Christmas Jumper Day

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In Port Ellen School we had a Christmas Jumper day and it was for the charity Save the Children.  People wore Christmas jumpers in and brung a donation in and all the money was to help children around the world. It will help to give them clean water and food and education so they can get smart.  It is kind to donate to charity.  We raised £112 for Save the children.  my christmas jumper had snowflakes and Xboxes on it.

By Ben

Drew Brown 2008-2012

The Port Ellen Primary School Community was extremely saddened to learn of the sudden death of Drew Brown on the 13th September.  Drew was a much loved pupil at Port Ellen from Nursery until he left at the end of primary 7 in June this year.  He had only been at Islay high School for a few weeks when this tragic event happened.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Drew joined us at Port Ellen Nursery in 2011 at the age of 3 .  He took a while to adjust but quickly grew into the school and everyone in the school soon realised we had a real character.  One of his earliest reports said – Drew responds to a firm voice when he is up to nonsense!!

Drew Brown was part of a class of 13. They just moved to Islay High. He was a good friend to his classmates, kind, sympathetic but he was also very good with younger children. His popularity earned him status of the School House Captain for Orsay – a job he took very seriously. He ran clubs from P5 and was an excellent leader.

It was clear from very early in his nursery days that Drew had a particular flair for number – he excelled, he was quick, could see problems very quickly and work them out at speed. This year (P7) he participated in the Scottish Maths Challenge and achieved a bronze award for his efforts. He was really proud of himself as it was not an easy task .

He also had very good digital skills and this was also identified at the age of 3. He could reset the computer or do something/ hack files and we still don’t know how he managed it!! In P7 he decided to do Robotics and coding for Endeavour and took great interest in subjects like this.

Drew always had a very good relationship with the staff and his mischievous sense of humour endeared them all although there were times they didn’t know what he was going to surprise them with next, he always seemed just that one step ahead. We have talked a lot about Drew over the last week about his antics and the nonsense he could get up to and not only has this brought a smile to all our faces, it has helped us to support and comfort one another at such a sad time. Drew’s personality struck a chord with everyone.

Who could forget the Pantomime in December- Drew was Bolt , the jester . He had the audience in the palm of his hands and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – tears of laughter. His timing was impeccable and he spoke so clearly . He brought the house down. Some people came back the next night for seconds just like Drew did at lunch time

He loved good food, when he went to high school Mrs Holyoake just couldn’t find anyone who was so keen on seconds and who would sit and blether to her for virtually the whole of the lunch hour – often with his dinner hall partner in crime, Dearbhla . Although Dearbhla would be still eating her normal quota while Drew was often on his second lot of seconds!!

He enjoyed a laugh and often you could hear his laughter and see his excitement. He attended the leaver’s assembly in June – with some anxiety, however as always Drew quickly settled and enjoyed the videos. Drew’s was a very encouraging message telling everyone to go for it , never give up summing up his can do attitude to life . He wanted to be the same as everyone – that was his goal and at the end of P7 he achieved this, he was completely independent.

The tradition in Port Ellen is to write messages on everyone’s school jumper. Drew and I shared many conversations about Rangers – both fans so it really appealed to his sense of humour when I wrote on his good friend Scott Hope’s jumper ( Celtic fan) – Scott you’re Simply the Best!! That was right up Drew’s street.

On Thursday we started our remembrance / quiet area for Drew and planted an apple tree. Every day staff and children walk past the tree, they will remember Drew . Some days it will fill us with grief as we have had to say goodbye to a dear and good boy but it will also fill us with happiness when we remember the memories he has left behind. Ones that will always put a smile on our faces.

Remembering someone like that can’t be engineered, Drew’s personality, his uniqueness and resilience has left a legacy and he has touched all of our hearts.

Robotics- Learning New Digital Skills In Context

This year we received an Education Scotland CLPL grant to train staff in digital skills; for part of the project we have been learning computer science and technology to do with robotics.  A grant from the DigitalXtra fund has also  allowed us to purchase robotics equipment from early years up for the cluster, and has enabled the children to learn computer science outcomes in a meaningful way though programming their own robots.  This has been a really engaging way for pupils and teachers to engage with what can be quite tricky computer science concepts.

In Early years we used coda-pillars, Dash and Dot, Rugged Robot, Beebot and Spheros to show our understanding of computational thinking by coding the robots to follow an algorithm.

We learned all our computational thinking concepts using Barefoot Computing online, a fabulous and flexible resource.

We found there were lots of online resources that worked well even down to Early years and we made good use of them- lots of tinkering going on!

We made maps for the robots to move around and made them flash and play music as well as they followed the algorithms.

We then came up with our own designs for robots using engineering design principles and built them out of junk.


We think the robots looked fantastic!

Primary 3/4/5 have also been learning about robots and designing their own.  They learned about computational thinking and applied their skills making jam sandwiches and in Scratch.  They experimented with different robots like Spheros and Dash and dot.  With help from P67 they learned how to program Microbits to record temperatures and used this as a data handling high quality maths assessment.

First they designed their robots using engineering and iteration.

They then chose to program their microbits as part of their final robot design.  The builds were very imaginative.

With more experience of coding through Scratch and hour of code, P67 were able to take on more challenge.  They learned to use blocks rather than tracks to code the Spheros and were able to use them in maths to learn about angles in polygons by programming them to draw shapes using conditionals and loops, also programming games.  They then learned how to program Microbits.

Their final challenge was to look at Robotics holistically and design a robot to solve one of the world’s/Islay’s problems by using the sustainable development goals as a framework.  I adapted a Sway I found to structure their learning and used the great new tools on the new Microbit website which include programming based around the SDGs.

The children then used a design sheet to plan their robots.

For the elderly of Islay we had robots that were pedometers designed to help them keep fit and robots that made an alarm if the temperature got too cold to warn you it was icy out.  For children we had a robot that timed you washing your hands to prevent Coronavirus by playing Happy Birthday and one that timed you brushing your teeth.  For Farmers a child programmed a microbit to light up when dark, that could be fixed onto black Cows so they were easy to spot if on the road at night (cows are often free range on Islay!).  Another light sensitive device was to warn dolphins of underwater turbines at night.

The schools designs were then all shared with parents at an open afternoon in Science week, where children had to explain, demonstrate and discuss their new found digital skills.  It was clear lots of new digital skills were learned by everyone.






Lock Down Writing

I thought it might be nice to share some of the writing the children have done through home learning.  Enjoy!


I was just 13 years old when it happened. It was a beautiful summers day: there were butterflies fluttering all around me, there wasn’t a cloud in sight and the birds were singing a happy tune. It hadn’t rained in days; the grass was as dry as a crisp. My mum and I were out in the garden planting mint when I wandered off to the other end where all three of my dogs were. My mum wasn’t paying attention to me she was too busy planting. My dogs were sniffing my favourite tree. They had never done that before. The tree had white and light brown patchy bark all over it. The bark was mainly smooth but there were some bumps here and there. The bark near the top of the tree was smothered in vines with ivy popping out in every direction. On the branches there were enchanting green leaves with new buds gently unfurling. There was moss coating the bark like a huge blanket. The roots were twisted into each other making a ladder to the deep hollow below.

I climbed into the hollow, but something was different. I had eerie shivers down my spine, but I didn’t have time to explore what it was because my mum shouted it was time for dinner. I skipped into the kitchen and sat at the table. We ate shepherds pie, it was delicious. After dinner I read 2 chapters of my favourite book. Then my mum came into my room and said it was time to go to bed so I put my pyjamas on and brushed my teeth. I quietly opened my window and carefully climbed down the gutter. I tiptoed across the lawn and climbed into my favourite tree although still, something felt different but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. When I went to sit down, I sat on something round. I immediately stood up and picked it up. It was cold and glossy. I couldn’t quite make out what it was, but then I realised what I was caressing. It was a glass eyeball. I got the fright of my life and dropped it out of fear. It shattered into 3 pieces. I picked up the 3 pieces and studied them carefully. I noticed there were carvings in the base of the tree. The carvings matched the pieces of

the glass eyeball, so I put the pieces into the carvings. Without warning there was array of light beaming through the tree. It blinded me so I closed my eyes but when I opened them again and I was back in time…

I tried closing my eyes again to see if I could go back, but nothing seemed to work. I was very puzzled. I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to explore. The roads were dry and crumbly. There were wagons coming from all directions. Some were made from flaky old scraps of wood, with pairs of horses pulling them along. It wasn’t a summers day. There were no butterflies or birds singing happy tunes. The sky was dark and cloudy. It looked like these horses hadn’t seen a brush in their lives. Their manes were all tangled, and they had dead hair all over them.

I walked over to the nearest building. It was a dress shop. I was in modern clothes, so I had to get changed to fit in. I stood outside the dress shop and peered in the newly polished windows. Suddenly the door opened, and a very posh lady exclaimed “You took your time getting here. I have some people who have been waiting a long time to meet you…”

By Dearbhla Newman


I Miss My Routine

I miss my alarm going off at 7:45AM to tell me to get up and get dressed.

I miss having my breakfast at 8:00AM (Which is normally yoghurts or cereal)

I miss brushing my teeth and washing my face at 8:30AM

I miss my Dad telling me to get my jacket on and get my bag ready at 8:40AM

I miss leaving the house and walking over to meet Drew at 8:45AM

I miss chatting to Drew about current football stories on the way to School at 8:50AM

I miss the 5 minutes play we have in the playground before the bell goes at 9:00AM

I miss putting my jacket on the peg and putting my bag on my chair and seeing what we are going to do that day and getting ready for a long day’s work at 9:10AM

I miss maths the most at 9:40AM

I miss playing football at break time at 10:30AM

I miss the bell going for lunch at 12:10PM

I miss the bell for home time at 3:30PM

I miss getting my snack and drink at 4:00PM

I miss going to bed at 9:30PM

I miss this daily routine but most of all I miss my friends

By Scott Words


Virtual Egg Decorating Competition

Due to the school closures our annual Easter egg decorating competition has had to take place online this year, but standards and creativity are as great as ever!  Mrs Macdonald had some great comments to make “I couldn’t pick one winner , it was so hard and I am giving you all a virtual prize . I did pick 4 and categorised as follows; Elena – prettiest egg, Millie – funniest / topical, Caitidh – Great play on words / lots of effort, Orla – best use of digital skills

Remote Learning at Port Ellen via Seesaw

Port Ellen has been focussed on digital learning this year.  As a result of a grant award from Education Scotland, all primary school staff on Islay and Jura have received training to improve their digital skills.  Port Ellen and Bowmore started the year by moving our learning journals to an online solution, Seesaw.  Seesaw creates a learning loop between students, teachers, and families.  Students use built-in annotation tools to capture what they know in Seesaw’s digital portfolio.  Families gain a window into their student’s learning and engage with school happenings and teachers can see students thinking and progress.  Over the year all staff from ELCC to P7 have worked on sharing the children’s learning on this online platform which allows the sharing of photos, work and videos with parents, as well as the tracking of learning.  We are very fortunate that we decided on this course of action this year as it has meant we have been able to more smoothly move to a model of remote home learning with parents  following school closures.  We have been very impressed with the response of parents and students so far, who are working hard to keep up with their learning and develop a new routine.  It has been great to be able to interact with students online about their learning and continue to offer feedback and support.  You can find out more about Seesaw here

Free Period Products for Argyll and Bute pupils: ensuring no-one goes without

Argyll and Bute Education Services are committed to ensuring that none of our pupils have to go without access to free period products during the Covid-19 crisis when the usual availability in schools is restricted and when it is more difficult, and indeed expensive, to get products from shops.

Many schools distributed period products from their stocks to pupils before they closed. However, as the current Covid-19 Government restrictions continue, we want to ensure that our pupils’ wellbeing needs continue to be met.

For this reason we have made an arrangement with Hey Girls, one of Scotland’s main providers of period products, that enables you to order from a range of products using a survey monkey link that simply requests your chosen package, school and your delivery name and address.

To order your products please click here:  You can then click the packs you need (and it’s ok to order more than one type), enter your details and click ‘done’ at the bottom of the page.   Hey Girls will then process your order and post it to the address that you have given.  The link will be refreshed at regular intervals to ensure that you can make repeat orders.

As this system is just getting started and given the current delay in some postal service deliveries, please allow up to two weeks for your delivery to me made, although Hey Girls would hope to reduce this in time.

This Hey Girls order form link will also be sent out to parents and carers via text and email.   To avoid multiple orders at the same time from the same family, and to ensure that you get what you need , we would be grateful if children and parents/carers could consult with each other before ordering.

Please note that these products are free and are available to children and young people in Argyll and Bute schools from P6 to S6.  While the closure of schools continues, you can place an order whenever you need it.

We will continue to monitor the success of this system and will review it when restrictions are lifted and when the crisis is over.

If you need any more information on this system or wish to make any comments please contact Cathy Cameron at

Goodbye…For now

Schools are officially closed from the 20th March until futher notice due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.  This means much of your child’s learning will continue at home with the support of their family.  Teachers will be available online via Seesaw in the weeks to come to support you with ideas and acitivities to maintain a semblence of normality, in what are decidedly not normal times, unless they are busy in school looking after vulnerable children and key worker’s children.

Here are some top tips to help you in the coming weeks:


Staying Safe Online: Workshops come to Islay

February the 11th is the UK Safer Internet Day.  The internet, on the whole, is an inspiring and positive place that provides opportunities and experiences we could never have imagined 30 years ago.  It is an amazing resource which enables children and young people to connect, communicate and be creative in a number of different ways, on a range of devices.  However, the internet is always changing, and being able to keep up to date with your children’s use of technology can be a challenge.

Talking to your child about online safety can be hard.  Parents are often confused and bemused by technology online and at a disadvantage when talking to their much more knowledgeable offspring.  We can lack confidence in knowing what to do and how to get help when something goes wrong.  However children and young people still need advice and protection when it comes to managing their lives online.

While Cyber Security protects digital devices and networks from harm by third parties, Online Safety is about keeping people safe when using digital technologies.  By being aware of the nature of the possible threats that you could encounter whilst online, whether it is security threats, handling and safeguarding your personal data, management of your digital footprint, or avoiding harmful or illegal content, you are keeping yourself and your family safe.

Issues that your child may encounter on the internet will vary depending on their age and online activities, and can be grouped into 4 areas according to the UK Safer Internet Centre.

Conduct: children may be at risk because of their own behaviour, for example, by sharing too much information.

Content: age-inappropriate or unreliable content can be available to children.

Contact: children can be contacted by bullies or people who groom or seek to abuse them.

Commercialism: young people can be unaware of hidden costs and advertising in apps, games and websites.

Through funding from Education Scotland’s #STEMnation, an expert from the charity SWGfL will be visiting Islay on Wednesday the 19th of February to work with teachers, pupils and parents on a range of internet safety issues.  There will be a parent workshop (community members also welcome) from 5.30-6.30 at Bowmore Primary school  where you can come along and find out more about how to keep your family safe online and where there will be a chance to ask any questions you may have.  We would love to see as many people as possible coming along to find out more about this vital topic.

Burns Ceilidh

On Thursday 23 January Port Ellen Primary School celebrated Burns Day by opening its doors to the community for a traditional Burns Ceilidh. We had poetry recitals from all of the children, performances from Ella Edgar’s Highland Dancers, music from Mirren Brown and Niall Kirkpatrick and a quiz written by the P6/7 class. The event was very well attended and enjoyed by lots of family and friends of the school as well as others from the Port Ellen Community.

All of the children were to learn a Scottish poem by heart for the occasion. The P1/2 class had two wonderful recitals on a food theme which made the audience smile, the P3/4/5 children told stories about going to the fireworks, the circus and even a cat food rap and the P6/7 class had two traditional Burns poems culminating in ‘Ad- dress to a Haggis.’

Earlier in the day Mrs Holyoake and Miss Brown in the kitchen had prepared the whole school a delicious lunch of chicken and rice soup, mince and potatoes or haggis, neeps and tatties and clootie dumpling or chocolate cake. Although only two of the children were brave enough to try the haggis there were comments of ‘yummy in my tummy’ from lots of the children! We were very lucky to have four special guests to join us for lunch including Mr Mor- rison who led us in the Selkirk Grace.

We would like to thank everyone who came along to celebrate Burns Day with us with special mention to Niall and Mirren for the wonderful music, Dr Dorothy Dennis, Mrs Jean MacDonald, Mr Morrison and Mr John Find- lay for joining us for lunch, Mrs Leask, Mrs MacFarlane and Mrs Murney for setting up the hall and Mrs Holyoake and Miss Brown for our delicious lunch.

Scintillating Stirling!

By Orla Campbell, student reporter.

Schools from all over Islay and Jura went to Stirling, Scotland from Tuesday 24th of September to Friday the 27th of September. The trip was for socializing so that when students go up to high school they know other people. A lot of people who went on the trips favourite 3 activities were bowling, Stirling castle and the Dundee science centre.

On our last night at Stirling when group 2 was playing bowling Robyn Logan came 1st with 113 points, Orla Campbell came 2nd 106 points and Morgan McFarlane came 3rd with 104 points. On our 2nd day when the schools got put into groups they headed off to Stirling castle some groups found out some untold secrets about the room he slept in to the room he prayed in. Only half of 1 group out of 6 groups got shown the secret rooms. A lot of the students found the castle one of the most interesting. They also really loved teh magnificent Kelpies.  Then sadly on our last full day all students and teachers took a bus trip to Dundee and went the Dundee science centre to learn about chemistry and other little games around the ground floor. There were games like memory games, illusions, face changing games and more. There was also a medieval time workshop that had a few fun and experimental activities. Later they did chemistry such as explosions, bangs, fires and a few others things which were mind blowing.

We have a few opinions that we would like to share on peoples favourite activities like Christopher Jamison exclaimed;

“Blair Drummond safari park because of the exotic animals. “

Also Morgan McFarlane had an opinion or 2 on her favourite activity such as;

“The science centre was brilliant because there was a lot of fire, and I like fire! “

And finally we have Orla Campbell who had some strong points about her experience but she said;

“Probably the science centre was my favourite because there was so much to do and the chemistry workshop we done was outstanding! “

That’s all the opinions we have to let you know about just now, but my conclusion on the trip is that it is worth going on and I would recommend it if you get the opportunity.


For our Gaelfest celebrations this year we studied Gaelic songs from around Islay and also wrote our own poems about Islay today.  We also made art around them.  Here is one of our videos of our poetry.

Sean Batty Big Breakfast!

On Tuesday 3rd September Sean Batty was due to come to our school to have a fun, enjoyable big breakfast to raise money for the STV children’s Appeal. But unfortunately his plane was delayed by the weather.  We had the breakfast anyway and loads of people came and all the money we raised, £340, has gone straight to the appeal.

What were we having for Breakfast?

For the breakfast we had things like Sausage rolls, Toast, Cereals, muffins and best of all… Pancakes. Also there was be a selection of spreads and drinks and others to go along side our big breakfast.

About the Charity?

The STV children’s appeal is a charity which the money that is raised goes children and their families who are affected by poverty in Scotland. To raise money people who are associated with the charity ( Sean Batty in this case for us. ) they travel round Scotland going to different places like Schools to other eventful places.

What activities took place?

The main focus of this fundraiser was the big breakfast but our school also did some baking and we played a shopping bag game.  It was great fun and enjoyed by all the community!

Digital Learning Week at Port Ellen

This week is digital learning week #NDLW19 across Scotland, and we are carrying out lots of digital activities here at Port Ellen.  We have STEM Robotics, Expressive Arts Green Screen Movies, Literacy and IDL with Google Meets, Numeracy Graphing with Gapminder online and Digital Story Telling using Sway.

As part of our ongoing plastics topic we are holding a Google Meet with scientists from the Maldives on Tuesday, linkng 3 different countries in order to find out about the latest research into the effects of plastics on our oceans from another island nation.

Generation Science will be joining us later in the week to deliver Robot constructor workshops for P4-6 in school, and P7s at a transition event in High School.

We will be telling superhero stories using Microsoft Sway and preparing to film our superhero tales using greenscreen and Imovie for our leavers assembly.

Finally, in our long term Endeavour projects we have to apply a new digital skill to our learning.  Some people have been designing video games on Kodu; we have gymnastics, triathalon and world geography Book Creators; a powerpoint recipe book; microbits and electronics being built; and several imovie documentaries from survival to marine aquariums to magic maths.

Global Data

Primary 6&7 have been using a great resource so they can look at data from around the world and use it to compare life in different countries.

Using the Gapminder tools online they have been able to compare things like income, life expectancy and child mortality for a range of places around the world, creating their own comparison graphs on Excel.

They have also visited Dollar Street, a fantastic tool that show exactly what it means to live on one of the four income levels, no matter where in the world you live.  The children have researched a family living on one of the income levels, and created a fact file.  We now know a lot more about the world around us, based on facts!


Dear Fishermen,

I am 12 years old and have been learning about plastic pollution in class. I know that this problem is speedily growing and can become worse than it already is. We did a beach clean and made surveys beforehand to see what one to use. When we went and did the beach clean we found out after that nets and rope was the most common amount of plastic found on the beach we cleaned.

The amount of rope we found was in-between three hundred and fifty to four hundred pieces. This means that fishermen have been dumping rope overboard and a lot of it as well. Rope can easily choke fish, choke seals and starve and choke literally all sea creatures. Rope and all plastics can be dangerous to animals and even turn and kill us. As a fisherman you rely on fish to catch. If we don’t sort the problem there will be no fish that are clear of plastic or in a long time no fish there. Would you like the food chain to be corrupt with plastics? Would you like to get poisoned by plastic waste? Would you like innocent creatures to die because of it?

As a fisherman that catches fish you want your fish to be somewhat edible and so it won’t poison your buyers or yourself if you decide to eat some of your catch. What you need to do is have a bag, a box or something like that to store your ropes so there’s no need to toss them overboard and so that they can be either re- used or dumped. Which is better than floating in the sea for animals to eat.

By Ciaran


Dear Reader,

My name is Rhys Gairns and I am 11 years old. I am writing this letter to inform you/the community why people should stop using plastic bottles. In school I am doing a topic of how harmful plastic is to the ocean and the environment. Every day over 60 million plastic bottles are thrown in the ocean, and over 2 billion plastic bottles are thrown away every year. We found 14 plastic bottles in the beach outside the co-op alone, which could be washed into the ocean, harming the underwater wildlife. I feel that writing this letter might persuade some people to try to stop using plastic bottles, which would help the environment.

Over 100 thousand aquatic animals are killed every year because of plastic, and lots of those could have died because of plastic water bottles. Plastic never decomposes, which means every bit of plastic ever made is still here to this day. When a plastic bottle is thrown away, it breaks down into micro-plastics after around 10 years. As a micro-plastic fish can eat it, and when they do they think they are not hungry, when they are actually starving. Whenever an aquatic animal eats a bit of micro-plastic, when we eat the animal, we also get the plastic in our bodies. The plastic is not as dangerous for humans as it is animals, but would you like to get plastic in your body?

What I would like you, the reader, to do is stop using plastic bottles. You could use tin or metal water bottles, or a flask. After all, even one person stopping using plastic bottles could make a major good impact on the environment.

Yours Sincerely,

Rhys Gairns


Dear Reader,

My name is Holly, I go to Port Ellen Primary and I am writing to you about the large amount of plastics found on beaches around Islay. We have been learning about the impact of plastic on the sea and how it affects it. This letter is about trying to make everybody aware of the damage that is being caused to the sea and help prevent it.

Plastic can be devastating towards our seas. Marine mammals can get plastic bags stuck around their heads and suffocate, plastic bags can get stuck in some of the animal’s bodies and so much more. Do you think it’s fair for the animals to suffer because of us? Here are some sad but true facts about plastic.

  • Did you know that more than 1 trillion pieces of plastics are already floating in our oceans.
  • Worldwide more than 73% of beach litter is plastic.
  • World plastic production has increased exponentially from 2.1 million tonnes in 1950 to 147 million in 1993 to 406 million by 2015.
  • As of 2015, more than 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated. Around 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and 79 percent put in landfills or the environment. 

It’s horrible to think that this is what plastic does to the environment and even worse to think that things will just get worse, but that won’t happen if everybody comes together and makes a stand against plastic. Just little changes could help save our environment and the animals that live in it. If you want to start making a difference start small like only using reusable bottles and bags. These little things will make a big difference and help save our planet.

Yours truly,

Holly Mckechnie.