Category Archives: CPD

Challenges to Creative Learning

Whilst the arguments for greater access to creative learning experiences in schools are clear and based upon countless sources of evidence, there will always be counter arguments, pitfalls and challengers for the attention of educators and establishment.

It is helpful to understand the reasons behind resistance to creativity in education and in strengthening the case further it is vital that educators are able to offer the thinking that might challenge this resistance.

This blog post will capture examples of resistance and counter-arguments and seek to explore them with a view to de-mistifying the discussion.

Why Teaching Creativity Hits the Wrong Note

In October 2014 a teacher in England set out his arguments against the teaching of creativity skills and creative learning in schools. The TESS article prompted a letter and article in the Herald from Ruth Wishart, Chair of the Creative Learning Plan Strategic Partnership which aim to offer answers and an alternative viewpoint:

TESS_ Why Teaching Creativity Hits the Wrong Note_ 10.10.14_no.2389 copy

TESS letter from Ruth Wishart

Ruth Wishart article in the Herald

Education secretary Nicky Morgan: ‘Arts subjects limit career choices’

In England a campaign to increase uptake of Maths and Physics at A’Level by 50% in 3 years, an ambition which will necessarily require strong actions and words, formed the background to the Education Secretary’s claim that

“the arts and humanities were what you chose… Because they were useful – we were told ­– for all kinds of jobs. Of course now we know that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Some questions relating to the development of creativity skills might include the following:

Does it matter which subjects you choose when it comes to developing creativity skills, and if so, should it matter?

If arts subjects were to develop creativity skills better than other subjects at present, then is this an argument in favour of those choices?

Is Education Killing Creativity and Enterprise?

College Development Network event as part of the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas

This key event of the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas, June 2014, highlighted creative approaches to curriculum delivery and enterprising approaches to learning and teaching.  In the morning sessions presenters, including Skills Development Scotland and the RSA, gave a national and international  overview of employability and enterprise while Dundee and Angus College and Team Academy explained how their approaches to curriculum delivery were radically different, and how they helped develop creativity, enterprise and employability skills in learners. In the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to take part in an enterprise activity facilitated by Team Academy teampreneurs illustrating how teaching can be done without a classroom or timetable and can be very much student focused. Participants then had the opportunity to indicate areas they were interested in taking forward realizing the potential for more innovative approaches to schools-college partnerships and delivery of a range of curriculum areas.

This event built on the success of the Creativity and Employability event for strategic partners of Scotland’s Creative Learning Plan, organised by Creative Scotland in May. It aimed to encourage practitioners to consider how they could develop a more creative and enterprising approach to learning and teaching and curriculum design within a wider European and Scottish context.

The event was organised by College Development Network in partnership with SDS, RSA and Team Academy and was attended by practitioners from schools, colleges and universities as well as partner organisations.

The event gave participants the opportunity to consider how they could radically change their curriculum design and delivery. By being actively involved in an enterprising workshop activity staff could realize the potential for teaching in a very different way, that could potentially lead to lessening the restrictions of the timetable.

Participants were encouraged to consider their enterprise and creativity skills and how they could use these more effectively in their work setting. They pitched extremely imaginative ideas for education businesses which would solve some of the current timetabling and resourcing issues impacting on education across all sectors.

As a result of the event, participants have agreed to work on some SQA units over the summer to see if it is possible to offer a curriculum that is more enterprising and creative.

TES article:

Creative Administrative Support

Early in 2014, as part of an initiative to make Education Scotland a more creative organization, two Creative Conversations brought together the various administration teams from across Education Scotland to explore and define what creativity meant in their work – increasing confidence and empowering staff to be more creative in their work and lives.

“Forget definitions and waiting for lessons others develop – you have great ideas of what a creative lesson, a creative learning environment, and creative administrative support might look like… begin now and change the world, re-centering it in Scotland. ” – Eric Booth

Creative Conversations

The conversations were led by Education Scotland’s Development Officers for Creativity – Stephen Bullock and Julia Fenby with administration teams travelling from Clydebank, Glasgow, Livingston, Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness.

Working with administration teams was a fresh, focused approach that tackled a specifically identified need and reinforced the creativity vision – that everyone can be creative, and that it needs to happen more often in more places.

Developing creativity skills

By exploring and defining creativity as a concept, staff were able to overcome the linguistic barrier, increase understanding and then develop confidence in their own creativity skills. Research tells us that often the simple confidence to say “I am a creative person” is enough to instil a step change in behaviour. The conversation focused on using creativity in a work setting but often explored other contexts, encouraging staff to apply creativity skills to other situations – including mention of research into the importance of creativity in long-lasting family relationships.

We learnt that administration staff often work within very formal systems. This has two effects – staff are forced to be extremely creative in making things work within a rigid system, whilst also being frustrated at a lack of freedom at times to be more creative. The importance of involving administration staff at the beginning of change and planning was identified as of importance in empowering staff and avoiding systems that are more obstacle than enabler.

For further detail please contact Stephen Bullock: or Julia Fenby:

Authors Live (Scottish Book Trust)


The Authors Live programme exploits cutting-edge technology to bring the best children’s authors to children, young people and their parents across the UK. The project broadcasts children’s author events live over the internet, in conjunction with the BBC. The events are also recorded and available to watch and download from the Scottish Book Trust website.

The project successfully engages parents in sharing the same high-quality arts activity their children take part in at school. Video recordings of the events are available to watch and download from the Scottish Book Trust website.

The Scottish Book Trust provides teachers resources for each event suitable for the age group and stage of that particular event before-hand. The resource features activities for preparation for the event, links to the actual event and suggestions for activities to follow the event up. Each resource also clearly signposts links with Curriculum for Excellence and covers experiences and outcomes across all appropriate levels and in a wide range of curriculum areas. You can visit the Scottish Book Trust Events Glow group to watch our events through Glow Meet.

There are links to the live events and more at the foot of this page.

Michael Rosen Michael Rosen Michael Rosen


Scottish Book Trust’s main objectives for the Meet Our Authors programme are:

  • – to meet soaring demand for the best children’s author events
  • – to allow as many children as possible to participate, no matter where they live or what their economic circumstances are
  • – allow teachers to access transformational events from the comfort of their UK classroom, at no cost to the child or school

Julia Donaldson Julia Donaldson Julia Donaldson

The aim is to introduce pupils to the great quality literature that is available and for them to understand the connection between the books they enjoy and the person who wrote them. A further aim is to support pupils to understand the benefits and pleasures of discussing books with their peers, parents and teachers, and build up a relationship with their favourite authors.

To date the programme has featured a wide range of top authors, including Julia Donaldson, Michael Rosen, David Walliams, David Almond and many more. Two further events are planned with Polly Dunbar and Tony Robinson: schools who register to watch will be entered into a prize draw to win one of five class sets of the author’s books for each event.

Accessing the author events were:

  • – 32 local authorities
  • – c. 105,000 children and young people (Michael Rosen)
  • – c. 82,000 children (Julia Donaldson)

Craingentinny - Julia Donaldson Event Michael Rosen Julia Donaldson


Feedback from events:

  • “Great to involve children directly. My children felt very special to be spoken to by Julia herself!” (Teacher, Niddrie Mill Primary School)
  • “We really enjoyed the event and all the children loved the song and the visit from the Gruffalo. We had used the ideas from the teacher resources and had been focussing on Julia’s books for a few weeks before the event so it made a great climax to our work.” (Teacher, Burravoe Primary School)
  • – “It was wonderful to be able to provide an event for World Book Day without breaking the budget.” (Teacher, Coleraine High School)

The events have provided a stimulus for some fabulous teaching practice. Whether you just want to dip in and do one activity, or you want to do an extended project, Scottish Book Trust have resources and case studies to help you. Visit the ‘Get the Most Out of Our Programmes’ section of Scottish Book Trust’s site for more information.



  • – Scottish Book Trust
  • – BBC
  • – Schools, nurseries and parents across the UK

Levels and stages:

  • – First, second, third and fourth levels (Michael Rosen)
  • – Early and first levels (Julia Donaldson)
  • – P1 – S3


  • – National Lottery Inspiring Communities Fund
  • – Scottish Friendly Assurance

For more information contact:

Jasmine Fassl, Children’s Programme Manager (Scottish Book Trust) on 0131 524 0160 or email


Authors Live page on Scottish Book Trust website:

Below are three previous events which should give you a flavour of the programme:

Authors Live Poetry Slam (S1 to S6)

Full-length event:

Highlights from the BBC website:


A great blog by Peter Kelly from Holy Cross High School about his use of the event:

A teaching resource designed by Helen McKenzie from Lanark Grammar School:

Authors Live with Oliver Jeffers (Nursery to P3)

Full length event:

Highlights from the BBC website:


Authors Live with David Walliams (P4 to S2)

Full length event:

Highlights from the BBC website:


A blog from Mairi Livingstone at Easdale Primary about using the event to inspire her pupils in writing:

Meet Our Authors Online Hub links:

Northfield Reads


There were three inter-related elements to Northfield Reads, which aimed to develop a reading culture amongst young people in the Northfield area. The project was a collaboration between one of the Arts Edcuation Team’s Cultural Co-ordinators and the School Library Resource Centre Co-ordinator.

The project involved Northfield Academy in Aberdeen and five primary schools within the Associated School Group (ASG). and focussed on Literacy and Literature.

1. Creation of the right environment

Young people worked with an interior designer to design ‘The Comfort Zone’ within the Northfield school library which they christened ‘Frankie’s Reading Room’. The ‘comfort factor’ is not just about the physical comfort of readers but also ensures there are sufficient alternative reading resources to draw pupils in.

Pupils were consulted on the selection of non-academic reading material for the area and a broad range of reading material was purchased using an ‘Awards for All’ grant, covering different interests outside academic subjects.

The space was also equipped with suitable technologies designed to support pupils’ book reviews, author interviews etc. This IT equipment can stream book trailers, book interviews and book TV sites. As the project develops pupils’ book reviews will be displayed on screen. The purchase of IT equipment was to promote interaction with books within the reading zone.

Frankie's Reading Room Frankie's Reading Room Frankie's Reading Room

2. Encouraging reading for pleasure

A series of author visits across the ASG were arranged to encourage pupils to read the work of the visiting author/s (previous author visits have shown a profound impact on the uptake of an author’s work for a prolonged period of time).

Authors delivered a range of activities in Northfield Academy and its associated primary schools during lunchtimes, curriculum time and after school. This approach recognised that many of the targeted young were unlikely to initially engage through choice outwith of lesson time.

The experience of working with authors demystified the work of writers, introduced young people to new reading material and encouraged a more sustained interest in the authors’ work.

  1. 3. CPD for teachers / librarians on encouraging reluctant readers.

To benefit the wider community, training sessions were organised targeting librarians, teachers, parents, community workers, senior pupils and volunteers. The CPD was designed to develop skills in paired reading and encouraging reluctant readers. Those who participated then employed the skills they had acquired across the Northfield area.


The project involved:

  • – 400 pupils accessing author visits
  • – 3 teachers from Northfield Academy
  • – 6 teachers from the primary schools
  • – 50 school librarians and teachers participated in the CPD

The new reading space in the school library that was created as a result of the project is accessible to all 700 pupils in Northfield Academy.


There is a need in the Northfield area for more young people to develop reading as a habit and a pleasure – confidence and interest in reading serves young people in all areas of their lives. While this project had a focus that extended beyond the curriculum and school day, it was designed to have a direct impact on young people’s formal and informal learning.

Currently the reading abilities of young people in the area are low. Approximately 20% of the S1 intake has a reading age 4 or more years below their actual age. The lack of enthusiasm for reading is perpetuated by negative perceptions and a lack of positive role models at home and in the community, is evident through the school’s attainment.

There is significant poverty and deprivation within the Northfield Associated School Group, particularly in parts of Middlefield, Smithfield and the area zoned to Bramble Brae school.  For a number of families, educational achievement is not a high priority and aspirations are low.  Some of the areas which Northfield Academy serves are ranked in the top 5% of most deprived areas.

The need for some intervention was identified through:

  • – knowledge and observation by the school librarian and SEN staff
  • – speaking to staff and pupils
  • – considering the wider social issues in the area
  • – meeting with interested staff



  • – Arts Education Team
  • – Northfield School Library Resource Centre
  • – Northfield Academy

Levels and stages:

  • – second and third levels
  • – S1 – S3


  • – Awards for All
  • – Live Literature Funding
  • – Aberdeen City Council

For more information contact:

Jacky Hardacre, Cultural Co-ordinator on 01224 814651 or email


Ditty and Gaer Boxes


lisa yaal
copyright Katherine Laidlay

The Ditty Box and Gaer Box are resources for nurseries and earlier years developed in partnership by the Creative Links Team, Schools, artists and the voluntary organisation Shetland ForWirds.

In CPD and workshops sessions, teachers, writers and artists worked together, learning from each other and developed the packs, specifically with reference to Curriculum for Excellence.

Each pack contains 30 poems/stories in dialect, with accompanying topic webs and activities. Parent councils and the community members were invited to the launch event ensuring the profile was raised and enthusiasm for the project was generated. When the packs were introduced into schools, workshops with the writers and artists were held in all schools to help encourage their use.

The following people were involved in the project:

  • 1,203 nursery and primary pupils
  • 11 teachers
  • 10 artists
  • 9 writers



The project was developed in response to a need identified by the voluntary group Shetland ForWords. The previous dialect resource was over 10 years old and did not contain any contemporary materials or accompanying activities.

This need aligned with the guidance on minimum requirements for securing the place of Scots in mainstream Scottish Education. The Shetland perspective recognised that Constructive work with teachers to produce and develop classroom materials in Shetland dialect would be most effective, and that such materials should not be seen as ‘extras’ but should use Shetland dialect/Scots to help teachers fulfil the requirements of Curriculum for Excellence.

A graduate placement undertook work in Shetland, looking at how to develop and co-ordinate a new resource. The methodology for the project was designed to share learning and help professionals understand and appreciate the role of other disciplines. The intention was for this approach to encourage the development of further resources and create a feeling of ownership of the Ditty Box and Gaer Box.

The Ditty Box and Gaer Box were designed with the intention of:

  • – enabling pupils to learn more dialect in an engaging and relevant way
  • – providing dialect resources in line with Curriculum for Excellence
  • – encouraging teachers to create further resources
  • – help writers and teachers understand each others disciplines and the benefits of working in partnership
  • – create learning opportunities that ensure dialect is treated in a contemporary manner



Noted impacts are:

  • – significant increase in dialect being taught at early years stage
  • – pupils receiving dialect projects developed out of Ditty Box recourses
  • – teachers and writers have acquired new knowledge in developing dialect resources for early years
  • – dialect resources are now available through Glow


‘Commendably, the Creative Links Officer and cultural support team had established more than 70 projects during the last three years and had impacted on substantial numbers of learners throughout Shetland. The projects covered all arts forms and successfully fostered creativity and understanding of the Shetland culture.’

INEA, 8th July 2008


  • – In addition, teachers can and do, regularly and easily update the Ditty and Gaer Box resources
  • – Shetland ForWirds has posted these resources on their website and can deliver workshops
  • – The resources are being developed for more interactive use through Glow
  • – Activities are shared at good practice events
  • – The success of these resources played a vital parts in raising the funds required to appoint a Dialect Co-ordinator for 3 years in Shetland, whose role will involve creating dialect resources for older pupils


The Ditty Box was selected by Shetland Islands council to exhibit at the 2008 Scottish Learning Festival. The Ditty Box and Gaer Box are cited in reports lobbying to take dialect forward across Scotland.

Annie an da Taaties




  • – Creative Links Team
  • – Shetland ForWirds
  • – Teachers (nursery and primary)


Levels and Stages:

  • – Early
  • – Pre-school and P2



  • – Initially from schools Service and Shetland ForWirds
  • – Funding for 3 years from European Leader+ has been secured to continue the project


For more information contact:

Noelle Henderson, Creative Links Officer on 01595 744013 or email



Shetland Islands Council – Creative Links

Shetland ForWirds

Home page:

Learning site:

Craigsaet CD:

Curriculum for Excellence – Languages

Shetland Education HMIe INEA report

Scots Education Resources

Scpts’ Richtfu Hame – The Clessruim:

TRANSFORM, National Theatre of Scotland


Photo by Eamonn McGoldrick

Transform was designed with backing from and through collaboration with Determined to Succeed, Scottish Power Learning, local authorities and schools, as a creative and immersive means of connecting with the new curriculum.

Bringing together schools and communities with theatre professionals, the partnerships produced high impact theatre events that used the local environment as a backdrop to tell compelling stories. The development process as well as the final theatre events, made links across the curriculum and developed skills in all participants.

The National Theatre of Scotland placed a creative team into each of the schools and their communities, and together they created the vision and programme for their own Transform project. Working through a collaborative process with a wide range of partners and stakeholders, high quality theatre events were developed and performed. Each Transform had a dedicated budget with support from the National Theatre in the form of production, marketing and management resources. Each project was managed by a Steering Group comprising representatives from the school (usually the Head Teacher), the local authority and voluntary arts organisations in the local area.

On average, each Transform delivered approximately 230 two-hour workshop sessions (there were 2,292 workshops in total). The total audience at Transform performances was 5,999. There were 39 performances across the ten local authority areas.

Transform Aberdeen
Photo by Rhuary Grant

Over the course of 2 years, TRANSFORM performances involved:

  • – 935 individual pupils
  • – 201 community members


Photo by Eamonn McGoldrick

This underestimates the extent of pupil, teacher and community involvement as many more were involved in the processes that lead to the performances.

Transform projects took place in Aberdeen, Caithness, Dumfries, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Fife, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Moray and Orkney.



Transform had four main objectives:

  • – artistic: to create the best possible theatre experience for audience and participants
  • – learning: to introduce theatre and creative industry practice as enterprise learning tool in schools and communities
  • – partnership: to create effective partnerships across the public and private sectors
  • – legacy: to ensure longer term benefits for partners and participants


Transform Caithness
Photo by Fin Macrae
Transform Dumfries
Photo by Zvonko Kracun

Transform was developed to contribute to and inform the future implementation of Curriculum for Excellence, and to assist in developing a sense of community pride. The fact that the Transform projects were about theatre and not simply drama was significant. Performing on stage was not the only way in which pupils could get involved. The projects addressed every stage in the process of producing a work of theatre from writing, staging and production, costume and production design, marketing and promotion. Through these activities, Transform projects aimed to develop a range of skills in participants.

The process, (working with professional creative teams) sought to achieve the following for young people:

  • – the development of a range of skills for learning, life and work
  • – an awareness of and participation in a creative and artistic process
  • – improved relationships – with peers, school, community
  • – increased confidence in planning and presenting their thoughts, opinions and the results of their efforts



Transform was evaluated by Ekos Ltd. and in seeking to provide an account of the impacts, Ekos focussed their research on the four main participant groups:

  • – pupils
  • – teachers
  • – schools
  • – communities


Impacts on Pupils:

The projects were universally reported to have had a positive impact on the pupils:

Photo by Fin Macrae
  • – self confidence
  • – belief in their own abilities
  • – self esteem
  • – learning in that they developed new skills
  • – interest in the arts and creative activity
  • – attitudes towards learning


The range of choices offered engaged pupils who might not otherwise take part in drama activities and broadened their understanding of theatre and the professional opportunities within the industry.

“By the time the performance came I was confident enough to operate a pretty scary sound desk. I’ve now thought about a whole new range of careers because of Transform.” (pupil)

All teachers questioned reported that the year groups that had participated had become more cohesive, many citing specific instances in which barriers between groups of pupils had been broken down by the shared experience of working together on the production. This translated into more productive work in the classroom thereafter.

“Before the project we all had little groups which we were always in but by the end we had become close friends. I worked with people I wouldn’t have before.” (pupil)

The attitudinal impacts are perhaps the most significant. Teachers reported that following the Transform experience pupils were more settled and more positive about school, and that they appeared more motivated to learn. Many teachers also reported that pupils had developed a greater sense of responsibility for their own learning and in many case the pupils were required to take on extra work to catch up on lost classroom time which they did willingly.

These impacts were often most visible evident amongst pupils typically regarded as either having behavioural issues of lacking in confidence. Many teachers described the impacts on these pupils in transformational terms, such as:

  • – pupils working on the project in their own time
  • – unexpectedly choosing to stay on at school
  • – making new or unexpected subject choices as a result of Transform


Transform Dumfries
Photo by Zvonko Kracun

In terms of impact on attainment, at the time of the Ekos evaluation, it was considered by most schools to be too early to say. However, expectations were broadly positive.

In one school, the year group that participated in Transform had achieved the highest aggregate Year 4 results for some years, and none of the Transform participants had performed worse than expected, with many exceeding expectations. This was attributed to Transform.

Some teachers were concerned that the loss of class time may affect exam results. In one case a teacher reported a drop in attainment in prelim exams attributing this to time lost to Transform. Interestingly, the teachers expressing this concern talked very positively about personal, behavioural and learning benefits of the Transform process, suggesting the link between these and attainment in exams is not well established.

Impacts on teachers

Transform was met with a full spectrum of different attitudes ranging from complete commitment and enthusiasm to outright scepticism and even hostility. There was however consistent feedback that many of those that  were initially sceptical about the value of Transform, were at least partly converted by the end of the process, particularly when they observed the quality of the end performances and the impacts on pupils.

Impacts on teachers can be summarised as follows:

  • – raised awareness of the ways that learning can take place in differenent contexts
  • – raised profile and status of arts activities as a valuable learning context
  • – some individual learning benefits and skills development through involvement
  • – more encouraged to take risks
  • – developed trust in other professionals, even when there were initial doubts
  • – level of input from staff exceeded initial expectations
  • – some teachers would like to have been more involved in the projects
  • – 2 head teachers reported that the school as a whole might have benefited with wider staff involvement
  •  – significant demand on teaching staff with some head teachers having to devote time and energy keeping teaching staff on board


Transform Orkney
Photo by Alistair Peebles

“The experience was also transforming for the school staff. Watching the pupils develop throughout the rehearsal period was, personally and professionally, inspirational.” (Deputy Head Teacher)




Working within curriculum time:

  • – managing school timetables and space requirements
  • – accommodating a flexible, creative process within highly structured school environments
  • – ensuring effective communications between creative teams, school staff and other partners


The creative process at the heart of the Transform model is inherently risky – the creative teams do not arrive with an idea in place. While many schools recognised the need to take risks to advance teaching practice, risk is not always as readily accommodated in educational contexts as it is in the arts. Again, it is important that all sides recognise the risks and understand how they can be managed. The successful track record of Transform should help in this respect.

Transform was a well resourced programme, both in financial terms and in relation to the more hidden costs of staff time, school resources and the support provided by the National Theatre of Scotland. This was a significant factor in its success and in its ability to deliver large scale projects that engaged entire school years (a unique benefit of the model). It does, however, limit the potential for replication without significant input of resources.  

 Transform East Renfrewshire


The evaluation identified a number of characteristics or features of the Transform model that appear to have been particularly important in its success. These are:

  • – the importance of artistic ambition and leadership, placing artistic quality centre stage in the process
  • – the crucial role of head teachers in committing schools and teachers to the projects
  • – the role of local authority partners in facilitating access to the wider community
  • – the scale and ambition of the projects
  • – the fact that the projects were about theatre production and not just drama
  • – working with pupils in curriculum time, reinforcing the link with school and mainstream learning
  •  – the participant centred process helped build participant engagement and sense of achievement
  • – schools applied to the National Theatre of Scotland ensuring schools’ commitment
  • – nature and quality of interpersonal relationships between the creative teams and participants
  • – the prestige associated with being involved in a National Theatre of Scotland production  


Transform Caithness
Photo by Fin Macrae



  • – National Theatre of Scotland
  • – 10 local authorities and 16 schools
  • – Determined to Succeed
  • – Scottish Power Learning


Levels and Stages:

  • – Third and fourth levels
  • – Senior phase
  • – S1 – S6



  • – Determined to Succeed
  • – Scottish Power Learning
  • – National Theatre of Scotland
  • – Local authority contribution


For more information contact:

Simon Sharkey, Associate Director (Education) on 0141 227 9006 or email

Or visit:

Transform Caithness:

Transform Aberdeen:

Transform Moray:

Storyboxes at Ratho with Scottish Storytelling Centre


The Scottish Storytelling Centre developed Storyboxes as a way of engaging pupils with literacy through the medium of live storytelling with a professional storyteller, and using objects found in the Storyboxes.

CPD introducing teachers to the Storyboxes was offered initially, with a follow up storytelling surgery. The CPD provided teachers with ideas and guidance on using Storyboxes effectively and the surgeries were designed to support staff after they had begun using the Storyboxes in class with pupils. A professional storyteller also visited the school to demonstrate the imaginative and creative ways in which staff could introduce the oral telling of stories making the links to literacy and books. This input gave both teachers and pupils a model to learn from.

The Storyboxes are filled with a range of colourful objects, toys, stories and activity cards to stimulate children’s imaginations and lead them into oral storytelling through activities and games.

Ongoing support was provided by Storybox designer and storyteller and six themed boxes were used over a term. The teachers acted as role models sharing simple traditional stories and leading children through a sequence of activities. The children became confident in their storytelling skills and told the stories themselves. This led on to storymaking activities and culminated in a school parent open day.

Storyteller in school

The project in Ratho primary school involved:

  • – 200 pupils (P1 – P7)
  • – 8 teachers
  • – 1 professional storyteller


Following the success of the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s Storymakers project which ran between 2002 and 2004, the Scottish Storytelling Centre sought new ways to encourage children to get involved in storytelling. Storyboxes were the next logical step, enabling teachers to use storytelling in a proactive, engaging and fun way which appealed to children but which also linked to the experiences and outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence. Storytelling and storymaking have active learning at their core. They provide opportunities for sharing thoughts and ideas. They are motivational tools which encourage learning, confidence, good communication skills and engagement with literacy across learning and help develop an interest in reading and writing.

The purpose was for pupils to:

  • – Appreciate and enjoy the vibrant and valuable oral traditions within their own and other cultures
  • – Gain confidence and self esteem through acquiring new skills telling and playing with stories together
  • – Develop the skills associated with good storytelling and story-creating

The purpose was for teachers to:

  • – Appreciate the value of storytelling as a multi-purpose tool that can be used with children and young people at all levels, and developing the skills and confidence to use storytelling in  class
  • – Develop good storytelling skills and use the facility for effective and enjoyable teaching and learning
  • – Build their own confidence in telling oral stories and initiating storymaking activities linked to literacy across learning

Contents of the Storybox


Teachers agreed that Storyboxes led to increased confidence in the pupils, the development of good communication skills, a positive storytelling culture across the school, and the use of storytelling as an effective learning tool.

The project was so successful that the school raised funds to buy equipment and they ran the project the following year.

The Head Teacher of Ratho school at the time of the project has moved to another school and is introducing Storyboxes there, in a whole school approach linked to Curriculum for Excellence.

“It was excellent to see how the creative the children could be in such a short time – lot of co-operation and support in their small groups. Lots of magical creatures! Great expressions.” (parent)

“The detail was amazing and the humour, and the comedy timing. Seeing the other children listening and responding while the others told stories was very impressive. They were all very supportive of one another.” (parent)

“….if Storyboxes were in use from P1 as a matter of course tehn real and significant results would be seen by middle primary.” (teacher)

“…..found it inspirational and could see the potential for further development of the concept.” (teacher)

“My best bit was the story cards. I never took my ears or eyes off them. I wished we had it a little longer.” (pupil)

“I thought it was ousom!” (pupil)



  • – The Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • – Ratho School, Edinburgh

Levels and Stages

  • – First level
  • – Second level
  • – P1 – P 7


  • – The Scottish Storytelling Centre

For more information contact:

Joanna Bremner Smith, Education and Training Officer on 0131 652 3272 or email

Or visit:

Digital Literacies


in secondary schools

From 2008 – 2010, the Digital Literacy programme in East Dunbartonshire schools enabled the formation of young digital creator clubs in primary schools, secondary schools and the wider community. Pupils, teachers and parents participated in practical digital media training and film making workshops using equipment and specialised training packages, and under the guidance of industry professionals employed through the programme.

The package which included the purchase of specialist equipment was offered at a subsidised rate of £180 per school (actual cost £750), and 24 schools in the authority took up this opportunity.

Through the programme, teachers, parents and arts professionals became the bearers of an inter-disciplinary approach to learning and skills development, using media technology combined with creative practices. The out of school workshops were designed in a way that enabled teachers could transfer the skills into the school and curriculum time. The project design also facilitated a process whereby parents and young people could learn together at home exchanging skills and knowledge.

Schools and the wider community were offered a platform to showcase their skills in the form of the Children and Young Person’s Film Festival. This took place in 2009 and 2010 with 50 film submissions from groups and individuals. The Film festival also provided an opportunity to recognise and celebrate young people’s achievements in creativity.

working together working with industry professionals


This was a new incentive for East Dunbartonshire and the purpose was to look at raising attainment and recognising achievement through moving image education.

The project aimed to establish the use of Moving Image in Education throughout East Dunbartonshire Council. This would increase participation in the arts, which in turn could impact on the broader curriculum.

Throughout different levels within the Curriculum for Excellence, young people had the opportunity to plan, participate and present their creativity in the expressive arts.


As a result of this initiative:

  • Some schools have now begun film clubs
  • others are creating social documents on their school using moving image
  • some schools and communities have created animation films looking at recent and historical events
  • a number of schools are now using the moving image to develop film as a form of evaluation

HMIe recognised the Digital Literacy success at most of the schools in East Dunbartonshire but in particular Douglas Academy



  • East Dunbartonshire Council
  • Primary and Secondary Schools

Levels and Stages:

  • First
  • Second
  • Third and Fourth
  • Senior Phase


  • Awards for All (Lottery)
  • Scottish Arts Council
  • East Dunbartonshire Council

For more information contact::

David Young, Cultural Co-ordinator on 0141 777 3092 or email

Or view:


Big Hairy Hamish – The Monster Who Cared (Scottish Opera)


Scottish Opera developed this project as a genuine interdisciplinary learning experience. The project began with preliminary CPD sessions designed to assist teachers with the delivery of the teaching pack and to ensure that ‘Big Hairy Hamish’ provided a context for exploring environmental issues. Teachers could elect to work as broadly and/or deeply with the topic as they chose, but its design ensured that even minimum involvement resulted in making links across the curriculum prior to the performance.

Draigton Primary p2
The recycling journey begins

Accompanying the CPD was a teaching pack, vocal CD giude and full colour storybook. These were created to help young children build up familiarity with the characters and consequently good interaction with the four artists who delivered the eco-friendly tale of Big Hairy Hamish (the monster who cared).

The project involved:

  • – 960 primary school pupils
  • – c.35 teachers
  • – 32 separate performances
  • – 27 schools in Perth and Kinross
  • – c.35 teachers accessed CDP
  • – 4 professional artists from Scottish Opera


In addition to using vocal and instrumental music to tell the story and explore environmental issues, maths and English were integral to the project resulting in a rich learning experience for all the pupils.



Scottish Opera developed the project to support the Scottish educational drive to develop stronger connections between literacy and learning for early years pupils.  The format promotes active learning and enables participation, exploration and creativity via themes and issues specifically relevant to this young age group.

Through the project, Scottish Opera aimed to raise awareness of key issues in the story – Healthy Eating & Recycling. It also set out to examine aspects of social development such as making friends, not always going by appearances and the importance of active citizenship in the community. Children were provided with opportunities to discuss and debate the issues, learn the songs, develop healthy eating plans and create visual and aural responses to the characters in the storybook.

Scottish Opera developed Big Hairy Hamish by planning activity around some of the experiences and outcomes within Health and wellbeing at Early Stages and First Level including:

I can expect my learning environment to support me to:

  • – develop my self-awareness, self-worth and respect for others
  • – understand and develop my physical, mental, spiritual well being and social skills
  • – learn about where to find help and resources to inform choices
  • – acknowledge diversity and understand that it is everyone’s responsibility to challenge discrimination
  • – understand how what they eat, how active they are and how decisions they make about their behaviour & relationships affect my physical & mental wellbeing.



Schools used the experience of participating in Big Hairy Hamish as the context for exploring healthy eating and re-cycling over extended periods post performance. Because the children are very young evidence of the impacts is best described through pictures.

Characters from the opera (p6)
made from recycled junk




  • Scottish Opera
  • Perth and Kinross Council
  • 27 primary schools


Levels and Stages:

  • Early stage
  • First level
  • Pre-school to P4



  • In Perth and Kinross the project was funded by The Gannochy Trust (local to the Perth area). The funding was secured by Scottish Opera.


For more information contact:

Jane Davidson, Director of Outreach and Education on 0141 332 9559 or email

Visit Scottish Opera learning at:

Pitcairn Primary