Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017

The programme for EIFF Youth Hub 2017 is now live!

Now in its fourth year, EIFF Youth Hub returns for four days packed with free practical filmmaking workshops, masterclasses and events for 15-25 year-olds. Whether you want to gain insights into animation or screenwriting, learn from experienced filmmakers about acting, cinematography or short filmmaking, or if you just want to network and step into a career in film – Youth Hub has something for everyone from 23 to 26 of June.

Events at Youth Hub are free with a Youth Hub Pass which costs £5 and gives access to all Youth Hub events as well as £5 discounted tickets to most EIFF films.

Highlights from this year’s programme directly related to careers in the industry:

A Foot in the Door: First Steps in Film & TV Drama

Saturday, 24 June 2017 | 5pm – 7pm | Education Space | Limited to 30 spaces.

Outlining how being a great runner can be the key to a successful start to your career. 

BAFTA award winning Scottish producer Linda Fraser (Hit the Ground Running) will share an overview of the industry in Scotland, what a runner does and how to be awesome at it. Packed with practical insider info and tips for how to get started, this is a session not to be missed!

Spaces for this event are limited. To sign-up please email youthhub@edfilmfest.org.uk 

A Foot in the Door: Career Advice Session

Saturday, 24 June 2017 | 10.15am – 1.30pm |Main Hall | Limited to 50 spaces.

Want to get your foot in the door and break into the film/TV industry? Join us for our hugely popular careers advice session with Creative Skillset and training scheme Hit the Ground Running as we help you plan your next big step towards a career in the industry. This session includes:

10.15am – 11am: Panel discussion 11.10 am – 12.15pm: Networking surgery with filmmakers and experts from the creative industries. 12.15pm – 1.30pm: A light networking lunch with industry guests, EIFF filmmakers and delegates.

Spaces for this event are limited. To sign-up please email youthhub@edfilmfest.org.uk

Access the full programme here:  https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/learning/youth-hub



Gorge ablaze – fired up for conservation at Ness Glen

The prolonged spell of dry, warm weather in late April and early May created the conditions for a number of ‘wild’ fires around the country, most or all of them started carelessly or deliberately by people. One of the more unlikely places to be set ablaze was Ness Glen, a dramatic wooded ravine at Craigengillan Estate near Dalmellington in East Ayrshire.  Estate owner J Mark Gibson tells us more.

Ness Glen. © J Mark Gibson

Ness Glen. © J Mark Gibson

Ness Glen is designated as an SSSI and notable for the variety of mosses and ferns that thrive in its (normally) damp microclimate. It is also a popular attraction for walkers, with a dramatic riverside path incised at the foot of steep cliffs draped with curtains of moss.  At the bottom of the gorge the air is (almost) permanently humid, supporting a diversity of lower plants that is normally encountered only in the rain-sodden West Highlands.

Fortuitously, at the beginning of this year SNH commissioned a new survey of the bryophytes of Ness Glen (bryophytes include mosses and liverworts, both diminutive and primitive plants that can’t stand too much dryness). The survey turned up 162 different bryophytes in total, and confirmed the presence of an unusually large number of ‘oceanic’ species which are especially dependent on the constant humidity typical of the western seaboard.  Four of these bryophytes are considered ‘nationally scarce’ because they are found in only a small number of locations in Britain.

The nationally scarce moss Bartramia halleriana (photo: Rory Whytock)

The nationally scarce moss Bartramia halleriana (photo: Rory Whytock)

Nature conservation is a key focus of how we manage the whole of Craigengillan Estate. At Ness Glen in particular we are working with support from SNH and the Scottish Government to carry out practical measures that will enhance the woodland, improve conditions for the important lower plants, and make the place interesting and accessible for visitors. Managing the glen sympathetically for bryophytes means removing invasive rhododendron bushes that shade out native flora, encouraging the regeneration of native trees, and controlling grazing.The threats to the site have therefore seemed slow-moving and manageable. What we did not foresee is that the site could be vulnerable to catastrophic damage by fire.

On the afternoon of the 9th of May, a walker alerted the Fire Service to a blaze in the gorge.  The fire appears to have been started deliberately at several locations along the riverside, from where it must have spread rapidly up the steep wooded cliffs.  On arriving, the Fire Service encountered an intense and fast-moving blaze sweeping up the slope, but despite the challenges of accessing the steep-sided ravine, they were able to prevent flames spreading beyond the top of the gorge and onto neighbouring woods and moorland. The riverside path is currently closed to walkers as we assess the damage done and the risk of falling debris. Certainly the west side of the gorge presents a rather charred scene.

Burnt cliff slope. ©Andrew MacGregor/SNH

Burnt cliff slope. ©Andrew MacGregor/SNH

It is too early to tell just how much harm has been caused to the woodland and its flora, but it looks as though most trees have been only lightly scorched and are unlikely to have suffered serious injury.  The fire burned through many normally dripping-wet carpets of moss clinging to the slopes but a good number of areas remained moist enough to be spared, and these probably include many of the more damp-loving species that are of special interest.  So there are reasons to be hopeful.  We will work with SNH to monitor recovery of the vegetation over the next few years, and hopefully confirm that the rarer mosses have survived.

Notwithstanding the occasional arsonist, we are fortunate to have support from many people in looking after the Estate and its wildlife.  We work closely with Doon Academy in Dalmellington and our three local primary schools, to foster respect for nature and a sense of wonder and awe.  And just a few days after the fire we had what is now an annual visit by pupils from George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, here to do practical conservation work as part of a week-long Scottish tour.  They found great satisfaction in cutting down rhododendron bushes and so opening up the woodland floor for smaller plants to find a home.  I believe that the key to conservation, not just of Ness Glen but all wildlife habitats in Scotland, lies with education and encouraging a love for the natural world, especially among young people.  The fire in Ness Glen caused anger from all quarters in the villages and we hope that it will never happen again.

Find out more about the conservation work going on at Craigengillan Estate.

There’s more information about bryophytes on the SNH website.

QuISE – Sharing the privilege of what inspectors see

By Alastair Delaney, Director of Inspection

Being an HM Inspector is a massive privilege. Unlike anyone else, you get to see practice in classrooms, colleges, and communities across the length and breadth of Scotland.  It is sometimes humbling to see the huge efforts that educational professionals and others are making to secure the best outcomes for learners.  It is certainly uplifting and affirming to see excellent practice across sectors and communities.

But HM Inspectors also have a responsibility to the system to share what they see and to analyse and synthesise all the evidence to help everyone tackle the challenges they face. Our recent report, ‘Quality and improvement in Scottish education 2012 – 2016’ (QuISE) is an example of us sharing what we have seen – both the excellent practice and the consistent themes and challenges that the system is wrestling with.  QuISE does this by providing detailed comments for each sector, but then also bringing the evidence together to identify themes for the system as a whole.

The five key challenges and opportunities that the report identifies are a rallying call to focus on what will have the biggest impact. I hope that they have proven useful in your discussions in staff rooms, local authorities and elsewhere.

Of course, the knowledge Inspectors gather is used in the interim period between publication of major reports such as QuISE. We are constantly feeding this evidence and intelligence into policy makers, politicians and others so that they can take account of it in their work.

We are also exploring how we can make some of our analysis of particular themes or issues more readily available to all, for example by running short, focused evaluations of particular issues of interest to ensure that we can help the system improve. This is just one approach we are looking at and we’ll update you on our plans in due course.

In the meantime, I hope that the report has been useful and, more importantly, has helped you to reflect on your practice and be creative and innovative in responding to the issues and challenges you experience every day.

Gaelic Medium Education – self-improvement, attainment and leadership

By Joan Esson, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for inspection of Gaelic Medium Education

The recently published report, ‘Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) highlighted a number of key areas of strengths and aspects for improvement from 3-18 Gaelic Medium Education (GME) inspections. You can read the chapter relating to GME on our website.

It was a great privilege to review our inspection findings for GME and evidence how the sector is developing. The approaches that are used in GME are a very effective example of language learning in Scotland.  Children learn the language to a high level of fluency which enables them to access learning through Gaelic, while achieving expected attainment levels in all areas of the curriculum.

Overall, inspectors found that most children and young people in GME were making good progress in developing their fluency. By the senior phase, attainment in Gàidhlig as a subject is strong.  Interest in the role of Gaelic (Learners) as an additional language, and the development of GME in some areas of Scotland, is growing.

In this blog, I would like to consider three areas that should be given initial consideration in using the QuISE report as part of the improvement journey for GME.

  1. Being a self-improving GME provision

Education Scotland aims to support practitioners as they build capacity for improvement. The QuISE report presents an important source for practitioners’ use in self-evaluation. The chapters for early learning and childcare, primary and secondary, should be used along with the one on GME. Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education gives a strategic guide to what constitutes high-quality national practice, some of which now forms statutory Guidance. Taken together with self-evaluation frameworks, practitioners have a rich resource to enable an in-depth focus on Gaelic. Senior leaders, along with other practitioners, should take time to use these resources for self-evaluation. In future inspections, we would like to evidence improved leadership of GME, with Gaelic being at the heart of strategic planning and part of continuous improvement.      

2. Closing the attainment gap

An important outcome of GME is that children attain equally well, or better, than their peers in English medium education. This gives parents confidence in GME for which we need to have a relentless focus on high-quality attainment and progress. In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see practitioners, and indeed the children and young people themselves, being clearer on their progress and how to improve further. To clarify expectations, teachers assisted us in designing Benchmarks for literacy and Gàidhlig. These need to be used in the joint planning of learning, teaching and assessment;  for monitoring and tracking of progress and in the moderation of standards.

At all times, practitioners have an important role in interacting skilfully with children, while modelling good immersion techniques to help children acquire the language. Practitioners’ skill in doing this impacts on children’s fluency. Playroom experiences are threaded together and given direction with a curriculum framework that promotes continuity and progression.

Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education (particularly chapter 7), coupled with Building the Ambition, (particularly chapters 6 and 7), present practitioners with effective pedagogy for early learning in GME. Building the Curriculum 2 details children’s natural disposition “to wonder, to be curious, to pose questions, to experiment, to suggest, to invent and to explain”. In the immersion playroom, practitioners will engage in short periods of activities that they will lead as part of children’s intended learning. At other times, children will be choosing what they play which they may initiate as they follow their interests, or be an experience planned by practitioners.

If we are to close the attainment gap in GME, we need to recognise the early gains from a strong total immersion experience as part of early learning and childcare. For this, children need to hear and absorb very fluent Gaelic across a range of play contexts.   Practitioners’ quality and frequent interactions are key drivers in helping children to acquire fluency as they foster learning which is creative, investigative and exploratory.

3. Improving the leadership of the GME curriculum

The QuISE  report highlighted that our strong primary GME provisions are clear on the correlation between immersion, fluency and impact on attainment.   At the secondary stages, there is still more to do to ensure young people have enough opportunities to learn through Gaelic. We recognise in the QuISE  report that there are challenges from shortages of Gaelic-speaking practitioners.  However, we ask for more of a solution-focused approach.  Our Advice on Gaelic Education  (particularly chapters 9-13) gives strategic direction to the development of the GME secondary curriculum.

In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see much more prominence given to those learning in GME as a group for whom pathways need to be developed. It would be useful to continue to develop a shared understanding of how Curriculum for Excellence, with its emphasis on the totality of learning, may be maximised for GME. Speakers of Gaelic are a key driver in planning the curriculum. Could more of our Gaelic-speaking practitioners in schools be delivering some aspect of the curriculum in Gaelic?  Could they, for example, be encouraged to deliver a subject, club, universal support or an opportunity for achievement through Gaelic?  The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” chimes with the need to increase the role of partners in the GME curriculum.  A good starting point would be for curriculum planners to know who their Gaelic-speaking partners are, and begin to ascertain how they can assist with planning and delivery of learning.

Finally, I would like to invite you to a seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival which focuses on how technology can increase learning through the medium of Gaelic. e-Sgoil presents a digital solution to delivering the curriculum. The headteacher of e-Sgoil will share an evaluation of some pilots that ran this year. Information on how to register for this seminar, and the festival programme, are available here.

Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve

Reserve Manager Tom Cunningham reflects on events in and around Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve. His regular newsletter will be winging its way over the wires soon, but here’s a taster of what Tom has to say.

Summer 2017 brings our 37th Tentsmuir Newsletter, now in its 18th year.  It is hard to believe we have produced so many since July 1999. This edition will be my second last one.


A big focus is on the amazing management work we have been doing since the turn of the year.  We have never stopped and it’s down to the hard work of the many dedicated volunteers, great work by contractors, and our own Reserve Staff.

Weather wise, this year has seen some long dry and sunny weeks and then endured an awful lot of rain!  The benefits of the rain, heat and sunshine throughout the Reserve sites and countryside is evident when you see the landscape greening up spectacularly.

As yet, the kingfishers haven’t been as showy when compared to last season’s amazing sightings. However, we have enjoyed several sightings of the sea eagles; as recently as last week, Alex & Ruari were lucky enough to have a good view of one around Morton Lochs – but neither had a camera or mobile phone handy!

2017 is going to be an especially busy year for Tentsmuir NNR and for me, the realisation of a dream project for Tentsmuir Point and the planning and preparation work for the annual Family Day event are all going on apace.

2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology by Kirsty Fisher

‘Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve (NNR) is undeniably a fantastic place for natural heritage, encompassing wetland, woodland and coastal habitats, which support a diverse range of plants and animals. Yet did you know just how significant this place has been for the history of people in Scotland?

My first experience of Tentsmuir NNR involved Morton Lochs, waders and a large pile of reeds which we were going to plant, but on this occasion, I was back on dry land to learn about the rich history of this diverse NNR.

Tentsmuir’s human history dates back to around 10,000 years ago with the arrival of Mesolithic man, who inhabited an island which is now part of fields at Morton Farm, just under 4km inland from the present-day shoreline. It is here that many archaeological artefacts have been found, including flints, grinding stones and cutting tools.

Throughout the years since then, Tentsmuir has played an important role in the lives of many people. Dr John Berry, an eminent Scottish naturalist and former director of the Nature Conservancy Council in Scotland, labelled Tentsmuir ‘Paradise’ for the special range of plants and animals found here, and its astounding natural beauty.

Tentsmuir’s name is thought to have been derived from ‘Tents on the moor,’ though a number of arguments about its origin have been put forth, ranging from ‘Tents lived in by early shepherds,’ to the Scottish name, ‘Densman’, in reference to Danes thought to have been shipwrecked off the coast.  Either way, the idea of ‘Tents on the moor‘ became ever more pertinent when World War 2 came knocking at Scotland’s door.

Hidden among the trees at the Forestry Commission-managed Tentsmuir Forest are the remains of WW2 buildings set among the quiet rustle of trees and the loud calling of birds. Yet during the war, these areas would have contained a bustling army camp. While there are many more interesting historical artefacts to be seen at the NNR, such as the March Stone delineating the fishing rights in 1794 and the Ice House dating from 1888, once used to keep the fish fresh, I will leave some of these relics to be discovered on your next visit to Paradise NNR.

Polish image

Polish Eagle emblem on the well

To end my day, much like Tentsmuir’s recurring ‘tents on the moor’ theme, I ended up back in waders at Morton Lochs helping with fencing to stop the grazing cattle from entering the loch. Along with all the fascinating stories I learned about Tentsmuir’s history, an important additional lesson from my trip to Tentsmuir NNR was never to assume, based on eyesight alone, that the water is not as deep as your waders…’

Thank you very much to Tom and Ruari for all your help and wonderful stories about the fascinating history of Paradise NNR.



The Limousin cattle will be returning to graze throughout the summer months and our thanks go to farmer Robert Lamont for providing the cattle. McIntosh & Robertson, with digger driver Bill Martin, cleaned out the Cleek burn on the north part during the spring months. The sea fences were repaired by Bob Ritchie and Mikey Smith and the south sea fence especially had taken quite a battering and this was repaired during the annual service.

Dave Mackie and his team will shortly start the targeted herbicide treatment of our invasive flora species. We also hope to trial a special Soft Track machine that will cut the rosebay willowherb before it seeds. This will be year 1 in this new management of the plant which has spread thought the dune system and in places is dominant. We are hoping that cutting will weaken the plant and reduce its vigorous growth drastically.



Educational visits are slowly picking up this term with High School visit numbers on the up.  Shonagh Barbour of Bell Baxter High School had 20 third year pupils on the Reserve for four days studying sand dune succession and carrying out the work towards their John Muir Award ‘Giving Something Back to the Environment.’

SEA EAGLES The sea eagles have been observed on occasions as they fly around Fife, and recently been seen around Morton Lochs.  Keep your eye on the local newspapers for a press release from the RSPB.

BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS I am delighted to announce that SNH will publish long-term volunteer Gillian Fyfe’s research report “A Report on Butterfly Abundance and Flight Periods at Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve, Fife from 1978 to 2015”.  We are obtaining maps and images to complement this wonderful piece of work by Gillian.


Green Hairstreak by Daphne MacFarlane Smith.

The butterflies seem to have had a better start this year with monitoring figures up on previous years.  Daphne MacFarlane Smith was thrilled to see the Green Hairstreak.

Student Placement Ruari Dunsmuir has started carrying out moth trapping and his ID skills are improving with each survey.  Ruari has kindly provided an article, which will include his mothing surveys.

MORTON LOCHS MANAGEMENT Large scale management projects continued at Morton Lochs with Bill Martin the digger driver for McIntosh & Robertson very skilfully creating two large areas within the Lead Burn inflow to the north loch to create a reed bed filtration system.  Bill was able to excavate reeds from the north loch margins and transport them to the new reed beds for us.  Bill also excavated the old railway line ditches along the south loch footpath.

We took advantage of the water levels which had been deliberately lowered to allow excavation work to go ahead, and a group of colleagues and volunteers helped us plant up reeds in the prepared beds.


Volunteers & colleagues planting reeds

DIFFUSE POLLUTION AT MORTON LOCHS The reed bed system will be a very important part of reducing the nutrients reaching the north loch.  Research by Dr Sascha Hooker and the student team from the University of St. Andrews continues into the water quality of the Lead Burn and in the North Loch.  We await the results at some point during the year.



VIEW FROM THE SQUIRREL HIDE This hide continues to be very popular and every day visitors can be seen watching the red squirrels on the feeders and trees.  You can see some fancy cameras with huge lenses poking out of the hide viewing windows, hoping to catch them in action!  In addition to the squirrels, you can observe woodpeckers, coal tits, blue tits, long-tailed tits, wrens, chaffinches and, if you are really lucky, spot badgers snuffling around at the base of the trees picking at the dropped nuts.

DRAGONFLIES AND DAMSELFLIES Already during the sunny May days there have been damselflies observed especially around the ponds and on the footpaths.  Damselfly species observed so far include the Large Red, Blue tailed and Common Blue damselflies.

BIRDS AND OTHER WILDLIFE The hides have been very busy with visitors and photographers hoping to see the kingfishers and they have flocked to see them, which is wonderful.  Some visitors have been so eager to capture that special shot and have been walking in front of the hide and disturbing them.

Please be aware the Kingfishers are a protected Schedule 1 bird, and as a gentle reminder, we have put up signs reminding visitors that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb at, on or near an active nest.

The squirrel feeders have been very busy, and it is wonderful to watch their antics and see the smaller birds, swifts, swallows, house martins, great spotted woodpeckers, long-tailed tits, blue tits, coal tits, great tits, wrens, chaffinches, jays, robins diving in and around getting a free feed.

On the lochs there are other notable sightings including otters, occasionally sea eagles, mute swans, gadwall, water rail, water voles, grey wagtails, little grebe, etc.

FAMILY DAY OUTThursday, 6th July 2016 – “Tentsmuir’s, TimeLine Treasures”.  Starts at 1pm.   The eighteenth FREE annual NNR event will be held on Thursday, 6th July and it should be another fantastic, exciting day out and will tie in with the Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology, and will be dedicated to the rich history and the flora and fauna on the Reserve and having plenty of fun.

The new-style shorter activity sessions will continue, so please squeeze in as many of the activities as you like, and learn all about the Reserve’s plants and animals and be creative AND see if you find the buried treasure? This new activity is linked with the history of the Reserve, where a Polish Army Officer invented the mine detector, which is effectively a metal detector.

You may have a moment or two to wait after one activity ends and the next one begins, but come and enjoy, learn and try several different ones.  Each activity will last 20 to 30 minutes.  Activity leaders, colleagues and the volunteers will help you all the way.

After last year’s hugely successful and fun time main attraction with Cat Frankitti I asked if she would like to come back this year.  Cat was so enthusiastic and you will all have so much fun and learn so much, I cannot wait!!  The attraction is called “Pirates of Paradise” Cat, her husband John and assistant Pete will provide food tasting, hunter-gathering and lots of pirate shenanigans – you’d better find out for yourselves on the day!

There will be small prizes for the best Pirate costume for a young visitor and parent!  Ship Ahoy!!  Oooo Aaaaarrrrrr Me Hearties!

The telescopes and binoculars will be on the foreshore and there are several activities.  We have two on which my colleagues are keeping me guessing, but so far we have:-

  • Folding Craft birds & animals – with David Mitchell, Caroline & Myra
  • Food with Fire – with Cat, Pete & John
  • Tentsmuir’s Top Ten Bug Hunt – with Gillian & Ailsa
  • Picture It – with Kathryn Green & Allison
  • Buried Treasure – Alex & Ruari and Kirsty
  • Sea Eagles Scavenger Hunt – with the RSPB Lauren Shannon & Richard
  • Telescopes on the Foreshore – with Hannah & Andy

Book early to avoid disappointment.  With the exception of the £2 charge for the car park, it’s all free! (It’s now £2 at the barrier – please have change ready.) Please be at the car park for 12:30 ready to board the coaches which will bring you onto the Reserve.

There are normally 120 places available and the event books up fairly quickly.  I also keep a reserve list, as there is usually a visitor or two who may have to cancel suddenly.  If you are unable to attend after booking, please contact me as soon as possible to let me know, so I can call and let someone else take up your place.  Please don’t let me or other visitors down.  Remember a responsible adult must accompany all children.

To book, please phone my office telephone and if I am not in, please leave a short message on the answering machine with your name and telephone number and I will contact you to confirm the booking.  If I do NOT contact you, you are not on my list!


This year we have thoroughly enjoyed having Ruari work alongside us; he is hard working and enthusiastic, a fast learner and an all-round brilliant colleague. Ruari wrote the following article about some of the management tasks & activities and projects in which he is involved.

‘Tentsmuir NNR consists of three sites: Tentsmuir Point, Tayport Heath and Morton Lochs. This diverse set of habitats and associated species make it a wonderfully varied and interesting Reserve. My time is spent performing a number of management tasks to improve the quality of the Reserve for both wildlife and people. Core tasks consist of practical conservation management, leading volunteer groups, visitor management, and species monitoring, and assisting with educational events. Being involved in such activities is highly rewarding, engaging, and for me highlights the complexity of the work and the number of tasks required to manage and maintain the Reserve.

As the year moves forward and the weather improves, the Reserve feels like it is wakening up after a long winter and with it come more opportunities to get out and do different types of species monitoring. This can include dragonflies, damselflies, squirrels, butterflies, moths, birds, and plants.

Surveying and monitoring wildlife at Tentsmuir is important to help us manage the Reserve in the best possible way for conservation. This will safeguard species and their habitats for future generations. Therefore, we need to have up-to-date information on the condition of the habitats, the species present on-site, and population trends of important plants and animals.

White Ermine

White Ermine

Many people are intimidated by the challenge of counting wildlife or worried about incorrect identification. Personally, I love the challenge and the opportunity to see as much wildlife as possible. Currently my passion is moths.

I find it really exciting walking up to the trap in the morning wondering what is going to be in it (if anything). I did not start moth recording until a few months into my placement at Tentsmuir so at the moment I am still finding species I have not seen before.  Additionally, moths really make you work and test your identification skills. Yes, there are many species which are brightly coloured or have distinctive, clear, helpful markings. But then there are the ‘small brown jobbies,’ as my college lecturer used to say, about any small brown seemingly indistinct species. These can be particularly difficult to correctly identify and more often than not, require a photograph and a trawl through a book or the internet. And even then, just to make it a bit more challenging, some species can look incredibly similar and wing patterns can fade over time. Correctly identifying these is extremely rewarding.

What got me into moths? I feel they are generally under-recorded and overlooked by many people despite having a great aesthetic appeal. They are beautiful and have the enigmatic appeal of all nocturnal animals while also having some fantastic common names.  Small Phoenix, True Lover’s Knot, Smoky Wainscot, and Chimney Sweep, to name but a few.  Moths also play a vital role in telling us about the health of our environment. They are widespread and sensitive to changes, making them particularly useful as indicator species. Monitoring their numbers and ranges can give us vital clues to changes in our own environment, such as the effects of new farming practices, pesticides, air pollution and climate change. In the end, though, I just really enjoy seeing these wonderful animals and as my work progresses at Tentsmuir I want to continue to learn as much as possible and gain more experience of Reserve work, in an effort to make a positive contribution both for wildlife and people.


Message from Tom Cunningham :  I will soon retire this year after 20 years working on “Paradise NNR”, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.  I have so many people to thank for supporting me and working for us on the Reserve over the years.  (I was not happy relying on my memory, so on investigating I found that I had started as the Assistant Reserve Manager in June 1997.)

From the fantastic teachers at the nurseries, primary and high schools who flocked along to the Reserve as we encouraged them to study in the Outdoor Classroom using the wonderful Tentsmuir NNR Education Pack: Life in the Sands.  From Moscow and La Vallée de la Loire in France and all over the UK to the schools on our doorstep, the schools loved studying here. Thank you all.

To the Colleges, especially Elmwood College and Stuart MacDonald in particular; to the great range of UK Universities, who used the Reserve to study, teach and carry out a massive amount of Research on this amazing National Nature Reserve. Thank you all.

Some very special thanks go to the following truly amazing people who supported me and the Reserve.

Professor Rob Duck. Professor Bob Crawford. Dr Jim Steward (Deceased and sorely missed) who set the bar at an incredible height, and was the first Poet in Residence in 2013.    Derek Robertson – the first Artist in Residence during 2013.  Bernie McConnell, Ailsa Hall, Professor Sir David Read, Stuart MacDonald, Jim Allan, Sheila Brinkley, Jean Stewart,      Donald Stewart, Tam Ross, Andrew Ford, Pete Cunningham, Professor John Rowan, Keith Skene, and all the special people who work in the various Geosciences departments; Gerald Lincoln, David Bryant, Duncan Davidson, Pat Dugard, Marek Malecki.  Thank you.

Other brilliant volunteers include: my first volunteer Maxine Reekie and her boyfriend Kevin Little. Then there is a whole host of Elmwood College Conservation Management students including the lovely Eve Schulte, Ian Jamieson, Alasdair McLeod, Craig Baxter, Mandy Dougal, Andy Smart, Robert Bell, Lee Robertson, Brice Coe, Lynda Oxley, Steve Fordsham, David Brattesani, Ali Campbell and Willie Doig. Thank you.

I also want to thank some more great volunteers including Elisa O’Hare, Karen Caddell Walker, Ana Viera, Julia Mifflin, Tom Stevenson, Anne Frost, Cath & Ron Warrender, Emma, Lesley, Jim McCann, Craig Ferries, Mary Bensted, Kirsten Campbell, Kirsten Brewster, Nicola Williamson, Corryn Christie and the late Jim Rougvie.  There are a good many more volunteers and groups who came along for a day or two and supported us, carrying out a massive amount of work.  I Thank you.

Lastly, but by no means least, a group of fabulous people who have worked tirelessly (and a good number put up with me for many years) carrying out vital monitoring work: Daphne MacFarlane Smith, Gillian Fyfe, Ailsa Malcom, Anne-Marie Smout, Paul & Ruth Blackburn, David Mitchell, Gerry Callaghan, Bill Alexander, Tam Ross, Alan Foulds – a massive thanks to you all.

Reserve Staff: I started as Assistant Reserve Manager to the great Dave Bonnet (RIP) and Gordon Wardrope, Alex Easson, Blair Johnston and Ruari Dunsmuir.  Thank you.

Forestry Colleagues – Alex again (job share FCS & SNH), Graham, John, Robin and in the past, Bid.  Alex and I have worked together for over 16 years and we have achieved a whole host of successes on the Reserve; it has been great.  Thank you.

A host of lovely people who send me wildlife data and images – Bob Willis, Steve Hubbard, Chris Reekie, John Cumming, Daniele Muir, Steve Buckland, John Nadin, Ian Ford, Jacqui Herrington and Andrew Hodgson.  Thank you.

A whole host of fantastic and hardworking contractors who carried out some amazing work on the Reserve sites include Dave Mackie with Moray Stewart, Jim Allan, McIntosh & Robertson especially digger driver Bill Martin, Jim & Valerie Downie; all have contributed hugely to the successful contracts.

The fantastic Cat & John Franchetti who have had many years of putting up marquees, flags, tables, etc, and then brought their magical activities and fun to the last three Family Day Events. Special people who also made the activities so much fun are Kathryn Green, Gillian Fyfe and Maggie Gay.  Thank you.

A very special mention to my darling wife Pete Cunningham who has had to put up with me, bringing work home; she is my editor, spellchecker and an extraordinaire wordsmith!  Thank you.

Oh my goodness “The Big One” I have much to thank – Caroline Gallacher, my boss for 20 years – what a team!  Thank you very much.

Thank you also to my other fantastic Cupar Office colleagues. Rosemary, Allison. Myra, Dave, Gavin, Elspeth, Iain, Kath, Sarah, Keith and in the past Elena, Eleanor, Julie, Catherine, Isobel and a whole host of fantastic SNH colleagues throughout the organisation especially David Rodger, Heather Kinnin and Vicky Mowat who helped me throughout and put Tentsmuir NNR on the map and also the NNR team Susan, David & Stewart.  Thank you

And to all the amazing, talented group of fantastic NNR Reserve Managers & Reserve staff … what a team we are! SNH should be proud of us and our Special Places.

Apologies if I missed anyone out, it was not deliberate, it’s just the grey cells aren’t as good as they were.

Way hey, I will miss you all.


Food Education News June 2017

Please find below Food Education News for June 2017, which includes links to resources to support Food & Health as well as information about opportunities for staff and pupils.

Food Health news JUNE 2017

1.    Using food as a context to raise attainment & close the gap

Scottish Learning Festival Thursday 21st September 10.45am – 11.45am


Using exemplars from schools across Scotland, this workshop aims to empower practitioners to consider innovative and creative ways in using food as a context for promoting equity and excellence for our children and young people. Hear from teachers and      partners who have implemented and measured positive change using food at the heart of   learning.

2. Food & Health Benchmarks now published on the National Improvement Hub

Curriculum for Excellence Benchmarks

3. Progression of skills exemplar Skills at the Heart of the Curriculum

These short videos demonstrate the progression of skills in one primary setting, looking at the experience from a range of key stakeholders.

4.    BNF Health Eating Week 12 to 16 June 2017

Is your school registered for BNF Healthy Eating Week? To date, an incredible 8,038 nursery practitioners and primary/secondary teachers have registered for BNF Healthy Eating Week 2017.

Register now and you will receive a number free resources, as well as the opportunity to join in health challenges and cook-a-longs!


  1. Revised Nutritional Analysis

Guidance for schools and local authorities to demonstrate compliance with nutrient standards can be found on the National Improvement Hub.

Revised Nutritional Analysis

  1. SQA N5 course assessment changes 2017 – 2018

            Hospitality: Practical Cake Craft                http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/56929.html

Hospitality: Practical Cookery                    http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/47439.html

Between April and September 2017, SQA are running a programme of subject specific webinars which focus on the requirements of the revised National 5 course assessments being introduced in 2017-18.


For some subjects, SQA are publishing audio presentations that cover the same content as webinars. These will be published between May and September 2017.         http://www.understandingstandards.org.uk/Subjects/Hospitality

  1. REHIS

The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) is Scotland’s awarding body     for a number qualifications in Food Safety, Food and Health, Control of Infection and Occupational Health and Safety.  REHIS has worked in partnership with Food Standards Scotland for many years to make the Elementary Food Hygiene Course and Introduction to    Food Hygiene Course available to secondary schools all over Scotland.  For further            information please contact training@rehis.com or 0131 229 2968.


  1. Food & Drink Federation Scotland

Video resource looking at what the food industry is doing to reduce sugars in food.


  1. Food Standards Scotland ‘Munch That Lunch’ competition **Closing date 9th June 2017

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is running a competition inviting P4-P7 pupils from Scottish primary schools to design and draw a healthy and balanced packed  lunch based on the Eatwell Guide and using our Munch That Lunch Guidance. The full briefing and entry form can be accessed online via        www.foodstandards.gov.scot/teachers

  1. Children’s Food Trust

To receive regular updates about Let’s Get Cooking, we invite you to register as one of our friends Let’s Get Cooking 

  1. Food and drink Career showcase Thursday 14 September at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh.

The College Development Network (CDN) Food and Drink Industry Expo is designed for  education practitioners, pupils and students. This hands-on event showcases the  opportunities available in a fast-growing sector. The Food and Drink Industry offers careers      in:



Design and innovation

Product development and production.

The event takes place 1300 to 1800 Thursday 14 September at Murrayfield Stadium,   Edinburgh.

Find out more and sign up yourself and your pupils.


  1. Better Eating, Better Learning – 3 easy steps
  1. BEBL online support materials
  2. Follow activity on Twitter @BEBLScot
  3. Join our BEBL Glow community http://bit.ly/beblhome



Questions or queries about food education?

Please contact


“Children need to be more involved in talking about their own learning and progress”

By Jackie Maley, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for early learning and childcare

This is an exciting time in Early Learning and Childcare (ELC). Planning for the expansion programme is well underway as we look ahead to what this may mean for our future inspections.  There is much for practitioners to be reflecting on in their current practice to ensure this continues to improve and that they provide high-quality learning experiences for all children, including under-threes.

The recently published report, ‘Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) highlighted a number of key areas of strengths and aspects for improvement from ELC inspections. You can read the ELC chapter from the QuISE report on our website.

Inspectors found that the quality of children’s learning experiences continues to be an area of strength. Staff continued to promote children’s engagement and motivation in their learning.  Strong relationships with children and their families were also identified as being a strength in many ELC settings.

A common aspect for development which was highlighted was the need for settings to improve their approaches to self-evaluation and, in particular, methods for  monitoring and tracking children’s progress.  When such approaches are robust and consistently applied by all staff,  we observe children making the best possible progress  while engaged in appropriately challenging learning experiences.

In the current academic year, we have inspected a number of ELC settings. It is pleasing to observe staff engaging well with ‘How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare?’ to support them in reflecting on and improving their practice.  In the best examples, we also see staff making use of ‘Building the Ambition’ guidance to support their self-evaluation activities.  We know that staff engage well with the case studies included in this document to help them plan for future developments.

Over this session we have also found that staff continue to ensure that they foster strong relationships with children and their families. In a few of the settings we have visited, staff have developed their understanding of attachment to support children well.  We have also noted that staff are now making more positive attempts to improve outdoor learning experiences for children.  In the best examples, we see children with regular access to high-quality outdoor learning which promotes their skills in curiosity, investigation and creativity.

It is settings’ approaches to planning and assessment that still remain areas for improvement. Children need to be more involved in talking about their own learning and progress.  By doing this, children will have increased motivation and development of key skills to support them in making continuous progress in their learning and development.

While we see staff keen to capture and document children’s progress, it is not always done in a consistently effective way.  It is important that staff are skilled in making observations of children’s learning.  It is not necessary for everything to be recorded, only those parts of learning and development that are significant for individual children.

As practitioners become more confident in documenting children’s progress, they will find they are able to plan learning better for the differing needs of the children in their care.   This will also enable practitioners to provide appropriate challenge as necessary. We are now observing children engaging better with their learning profiles and, also, staff developing new approaches to involve parents more in their child’s learning.  Parents joining their children in the playrooms for shared learning sessions is becoming a regular feature in many settings.  We look forward to seeing how staff continue to take a creative approach to involving parents in their children’s learning as we complete this year’s ELC inspections.

Bridging the science-policy gap, one conference at a time

Amanda Trask, a research ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology, is our guest blogger today. Here she reflects on a great experience attending the Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference (SEECC) at the University of Aberdeen in 2017.

A key part of being a successful scientist is being able to effectively communicate and discuss your research findings with fellow scientists and policy advisers.

For researchers working in the ecological, environmental or conservation sciences, the latter group is a ‘must reach’ one to infleunce. Scientific conferences provide an ideal venue for such communication. For researchers at the start of their scientific career, conferences like the SEECC, held at the University of Aberdeen in April 2017, are ideal.

Blog 1

Networking over coffee at the SEECC 2017. Photo by Svenja Kroeger.

What makes the SEECC different from other conferences?

The SEECC is that rare type of conference that manages to be small and highly social and yet packs a punch with an impressive scientific programme of plenary speakers, a panel discussion session and a diverse array of high-quality student talks and posters.  It is aimed in particular at PhD and Masters students in ecology, conservation and environmental science,  and provides a great opportunity for students from across Scotland to meet, and present and discuss their research findings. Here the small size of the conference is a strength, because the lack of parallel talk sessions means everyone attends the talks, and there are instant conversation-starters available!

The conference is jointly run by a Scottish university (in 2016 it was the University Of Edinburgh, at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and this time it was the University of Aberdeen) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and a variety of representatives from other organisations attend (e.g. RSPB. SWT).  This means that the SEECC is a great networking opportunity as delegates get to meet both academic and non-academic senior researchers and policy makers.

Blog 2

The poster session at the SEECC 2017. Photo by Francesca Mancini.

A few of the (many) highlights from the SEECC 2017

The SEECC 2017 included a fantastic plenary talk by Professor (and Dame)  Georgina Mace FRS (Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems at University College London) on the changing perceptions of nature conservation in an increasingly human-dominated world. The talk guided us through the ‘nature for itself’ viewpoint of the 1960’s, through the more utilitarian ‘nature for people’ focus in the early 2000’s, where the emphasis was on natural capital and ecosystem services, to the more nuanced present-day ‘nature and people’ perspective, where the dynamic two-way relationship between people and nature is acknowledged.

However, these changing perceptions make it difficult to measure conservation success and design effective management strategies, as what may benefit people may not always benefit nature conservation and vice versa. More on Professor Georgina Mace’s work on how we should value nature can be found in the link at the end of this blog.

The second excellent talk by Professor Des Thompson (Principal Advisor on Biodiversity at SNH) brought a more Scotland-orientated view of nature conservation. Des highlighted the work that still needs to be done to support Scotland’s biodiversity. This talk also included the first mention of Brexit at the conference, and the need to balance potential opportunity to improve on current environmental policies with the risk of attrition of protected areas.

Blog 4

The panel discussion on ‘Applying ecological science to conservation policy’, featuring (from L-R) Andrew Bachell, Georgina Mace, Ruth Mitchell and Anne Glover. Photo by Jane Reid.

The discussion on the balancing of risk and opportunity in the future of nature conservation was further followed up during the fantastic panel discussion on ‘Applying ecological science to conservation policy’, featuring Georgina,  Professor Anne Glover FRS (former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government and to the European Commission), Andrew Bachell (Director of Policy and Advice, SNH) and Dr Ruth Mitchell (Chair of the British Ecological Society Scottish Policy Group). A key theme of the panel discussion was the need for scientists to effectively communicate their research findings, to ensure that their research informs conservation and environmental policy, or as  Anne phrased it “you can’t generate knowledge and not find a home for it”.

Tundra teabag experiment

It was therefore particularly striking to see the high quality of both the science and the presentations throughout the student talks and posters at the SEECC 2017 – it seems that the early career researchers at this conferences are well on their way to becoming great communicators and scientists! The student talks ranged in topic from a ‘tundra teabag experiment’, exploring litter decomposition patterns across the tundra biome by Haydn Thomas of the University of Edinburgh (more on his research can be found here), to foraging decisions of rufous hummingbirds by Georgina Glaser of the University of St Andrews (more on her research can be found here). Winners of the first and second prize for the best talk went to John Godlee of the University of Edinburgh and Richard Whittet of the University of Edinburgh, while the winner of the best poster went to Robin Whytock of the University of Stirling (more on his research can be found here).

The SEECC is hosted by a different Scottish University each year and is a fantastic opportunity for researchers at the start of their science careers to present their work, hear about the great research coming out of other Scottish universities, and network with senior researchers and policymakers.  In particular, for PhD and Masters students who want their current or future research to have impact on environmental policy, the SEECC is a great place to start!  The 2018 conference shall be at the University of St Andrews.


Mace, G. (2014) Whose Conservation? Science, 345, 1558-1560.


Recently finishing her PhD at the University of Aberdeen on the conservation genetics and demographics of red-billed chough in Scotland, Amanda Trask is continuing her research in biodiversity conservation as a Research Ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology.

DYW COSLA event: 21 June 17

COSLA is hosting a national Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce (DYW) Event on Wednesday 21 June at the COSLA Conference Centre, Verity House, 19 Haymarket Yards, Edinburgh.

The purpose of the event will be to provide a strategic update on the progress of the DYW Programme as well as to share and promote best practice relating to DYW.   The event will also seek feedback to inform COSLA’s position on DYW going forward, given Local Government’s central role in leading the programme.

The event will involve a presentation from Elma Murray, SOLACE as well as speakers from a diverse group of local authorities from across the country.  A number of examples of practice relating to DYW implementation will be shared followed by discussions on how DYW is progressing, challenges to DYW and how they can be addressed. 

The event will start at 9.45am and finish at 12.30pm with lunch provided afterwards.   An agenda will be issued early next week.

How simple pleasures enhance wellbeing

John Muir Award Scotland Inclusion Manager, Lucy Sparks, spends time with an adult group who make the most of nature on their doorstep to help improve their health and wellbeing.

John Muir Day celebrations (15-23 April) this year saw John Muir Award participants from Operation Play Outdoors getting active and creative on the Kelvin Walkway in Glasgow. A photo walk formed the focus of the afternoon, with time for playing pooh sticks and creating Muir art to celebrate Muir’s 179th birthday.

John Muir 2

The group are participating in Branching Out, Forestry Commission Scotland’s innovative programme for adults who use mental health services in Scotland. Delivered in partnership with organisations in the environmental and mental health sectors, it aims to promote positive mental health and wellbeing, and improve the quality of life for participants by engaging them in activities set in woodland environments.

The John Muir Trust finds that the Scottish Natural Heritage campaign Simple Pleasures Easily Found offers accessible activity ideas that adults can respond well to. We see how people feel comfortable with picking brambles, cloud spotting, watching the sun set or making a daisy chain because they have positive memories of these activities as children, parents or grandparents. These activities are varied, non-threatening and encouraging.


Craig Thomson from Operation Play Outdoors explains more “We understand the importance of being outdoors and the positive impact it has on both our physical and mental health. We try to do something different each week, to offer some variety – that way people get a taste of lots of things they can enjoy outside. Our sessions usually begin with boiling the Kelly Kettles so that we start by sharing a cuppa.”

“It’s nice to get out each week together and enjoy the fresh air” – Award participant

The John Muir Award encourages people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy, and care for wild places. In Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage is a key funder of Award activity, and since 2008, Branching Out has been using the John Muir Award as a framework for its twelve week courses, providing valuable recognition of peoples’ achievements. In 2016, 265 adults from across Scotland celebrated their personal wellbeing and skills development through achieving a John Muir Award as part of a Branching Out programme.

Simple Pleasures 4

Currently we know that social isolation and loneliness can be a major cause of depression. Branching Out and the John Muir Award address this by bringing people together, under the ‘sharing’ challenge. For those who struggle with forming relationships with others this can be life-changing. The programme also enables them to learn new skills and give back to their woodland and community. This can lead to improvements in mental health and even employment opportunities. It is a massive achievement if your mental health was a barrier to employment.” Nathalie Moriarty, Branching Out Programme Manager, Forestry Commission Scotland.

The Forestry Commission Scotland’s Branching Out is an innovative programme for adults who use mental health services in Scotland. Delivered in partnership with organisations in the environmental and mental health sectors, it aims to promote positive mental health and improve the quality of life for participants by engaging them in activities set in woodland environments. 265 adults from across Scotland celebrated their personal wellbeing and skills development through achieving a John Muir Award last year.

Find out more about our Simple Pleasures Easily Found project.

All images courtesy of Lucy Sparks, John Muir Trust.


Report a Glow concern  Cookie policy  Privacy policy

Glow Blogs uses cookies to enhance your experience on our service. By using this service or closing this message you consent to our use of those cookies. Please read our Cookie Policy.