Feb 272015
 

Following the publication of its 3-18 Curriculum Impact Report for Sciences in September 2012, Education Scotland organised a series of conversation days, where priorities for action to secure improvements in science education nationally were identified.

Key aspects for development emerged, which included:

In the primary sector and at the early stages of secondary school, there is generally less emphasis in the key area of Topical Science than on the other four organisers……. In these cases, children and young people do not have enough opportunity to discuss and debate a range of ethical issues.”

Young people are increasingly surrounded by scientific issues in the media and their everyday lives. By considering current issues through topical science, learners increasingly develop their understanding of scientific concepts and their capacity to form informed social, moral and ethical views. They reflect upon and critically evaluate media portrayal of scientific findings.

To address this aspect the Sciences team is hosting a “Topical Science and Partnerships” Glow Meet which will be complimented again by a series of professional learning twilight sessions.

Join us on Wednesday 4th March at 3.45 – 4.45 pm in Glow TV to find out more.

Register https://meet.glowscotland.org.uk/topicalscience/event/event_info.html

Register for the twilight session

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TwilightSessions2015

Sessions will include input from STEM Ambassadors, Royal Society of Chemistry, Citizen Science , Community Resilience, Creative Thinking and the Sciences  and Glasgow City of Science

Feb 262015
 

We told you last week about our Digital Storytelling exercise. Well, already there has been a major plot development!

Award-winning childrens’ author, Theresa Breslin, has kindly agreed to provide the story starter for Digital Storytelling 3.

Among the schools who will be taking part are Kilbarchan, Lochfield, Invergowrie, Pumpherston and Uphall Station primary schools.

The great news is that as of the time of writing this blog post, there are still slots available. So if you want to take part, get along to the storytelling learning space

<Please note, there are also still slots available for Storytelling 2 (for older writers) see Digital Storytelling 1 and 2 update for another surprise!>

Theresa_Breslin_400x400About Theresa Breslin

  • Carnegie Medal winning author of over 40 books
  • Her books include Divided City, Ghost Soldier and Illustrated Treasury of Folk & Fairy Tales
  • Her work has appeared on Stage, Radio & TV

You can keep up to date with Theresa’s work online:

Feb 262015
 

We told you last week about our Digital Storytelling exercise. These two stories haven’t even started yet and there has been a major plot twist!

Renowned Scottish childrens’ author, Cathy MacPhail, has kindly agreed to provide the story starters for both Digital Storytelling 1 and Digital Storytelling 2.

First to take up Cathy’s challenge will be the young writers of St Michael’s Primary in Dumfries. Of course, they won’t see Catherine’s starter until just before they start writing!

You can see all the other schools taking part in this particular challenge on Glow by going to the storytelling learning space

<Please note, Storytelling 1 is full but there are still slots available for Storytelling 2 and Storytelling 3 –see Digital Storytelling 3 update for another surprise!>

Cathy_MacPhailAbout Cathy MacPhail

  • Cathy is Patron of Reading at Falkirk High
  • She is also an Ambassador for Children 1st.
  • Her novel , Out of The Depths, was shortlisted for the Grampian Book Award and she is weel kent for her Tyler Lawless Mysteries.
  • Her novel, Another Me, is soon to be released as a film, Panda Eyes.

You can keep up to date with Cathy’s work online:

Feb 172015
 

morepupilswriting260_tcm4-828817

Calling all learners!

From 2nd to 6th March, we’re going to co-create stories using Word Online on Glow.

Renowned authors, Theresa Breslin and Cathy MacPhail are providing the story starters!

These will be published at 9am on the 2nd March. At 9.30, the learners of St Michael’s Primary in Dumfries will write the first chapter.

Classes who sign up each get about an hour to write their chapter of the story. The twist is the storyline and characters have to flow, that’s the fun bit! Any learner or educator can ‘tune in’ and see the story developing live.

By the end of the week, we will have three fab co-written stories!

There are three separate storytelling experiences. To take part, you should ask your teacher to read the Teacher guide – storytelling for digilearnscot week and sign you up on one of the spaces on Glow

digilearnscotloho
Another learning experience brought to you by #digilearnscot

Jan 222015
 

Education Scotland’s Scots Language Coordinators Katrina Lucas and Simon Hall are looking for more schools who may be interested in taking part in a new scheme to promote the use of Scots Language in schools.

The Scots Language Ambassador scheme was launched in Edinburgh during Book Week on 24th November 2014. So far, Education Scotland has enlisted around 40 confident Scots speakers from different walks of life from all over Scotland who are willing to volunteer their time to work in partnership with a school, to encourage staff and pupils to use Scots within the classroom and raise the status of the language.

The Ambassadors will be expected to become champions of the Scots language, and work with schools for a period of three years to foster a love of the Scots language amongst learners. They will be expected to visit schools to learn about good practice in Scots education. They will also get involved with other activities within the school such as leading assemblies, writing a blog or newsletter, and acting as guest speakers or judges at school events.

A number of Ambassadors have already confirmed their involvement in the scheme including the cast of the Singing Kettle, Scottish Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2014 Robyn Stapleton, prizewinning author James Robertson and poet and Dundee Laureate W.N. Herbert. They will develop meaningful partnerships with schools that will provide a positive environment for Scots to flourish.

Dr Simon Hall, Scots Language Co-ordinator with Education Scotland, said: “We’re bringing together schools and Scots speakers from all over Scotland in order to celebrate and promote Scots language education. All of the Ambassadors and practitioners involved share a love of Scots and a commitment to providing young people with an understanding and appreciation of what is, after all, a priceless national treasure.

“The scheme works to create links between schools and Scots speakers within their communities to offer learners the chance to meet role models who use Scots, and show them that it can be used in their careers, and in their personal and professional lives. We want to celebrate and publicise good practice in Scots education and demonstrate that it is appropriate to be used in formal school and other contexts.

The introduction of the scheme is already proving popular amongst primary schools, with many considering Scots as a possibility within the 1+2 languages framework. Secondary schools are also getting involved to develop the new Scottish Qualifications Authority Awards in Scots Language to formally recognise learning in and about Scots.

If individuals or schools would like to find out more or to request a partnership with an Ambassador, please contact Simon Hall or Katrina Lucas at Education Scotland.

 

Jan 212015
 

Now open for applications!

Scotland’s Finest Woods (SFW) and the Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland (OWLS) (formerly Forest Education Initiative Scotland) have once again teamed up to run an annual Schools Award in Scotland.

The Award is to encourage and reward schools that increase young people’s understanding and appreciation of the environmental, social and economic potential of trees, woodlands and forests and of the link between trees and everyday wood-based products.

Prize money and prestige to be won!  Closing date for entry – 31st March 2015

For further information click on this link – www.sfwa.co.uk/

Dec 082014
 

Nominations for the Scottish Education Awards 2015 awards are now open. Celebrating the hard work and success in Scottish education, the awards recognise the achievements of people who dedicate their lives to children and young people.

There are 17 awards available across a range of categories covering all areas of education. New awards for this year include learning for sustainability, making languages come alive and transforming lives through partnerships.

If you know of a school or teacher that deserves to be recognised for their hard work visit the Scottish Education Awards website for more information and to submit a nomination.

Nominations must be submitted by Monday 16 February 2015, good luck.

Nov 262014
 

On Saturday 15th November the second of our ‘Supporting Outdoor Learning in Secondary Schools’ events took place at Speyside High School in Aberlour. The day began with an opening presentation from Nigel Engstrand, Head Teacher, Speyside High School who shared his thoughts on the relevance and importance of learning outdoors and discussed the commitment that Speyside High School has made to outdoor learning.

Throughout the day 12 workshops ran offering participants a variety of practical ideas on how to use outdoor learning approaches across the curriculum. Examples included using the outdoors to develop literacy skills, outdoor learning through physical education and physical activity, creativity in the outdoors, taking science outdoors and progression in outdoor learning from S1-S6. Many workshops also highlighted how partnership working had also helped enrich outdoor learning experiences. Details of all the workshops which took place can also be downloaded here: Workshops – Detailed descriptors

Representatives from 11 partner agencies also took part in the market place providing a wealth of information on further resources available to support outdoor learning.

But the undoubtable highlight of the day was the captivating keynote speech delivered by S4 Speyside High School pupil Zeki Basan. Zeki, a junior ‘Ray Mears’, provided a fascinating talk on bush craft (or the term he has coined ‘Bushology’) in which he shared his vast knowledge of the medicinal properties and practical uses of the wild plants and trees which exist in the local Speyside countryside. Most inspiring was Zeki’s candid account of how a meeting with Ray Mears together with his own passion for the natural world and thirst to learn more about it helped him to overcome his own personal barrier to learning.

Many thanks also to the other Speyside High School pupils Lee Tarling, Annemiek Daggert, Connel Laing and Elliot Gould who kindly gave up their Saturday to help meet and greet the participants and to share their experiences of outdoor learning at Speyside High School.

Feedback from the event has been very positive with many participants already making use of the contacts, resources and ideas they gained from the day:

“It was good meeting such positive teachers and outdoor learning providers. Seeing a school being successful in incorporating OL in the curriculum and not making it an add on.”

“Having young people involved and sharing their passion was the most engaging part of it.”

“I have already discussed using the local farming community with a geography colleague who wasn’t sure where to start.”

“I have an increased awareness of the value of outdoor learning within school and will work with others to improve, increase, support good practice.”

Participants have also had the opportunity to put forward suggestions for future outdoor learning events which will of great use in our planning.

Further information on this event including presentations and materials from the workshops and links to all of the partner organisations that took part can be found on the new Glow Outdoor Learning Community which can be accessed via: http://bit.ly/1umiCug. From here click on the tile ‘Previous events’ to access the sites for the Supporting Outdoor Learning in Secondary Schools events.

Many thanks to staff from Moray Council, Speyside High School, Banchory Academy, Kemnay Academy, Grantown Grammar School, Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), The National Trust for Scotland, Horseback UK, Cairngorms National Park Authority, The John Muir Award, Field Studies Council, OPAL, Grounds for Learning, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Adventure Aberdeen, Classroom Outdoors, The Outward Bound Trust, Abernethy and Angus Education Service.

Oct 272014
 

The Forestry Commission Scotland offers training for early years’ staff in developing forest kindergartens. The training consists of a one day taster course for Heads and Managers of nurseries and a three day training course for nursery teachers and early years practitioners.

One Day Taster Course – The taster course gives promoted staff an introduction to the philosophy of Forest Kindergartens, an opportunity to consider controlled risk taking and discussion of the value of learning in nature using natural materials in woodlands or other green spaces. The content of the course consistently refers to the Early Years Framework and Curriculum for Excellence. This course gives promoted staff the opportunity to consider their role in supporting staff in developing forest kindergartens and sharing information with parents and the wider community. Part of the day is held indoors and the remainder outdoors.

Three Day Course - This course is designed to support staff in embedding forest kindergarten as part of their Pre-Birth to Three and Curriculum for Excellence practice. The course gives staff the opportunity to share their hopes and concerns, discuss controlled risk taking and understand how this approach embraces the Rights of The Child. Participants learn about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, challenging outdoor experiences that can be offered and ways that the Curriculum for Excellence supports experiential outdoor learning. The course gives staff a theoretical overview and the opportunity to engage in practical outdoor activities. Staff also visit an established forest kindergarten and discuss practice with staff who have completed the course and are now experienced forest kindergarten leaders. Part of the course gives staff opportunities to consider responsive planning approaches and ways in which woodland experiences can impact on indoor practice and the nursery outdoor environment.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the past three days. All my inhibitions and fears about taking children off site are well and truly gone. The course was delivered to a very high standard and I know I’ve learned a lot”

“I was not really a fan of getting outdoors and getting dirty but now I understand the benefits it has for the children and I am motivated and excited to get started”

Forestry Commission Scotland Support – Forestry Commission Scotland offers this course to all staff delivering the curriculum for Excellence at the Early Level in nurseries and schools. Ongoing on-site support continues from FCS to assist staff in identifying suitable woodland or green space and involve staff teams, parents and carers and the local community. FCS can also participate alongside staff to support them in developing the quality of their session. Each participant receives a training pack and pen drive loaded with essential information. This  includes awareness raising materials and activities to engage children, staff, parents, carers, and the local community.

A new Training for Trainers course is being prepared so that existing forest kindergarten leaders can deliver training alongside forestry commission staff within their own local authorities. North Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire staff are currently co-presenting the 3 day course.

There is an opportunity for staff to continue developing their knowledge and skills through supplementary courses lasting one and a half days each to learn how to use ropes, fire and tools. In future a course on The Pedagogy of Forest Kindergartens will be offered

Forest Family Bags are also being created to support families using woodlands with their children and a Transition pilot programme is about to be developed to support the continuation of forest kindergarten into primary one.

For further information on any of the above please contact: Marian Cairns, Acting Central Scotland Education Officer, Central Scotland Conservancy Email: marian.cairns@forestry.gsi.gov.uk Tel: 01698 368553, Mob: 07747474790

Oct 102014
 

Developing the Life and Ethos of West Barns Primary School

Over the past 12 months at we have been working with pupils, families and the wider community to help us develop a clear rational for our curriculum based on shared values of respect, happiness, confidence, responsibility, safety and friendliness.  The school continues to develop open and supportive relationships with children and their families.  We are now beginning to see the impact of many months of hard work on the life and work of the school.

This year we have introduced Learning Journeys which will support pupils in reflecting on their learning and identify their next steps as well as recording their wider achievement.  We are sharing these with parents and families on a regular basis and encourage them to add their own comments, photos, certificates etc. and help their child set health and wellbeing targets.  This will provide parents with a great opportunity to become more involved in their child’s learning and achievements. By the end of this first term we are already seeing pupils engaging more in discussing their learning, identifying their strengths and next steps, thinking of strategies to help them move forward and evidencing their achievements.

Learning journeys

Parents and families also recently helped our Primary 4-7 pupils understand the importance that literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing skills will play in their adult lives.  Pupils interviewed adults as part of the Family Homework task (download parents survey). Pupils then worked together to process and present the information.  This gave our children a greater understanding of why it is important to master these basic skills during their school years.  Younger pupils have been thinking about what jobs they would like to do when they are older and which skills they will need.  Staff continue to make the links between the children’s learning and skills for learning, work and life.

Family homework task

This year we felt it was essential that we looked at how we could better promote emotional resilience in our pupils.  We are using a whole school approach to health and wellbeing through using Edinburgh City’s ‘Creating Confident Kids’ resources (http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20075/information_for_professionals/383/learning_publications ).  The Headteacher is working with all classes to develop a whole school approach through active learning and school assemblies.  The Playground Committee has also been looking at ways that we could better support pupils during break times through developing games and activities and have introduced their own Playground rules.

Playground rules

The whole school community are now working together to develop an ethos of positive behaviour to promote effective learning and wellbeing across the school.  This year, before choosing new House Captains, pupils were asked what attributes they valued most in a leader.  The results were unanimous – pupils wanted role models who showed respect, kindness and responsibility.  Candidates then used these findings to inform their election campaigns and now have a clear remit of what the school community expects from them in their new roles.

Most valued attributes in a leader

Our recent pupil survey showed us that our children wanted to contribute more to the life and work of the school.  We are now giving all our pupils the opportunity to exercise their responsibilities through playing an active part in one of our 4 school committees.  We have timetabled quality time and invested in resources to ensure that pupils have real opportunities to participate responsibly in decision-making, contribute as leaders and role models and offer support and service to others through meaningful projects that will benefit the school and our wider community.

Although we have an open door policy here at West Barns and welcome communication from parents, we were keen on trying to involve our parents more in the day to day running of the school.  Our Parent Council have recruited many volunteers through the West Barns Helping Hands scheme which involves parents, families or neighbours offering their help in a variety of different ways from creating resources, digging the garden, mending toys, making curtains and helping organise events.  We are seeing many more parents and families becoming involved in the school and we are making headway with many new projects thanks to their help.

Next month see how our curriculum rationale is being developed.