Category Archives: Social Studies

Prison Learning – What’s the Point? Labels, Stigma and Hope

On 11th June the creative writing and drama students from Glenochil Prison Learning Centre hosted a creative conversation as part of College Development Network’s The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas.

This was the culmination of a six week drama/Scottish Studies project in which students explored aspects of labeling and learning in Scotland through drama and writing processes.

The students performed a powerful piece of theatre and then hosted five separate conversations, based on topics of particular relevance to them in an open space format.

The aim of the final creative conversation was to be able to explore a range of crucial questions in a creative and innovative way with a range of participants from within and out-with the prison.

Questions included:

  • Are labels self-fulfilling?
  • When are labels useful, needed or important?
  • Positive learning in prison vs negative/sensationalist labels in the media
  • Is personal growth as important as gaining qualifications in learning?
  • Prisons learning and progression – how to progress on release with an offender label.

Following the event students wrote up their findings and identified areas that could be developed further by themselves, the Learning Centre or other parties.

Who was involved?

The project was delivered by New College Lanarkshire, Glenochil Prison Learning Centre and Scottish Prison Service.

Participants included students: fellow prisoners, prison learning manager, prison psychologist, prison chaplain, offender outcomes manager, lecturers from other prisons, artists, criminal justice researcher and Business Gateway representative.

What core skills were developed?

Students developed questions for the final event through performance, presentation, drama, reflection and writing processes.

The final performance/conversation event required all participants to challenge preconceptions, raise questions and explore potential solutions to problems with open and enquiring minds.

Performers had to be prepared for potential hostility from an audience who may have very different ideas/experiences to their own; they had to develop strategies to facilitate conversations that may include points of view they might disagree with. Likewise, guest participants had to be open to the lived experiences and emotions of the performers as well as to views they may disagree with.

According to participant feedback and learner reflections, the following characteristics were developed:

  • Motivated and ambitious for change for the better, including in their own capabilities
  • Confident in the validity of their own viewpoint
  • Able to apply creative processes to other situations
  • Able to lead and work well with others

What impacts did the project have?

The project has had the following impacts on participants, students and staff:

  • More engaged learners
  • More understanding and support for this kind of work within the prison
  • Expressions of interest in future collaborations across agencies both within and outwith the prison – eg. learners suggested a similar event could be held with trainee social workers
  • Staff learned not to be scared to do new things, to contextualize work appropriately and to ask for support when necessary

An unexpected outcome was that prison staff from other departments engaged positively with the whole project, enhancing processes across the board.

You can contact College Development Network here:

01786  892 000

Above Scotland

Above Scotland took an aerial photography exhibition as the starting point for an ambitious creative journey, empowering schools to make a difference to their local environment of such ambition that it could be photographed from the air.

Large scale aerial photographs taken of the areas around participating schools inspired thinking about the participants’ place in the world and served as a stimulus for their very own creative process. This developed the learners’ creativity skills and culminated in a pupil-designed intervention that meant something to them in relation to the landscape and their community.

Created and led by Architecture and Design Scotland’s dedicated Education team, it was the project’s exciting new partnerships between schools, DO Architecture, and RCAHMS that made the ambitious plans possible.

Taking a larger perspective

Learners from Inveraray, Inverness and Harris gained an understanding of their environment in terms of how it affects theirs and others lives. They considered the impact of the built environment and landscape on communities and translated their thoughts and opinions into a creative output, working with others to communicate a message about the place. It was vital to the project that the intervention took place on the site concerned, building a close relationship with place and fostering a deep understanding of the landscape.

Above Scotland used material from an exhibition at The Lighthouse, Glasgow, as a teaching resource to initiate a creative process. The project facilitated learning about the built environment and landscape, alongside the development of creativity skills. The project also gave the exhibition a legacy beyond its time at The Lighthouse and humanised the exhibition, making it more accessible.

“Proud to have been involved in this super exhibition, as Headteacher of the two schools involved on the Harris content. It was a true Curriculum for Excellence experience for the children who took part.” Headteacher

“It was good because we learnt stuff but in a funner way than just sitting in class.” Workshop participant

“The best bit was we got to decide what we wanted to do rather than being told what to do.” Teacher

Changing the landscape

The experience broke with traditional learning by centering upon the creative process with no end results in mind. Participants were trusted to create the material for themselves and encouraged to develop their creativity skills by being curious about their place, posing questions and using their existing knowledge to collect ideas. They specifically looked for patterns and anomalies in the landscape that drew their attention.

Participants had to reflect critically on the effectiveness and impact of their ideas, testing and refining them in practice before being carried out on site.

Due to the nature of the project certain elements were weather dependent and participants had to adapt and problem solve right to the end of the process. All of this developed the participants’ creativity skills in a clear and purposeful way.

The project was recognized as being innovative, and shortlisted as a finalist for Creativity in Schools, at the 2012 Creative Scotland Awards. It also led to one teacher gaining Professional Recognition for Creativity by the General Teaching Council of Scotland.

Visible Fictions, State of Emergency (a Co-Create demonstration project)


Over a week-long, intensive period, pupils watched five online dramas (webisodes) telling the story of a fictional country in a state of emergency caused by civil conflict.  The webisodes were watched at the start of the school day and stimulated debate and cross curricular activities relating to themes of war and conflict throughout the rest of the day. Schools developed their individual approach, supported by a teaching artist to help inspire their State of Emergency journey. Glow was primarily used by teachers and teaching artists to share ideas in preparation for the intensive week period.  Glow was also used to host and show the webisodes. All seven schools participated in a Glow Meet at the end of the week to discuss the activities and learning they had experienced.

Click here to watch 5 minute video

The project involved:

  • Visible Fictions Theatre Company
  • 7 freelance artists
  • 7 S2 year groups (approximately 650 pupils) and their subject teachers (approximately 70 teachers) an0d school management from 7 secondary schools;
  • 7 local authorities: Argyll and Bute; East Ayrshire; Glasgow; Inverclyde; North Lanarkshire; South Lanarkshire; and West Lothian


  • British Red Cross
  • British Army
  • War Child
  • BBC
  • Scottish Refugee Council


The project aimed to:

  1. Connect teachers and artists to explore, deliver and evaluate new approaches to delivering subjects with S2 pupils through Glow:
  2. Create of a dynamic and innovative on-line arts education resource for teachers and pupils which will remain with the local authority as a legacy for future work
  3. Embed CfE in every component of the project
  4. Nurture inter-disciplinary work
  5. Explore new ways of using Glow within classrooms by pushing artistic boundaries and creative processes

Curriculum Areas

  • Expressive Arts
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Numeracy
  • Literacy
  • Social Studies
  • Sciences
  • Technologies
  • Religious and Moral Education

Levels and Stages

S2 year group

Types of Learning


Task based


Project Activity

‘The webisodes gave a focus for a number of projects that were developed ‘in-house’. This created a unique opportunity to work with S2 pupils over an extended period. They were all fully engaged and contributing well to lessons. They could see the link between subjects and the last day activities brought all they had learned throughout the week to a conclusion’.

Teacher, Glow survey

In November 2010 the entire S2 year group in the seven schools came off the normal timetable for one week and took part in ‘State of Emergency’.  This project created a virtual world through four online dramas (webisodes) which documented the lives of a group of teenagers caught up in civil conflict.  The pupils were asked to become involved in the decisions and dilemmas faced by the characters to better understand the consequences of war.

In preparation for the intensive week school teaching staff were supported by a team of Visible Fictions teaching artists to create resources through the Glow network, linking up with other schools across Scotland.   The project encouraged teachers to creatively enhance all curricular areas and Visible Fictions supported them to find the right approach for their subject and explore how it could link with other curricular areas through the themes of war and conflict.  This structure means the skills developed during the project will remain within the schools with the prospect of the project being delivered by the staff teams for the years to come.   Examples of classes were:

  • a Home Economics department in one school working alongside a local organic farmer to explore what food could be grown if the area was cut off from the rest of the world and then cooking from a ration bag;
  • the Maths department in one school exploring volume and weight through a dynamic exercise that asked pupils to think about what they needed in the event of fleeing their home land – packing a bag full of essentials to survive an emergency situation;
  • a Science department teaching water filtration by sourcing water from the local burn and using a pair of tights to make it suitable for drinking;
  • PE staff using role play techniques to explore Democracy and Regime;
  • a Computer Studies department allowing the school internet system to be taken over by the underground newspaper;
  • the Technical department in one school worked with a survival expert to explore shelter and fire building in the local woods and the army setting up an outdoor assault course;
  • critically analysing war art and photography from different periods and discussing the emotions the art provoked;
  • role play exercises, with groups of pupils becoming aid workers/ refugees/ press corps/ army personnel/ besieged – within each role pupils participated in a variety of activities designed to enhance their understanding of the reality of life for people caught up in a state of emergency; and
  • talks and workshops with a range of external agencies and partners, including the Red Cross, Scottish Refugee Council, the Army, a human rights lawyer.

Planning and development

Teachers, or Head Teachers, were involved extensively in planning how the project would look and work in their particular school and within their subject area; developing activities and resources to be used during the intensive week; and finally, delivering the project.  The input in terms of planning time for teachers was quite extensive, representing between 11-20 hours for most teachers, although less for others. In a number of schools, teachers from all subject areas involved met together to do the planning along with senior management; in one school, the Head Teacher was the main person involved in planning activities with the teaching artist and with Visible Fictions – this resulted in subject teachers at the school feeling detached from the planning process. Teachers were guided throughout this process by a teaching artist, assigned to each of the seven schools – their role was to support teachers to think of creative, innovative and active activities for pupils to take part in which covered and cut across each area of the curriculum.

Pupils were not involved at all in planning, and to a very minimal extent in project delivery – this was crucial to the success of the project, to build suspense and excitement amongst pupils and keep them guessing about what every day would bring.

As a result of how the project was planned, there was significant variation between schools in terms of how ‘‘State of Emergency’ was implemented within their school – some kept time-tabled subjects, but ensured each addressed or related to war and conflict-related themes; other schools came completely off-timetable for the whole week and had a very active, fluid week of activities related to the project’s themes. Schools were encouraged to communicate with each other throughout the planning process, via Glow, to share ideas and resources for different subject areas.

How was Glow used?

‘State of Emergency’ used Glow in the following ways:

  • to host and show the webisode dramas;
  • teaching artists and school teachers posted ideas for class activities and resources they had developed on the project Glow group to share with other schools;
  • some use of the discussion forum by schools to share experience and update other schools and Visible Fictions on progress in terms of project planning;
  • evaluation surveys conducted using Glow; and
  • a Glow Meet between the seven schools on the final day of the intensive week when pupils from each school shared their learning and experiences.

I used Glow to look at different schools and what their plans were for State of Emergency and how they had responded to it.  As staff in HC created their own lessons and put them on Glow I was able to work with some of the ideas to help create my lessons.  Some issues were resolved by software issues in the authority and we now have a template for what is required in a glow computer so that all areas can be used.  Getting into the site on a regular basis made me feel more comfortable with it, by finding a few hints and shortcuts it made me use it more’.

Teacher, Holy Cross


An independent evaluation was carried out by Blake Stevenson. Their research shows that the project had the following impacts:

New skills, knowledge and approaches for teachers

‘I was perhaps the most negative of all the members of the English department about the State of Emergency project; however, the pupils themselves have completely changed my mind. Their conduct and attitude over the course of the week has been phenomenal and the work they have produced is outstanding. They have truly blown me away!’

Teacher, Clyde Valley High

The majority of teachers involved in the evaluation found ‘State of Emergency’ to be a ‘very useful’ teaching resource; only one teacher said that they had not found the approach to be useful. The majority of teachers also felt that ‘State of Emergency’ had had quite an impact in terms of improving pupils’ engagement with classroom activities; some felt the impact was significant.

For all teachers, using the dramas portrayed in the webisodes as a basis to drive curriculum activity for a week was a completely new approach to learning and teaching activity. Although one teacher felt things could have been improved by some live interaction with the actors playing each of the characters. Teachers felt the webisodes were of very high quality and that they offered a unique focus for the week, exploring a range of interesting and inter-disciplinary issues which allowed teachers to plan and link related activity across all subjects of the curriculum resulting, in some cases, in a truly inter-disciplinary learning experience (to varying extents in each school).

Other approaches such as taking a whole year group off-timetable to such an extent represented new approaches to teaching for some schools; others said they had come off time-table before for whole year group activities, but that this had not been on as ambitious a scale as with ‘State of Emergency’. One teacher commented that having the whole year group working so closely together for a full week helped pupils learn a lot about each other, including each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how best to work together.  While many schools had used some form of active learning/task-based approach to teaching in the past, this had not previously been done to the extent managed during ‘State of Emergency’ week.

A few teachers said the project represented a new approach to working in partnership with arts organisations, artists and other external bodies, which felt more collaborative and creative. Schools felt having a dedicated teaching artist to support all their project planning and delivery gave them confidence to realise their ideas and be more creative – there was a sense that the teaching artists were able to inspire teachers and also to encourage them to be more ambitious in their plans. One teacher commented that the project had made teachers in the school realise how innovative they could be and that the teaching artists had helped generate ideas and let the teachers take them forwards.

All teachers felt ‘State of Emergency’ absolutely embodied a CfE approach and had therefore made a contribution towards their school’s approach to CfE. Some teachers felt that the project had demonstrated the extent to which inter-disciplinary working is possible within schools and would make them think about further inter-disciplinary opportunities in future.

New skills and knowledge acquisition for pupils

Many of the pupils talked about other lessons and activities. They also commented on their relevance to the theme. Some realised that in a real SoE things would be very different.  The science water purification was treated with far more seriousness as the students could see the relevance, as was the creation of a protest song and the repeating of the scenes for videoing’.

Teacher, Cumnock Academy

All teachers consulted felt ‘State of Emergency’ had had a positive impact on pupils’ learning experiences, and had opened them up to new types of learning experiences. Teachers also said that the project had demonstrated to pupils how fun and interesting learning can be.

A number of schools noted a small increase in attendance, improvements in behaviour and reductions in punitive exercises carried out during the intensive week period because, as one teacher put it, “pupils were busy and engaged with new stimuli to motivate and enthuse them”.

The project promoted the following key learning:

  • highly inter-disciplinary learning linked by the themes of war and conflict;
  • debating and discussing issues related to war and conflict;
  • knowledge about the role of different organisations and professions in conflict situations.

Pupils’ participation in ‘‘State of Emergency’ ’ supported them to develop the following new skills and knowledge, much of which would be helpful to them in the future, particularly in terms of helping them think about career paths they might follow:

  • decision-making and problem-solving skills because a number of tasks require them to make quick decisions in response to mock conflict situations;
  • respect for other people, no matter where they come from;
  • how lawyers are involved in promoting and protecting human rights;
  • “there’s more to the army than just fighting” – discipline and working as a team; and
  • prioritisation skills.

Pupils felt the Co-Create project had helped them think about a number of things very differently and also about things they had not thought about before, such as:

  • how comfortable their life is and how this contrasts with others who face more hardship;
  • how some people struggle to meet their basic needs when they have luxuries like X box game consoles;
  • what their personal priorities are in life; and
  • whether there is ever a legitimate case for war.

The project also helped pupils develop their presentation skills and confidence in presenting, as during the week they had to make presentations to small groups, to the rest of the school, and to the other participating schools via Glow Meet. Teachers also felt the project had been successful at promoting leadership skills amongst pupils due to the many opportunities for different pupils to lead different groups and activities and be supportive of others.

Pupils described the week as mentally and physically challenging. They would all like to participate in something like this again, primarily because of the physical and active learning the project promoted.

The project enabled pupils to learn in a very active, task-based and inter-disciplinary way which the majority engaged very well with. It was also highly effective in promoting independent thought and debate around significant issues related to war and conflict.

The project supported a greater appreciation for how curricular subjects interact and crossover and the relevance of each. It contributed significantly to all of the capacity areas:

  • Successful Learners – as a result of increased engagement and motivation for learning due to the active and task-based nature of project activities;
  • Confident Individuals and Effective Contributors: debate and discussion, as well as presentation were activities and skills promoted throughout the week, helping pupils to be more confident, effective contributors; and
  • Responsible Citizens – the issues of war and conflict gave pupils an understanding and appreciation for how life is elsewhere in the world, supporting them to be more responsible citizens.

New skills and knowledge for Visible Fictions

As keen proponents of arts based active and rich task-based learning, Visible Fictions used the Co-Create opportunity to test out their aspiration to use the arts as a way to promote and create a genuinely inter-disciplinary, exciting approach to learning, designed to actively engage all pupils, even those schools which sometimes struggle to engage. The successful completion of the Co-Create project gave them the opportunity to pilot this approach and has given them confidence to pursue similar ideas of such an ambitious scale within schools in future. The success of this project will allow them to persuade other schools to participate in similar activities.

Other outcomes for Visible Fictions include:

  • greater understanding of the potential of Glow and increased enthusiasm for use, as well as better awareness of its limitations and school attitudes towards Glow;
  • better understanding of the complexity of timetabling issues and the planning and thinking required by schools to enact a project such as ‘State of Emergency’ ;
  • recognising that schools have to drive and have ownership of initiatives such as ‘State of Emergency’ to ensure success;
  • greater appreciation of needs of school to risk assess and to pin down and plan out where each pupil is at all times when doing something so different to usual; and
  • planning, preparation and a good lead in time are crucial.

Challenges and Learning

Visible Fictions experienced the following main challenges in delivering ‘State of Emergency’:

  • the IT support and capability (in terms of broadband) available to schools at Local Authority level affected the effective functionality of Glow;
  • negativity and lack of enthusiasm by teachers to use Glow; as a result most of the shared ideas and resources posted on Glow were put up by teaching artists, rather than by the teachers as intended
  • due to delays in production, the webisodes were only made available to schools a week before they were shown (although scripts were provided earlier than this)– this made some teachers anxious as they would have preferred longer to familiarise themselves with the material and plan their resources and classes accordingly;
  • struggling to convince all schools to come off timetable for the whole week and buy completely into the ethos of the project; and
  • constant negotiation with schools to allow time and space for teacher steering groups to come together. When teachers were allowed the time to collaborate effectively, planning progressed quickly, however outside these meetings, some teachers struggled to find the time to dedicate to the project. This was resolved by arranging in-service days at the schools throughout the project and getting the teaching artist to liaise with their school to ensure agreed tasks were completed.

Key learning

Learning from the above, future delivery of the same or a similar project would include:

  • being more realistic about school ability and capacity to use Glow, allowing more time at the beginning to support teachers to be confident users of Glow;
  • convincing schools of the benefits of having a teachers’ steering group to co-ordinate project planning and activity, supported by in-service support days; and
  • enabling schools to see the webisodes further in advance


Generally teachers, teaching artists and Visible Fictions were in agreement that the partnership model adopted by the project was effective. Having a teaching artist in each school meant each school had tailored support and a key person to contact; it also meant schools could adapt the ‘State of Emergency’ approach to best meet the need of the school and pupils and build on the strengths and resources locally.


Co-Create was funded through a partnership between Learning and Teaching Scotland and Creative Scotland’s National Lottery Fund. 

For more information contact:

Paul Gorman, Head of Education and Participation

Or visit:

State of Emergency Glow Group

Visible Fictions Website

Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, Walking Within Langass Woods (a Co-Create demonstration project)


This interdisciplinary project aimed to creatively interpret the ecology and heritage of Langass Woods on North Uist, combining outdoor learning and the arts with social subjects, sciences, languages and new technologies. Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre worked collaboratively with S2 pupils and staff from Sgoil Lionacleit (Benbecula), Carinish and Lochmaddy Primary Schools, Urras nan Craobh Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist Woodland Trust), and Scottish Natural Heritage.

S2 pupils worked with artist and publisher Alec Finlay, poet Colin Wills and other partners to create a letterbox walk for the woodland and an accompanying digital guide on handheld mobile devices. Through the project, children and young people were encouraged to make a valuable contribution to the care and future of their own natural environment. Learning outputs from the project have been shared nationally through the project Glow Group.

Click here to watch 5 minute video

The project involved:
• Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre
• P1-7 pupils from Carinish Primary school
• S2 pupils from Lionacleit Secondary school

• Scottish Natural Heritage
• North Uist Woodland Trust
• Wild Knowledge (outdoor education specialists)
• Hebridean Graphics
• Freelance artists
• Comhairle nan Eilean Siar local authority


The project aimed to creatively interpret the ecology and heritage of Langass Woods on North Uist, combining outdoor learning and the arts with social subjects, sciences, languages and new technologies, creating both a physical and virtual guide to the woodland.


• Expressive Arts
• Languages
• Sciences
• Social Studies
• Technologies


P1 – S2


The project was inter-disciplinary – extending to Languages, Science, Numeracy, English, Art, Music and ICT. Creative, active and group approaches to learning were important as was outdoor learning.


S2 pupils from Sgoil Lionacleit, and P1-7 pupils from Carinish primary school, worked with artist and publisher Alec Finlay, musician Rhodri Davis, poet and naturalist Colin Will, and poet Ken Cockburn to create a ‘Letterbox trail’ and a ‘word map’ for the woodland, with an accompanying digital guide for handheld mobile devices.
Workshops, activities and field trips to the woodland, led by the artists, and/or Taigh Chearsabhagh staff, teachers, and staff from Scottish Natural Heritage/Hebridean Graphics/Wild Knowledge, included:

• ecology walk with Scottish Natural Heritage;
• nature ramble, tree planting, creative mapping, sculpture work, and creative writing, including Haiku and Mesostic poems;
• development of letter box trail and walkway guide;
• composing music;
• development of a digital guide to Langass Woods using digital handheld devices with GPS, and creating a website;
• making signage for the woodland trail;
• logo design workshops with Hebridean Graphics.

Partnership working was a key element of this project. North Uist Woodland Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage (South Uist) spent time with pupils talking about the history and ecology of the woodland and helping with the pupils’ research, identification and interpretation of local species of plants, trees and birds. This work was used to inform interpretation boards made by the pupils, and to provide content for the digital guide. Graphic designer Lorraine Burke ran a workshop on logo design, and the resulting designs by S2 pupils were uploaded to the project Glow Group.
Outdoor education specialists, Wild Knowledge, developed a digital guide to accompany the woodland trail which is populated by pupils’ photographs, poems, sound recordings and research, giving visitors an even richer experience of this community owned woodland.

How was Glow used?

Glow was used to document the project and to create a resource for other schools/pupils wishing to visit the woodland or learn more about its ecology. The content was created by pupils in collaboration with the project partners. The primary school Headteacher and staff at Taigh Chearsabhagh felt that Glow had helped to bring the project to life, allowing pupils to be actively involved in contributing to the project by sharing materials and learning online.


An independent evaluation was carried out by Blake Stevenson. Their research shows that the project had the following impacts:

New skills, knowledge and approaches for teachers

The project involved extensive work in an outdoor environment, which staff at Taigh Chearsabhagh felt was a new learning environment for the pupils involved. There was also a real emphasis on using digital technology, particularly to create a ‘digital trail’ of Langass Wood using handheld digital devices which used GPS to map the location of items that young people wanted to include in the trail.

The Headteacher from the primary school suggested that the involvement of the artists had definitely resulted in a more creative teaching experience, enriching the learning experience of pupils. The project had:

• helped them thinking about delivering teaching in a more creative way;
• encouraged them to do more/think differently;
• encouraged them to plan more collaborative work in future (the primary school are looking into working with another primary school on a new project).
The principle teacher of Art and Design at the secondary school enthused about having worked in collaboration with the English department on illustrated Haiku.

New skills, knowledge and experiences for pupils
Following the project, S2 pupils met after school to continue working on their contribution to the digital guides. Carinish primary pupils loved using the mobile devices, and particularly enjoyed writing mesostic poems with Alec Finlay.
The project promoted the following key learning:
• knowledge of nature and the natural environment;
• an appreciation of the local environment;
• use of digital technology and Glow;
• creating innovative art work;
• skills in and knowledge of poetry, music, art and design;
• independence ad increased confidence
• experience of working with arts professionals

The project supported pupils to achieve progress in the following ways:

• Successful Learners – during the work of the project pupils were enthusiastic and motivated learners and became open to new thinking and ideas. Pupils were supported to improve their literacy, communication and numeracy, thinking creatively and independently, linking and applying different kinds of learning in new situations, learning independently and as a group and use technology for learning.

• Responsible Citizens – as a result of the project pupils were supported to become more respectful of others and to participate responsibly in cultural life. Pupils were supported to develop greater understanding and knowledge of the world and Scotland’s place in it, evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues, and develop informed and ethical views of complex issues.

• Confident Individuals – the project increased pupils’ self-respect and helped them to have more secure values and beliefs and a sense of physical, mental and emotional well-being. Pupils became better able to relate to others and manage themselves, pursue a healthy and active lifestyle, be self-aware and develop and communicate their own beliefs and view of the world.

• Effective Contributors – the project supported pupils to work in partnership and in teams, to take the initiative and lead, communicate in different ways and in different settings, apply critical thinking in new context, solve problems, and create and develop.

New skills and knowledge for Taigh Chearsabhagh

The project gave Taigh Chearsabhagh more experience of working with pupils and teachers in schools, particularly working in a secondary school. They were able to learn more about working with young people, what to offer them and how. They also developed their understanding of CfE. This has helped them to develop their practice in this area, and encourage them to think about doing this more in future.

Taigh Chearsabhagh has developed a new relationship with the secondary school they worked with. The Project has has also strengthened links between Taigh Chearsabhagh/the schools and the North Uist Woodlands Trust, and Scottish Natural Heritage.


Taigh Chearsabhagh commented that the initial challenge was combining the use of digital technology with art and education to engage with local Woodland, as this was the first time they had undertaken a project combining these elements. The arts organisation staff were satisfied that they had managed to overcome this challenge.

There were some technical issues that were frustrating at times, particularly with the use of Glow, however these were overcome with support from LTS.

Another challenge was that the secondary school lost 11 members of staff over the summer holidays, before the project got started properly the following term. This meant staff at the school were required to fill in for teachers who had left, and they had very limited time to work on the project. It also made communication with the secondary school difficult, as staff were often unavailable for consultation.

The project would have been better if there had been more time for planning and prep work on behalf of the teachers, but also in conjunction with Taigh Chearsabhagh. On top of this, teachers perhaps did not realise the time/planning that would be involved in the project.

It would also have been beneficial to allow more time for the project in the curriculum, rather than fitting it in around time-tabled lessons ad hoc. This issue is linked to the limited planning that happened – more planning may have enabled this to happen. Teachers would have liked to have had more time for follow-up activities in class. It was also felt that the project may have been easier if it had not occurred when the secondary school was in the process of establishing CfE.

Schools were not using Glow much in the classroom, so Taigh Chearsabhagh staff did most of the work in designing/developing the Glow group.

Key successes of the project were:

• new/enhanced partnerships between the arts organisation and schools;
• use of digital technology to engage pupils in the arts and local environment;
• the positive impact of the artists involved in the project;
• the encouragement of creative teaching methods;
• the creation of a lasting resource that can be used again; and
• increased use and enthusiasm for Glow.

Although they had not used it much in the project, the primary Head teacher could see the benefits of Glow as a result of the project and would be much more inclined to use it in future.

Pupils from the primary school said they had enjoyed using Glow because they were able to find out about lots of different things, chat to other people, the materials were really good, they thought it was a fun way of learning and pretty easy to use.


Co-Create was funded through a partnership between Learning and Teaching Scotland and Creative Scotland’s National Lottery Fund.

For more information visit:
Project Glow Group
Taigh Chearsabhagh Website

NVA, The Potato Heads (a Co-Create demonstration project)


Environmental art organisation NVA worked with P7 – S5 pupils from Glasgow, Dundee, Stirling and East Renfrewshire schools to explore the cultural, social, ethical and political aspects of food production and growing food locally. The Potato Heads project gave pupils creative opportunities to explore and articulate desires for environmental change and a greener, more sustainable future.

Pupils from each participating school were invited to join The Potato Heads, a group of green activists, and asked to design their own fictional leader and write a manifesto for change. They took part in a series of workshops and online activities, and were given a plant to take care of throughout the summer holidays, and to grow potatoes for Glasgow Harvest as part of the Double Rubble Chip Challenge.

Click here to watch 5 minute video

The project connected to NVA’s wider community project SAGE (sow and grow everywhere™) and involved a collaboration with digital design studio ISO.

The project involved:

  • NVA
  • 19 pupils (S1) from a Glasgow secondary school
  • 6 pupils (S5) with additional support needs from a Dundee secondary school
  • 32 pupils (P7) from an East Renfrewshire primary school
  • 7 pupils (P7) from a Stirling primary school


  • Central Station
  • ISO digital design studio
  • East Renfrewshire, Dundee, Glasgow and Stirling local authorities


The project aimed to:

  • Start pupils growing their own food – each pupil was given one plant of their own to take care of throughout the summer. They were also given potatoes to grow collectively for Glasgow Harvest 28.08.10.
  • Engage pupils in thinking about how they could lead social change – in this instance towards a greener, more sustainable future.


  • Expressive Arts
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies
  • Science


P7 – S5


The project included a lot of group work and active learning, was ‘hands-on’, and empowered young people to take control of their own learning, enabling them to try things out for themselves, think for themselves, becoming more aware of their responsibilities and putting forward their own ideas/suggestions.


Participants communicated with other schools, learned about Glasgow Harvest, and contributed to the community. At each school a live workshop was hosted every four weeks, including a Glow Meet with one of the other schools involved if possible. Outside of the workshops, schools engaged with the project via the Potato Heads Glow group where NVA posted short podcasts and instruction sheets for the schools to access online.

The inspiration for ’The Potato Heads’ project was a Mexican group of revolutionaries called the Zapatistas (a socialist revolutionary movement, mainly active in Mexico) who use the internet and art as their chief method of publicising their work. Rather than protesting and marches, the Zapatistas use humour, art and the internet to spread their message for social change. NVA adopted a similarly creative process with participants in the project, as they used art to provoke collective action.

The Learning Programme was based around the concept that all the pupils were part of a group of green activists called ‘The Potato Heads’. They were each headed up by a fictional leader designed by themselves (the leaders were given names, characteristics and superpowers). Pupils explored the concept of change and how to effect change, and the role of activists. They also explored alternative approaches used by artists such as Banksy. Nick Mellville, an Edinburgh based poet, led some workshops about poetry, linking to slogans about what the pupils wanted to change, and how they could communicate these desires succinctly and engagingly. The pupils also carried out research into reducing fuel emissions and the benefits of growing food locally.

All pupils were invited to the culmination of the project at NVA’s Glasgow Harvest event at Tramway in Glasgow on the Saturday 28th August 2010. At this celebration of urban growing, the pupils were invited to cook their potatoes as part of the ‘Double Rubble Chip Challenge Competition’.

How was Glow used?

Glow was used to post a series of tasks for teachers to download and complete with their class. Glow Meets were held between participating schools. Pupils used the Glow group to communicate with each other and their teachers/project leaders regarding their growing tasks, to discuss climate change and to post their own work.


An independent evaluation was carried out by Blake Stevenson. Their research shows that the project had the following impacts:

New skills, knowledge and approaches for teachers

  • Knowledge of and enthusiasm for Glow
  • Recognition of pupils’ interest in growing and environmental/green issues – resulting in plans to repeat the project and develop a sensory garden in one school.
  • Hands on learning/teaching methods had been successful
  • Benefits of working with a partner arts organisation who used creative, hands on, interdisciplinary approaches

New skills, knowledge and experiences for pupils

The project promoted the following key learning:

  • an understanding of how to grow and cook food;
  • more knowledge of food and food production, climate change and globalisation;
  • understanding of social action, change and taking control;
  • working together and teaching other young people;
  • poetry, drawing and photography;
  • using Glow;
  • participating in the Glasgow Harvest Event at Glasgow’s Hidden Gardens

The project supported pupils to achieve progress in the following ways:

Successful Learners – during the work of the project pupils became enthusiastic and motivated learners and became open to new thinking and ideas. Pupils became better at communicating, thinking creatively and independently, linking and applying different kinds of learning in new situations, learning independently and as a group and using technology for learning.

Responsible Citizens – as a result of the project pupils became more respectful of others and committed to participate responsibly in political and social life. Pupils developed understanding of the world, became more aware of others beliefs and cultures, more able to evaluate environmental and scientific issues, and informed and ethical views of complex issues.

Confident Individuals – the project increased pupils’ self-respect, and helped them to have more secure values and beliefs. Pupils became better able to relate to others and manage themselves, pursue a healthy and active lifestyle, be self-aware and develop and communicate their own beliefs and view of the world.

Effective Contributors – the project supported pupils to work in partnership and in teams and also to become more self-reliant. Pupils had the opportunity to take the initiative and lead, communicate in different ways and in different settings, apply critical thinking in new contexts and create and develop.

New skills and knowledge for NVA

The main lesson that NVA took from the project was that they need to be more open minded about adapting materials to suit the level of different pupils involved in a project.

NVA learned the importance of allowing sufficient tiem for planning and consultation at the start of the process.

NVA felt there was a lack of buy-in from teachers in-between the workshops they delivered, and that teachers viewed NVA as deliverers, rather than it being an exchange between teachers and arts professionals. NVA felt it would have worked better if there was more collaboration.

NVA learned that they need to be clearer with teachers about what involvement/time-input is expected of them at the planning stage of the project.

NVA developed new relationships with ISO, Central Station and the Hidden Gardens which they felt would benefit future projects.


NVA had originally intended to work with Glasgow schools due to the geographical reach of the Glasgow Harvest event, but the authority had not yet carried out full Glow rollout, so schools were selected from several other authorities.

The project was the first time that most of the teachers involved had used Glow.  Some felt that the training they had received was not very comprehensive and several of them experienced technical problems when they tried to use Glow.

NVA had expected Glow to be more intuitive both for uploading resources, and social networking, and said that they and participants spent more time becoming familiar with Glow than they had envisaged.

Not all participating schools were able to use Glow Meet.

There was some difficulty in terms of communication with teachers, who could be difficult to contact due to their teaching schedules.


The impact of the project was positive, and Glow was particularly useful in bringing people from different geographic locations together. However, in retrospect, NVA feel it would have been better to ‘twin’ schools as opposed to ‘group’ schools together as the communication lines could have perhaps been more focused for the pupils – i.e. each school working with one other school, instead of three schools each.

Other lessons included:

  • pupils enjoyed the project, were really enthusiastic about growing food  and liked using Glow;
  • teachers needed to schedule time during the week to work on the Glow site independently of the Glow Meets or live workshops;
  • it would have been preferable to have a training session for teachers before a Glow programme started for them to take ownership of the programme and integrate it into the curriculum;
  • pupils would have benefited from being given email ‘cluster’ groups within their class to link to other ‘clusters’ in the other schools- this would have allowed them to work on tasks together and take away the anonymity of their connections


One of the primary schools said that the main legacy for them would be having a better idea of how to use Glow, and that they had got to know their pupils better. They also said they intended to repeat the Potato Heads project next year with a new class, and have developed a sensory garden as a result of the children’s interest in growing and nature. It appears that the project has really expanded out to other classes and pupils in the school. Some of the pupils have also been teaching their younger peers about how to grow potatoes, and the school have expanded the theme of ‘growing’ to school-wide activities. They have also discussed the possibility of connecting with a school abroad.

Staff at all of the participating schools said that the project would increase their use of Glow, as their pupils had really enjoyed using it during the project – they had seen that it was a great resource for teaching purposes.

Pupils agreed that Glow was interesting, fun and easy to use, that there was nothing they disliked about it and that they would like to use it more in future.


Co-Create was funded through a partnership between Learning and Teaching Scotland and Creative Scotland’s National Lottery Fund. 

For more information contact:

Nichola Godsal, NVA,

Or visit:

Glow Group


TAG, Don’t Start Me! (a Co-Create demonstration project)


TAG worked in partnership with Strathclyde Police to deliver a multi-artform interactive project in 19 different Glasgow primary schools. The project explored the origins of violent and criminal behaviour and was aimed at P3 and P4 pupils. The children saw a live professional theatre production, took part in drama workshops and took a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how a play is made by taking part in live web conferencing, direct from their classrooms into the Citizens Theatre.

In the play, Don’t Start Me!, a 9 year old boy, Craig gets involved with his older cousin Johnny’s gang, resulting in serious consequences for Craig and his classmates. Prior to seeing the play in their schools, pupils and teachers became familiar with the play and its characters through the project Glow group, which contains a body of teaching resources for pre and post performance activities complete with CfE Experiences and Outcomes for teachers.

Pupils were invited to find out about Craig, his mum Sandra, his sister Jamie Lee and cousin Johnny by reading character cards for each of them. They created their own character card and comic strips depicting a scenario from Craig’s story and shared them via Glow.

Through Glow Meet, children were able to watch a rehearsal and meet the actors and director of the play, and they also met PC Geoff Smith, an officer from Strathclyde Police, to talk about issues raised by the play.

Click here to watch 5 minute video


TAG, Citizens Theatre

19 primary schools in the Southside and East End of Glasgow

2 classes in each school – P3 and P4

1004 pupils

44 teachers


Strathclyde Police

Glasgow local authority


The project aimed to:

  • explore the origins of violent and criminal behaviour;
  • educate young children in the choices open to them if they find themselves in difficult social situations;
  • break down barriers between the local community and the police;
  • develop pupils’ and teachers’ awareness of Glow and ability to use Glow


Expressive Arts

Health and Wellbeing

Social Studies


Religious and Moral Education


P3 and P4


The project involved pupils in group work, active learning, interdisciplinary working and learning outside the classroom


There were many strands to the project, including:

  • each school saw a live theatre production of a new play, ‘Don’t Start Me!’, which explored the origins of violent and criminal behaviour;
  • each class participated in a professionally led post-show drama workshop;
  • online resources (via Glow group) available for teachers to access (pre and post show);
  • a number of Glow Meets taking place during the project – including a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse of the rehearsal process, interview with the director and actors, and with a policeman from Strathclyde Police;
  • video clips for the pupils and teachers to access and use during lessons
  • four CPD training sessions to prepare the teachers for using Glow
  • a film maker worked with four ‘Key Schools’ to film feedback and pieces of drama that the children prepared in response to seeing the play;
  • online discussions and sharing of information between the teachers involved;
  • TAG worked with the Young Women’s Project in Bridgeton, Glasgow. 6 sessions took place whereby TAG tutors worked with the young women and a film-maker to create video clips for the Glow group.


Glow was an integral part of every stage of the project:

  • Glow Meets held with the actors/director in the play and a Police Officer;
  • TAG posted teaching resources, tasks and video clips of the play for teachers to access and use with their classes;
  • Pupils and teachers documented the progress of the project using the Glow group picture gallery and discussion board


An independent evaluation was carried out by Blake Stevenson. Their research shows that the project had the following impacts:

New skills, knowledge and approaches for teachers

  • using drama more effectively in the classroom
    • increased confidence in using creative methods in teaching, particularly for challenging subject areas.
    • training in and experience of Glow
    • recognising the value of working with arts specialists.

New skills and knowledge acquisition for pupils

The project promoted the following key learning:

  • awareness of choices and consequences, and the problem of peer pressure;
  • an understanding of the risks of joining a gang, and the origins of violent and criminal behaviour; and
  • awareness of the role of the police
  • knowledge and experience of Glow and Glow Meet

The project supported pupils to achieve progress in the following ways:

  • Successful Learners – during the work of the project pupils were enthusiastic learners, and became open to new thinking and ideas about gangs, peer pressure and decision making. Pupils became better at communicating, thinking independently and making reasoned evaluations.
  • Responsible Citizens – as a result of the project pupils learned to respect others, make informed choices and decisions, evaluate environmental issues and developed informed and ethical views of complex issues.
  • Confident individuals – the project increased pupils’ self-respect, and their sense of emotional and mental well-being and helped them to have more secure values and beliefs. Pupils became better able to relate to others and manage themselves, be self-aware, develop and communicate their own beliefs and view of the world and assess risk and make informed decisions.
  • Effective contributors – the project supported pupils to develop resilience and self-reliance, and increased their ability to work in partnership and in teams, communicate in different ways and in different settings, apply critical thinking in new contexts, create and develop and solve problems.

New skills and knowledge for TAG

  • TAG noted the value of being able to do pre/post visit activities with the pupils, as this prepared them for the performance, increased engagement and meant pupils got more out of the whole experience.
  • Staff  felt the main benefits of the project were that they had been able to deliver live performance in schools and learn about Glow.
  • TAG developed new relationships with Glasgow schools, and strengthened their existing relationship with Strathclyde Police.

Technical and Practical Challenges:

Project timescales slipped slightly due to the adverse weather conditions in Scotland in December 2010. Sessions were rearranged with minimal disruption.

Glow was new to everyone involved in the project which was challenging for teachers who had limited time to learn (and to take on the project as a whole). However, the project provided an exciting incentive for all to learn how to use it and most participants are keen to use Glow again in the future.

Some schools did not have all the equipment to make the most out of Glow Meets (web cam, mic) others experienced technical problems during Glow Meets such as poor sound and image quality.

TAG suggested that more experienced Glow users may have made greater use of Glow (e.g. discussions, forums, evidencing work) and that the Glow group had perhaps not been as interactive as it could have been. In addition, Glasgow pupils had not yet been issued with Glow accounts; they were keen receive logins having experienced Glow through the project.


The project had a large impact on the pupils taking part. They were really engaged by the delivery method, learned about issues relevant to their lives (particularly around gangs, violence and peer pressure), which teachers suggested there was a real need for, and were encouraged to be able to make good decisions.

The project also enabled young people to speak with a local police officer, and learn that the police are there to help them, which may help to improved relations between young people and the police locally.

The project was successful in encouraging some teachers to think more creatively about teaching, and it encouraged some of them to consider how they could use drama more in their teaching practice.

TAG felt that the work done on the Glow group was also a really successful element of the project, as it left a resource that can be used by other teachers and schools in future, and it encouraged some pupils and teachers to use Glow more.

Another positive aspect of the project was that teachers were able to get as much out of it as they wanted, with plenty of additional work suggested by the arts organisation, but with room for teachers to expand on/adapt this where they wished.

Staff in one school suggested that if you want to encourage teachers to start using Glow, it is a good idea to try to engage them with their passion, on a topic they are interested in, for example drama (as this project did). They felt this was the best route to encouraging more teachers to start using Glow.


Co-Create was funded through a partnership between Learning and Teaching Scotland and Creative Scotland’s National Lottery Fund.

For more information contact:

Angela Smith, TAG,

Don’t Start Me! Glow Group

Citizens Theatre Website

TAG website

What’s the War Got To Do With Us? – WWII and Heritage in Banff


Previous arts education work for schools developed by Aberdeenshire Council’s Cultural Co-ordinators on the Theme of World War II provided the perfect starting point to link Museums Galleries Scotland’s national project, ‘Remembering Scotland at War’.

‘What’s the War Got To Do With Us?’ engaged schools in Aberdeenshire in a multi-layered partnership brokered by the Arts Education Team. Emerging from work on the theme of WW2 around unique artefacts in the Banff area and Duff House Museum, artists and researchers were engaged to work with local schools and the community to create an exciting and informative exhibition.

Children's artwork

The project involved:

  • – 626 pupils in P6 – S2
  • – 38 teachers
  • – 1 academy and 3 primary schools
  • – 7 artists
  • – 1 researcher


The project was build upon previous arts education work and it’s purpose was:

  • – To engage pupils with the topic of World War 2 through learning in partnership with the local community, heritage groups and professional artists
  • – To deepen understanding about World War 2, the local context and the impact on modern society  as well as the local community
  • – To reveal to teachers, pupils and the community, aspects of Duff House Country Museum  that are important resources but essentially unknown
  • – To create a virtual and touring and exhibition with the potential to education more widely and for use as a future teaching and interpretive resource

To develop opportunities where children and young people would benefit from working with creative professionals to simultaneously develop skills and understanding about World War 2 and in the expressive arts

activity at Duff house


  • – Short time scale between the receiving of the grant and the activating of the project was awkward
  • – Imminent loss of Cultural Co-ordinators, who were pivotal in the project and who retain a role in the project development
  • – Some of the best material in Duff House is extremely difficult to photograph.

The Arts Education Team was instrumental in working through the challenges.

“….. Arts Education team gave me sufficient information in advance to carry out the project to the best of my ability; the staff were well prepared, welcoming and supportive; the class teacher continued to work with the children between my visits.  The pupils enjoyed bringing the past to life through movement and acting.” (Charles Barron, actor and playwright)

working together


The effects of the project were widely felt, it:

  • – Significantly raised the profile and relevance of Duff House, especially for educational purposes
  • – Raised the public awareness of the focus geographic area
  • – Gave pupils and school staff a valuable series of cultural experiences that significantly supported Curriculum for Excellence in an area that is remote from cultural hubs
  • – Raised the standard, quality and expectation of heritage and arts projects in the Banff area

“This was a great project; it fully engaged our upper stage pupils in the history of their town and gave them a useful sense of what it was like to live during those testing times. The project addressed many of the Experiences and Outcomes of the Social Studies, Expressive Arts and Technologies subject areas and helped us to ensure that our children were able to ‘learn in, about and through the unique natural, cultural and economic environment of Aberdeenshire and the North-east’- as recommended in the Aberdeenshire 3-18 Curriculum Guidelines.  It was a wonderful opportunity for our pupils to meet and work with professional artists and craftspeople and especially the researcher, Allan Burnett, who came with a knowledge and freshness that enthralled the children.”’ (Jenny Stone, Head Teacher Banff primary School)

“The knowledge that they were taking part in a joint project and that their work was going on display gave the pupils a boost and gave them more incentive.” (Violet Milne, craftmaker)



  • – Aberdeenshire Arts Education Team
  • – Museums Galleries Scotland
  • – Banff Heritage Group
  • – Boyndie Airfield Preservation Society
  • – Duff house Gallery
  • – Local citizens

Levels and stages:

  • – Second and Third levels
  • – P6 – S2


  • – Aberdeenshire Council
  • – Scottish Arts Council
  • – Heritage Lottery Fund
  • – Friends of Duff House

For More information contact:

David Atherton, Arts Education Co-ordinator (Creative Links) on 01224 665363 or email


Operation Blackboard – Bringing WWII to Life


A normal school day was transformed into a World War II army boot camp using actors in role, activities, 1940s film footage and military vehicles. Over 1,000 pupils met Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill taking part in training exercises during curriculum time. Led by actors in character, French Resistance members, boffins from Militray Intelligence and Sergeant majors screaming orders, pupils participated in drill, cartography, sciences and code-breaking.

Pupils were ‘conscripted’ into the infantry, organised into sections, platoons and companies and were  issued with identity cards. They were taken through the rigours of military discipline – some were granted ranks of Corporal and Lance Corporal with responsibility for their section of troops. The rank system allowed many pupils, normally perceived as disruptive, to seize responsibility and gain confidence.WWII vehicles

Operation Blackboard involved:

  • – over 1,000 pupils
  • – from 3 academies (S1 and S2)
  • – and 13 primary schools (P6 and P7)
  • – nearly 100 teachers
  • – up to 6 artists per day of delivery

Interdisciplinary working through the arts, made coherent several curriculum areas all within the context of  Operation Blackboard. Examples include a Sergeant taking the privates through code breaking exercises, both de-cyphering and encrypting messages of their own. In costume, US paratrooper experts took a 1940 Jeep and troop carrier used in the D-Day operation to schools, explaining how the vehicles would have been used. A miliarty boffin demonstrated the workings and purpose of gas masks, discussed escape techniques and communication tools if captured. All of this and more, provided a context for developing linguistic and mathematical understanding, integtated with history, geography, PE and sciences, in ways that clearly engaged pupils:

“Doing this project made me feel more interested in World War 2 and think more about what happened back then.” (pupil)

“I learnt that the World War 2 was much more interesting that I thought.” (pupil)

English Semaphore Science


The development of Operation Blackboard grew from the idea of  integrating the arts into the very heart of an educational topic. It was also an opportunity to explore an under used element of drama in learning and teaching.

One intention was that pupils became extremely familiar with historical figures (they had the opportunity to actually meet Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill) and learn through word of mouth, by sharing and through experiencial learning, a broad range of historical  facts and ideas.

It was intended that pupils would develop an increased interest in learning about the topic and for school life in general. Pupils were required to apply their learning in practice throughout the project.


“It gives me an excellent basis for teaching the World War II topic which we are due to start next year.” (Primary Class Teacher)

“I found the decoding quite hard but I managed to solve it.” (pupil)

There was a clear sense of appropriate challenge throughout the project:

I am proud of what I did because some of it was hard.” (pupil)

And worth the effort of working differently:

“They probably learn more from this one day of hands on experience than they do from a whole year in the classroom.” (Deputy Head Teacher)

“It made me feel more confident about things I will do in the future.” (pupil)

“They remember more, and learn more if they enjoy the learning – they’ll remember this alright.” (teacher)

Teaching staff reported that the project engaged many pupils who otherwise might not have shown interest in the topic and improved attitudes towards learning generally.

Physical Training

Features of good practice: Active and experiential learning

Operation Blackboard is one of a range of interactive experiential drama and curriculum days developed by the Cultural Co-ordinator Team. It is a transition topic delivered in primary and secondary and was instrumental in the Council receiving a COSLA Bronze Excellence Award for advancing community wellbeing.

Operation Blackboard takes primary seven pupils on a World War II evacuation experience. At the same time, entire S1 year groups are taken through an army boot camp in role by actors playing Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, naval officers, military intelligence officers and stereotypical sergeant majors. Pupils experienced inter-disciplinary learning within a ‘real world’ context. For example, they decipher codes and plot enemy presence on D-Day landing maps. These activities use and develop their literacy and numeracy skills. Throughout the whole experience, pupils actively learn how decisions can affect situations.

More detailed information is available at


Ambitious partnership projects are never without challenges, cnd challenges bring learning for everyone. Below are some examples of things think about when undertaking this type of work.


The local paper took great delight in having the children point the original WWII weaponry straight at the camera and then placed the image on the front page above a headline about a gun crime. When dealing with sensitive subjects, such as war and weapons, it is important to keep a very tight control on the images the press get to take. We now insist that a senior member of the team is on hand whenever the press turn up. It is important to be firm as the press will still try to get the picture they want!

Engaging staff

Different personalities will engage with the fictional world being created to different degrees, and can have an important effect on the success of the day. We used two tools to make the most of this opportunity. We provided notional costume pieces for the staff, such as a hat or a jacket, that allowed staff to look the part without needing to fully ‘dress up’. Most were more than happy to do this – one DHT even made her own costume! Secondly the pupils were instructed to address the teaching staff as Sir or Ma’am and the staff were given Officer level ranks whilst the pupils could only advance as far as Corporal. This maintained the school hierarchy (the HT was the General, staff were Captains and Colonels) which is important to discipline, and kept staff within their comfort zone by not actually changing their power relationship with the pupils.


Obviously space is always an issue for these kinds of events. We engineered activities to fit into a classroom where possible, relying upon the actors to make things different. Whole group activities such as meeting Neville Chamberlain or watching the Movietone film footage allowed us to bookend the days in the assembly hall saving on spaces. The need to clear away for the lunch break was something we always had to be aware of, sometimes having to move projection equipment only to move it back. It is vital that the physical needs of the project are made clear right from the start and continually communicated – otherwise you can end up with a running activity being moved to a classroom by staff who don’t understand what is required.



  • – Cultural Services
  • – Schools
  • – Local WWII re-creation groups
  • – Clydebank Blitz Survivors (volunteers)
  • – Clydebank Museum
  • – Loch Lomond and Trossachs national Park
  • – Their past Your Future

Levels and Stages

  • – second, third and fourth levels
  • – P6 – S2


Their Past Your Future and various lottery strands successfully applied for by Cultural Services

For more information contact:


Maeve Dixon
Learning Development Officer
Clydebank Museum
Culture Section
49 Dumbarton Road
G81 1UE

T: 0141 562 2401/01389772148