Category Archives: Outdoor Learning

Eden Court with Outfit Moray – outdoor learning and filmmaking

Background to the project

Eden Court delivers a range of creative arts activities for young people across the Highlands through its Cashback funding. Eden Court works in partnership with youth organisations to enable them to engage with young people from across the vast Highland area.

This project was delivered in partnership with Outfit Moray, an award winning outdoor education charity based in Lossiemouth. Outfit Moray works with schools, youth agencies and youth groups (and works predominantly with vulnerable and disadvantaged young people) to develop the potential of young people through outdoor education.

Purpose of the project

The project aimed to provide opportunities for young people, who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity, to participate in a unique programme of exciting outdoor activities and film –making.

Access and participation:

  • provide opportunities to young people who wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to participate;
  • develop confidence and team work skills through outdoor education;
  • develop new skills (both in outdoor skills plus filmmaking).

Project delivery

Outfit Moray worked in partnership with two Youth Cafes; one in Elgin and one in Cullen. The Youth Café’s identified young people who will benefit from the opportunity, and provided transport to the activities (as many of the young people in more remote areas are excluded from participation through the distance/cost and inaccessibility by public transport).

Young people spent two days carrying out exciting outdoor activities – kayaking, surfing, abseiling, climbing with experienced instructors from Outfit Moray. They filmed their activities using helmet-mounted cameras.

The final day of the course involved film-making – each young person learned how to make a film and music track to their film. This element of the programme was delivered by Eden Court’s digital media and music production staff.

The final element of the programme was a showcase event at Eden Court. The young people’s films were shown at a special screening at Eden Court cinema, to which family and friends were invited.

Outcomes for young people

The programme aimed to engage young people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to participate in arts activity.

Most of the young people (who had been engaged in the programme through their local youth cafés) commented that they had done some outdoor activities in the past, but that the combination of outdoor activities and film-making had attracted them. Most had no previous experience of film-making.

Young people reported that they had enjoyed the programme, and that they had learned new skills and built their confidence.

Comments from parents highlight also highlight the impact on building the confidence of young people.

“Huge thanks for the amazing opportunity for X to work with Eden court and yourselves she absolutely just loved it, all this outdoor stuff has given her such a confidence boost as she was such a shy wee girl last year, it’s great to see her feel comfortable with others and socialise more easily now.”

A youth worker from Cullen Youth Café reported that one young person who had taken part in the programme had very low self-esteem. However, through the programme, he found that he really excelled at the film-making element, and this had boosted his confidence and inspired him to get involved in another film-making project.

Making a film of their achievements had obviously added to participants pride and self-esteem:

“I’ve done outdoors stuff before, but I hadn’t done filming – to be able to film what you are doing was pretty cool. When people ask what I’ve done over the summer, I can show them.”

One boy had shared the film with friends on twitter.

The showcase is an important element of many of the Creative projects. The young people have the opportunity to ‘showcase’ their work and report a sense of achievement and pride in so doing.

One young person commented

“I’ve been to Eden Court before, but never to see my own film. I’m quite nervous about that.”

For the staff at Outfit Moray

“The screening of the films at Eden Court was really successful – it really gave young people an opportunity to reflect on their achievements, but also to share their success with their parents/carers.”

“It’s also a great opportunity to introduce the young people to Eden Court which is a great venue – but many of the kids had never been, so it’s opening their eyes to different opportunities and expanding their comfort zones too.”

Cashback investment: Eden Court £50,000 (this is only one of the many projects delivered by Eden Court)

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.

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

Horsecross Arts, Hooks + Bites (a Co-Create demonstration project)


The ‘Hooks + Bites’ project involved developing a digital art bank for Glow, working with nursery, primary and secondary pupils. The ‘hooks’ were topics, in this case focusing on ‘transition’ and what it means at critical life stages as children move from nursery to primary, primary to secondary, secondary onwards. The ‘bites’ were the digital sound and image files created by the children. A series of workshops run by a team of artists and musicians, Plan B Collective, were held between May and June 2010 to develop the bites, which included sound recording, animation and videos.

A project celebration took place in June 2010 at Perth Concert Hall, where project partners, schools and members of the local community were invited along to view the Hooks + Bites exhibits, including a showing of all pupil work on the Threshold Wall – a bank of 22 monitors in the Concert Hall’s main front of house space.
The project was focused on producing an end result for Glow, rather than using Glow throughout the process, however Glow was also used as a means for posting project updates and materials, and to upload project work to show the project in progress. The resulting Glow Group provides a model which teachers across Scotland can use for inspiration and practical advice on how to make digital animation and sound artwork.

Click here to watch 5 minute video

The project involved:

  • Horsecross Arts
  • 1 combined model campus (nursery, primary and secondary) in Perth and Kinross
  • 110 pupils aged 4-5; 10-12 and 15-17
  • 6 teachers


  • Plan B Collective
  • Creative Links Officer, Perth and Kinross
  • Perth and Kinross Council


The project aimed to:

  • create a digital art bank for Glow, providing a model which teachers across Scotland could use for inspiration and practical advice on how to make digital animation and sound art work;
  • explore how creativity can support the transition stages, delivering Experiences and Outcomes across Music, Art, ICT and Health and Wellbeing.


  • Expressive Arts
  • Technologies
  • Health and Wellbeing


Early Years – P1; P7-S1; S5-S6


The project encouraged lots of group work and active learning, listening skills, digital technology skills. It promoted inter-disciplinary learning and space to be creative.


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 provided an experiential learning CPD opportunity for teachers, supporting them in developing new thinking on using cross-form art as a tool to explore different themes with pupils;
  • Teachers grew in confidence to use creative methods in teaching and gained a greater understanding of creating digital art;
  • Teachers realised the possibilities of using new technology and using Glow, and recognised their power to inspire pupils;
  • The project reinforced the benefits for pupils of learning outside the classroom and the importance of breadth and diversity in learning and teaching;
  • The mix of teachers working in partnership with arts professionals was a productive learning experience for all.

New skills and knowledge acquisition for pupils

The project promoted the following key learning:

  • creating high quality digital art works;
  • gaining skills and experience in sound recording and digital animation;
  • increased experience and awareness of Glow;
  • exploring the concept of transition, and expressing emotions about the changes associated with this;
  • presenting their work to others at a public launch event in an arts venue.

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

Successful Learners – during the work of the project pupils were enthusiastic learners, became open to new thinking and ideas and were determined to reach high standards of achievement. Pupils became better at communicating, thinking creatively and independently, learning independently and as a group and using technology for learning.

Responsible Citizens – as a result of the project pupils became better able to make informed choices and decisions, and develop informed and ethical views of complex issues.

Confident Individuals – the project increased pupils’ self-respect, and their sense of emotional and mental well-being, helped them to have more secure values and beliefs and increased their ambition. Pupils became better able to relate to others and manage themselves, and achieve success in different areas of activity.

Effective Contributors – the project supported pupils to work in partnership and in teams, take the initiative and lead, 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 Horsecross Arts and Plan B Collective

For Horsecross Arts the project was the first time they had extensively used new media art with school pupils. They felt they had learned a lot from the process and would feel more confident doing so in future.

Through the project, Plan B learned that:

  • working with teachers to plan the project was extremely beneficial;
  • children were much more creative when they were facilitated rather than told/taught (e.g. when they had more control over their choices and actions);
  • young people needed lots to do; any gaps and they lose focus quickly;

For both organizations this was the first time they had used Glow; now they are familiar with it they will continue to use it in future when appropriate. A number of relationships were formed, and existing relationships were strengthened by the project.


Although some participating teachers had experience of Glow, the majority involved were not familiar with Glow before the project started and did not yet have Glow accounts; the use of Glow was not consistent across the participating schools. Plan B therefore spent more time developing the Glow group than they had expected to, and also had difficulty in using Glow Meets to communicate with project partners.


Teachers had enjoyed the experience of using Glow during the project, despite some early apprehension. Responses to a survey conducted with teachers by Horsecross Arts suggested that staff felt Glow would be useful for sharing information and ideas within the school, and possibly between other schools in Perth and Kinross. They also showed some interest in linking with wider groups and organisations using Glow.

Horsecross and Plan B found that working with groups at this level of involvement has had a lasting impact on teachers’ and pupils’ understanding and interest in digital art.

The project has raised the profile of Glow in the schools and local authority.

The project also brought together partnership between Education Services and creative industries, opening doors for staff to work with arts organisations 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:

Jenn Minchin, Horsecross Arts,

Hooks + Bites Glow Group

Horsecross Arts Website

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:

Arts Across Learning Festival (Aberdeen City Council)


learning about other cultures learning about other cultures learning about other cultures

Each year, for 6 weeks leading up to the Easter holiday, the Arts Across Learning Festival offers a wealth of artistic and creative talent free to city schools. Artists and cultural organisations work in partnership with schools, libraries, museums and other venues, meaning pupils and teachers are exposed to unrivalled creative learning opportunities.

Festival Installation 2006 Festival Installation 2007

Each storyteller, artist, theatre company and arts organisation engaged in the festival provides inspiring and imaginative ways of exploring connections across the curriculum. These provide stimuli for further learning and teaching that extend well beyond the duration of the Arts Across Learning Festival.

Associated CPD for teachers is aimed at ensuring opportunities accessed through the festival are maximised in the context of the new curriculum. The CPD is designed to give teachers the skills and confidence to use the arts imaginatively and creatively across all learning.

stories in teh art gallery

In 2010, the Arts Across Learning Festival involved:

  • – 5,800 primary school pupils
  • – 681 teachers
  • – 135 separate events in schools and venues
  • – 89 teachers accessed CDP opportunities
  • – 9 follow up conversations with teachers
  • – 47 (out of 48) primary schools
  • – 2 (out of 6) special schools
  • – 11 partner nurseries
  • – 3 independent schools
  • – 43 professional artists and arts/cultural organisations

The introductory statement in the experiences and outcomes for Expressive Arts states: ‘My learning in, through and about the expressive arts is enhanced and enriched through partnerships with professional arts companies, creative adults and cultural organisations’

The Festival is organised by the City’s Arts Education Team, who match need with opportunity in support of creative learning. The Arts Across Learning festival is the only regular programme of work the team offers.


The Arts Across Learning Festival provides rich contexts for learning and teaching, as opposed to single fun experiences for children. The purpose of the festival is to expose pupils and teachers to new, relevant experiences and to encourage schools to invest time in developing and embedding creative ways of working across the curriculum.

The first festival in 1999 was programmed in response to reports that less than 9% of parents read bedtime stories to their children, and the negative impact that had on child development and learning.

In 2009, the festival had a one year break for the Arts Education Team to re-evaluate its purpose and direction in light of the new Curriculum for Excellence and 6 years of the Cultural Co-ordinators in Scottish Schools programme in Aberdeen.

Following consultation with teachers and pupils, the festival returned in 2010 as the Arts Across Learning Festival.

The festival programming in now re-focused on Curriculum for Excellence. There are extended CPD linking festival opportunities with experiences and outcomes and the principles of curriculum design across a range of curriculum areas and levels. Additional follow up interviews with teachers is a further new feature of the Arts Across Learning festival and these designed to:

  • – gather information on impacts
  • – conduct ongoing consultation and
  • – continue teachers’ engagement with creative learning
  • – support changing practice and embed new ways of working

participating in the story making shapes learning outdoors

The Arts Across Learning Festival now targets only primary schools. Proportionate and targeted opportunities are made available to the city’s secondary schools.

Achieving the Purpose

  • “The festival makes literacy come alive.”
  • “It bridged the gap between school learning and real life…..”
  • “With Curriculum for Excellence, this [the festival] is exactly what it’s calling for.”
  • “It reminded us how enthusiastic boys can actually be – given the right topic.”
  • “Children got to be part of the experience and not just observers”
  • “What really surprised the children was that the author had had another career first, and that you could choose writing as a career
  • “I felt that the ‘Pobby and Dingan’ workshops were like a CPD session for me”

feedback from CPD CPD CPD - learning ourside the classroom


Numbers of schools and pupils attending festival events has grown steadily from the first festival in 1999 with increasingly positive feedback. It reached a zenith in 2006 when the festival was in danger of becoming a victim of its own success, providing opportunities for around 12,000 pupils (c.50% of the school population in Aberdeen) at over 250 events.

On one level, success could be measured by numbers of events, participation levels and reported enjoyment, however, the challenge of how to ensure that teachers maximise opportunities beyond the festival and use festival events as a springboard for further teaching and learning, was evident to the Arts Education Team.

To address a number of interlinked challenges around this issue, the team:

  • – seconded a principle teacher of drama for 2 years to provide curriculum support and development
  • – delivered CPD events modelling practice
  • – support teachers to embed arts and cultural activities within  different curriculum areas
  • – explore with teachers how the Festival extends its reach more broadly and deeply
  • – re-designed the festival brochure with useful features for teachers
  • – produced guidelines for working with artists and arts organisations
  • –  offered ideas about follow up activities and how to organise them.
  • – arranged post festival meetings with teachers to explore next steps
  • – signpost teachers towards arts and cultural organisations with a good understanding of the new curriculum

Because the festival is programmed from the end of February through to March/April, weather can have an impact on festival events. Inclement weather can affect travel arrangements for artists and performers as well as schools. An ever responsive and creative attitude is required to address this challenge!

dancing listening


Among many things, teachers reported:

  • “I got so many good ideas on how to use newspapers and magazines. My whole class joined the library!”
  • “My class loved the author – they made me ditch the class reader and buy her book!”
  • “I would say pupils are more eager to share their opinions”
  • “We’d followed it up with stories of the sea. A girl in my class, who doesn’t like usually writing at all, went home and wrote screeds and screeds……. She came in and showed it, that was quite surprising – she’d obviously been think about it afterwards.”
  • “We were able to share it with the mother and toddler group in the community centre.”
  • “Pupils were really interested to find out what we (teachers) read. They thought because we were teachers we read gig books.”
  • “We went on to ew-write scenes from Macbeth – a unique situation in Primary 3!”
  • “Storyboard (Wee Hairy Hamish) was a springboard for going on to talk about re-cycling and care of the environment.”
  • “We’ve done quite a lot of link learning now with puppets, ……. Using toys to talk to each other as well. It’s had a bigger impact than obviously just the language.”


in the art gallery studio


  • Aberdeen Arts Gallery and Museums
  • Aberdeen Performing Arts
  • University of Aberdeen
  • City Council Gordon Highlanders Museum
  • Blairs Museum
  • Satrosphere Science Centre
  • Puppet Animation Festival
  • Aberdeen City Library Service

Levels and Stages:

  • Early stage
  • First level
  • Second level
  • Pre-school to P 7


  • Aberdeen City Council cultural grants
  • Scottish Arts Council (for CPD)

For more information contact the Arts Education Team at

Or visit:

View the Arts Across Learning Festival Brochure 2010:

And have a look at this:

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

The Ae Project, Dumfries and Galloway


The Ae Project was a whole school inter-disciplinary project developed and delivered in partnership with the school and the Ae community. Pupils and teachers worked with a writer to develop new works that celebrated the school and all the work created was captured by a film-maker. Further creative collaborations included input from a dancer and resulted in a filmed performance in the forest of Ae, about a mythical Forest Queen.

A permanent teaching resource emerged from the Ae project and was created through interaction with all the previous Head Teachers of Ae Primary and the local community.

One very successful aspect of the half centenary celebrations was an inter-generational project – a professional writer and a visual artist worked with pupils, teachers and community members to reveal the stories of the past, explore ways of representing the present, and consider future aspirations. Together they created a resource for future generations of young people.  Team planning and team teaching in the classroom ensured there was a CPD element to the project where the artist, writer and teachers shared and developed skills.

Intergenerational work

Involved in The Ae project were:

  • – 10 pupils
  • – 4 teachers
  • – 1 writer
  • – 1 film-maker
  • – Former Head Teachers
  • – Parents and community members

Pupils created their own blogs to document their learning and experiences, and the project was shared with other school in Dumfries and Galloway through Glow.


The school wished to use the context of the Ae school half centenary to highlight the rich history of the local community as a stimulus for learning. The project was developed to inspire new ways of working, to use the arts as a way of investigating, recording and sharing local history, memories and aspirations.

Another purpose of the project was to create teaching resources and tools throughout the process that would support future inter-disciplinary learning and teaching in the school.

Sharing memories filming in the classroom

The aims of the project were for pupils to:

  • – Gain new skills through accessing library facilities and services
  • – Gain skills and confidence by visiting national organisations such as the Museum of Childhood and the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh
  • – Learn about developing projects
  • – Give direction to their own learning
  • – Work in partnership with artists and creative adults


Head Teacher has reported that as a result of the project, there has been an increased engagement with the community, partly evidenced by the number of requests for the book and the DVD created during the project. These  are now part of the Ae library collection and are a valuable resources for people researching the village history.

Within the school the Ae Project has had the following impacts:

  • – a change in teaching practice – working more across the entire curriculumin
  • – teachers developing other projects that are as wide in scope
  • – a better and more focussed consideration of creatiivty when planning – using models from the Ae project
  • – pupils worked harder on their writing skills

successful projectOTHER


  • – Curriculum For Excellence Team
  • – Ae Primary School
  • – The wider community

Levels and Stages:

  • – Early
  • – First adn second levels
  • – Pre-school to P 7


  • with support from the Curriculum for Excellence Team, the school applied to Awards for All (lottery)

For more information contact:

Vanessa Morris, Development Officer (Cultural Co-ordinator) on 01387 720774 or email



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