Tag Archives: secondary

The Art of Happiness

As part of a short development course @ Pulse Community Radio, with a couple of colleagues, I am working with a small group of school leavers, as part of the Department’s Activity Agreement Programme.  The group are all boys and they are an interesting bunch.  A few of them have plenty to say and some say virtually nothing.  I’ve been using techniques I’ve learned from my more experienced colleagues in schools and social work (and even from my boss Alison) to help me engage with these young men.  I want to see and hear evidence that they are thinkers and can articulate how they feel about experiences they might not necessarily have chosen for themselves.

Our most recent experience was to visit the fantastic SQA art exhibition @ Eastwood Park Theatre, where students from our secondaries exhibit their exam portfolio work.

We’d tried this before on a visit to GoMA in Glasgow and it went down like a lead balloon.  With fingers crossed, we set them free in the exhibition space and asked them all to choose a favourite piece and be prepared to tell everyone else in the group why they liked it.

Now I get why you stick with teaching despite the difficulties.  Each and every one of them chose a piece and spoke, some @ length, about why they liked it.  They talked about how the art made them feel, how they liked the colours, what they thought inspired the artists and how it made them think about space.  I was bowled over.  And so were some of them I think…

Art makes me happy and I suspect that, on that day, it made them happy too.

If you haven’t already, go along to the exhibition.  It’s inspirational and we should be rightly proud of our young artists.

Here is a selection of the boys’ favourite work.

What’s happening @ Education Scotland


Our very own Kerry Crichton paid us a visit recently, as part of an input by Education Scotland to our HWB network.  Kerry gave us an insightful presentation (using the bang up to date software, prezi) on the work of the national HWB team.  Those of you who are familiar with Kerry will know her presentations are always interesting – she even managed to tell a story about sheep which was relevant to HWB and enterprise!  You can access her presentation online by clicking this link:


George Sinclair spoke more widely about moderation, which I’m sure will be of interest to any teacher in any setting.  His presentation – using the medium of Powerpoint, which we’re all more familiar with, is here:

Education Scotland – Moderation

Alison and I are considering presenting to specific stages @ the next network in May as many staff have said they would welcome the opportunity to talk with their sector partners about specific issues that affect them.  Please let us know if you have a view on how we should organise the next network – it only works if it’s what you want.

SouperDouper learning with Wholefoods

As part of last years FeastRen, Wholefoods Market in Giffnock designed a challenge for our schools, to help them explore food and health.  The project was called the SouperDouper Challenge and led to some fabulous, creative healthy learning in our primaries and secondaries.

The primary challenge was an art competition, with pupils being asked to invent a healthy soup and create a drawing to go along with it.  Our schools really got behind this challenge – it was so successful that Wholefoods decided to make a calendar with the winning soups.  13 pupils and their schools were awarded with their calendars just in time for the Christmas break.   

A special mention must go to OLM primary.  They got so involved in the challenge that every single class – from P1 to P7 – made soup in school!  This really is a perfect example of the Curriculum for Excellence.  Nicola Cochrane, who leads on HWB in OLM was kind enough to have a chat with me about the project when I visited the school.  Click the link to hear her inspirational words. 


I was also lucky to come across a winner in Springhill & Auchenback, a delightful and very smart P3 pupil.  Listen to him tell me all about his soup making skills.  He must make his teacher and his mum very proud indeed.  


Here are some of the pictures from the colourful primary calendar.

Our secondary Home Economics departments were given the opportunity to take a class on a visit to Wholefoods for a tour and to choose ingredients to take back to school and design and make their very own soup.  Four of our secondaries took part – St Luke’s, Williamwood, Eastwood and Mearns Castle.   Alison and I were lucky enough to visit a few of the school kitchens as cooking and judging was taking place.  The skill and invention the students showed was fantastic!  This is what they made:

  • St Luke’s – Sweet Potato & Chilli Soup.
  • Williamwood – Spicy Carrot Soup with Yoghurt.
  • Eastwood – Warmin Pumpkin Soup.
  • Mearns Castle – Creamy Tomato & Basil.

The winning soup, as judged by the Wholefoods panel, was Williamwood’s Spicy Carrot Soup with Yoghurt, made by students in Hillary McKelvie’s class.  All 4 soups were magnificent – I was lucky enough to taste them.    Here they are, just before judging.


The winning Williamwood soup was recreated, using the same recipe,  by Wholefoods chefs and sold in store. The winning students from Williamwood were invited to the store to meet the chef and see their soup in the hot food section.  What a thrilling prize!

And just incase you’d like to make the soups yourself..

Williamwood Spicy Carrot Soup with Yogurt ( wholefoods recipe)

mearns castle creamy tomato and basil

St Luke’s Sweet potato & Chilli soup Recipe

Eastwood High warming pumpkin soup 

Wholefoods Market are a wonderful addition to our range of partners who work with schools to bring the curriculum to life.

A big thank you to all the schools who took part – taking the time to develop an idea that enriches learning for your students is never easy, but always worth it. 

Special thanks to the secondary Home Economic’s teachers – Jackie Stead from St Luke’s; Philippa Craig from Eastwood; Sarah Robinson from Mearns Castle and Hillary McKelvie from Williamwood – you are all wonderful and an inspiration to your students.

If you have any ideas for next year’s FeastRen project, please get in touch.

MHFA – new dates for 2013

Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid is a 2 day, certificated course that equips participants with the knowledge and skills required to recognise people who may be having mental health difficulties and gives them the confidence to intervene.

I’ve been delivering this course for 5 years and I’m delighted to say that I will be joined this year by two brand new trainers – Nick Smiley, Senior Educational Psychologist and Wendy Jenkins from the Pupil Support Team @ Eastwood High. 

Our dates for 2013 have just been finalised and will be appearing on the CPD site very soon.

  1. Mon 25 Feb & Mon 04 Mar
  2. Fri 03 May & Fri 10 May
  3. Thurs 31 Oct & Thurs 07 Nov

I think this course is interesting, relevant and a crucial addition to any practitioners toolkit for supporting fellow staff and students.  Don’t just take my word for it, here are some testimonials.  I interviewed a Pupil Support teacher and a Depute Head on the importance of MHFA for a presentation I did for Education Scotland last year.  Thanks to Alison McGillivray and my daughter Wallis for voicing the audio.



I also received an email from a primary head, not long after she had completed the training.

May I just say that I found myself in a situation where I was able to support a parent who presented to me in a very vulnerable state.  Due to the MHFA training I received, I was able to ask the difficult question (suicide) with confidence and refer to agencies to support from that point on.  You never think that you will be in that position, it just shows you how valuable this training is for professionals.

If you are interested in finding out more about MHFA before signing up for the training, please get in touch with me.