saw working in E.S Kamabuye often cut out mid-typing and the teachers just started all over again when it did come back to life. The teachers are teaching topics and lessons without the equipment we are used to using here. Science lessons occur every day without the materials to practice an experiment. Just the word of the teacher saying if you try it, it will happen. There are ICT and computing classes being taught with no computers, just the teacher writing the information on the blackboard. The challenges these teachers face are far greater than ours. They are challenges that I know I could not teach through. But they overcome them every day and keep pushing through to give the children in front of them the best education they can. To see the teachers in Rwanda teach and educate students despite these challenges was eye opening.
However, there were similarities too. The teachers were eager to try new things and wanted to improve their teaching as much as possible. They wanted to help the students in front of them the best they could. Teachers were giving up lunchtimes and free time to sit with pupils to go over any issues they may have or to help them catch up with any gaps in knowledge. In fact, the schools I worked in had specific after-school catch-up sessions to ensure girls, and other children that seemed likely to drop out or could fail, were catered for. Staff stayed behind to try and help those who needed it. Just like we do here. Teachers are still writing reports but for the 60 to 80 children they teach in class, not the 20 to 30 we teach.
Students are students no matter the location, resources or school. Younger children were playing games at playtime and were eager to greet the visitors. Teenagers were a little more laid back and many focused on exams over the visitor. The English Club at Kamabuye was the exception. The children in the club were eager to talk at any time and practice their English. The group performed role-plays for me based around scenarios, and their command of a language that is not their own was remarkable. The club had clearly worked hard on vocabulary, performance and even a few chat up lines! This was a highlight of my time in Kamabuye. The fact the students had been in school since 7 am and stayed 4 hours after home time to take part showed me their commitment and eagerness to learn.
Another great moment was when Hollie and I were working on a writing project at G.S. Myange. Not only was watching 11 to 13 year olds write a book in English that they had worked on for hours hugely satisfying, but watching them take such pride in the illustrations and hand writing was humbling. Watching them be creative and be so proud of their work was lovely. On top of this, a few of the morning primary school students had been watching and were interested in the project. They even came in to read the books from the library over and over again as if fascinated by the stories. We managed to go outside and read with them, which was a lovely spontaneous moment. We had them jumping like frogs, baa-ing like sheep and swimming like fish. When we went back inside a few of them read to me in Kinyarwanda and English from the books. It was wonderful to see them so confident, hours after school, as they proudly read to me as I had read to them. Moments like that reaffirmed why I wanted to teach.
The whole experience was eye opening. I haven’t looked at anything the same since. From the convenience of a supermarket to the luxury of a flushing toilet, I see nearly everything with a new view point. School is so different over there. From class sizes to children actively seeking further education and skills. Teachers who face huge challenges, including English and low pay, but are still committed to helping children learn and grow. I met some amazing people and worked alongside some fantastic practitioners. Inspire, Educate and Empower Rwanda is a fantastic organisation that used the entire cohort to the best of their ability. From in-school training, to training sessions for all 60 IEE mentors. This ensured it was not just the 15 schools with a visiting teacher that benefitted, but all mentors got a chance to learn from the Scottish teachers. It was a truly empowering and humbling experience and I cannot wait to put the skills and knowledge I gained to good use in my classroom and school.
9 September 2015
Primary school teacher John Steel updates us on his teaching experience in Rwanda.
I want you to imagine that you have received a memo from your headteacher that you have to attend a meeting after school. The memo does not state the subject matter of the meeting but simply states the time and says in bold IMPORTANT. At the meeting you are told that you will no longer be teaching in English but will instead be switching to Spanish. How do think you would feel? Please take a moment to contemplate this.
This is the very challenge many teachers in Rwanda have had to face since switching from teaching in French to teaching in English seven years ago. In 2008 the Rwandan government announced a switch to teaching in English. They said this was key to regional and global business and trade. Having just spent a month working in Rwandan schools I have been able to see where English is developing and where there are still challenges.
As I mentioned in my last blog I was taking part in the Global Learning Partnerships programme, which is organised by The Wood Foundation and sends teachers from Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Moray to work in Rwandan schools with I.E.E. (International Education Exchange aka Inspire, Educate and Empower) mentors. The I.E.E. mentors are involved in teacher training and are vital in supporting the switch to English.
I was based at G.S. Gasaka School in the Nyamagabe district of the Southern Province. The first thing that struck me in the district and many other parts of the country is the beauty of the landscape. G.S. Gasaka looks over one of many spectacular valleys in the region.
I was introduced to the I.E.E. mentor I was going to be working with in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, the evening before travelling to Gasaka. His name is Boaz and he is a Ugandan national and has been a mentor for a few years. Boaz became an excellent guide to Rwandan education and activities at G.S. Gasaka, as well as a good friend.
Gasaka School is very close to Kigeme refugee camp which hosts refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The camp has its own school with a role of around 6,000 but due to the volume of children in the camp around half of Gasaka’s role are refugee children. The overall role of the whole school is around 2,000. This has meant that teachers are educating classes of around 40–60 learners. Pupils sit at benches attached to a long desk and learn from the teacher at the front of the room.
On my first day at Gasaka I was welcomed by the headteacher and staff. I was asked various questions in the staffroom about my personal and professional life that helped the staff in getting to know me. One of the first activities that I took part in was to observe a couple of lessons with Boaz. He explained to me that observing lessons was very much to support the teachers with their strengths and areas for improvement. Something that struck me when observing teachers in Rwanda is how good they are at energising their learners at the start of lessons. They use many songs and rhymes to do so. Coupled with the enthusiasm the pupils already show, they are very much ready to learn. Boaz also helps the teachers with identifying learning objectives and planning. Feedback is also given straight after observations so that the teachers can build on their skills quickly.
As well as observing lessons I was asked to provide some learning experiences with the children and did so to support problem solving in maths as well as strategies for reading lessons. I also carried out CPD on reading strategies with the staff.
On the whole lessons varied. With the challenge of having to teach in English some teachers are relying on textbooks that have outdated literacy and numeracy concepts. Through the school based mentors I.E.E. are trying to implement a more progressive and active approach to learning. This can be seen through various projects taking place at Gasaka including an art group who produced books based on Rwandan life for me to bring back to Scotland. The drawings by Primary 5 pupils are detailed, imaginative and of a high quality. As well as this I was given items made by a knitting group that included a book bag and a table cloth.
On top of this there is an enterprise initiative taking place at Gasaka where the children are learning farming techniques whilst growing crops to (hopefully) be sold.
Boaz also runs an English club where pupils are encouraged to recite poems, perform songs, create writing and take part in plays. I was given the opportunity to teach the children a Scottish song that they responded well to. They now know a few Scottish words to implement and enhance their English.
Friday morning assemblies at Gasaka are something that I will always be in awe of. With one teacher chanting a line the children sang back with an energy and enthusiasm that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Assemblies are an important way to get the day started. School starts at 7 am and ends at 5 pm. This is achieved with the children coming in two different shifts resulting in a very long day for the teachers.
Overall I had a very positive time at Gasaka. I was made to feel very welcome by the staff and children and shared some very memorable moments.
While working at Gasaka I stayed in a house nearby with my colleagues Adam Douglas, who is a physics teacher at Aberdeen Grammar, and Tim Whimster, who is a class teacher at Kittybrewster Primary School in Aberdeen. They were both placed at Kigeme Camp School. Our accommodation was basic but very comfortable comprising a living room, three bedrooms, a kitchen and a plumbed in toilet. This is a luxury a lot of the rest of our cohort didn’t have, having to use a long drop instead. We were also lucky to have electricity as this was not a feature of everyone's home.
Going out and about in the local community gave us a real sense of how it can feel to be in a minority. Locals were not used to seeing white people and showed a lot of interest in us. This was mostly positive interest and everywhere we went we were usually accompanied by a group of children who wanted to chat with us.
As well as being based in various different schools the cohort also went back to Kigali for a few days to deliver CPD for the I.E.E. mentors. It was on one such occasion, half way through the trip, that I suffered a slight set back. During my stay at Gasaka I had noticed a lump on my upper right arm with reddened skin. I thought it was a bite so got it checked out at hospital in Kigali. The doctors discovered it was an abscess with around 8 cm of infected fluid underneath it. I was told I would have to go under general anaesthetic to get it removed. I had a dilemma, go back home and get it seen to or go ahead with the operation in Kigali. At that point I felt very alone and far from home but this was soon remedied by the care and love shown from I.E.E., the teachers in my cohort and The Wood Foundation who were on the other end of the telephone. Before I knew it there was a group at the hospital to support me. I was also given confidence by the knowledge and professionalism of the staff at King Faisal hospital in Kigali. A senior doctor told me that if I didn’t get the abscess and related fluid removed I could risk septicaemia. This made my decision for me and I decided to go with the operation. I was very impressed with the care I received at the hospital and my abscess wound has almost fully healed as I write. As a result of the operation and some other medical issues Adam, Tim and I had to spend the whole of our third week in Kigali. This however became a positive as we got to work in a city school as well as visiting a couple of nursery schools. This allowed us to make a comparison with the rural schools we had been working in.
There were many great moments in Rwanda and trips that the cohort took part in including visiting Nyungwe rainforest and going on a canopy walk, visiting Akagera National Park for a Safari, visiting the Volcanoes National Park in Virunga to spend time with a family of mountain gorillas and visiting a traditional cultural village where we took part in a mock traditional wedding, drank banana beer, danced like warriors and gifted goats to local families.
However the main thing I will always remember about Rwanda is the warmth, friendliness and love of the people from the many smiles and hellos to the passionate and celebratory send off the I.E.E. gave the cohort. I would highly recommend the Global Learning Partnerships programme to any teacher. It is very enriching and enlightening. My colleague Suzanne Munro (Craigievar Primary) from the cohort said, “Rwanda is a feeling, you can only get it when you are there.” It is certainly a feeling I would welcome any day.
In my next blog I will be back at work in Scotland and continuing learning on Global Citizenship. I am starting a new post at the beginning of the session at Seaton Primary School in Aberdeen. I will still be linking with Gasaka School and am also taking part in an exciting literacy project that Christine Beard (Depute Headteacher, Hazlehead Primary) has been running between Rwanda and Scotland.
23 July 2015
This summer fifteen Scottish teachers have headed to Rwanda to live and work for four weeks. Emma Hely and John Steel share their thoughts on the eve of their departure.
Emma Hely, History/Modern Studies teacher, Buckie High School
My name is Emma Hely and I am a History/Modern Studies teacher at Buckie High School in Moray. I have been fully qualified for a year and it has been an amazing year teaching the young people at Buckie High. Travelling is a passion of mine. I love to see the world. More accurately than that, I love the experience of travelling. Mingling with new cultures, visiting new places and getting lost in every place I visit. I have spent time living in China and the USA and have travelled to various other places too. The Global Partnership opportunity was presented to me at a meeting in Elgin and I immediately emailed asking for an application. Both my students and myself have been eagerly researching and learning about Global Citizenship, and development in Africa and Rwanda itself. The students are excited for me and have asked on several occasions if I could steal a Gorilla for them. I politely declined their request.
I leave in two days. That means 48 hours to soak in Wi-Fi, long hot showers and the comfort of the familiar. I am nervous/excited about the trip but I feel as physically ready as I can be. My main concern would be not being valuable to the host school. We are going out there to help education and help the teachers in Rwanda to get a perspective on what education is like here. We hope that we can help their education system in any small ways we can. I know that I will take everything I can from the visit and use it to alter, inform and mould my teaching here. I just hope I can make even a small contribution to the team in Rwanda too.
I have been butchering the Kinyarwanda language and trying to prepare CPD to suit the needs of my host school. I am being placed in E.S. Kamabuye, which is close to Nyamata in the Bugesera region of Rwanda. I will be staying in Nyamata which is steeped in history and will be an amazing base for me. I will be staying with a primary teacher from Aberdeen and we are both excited to attempt to navigate cooking for two on a hot plate together. Over there we plan to deliver CPD to schools and best facilitate the teachers we work with. We will observe the school and see what we can do to hep the school grow and develop. We will work closely with IEE and a school-based mentor to ensure what we are doing is in aid of the school. It will not be all work. We have managed to squeeze in a safari in Akagera National Park and a mountain trek to see the endangered Gorillas in the wild.
This will be one of the best experiences of my life and I am definitely nervous, excited and ready to embrace the experience. I can only hope that my trip is as fantastic as advertised; that I make even a small difference to education in Rwanda; that it is as beneficial to teaching as I hope; and that my friends and family do not tire of the stories I tell when I come back.
John Steel, class teacher, Kintore Primary School
Hello, my name is John Steel and I currently teach a Primary 4 class at Kintore Primary School in Aberdeenshire. I decided to take part in the Global Learning Partnership programme run by The Wood Foundation so I could learn about education in another culture and gain an insight into how I as a teacher in Scotland can relate to this. I am really looking forward to working collaboratively with teachers in Rwanda and I am sure I will gain an experience that I will be able to use when teaching back in Scotland. I will be placed at G.S. Gasaka School in the Nyamagab area of Rwanda. This is next to The Kigeme refugee camp where two of my colleagues will be placed. I am also hoping to gain some experience in the camp. My colleagues and I will be working alongside mentor teachers from The International Education Exchange, based in Rwanda.
I have been very fortunate to be teaching some very conscientious pupils this year who have helped me in preparing for my trip. The class have been enthusiastically learning about Global Citizenship aspects such as needs and wants and how these link to rights. They have also been linking Global Citizenship to other topics such as engineering by learning about how simple materials can be used effectively.
The class would like me to find out about the daily routine of a child in Rwanda so they can compare it with their own day. They also want me to take plenty of photographs of the Rwandan landscape and wildlife. The class would like to also know how children in Rwanda entertain themselves.
As I write this final paragraph I am anticipating flying to Rwanda the next day. I am a bit anxious about going into the unknown but mostly excited about what I am sure will be a life changing experience that will have a positive impact on me personally and professionally. My next blog will be written from Rwanda. I hope to have internet access at some point to post it during my visit.
The Wood Foundation's Global Learning Partnerships programme has been accredited by GTC Scotland for Professional Recognition in Global Learning.
26 June 2015
The ethos of the new Education Bill is welcome but are appropriate resources in place to deliver on its promises, asks Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive Jackie Brock
From B minus to A plus
When a new Education (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament by Cabinet Secretary, Angela Constance, Children in Scotland was encouraged by its intention to reduce inequality of outcome by introducing legislative measures around content, delivery and fulfilment of education practices in Scotland.
Too many children from deprived backgrounds finish their formal education with significantly lower levels of attainment than their more affluent peers. Children in Scotland strongly supports the current political priority of reversing this trend.
We welcome measures contained within the Bill aimed at narrowing the attainment gap. The Bill will bring a fresh impetus to those with local and national responsibility for delivering education services to concentrate specifically on addressing the needs of children experiencing socio-economic disadvantage.
However, while additional focus on the needs of this particular group of pupils is welcome, we fear that the Education Bill will have a limited impact on its own. We believe, in order for it to be effective, ‘inequalities of outcome’ should be interpreted as broadly as possible. It should encompass both academic attainment as well as other factors that influence outcomes, such as those outlined in the Curriculum for Excellence.
The Bill, as it stands, does not allow education authorities any further power to take action over and above the steps they are able to take. Long-term, sustained and evidence-led strategies that are targeted on improving every aspect of the lives of those affected by poverty are clearly required. While this Bill represents an important and necessary statement of intent, it must form part of a series of measures aimed at tackling this longstanding issue if it is to achieve the outcomes that are desired. National and local level reporting could provide valuable statistical information that will aid in development and increase accountability. This will help inform what wider community action and intervention should be taken.
With regards to the planned extension of rights under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, we welcome steps that would strengthen the role played by children to make choices that effect their own lives. However, we are mindful of the potential for conflict – either in situations where a parent or guardian disagrees with the course of action pursued by their child, or when the local authority disagrees that a child has the requisite capacity to use their rights. Consideration and great care must also be given to the decision-making process around who has and who doesn’t have such capacity.
Finally, expanding the provision of Gaelic Medium Education (GME) with a standardised process to handle requests in a timely and efficient manner is undoubtedly welcome, as is the introduction of greater transparency and clarity, benefiting child, parent and local authority alike. However, in a system where demand often outstrips supply, the Scottish Government, in partnership with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, must ensure local authorities are properly supported in order to carry out these duties and that resources are made available in areas where demand is likely to be higher.
So while we support the ethos of the Bill, if it really is to make the long-term change in outcomes we all hope it will, we need to do a bit more background research as well as ensure there is the appropriate resources available to deliver on its promises. Then, it really will be worthy of an A+.
26 May 2015
IDEAS shares its top tips for teaching global citizenship.
Top seven tips for teaching global citizenship
Poverty. Climate change. Human rights. The themes covered by global citizenship education are so complex that the thought of teaching them can be not only exciting but also daunting. The good news is that you are not alone. There is a world of support out there!
What’s more, global citizenship is a key part of Learning for Sustainability – the new entitlement for pupils in Scotland, and a key element of the revised GTCS Standards for teachers.
In order to make sure teachers feel confident embarking on some of these topics, we at IDEAS thought we would help by giving our top tips for teaching global citizenship.
- Make use of professional learning opportunities through GLP-S. Global Learning Programme Scotland (GLP-S) is a fully funded training programme for teachers across Scotland to build up confidence and knowledge of teaching global citizenship subjects. To find out more, visit:
- Explore the great new resources at Signposts. An array of tried and testing global citizenship teaching resources are available on this new website – you can explore and find resources by age, curriculum area, topic and so on, as well as signing up for updates. Find out more at:
- Read the latest issue of Stride. Global citizenship education online magazine Stride explores key themes, discusses why global citizenship is so important, shares examples from schools and also practical classroom activities. You can read Stride at:
- Get to know your local DEC. There are six development education centres (DECs) across Scotland, all of which can advise local schools about global citizenship education and provide professional learning opportunities. Find your local one at:
- Attend free teacher conferences. IDEAS and its member organisations regularly host free conferences for teachers to find out more about global citizenship education, from the theory and how to get started through to practical tips and ideas. For details of events keep an eye on the IDEAs website:
- Share and share alike. You can join teacher networks, take part in joint reflection sessions and share best practice – it all helps. Contact your local DEC to hear more about what’s happening in your area:
- Get familiar with our members. IDEAS has many members – as well as the development education centres there are big names such as Oxfam Scotland and Christian Aid, most of whom do their own work on global citizenship education. To be kept informed about the work we and members are doing, follow us on Twitter:
23 April 2015
Dr Marvin Berkowitz, keynote speaker at the Character, Culture and Values conference to be held this June, writes about character education.
The why and how of character education
When I was a Consultant to the Gordon Cook Foundation in 1995, I was barely using the term “character” and was still using it much more than all of the educators in Scotland. Back then, the term du jour was “values.” In fact, one of the more parochial debates at that time in Scotland was over a two letter preposition; i.e., should this field be under the rubric of “values education” or “values in education.” As I wrote a few pieces for and about my Scottish experience, I addressed the problem of terminology, noting that the US scene was then at a crossroads between moral, values and character education, with some of the issues being substantive and some being purely semantic. In fact, in a monograph I wrote for the Gordon Cook Foundation, I even invoked the Tower of Babel as a metaphor for the time.
Sadly, we have not resolved this issue in the past two decades. In the US we are now witnessing culture wars between character education, social emotional learning, positive psychology, moral education, and others. Here in the UK, Character Scotland is carrying the flag for character education, while the Jubilee Centre at the University of Birmingham is attempting to navigate the juncture of virtues and character, and others are first grappling with these less familiar terms. Being outside the UK debate, I am not sure if values education is still breathing here nor what other terms are fighting for air.
Regardless of which terms are in the mix currently in the UK, I still rely on the conclusion I have reached in four decades of this work; namely, that there is no solution to the Tower of Babel problem. Educating youth to be ethical people is a polarizing proposition. It is almost like a projective test; that is, people project their fears onto it. If you are afraid of the political left, then you see it as an attempt to promote a liberal agenda. If you are afraid of the Christian right, then you see it as way to sneak religious indoctrination into schools. If you are a libertarian, then you see it as state conspiracy to control your children. And so on. And it can be all of those things. Or none of them, especially when done thoughtfully.
So here is what I think it is, whatever label you prefer to put on it. First, it is unavoidable; it is inevitable. Aristotle noted 2000 years ago that all adults impact the character of youth, whether they intend it or not. Schools cannot avoid character education. Second, it is necessary, indeed critical. No society can survive if it avoids the task of socializing each subsequent generation to effectively shepherd the world they are bequeathed by the preceding generation. Third, it is about helping our children become the best people they can be. Hal Urban, author of Lessons from the Classroom, calls it bringing out the best in children. I see it as helping them flourish and become effective moral agents who will be positioned to heal the world. Any reasonable person wants to live in a world that is safe, ethical, and caring. The only way to build such a world is to build safe, ethical and caring people…one child at a time. All institutions that impact children, just as Aristotle taught us, are part of that process. That is the “why.”
What about the “how”? We now have a substantial body of research, both about character development from social science and about character education from educational research; research that helps us identify best practices that are evidence-based. I have reviewed this research numerous times, first in a project called What Works in Character Education. In doing this we have generated a list of classroom and school practices that have been shown to foster the development of character. It is too long and technical for this short paper, but I will offer a broader model I call PRIME, which represents 5 big ideas about effective character education; 5 fundamental pillars upon which good education and character development must rest.
The P in PRIME stands for Prioritization. Character education must be an authentic priority for at least the school, but ideally the region and even the nation. The R stands for Relationships. The formation of healthy relationships among all stakeholders in the school (e.g., students, educators, support staff, parents) must be strategic and intentionally built into schools’ policies and practices. The I stands for Intrinsic. We must resist the mania to control children by extrinsic rewards and public recognition. The goal is for them to internalize values and not do certain behaviors only because there is some external payoff. The M is for Modeling. None of this is likely to be effective if the educational institutions and the adults that populate them do not “walk the talk.” And the E is for Empowerment. Scotland, the UK and the USA are democracies. Yet our schools are run as authoritarian institutions which utterly disempower not only the students but also the staff. All people have a fundamental need fortheir voices to matter, including young children, and schools need to change to make that happen.
I am thrilled that character is now a hot topic in Scotland and more broadly in the UK. I am likewise heartened by the birth of Character Scotland to help lead the way for character education to flourish. And I am honored to be asked to help kick off this endeavor. And to come back to Scotland, a country I learned to love when given the precious opportunity to live here two decades ago.
Marvin Berkowitz is a keynote speaker at the "Character, Culture and Values" conference to be held at The University of Glasgow on 15-16 June. For further information or to register for this unique event, please visit:
Dr Marvin W Berkowitz is the inaugural Sanford N McDonnell Endowed Professor of Character Education, and Co-Director of the Center for Character and Citizenship at the University of Missouri-St Louis, and University of Missouri President’s Thomas Jefferson Professor. His scholarly focus and expertise is in character education and development and he is the founding co-editor of the Journal for research in Character Education. Since 1999 Dr Berkowitz has directed the Leadership Academy in Character Education in St. Louis.
24 March 2015
Drama teacher Marie McGarrol writes about the value of quality partnerships.
Partnership working enhancing learning experiences
As a drama teacher working in a single person department I continue to face challenges difficult to overcome as one teacher. Partnership working has allowed me to develop my department at a rate I could not have achieved alone.
I want my pupils to be motivated and engaged in drama and partnership working with organisations such as The Royal Scottish Conservatoire, Festival and Kings Theatres, The Traverse Theatre, Dancebase and the Scottish Ballet. Specifically, the relationship developed with The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh has offered pupils greater opportunities, personalisation and choice in learning.
The Creative Learning department at the Lyceum provides free show tickets, pre-show talks and class workshops.
It is crucial that senior pupils especially see live theatre and are involved in these talks and workshops to develop their understanding of theatre. This has enabled them to be more successful within their drama examinations.
Pupils in an area of high social deprivation often lack self-esteem in new environments and shy away from giving their opinions, participating in practical tasks or just asking questions.
"Getting it right for every child" discusses the fundamental importance of improving the outcomes for all young people - to be given a voice, to take an active role in their own life, to be included in activities to overcome all the inequalities that they have been dealt.
By being involved in a shared theatrical world with pupils from other backgrounds, races and religions they begin to understand their place within the world and develop a realisation that their opinions and questions are just as valid as the next person's. Self-esteem begins to increase and self-worth improves.
The theatre also provides CPD for teachers - helping me develop specific skills and giving me an opportunity to creatively discuss learning and teaching in a holistic and creative manner away from a school environment with creative practitioners from a variety of fields.
The Lyceum Creative Learning team offered targeted projects for pupils, which went some way to tackling their low esteem, and organised a drama worker to host weekly sessions for girls at school.
Central to effective and efficient partnership working is creative problem solving to deal with an unmotivated S2 class, a senior class with three/four different levels, no budget and little time.
Partnerships can hugely increase a pupil’s positive experiences and promote the capacities of the CfE giving pupils freedom to develop as individuals, team players, innovators and as citizens able to contribute to their community and respond to the demands of the modern marketplace.
Pupils have appreciated the opportunities to extend their skills and knowledge of drama beyond the restriction of a 50-minute class period and have enjoyed free entry to the Lyceum Christmas show and party.
This sense of achievement has encouraged others now in S4 to have the confidence to attend the main Youth Theatre in the city centre. One student who is a young carer was given the opportunity, after interview, to complete a week’s work experience very successfully at the Lyceum Theatre.
By raising their expectations I am now seeing pupils taking more creative risks in class, willing to perform more and to perform to other audiences in their local community.
When you work by yourself it can be quite a lonely place but fertile partnership working certainly makes a positive difference to me and more importantly to my young people.
13 February 2015
The Field Studies Council gives us an update on what's been happening in outdoor learning in Scotland.
Spread the word – it’s time to celebrate outdoor learning in Scotland!
Scratch the surface of what’s happening in many schools across Scotland and you’ll find innovative and interesting examples of outdoor learning. You don’t need to dig too deep to uncover inspiring stories of teachers using the environment to enhance learning, raise attainment and increase motivation.
In the recent publication Conversations about learning for sustainability, Education Scotland celebrates the work of 20 schools and nurseries in 14 local authorities across the country. The report was launched in December 2014 to mark the end of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Outdoor learning is a key element of learning for sustainability – along with citizenship, sustainable development and international education, plus children’s rights and play – and is a core part of each case study.
Many of the schools featured are achieving positive results in partnership with national organisations and through involvement in national initiatives. For example, Carleton Primary in Glenrothes with Eco-Schools Scotland; Craigievar Primary, Aberdeenshire with Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland’s Forest Schools; and Drummore School, Glasgow with support from the Woodland Trust. Other establishments are making use of local resources and links, such as Inveraray Primary’s school grounds programme, and Wallace Hall Academy and the Queensberry Initiative in Dumfries and Galloway.
Individual teachers are also being recognised for their professional approach to this important part of the curriculum. Last year the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) awarded Professional Recognition in Outdoor Learning to over 70 teachers who GTCS Chief Executive Ken Muir said were ‘creating quality experiences for their schools and pupils’. To achieve this award, teachers had to provide evidence to show how they were engaging in ‘enhanced, significant and sustained professional learning’ that had an impact on their ‘skills and abilities and on learners and learning’.
We’re delighted to help spread the word – and join in the celebrations of such widespread success in outdoor learning!
Find out more about the Field Studies Council:
29 January 2015
NSPCC Schools Fundraising Organiser Sarah Maitland, tells us a bit about the work she does in schools to help support fundraising events.
Sarah Maitland, NSPCC Schools Fundraising Organiser – Aberdeen, Angus and Dundee
Tell us a bit about your job
As a schools organiser, I speak to thousands of children each year between the ages of 4 and 13, mainly in primary schools in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Dundee. I present engaging, informative and interactive assemblies designed to deliver important safeguarding messages and raise children’s awareness of child abuse. Through these presentations, I introduce the children to the crucial work of the NSPCC and launch a fun, sponsored fundraising event at their school. I support schools in choosing the fundraising event which is right for them from a selection of specially devised activities and manage the collection and banking of all the money raised.
What parts of the job do you most enjoy?
The role of schools organiser is unique, challenging and fulfilling. It's great to have the opportunity to inform and inspire so many children and deliver messages that one day, may prove invaluable to them. I enjoy speaking to the children and watching as they become motivated to help make a difference to other children’s lives.
It’s also rewarding to return to schools to thank them in an assembly at the conclusion of a fundraising event. The children are very excited when the total amount raised is revealed and I’m able to let them know how the money will have a direct impact on the children helped by the NSPCC. There is a tangible sense of pride amongst the children in the schools and it’s wonderful to see this and for them to celebrate their achievement in helping others.
Sarah pictured with Buddy, the schools services mascot
What do you find most interesting?
What I find particularly interesting is the continual cross communication that the schools fundraising team has with other areas of the NSPCC. We're consistently kept abreast of all the latest NSPCC projects, resources and campaigns and have the opportunity to attend presentations by colleagues from different areas of the organisation, explaining how their work makes a difference to children. This allows me to keep up to date and informed so that I can promote these campaigns and initiatives in schools.
I also find the very nature of working in schools to be interesting – each one with their own individual personality and ethos. I particularly like attending Pupil Council meetings and having the opportunity to discuss the work of the NSPCC in more detail.
Are there any challenges?
As with any job, the role of a schools organiser is not without its challenges. Part of my role is to proactively make contact with headteachers and promote the value and importance of our work in schools. Understandably, headteachers are very busy people and it can be quite difficult to get to speak to them. However, schools organisers work as part of a team and being part of a close knit, supportive team, who share ideas and offer advice really does make all the difference – in fact it's one of the nicest parts of my job. We all have the same passion and goal, to end cruelty to children forever.
Find out more about fundraising for the NSPCC:
15 December 2014
In this blog, we hear from Glenise Borthwick, Editor in Chief of Teaching Scotland, about the increasing role of photography in our everyday lives.
Cameras amongst us all
There was a time when images were feared, revered, hurtful and loved. We’ve always liked taking pictures and loved, even more, sharing them. We learn from them, recover memories and define our lives by the timeline of images we’ve created.
Images are taking over from text; we share how we feel and what we’re looking at by an attached image rather than a series of words.
I was delighted to join Finnish Museum of Photography Chief Curator Anna- Kaisa Rastenberger at the CCA in Glasgow to talk about the exhibition in the Museum in Helsinki #snapshot, which looks at our online visual habits and how they have changed our perception of photography.
Having spent most of my life avoiding cameras, at least being in front of them, it was a day of revelations and gaining the confidence that saw me out in Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow tasked by Anna-Kaisa with taking selfies that reflected what I felt at that particular moment. Selfies are a complex development in our society, one that has us looking at our own image far more often than can surely be good for us.
Teaching Scotland magazine has always known the value of good photography – after all a picture can be worth a thousand words. Photographs draw in readers, extend the article by personalising it with images of people, and excite readers through colour and facial expression, making them become more involved, more engaged.
At the workshop we sat in a circle and took it in turns to talk about our own engagement with photography. Each person reacted differently, yet strangely the same; we took photos to capture a moment, to capture an emotion, or to capture something beautiful, shocking or unexplainable. We all agreed that it was very much a timeline of our lives and that we kept people close and in our memories through images. Selfies are just an extension of that and instead of us taking pictures of others we have started to take images that create a timeline of ourselves.
And so we were sent out with our cameras to take selfies in a busy area of Glasgow. A lifetime of being self-conscious had to be swept away as I tried to define myself in a moment in a busy street.
After the initial photo bombing by over-friendly Glaswegians I took to a quieter back street and went for arty rather than people-centric. There is a skill to taking a selfie. Trying to get your face in some sort of order, trying to get the expression of abject fear removed and the background not excluded by a facial feature that couldn’t possibly be your own nose.
It became strangely enjoyable and a bit too obsessive, a bit too indulgent.
And then it just happened. The emotion was there, I turned a corner and there was The Glasgow School of Art. Always a favourite building but bedecked in scaffolding as it fought to get its dignity back after the terrible fire recently. One picture and I had something that mattered. I suppose that one moment taught me a lot about our magazine as well. We just don’t pluck a picture from our archives and make it fit. We engage with our readers and their own images tell the story.
21 November 2014
In this blog, we hear from Evelyn Wilkins, Editor of Teaching Scotland, about Tennis on the Road – a new programme that aims to give teachers, parents and coaches the tools needed to get kids active and develop tennis in Scotland.
Tennis on the Road
I took to the road yesterday to catch up with Judy Murray's Tennis on the Road – a new programme that aims to bring tennis to children and young people across Scotland.
We joined Longniddry Primary School in East Lothian for the morning to learn more about the programme and see the activities in action. Judy Murray was there to kick start the four-day programme, running from 20 to 23 November in East Lothian.
It was a Set4Sport session with Primary 1 pupils, involving games and activities aimed at introducing agility, balance and coordination. There were four stations at which the kids took part in simple, fun activities involving running, throwing and jumping, bean bags, buckets and balloons.
It was great to see the kids enjoying themselves and having fun. These were the sorts of activities Judy Murray played with her sons, Andy and Jamie, when they were little.
Tennnis on the Road will be touring all over Scotland, aiming to bring these activities to teachers, parents, coaches and volunteers across the country, to give them the tools they need to get active.
As well as the Set4Sport sessions, the programme includes three other courses: Set4Tennis, Set4Coaching and Set4Competition. The different courses are designed to cater for different age groups and abilities. You can find out more about them, and register your interest in getting Tennis on the Road to you, on the programme website:
Teaching Scotland will be providing more information on the project in a future issue of the magazine – look out for our interview with Judy Murray.