Tag Archives: Scots language

Oor Hoose Project Sharing Day

What a super day I had on Friday 19th February, when Duff House, the property owned by Historic Environmental Scotland in Banff, Aberdeenshire, truly became Oor Hoose.

This was the culmination of an Education Scotland partnership project with Historic Environment Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council. Learners in Dr Fairbairn’s Scots Language Award class from Banff Academy took over Duff House for the afternoon. They hosted a sharing event for invited guests to see the work they have been doing in Scots language, particularly for the Oor Hoose project.  

It has involved learners from Banff Academy Scots Language Award class choosing and researching an object from Duff House and then preparing a response to it involving Scots, specifically the local dialect, Doric. It was designed to encourage learners to engage with the House and use Scots for a purpose. Last year’s pilot saw the production of mosaics in conjunction with a local artist. This year, products include quizzes, presentations and signs.

I was fair chuffed tae see as mony lairners enjoyin an engagin wi Scots throue iss project. The bairns wis a credit tae themsels, their fowk and the skweel.

We were piped into the impressive building by one of Banff Academy’s pipe band members, fresh from wowing delegates at the Aberdeen Learning Festival earlier in the week.

The afternoon began with a few words from Sylvie Clarke of Historic Environment Scotland, who has supported the project throughout. We then heard from Buildings Manager Mr G Curran about how the project had caught the imaginations of staff at the property – even resulting in some dispute about whose Doric is purer – fowk fae Banff or fowk fae Buckie! Dr Faribarin then gave a summary of the kind of work his bairns have been doing.

It was then time for the learners  to introduce themselves and their work, before inviting us to tour the house, solving puzzles and answering quiz questions in Scots. They helped by standing next to their chosen objects and engaging knowledgably with visitors who had questions. Everybody had a super time, with some parents and friends admitting that this was the first time they had been inside the house in many years, if ever. All were impressed by the knowledge, confidence and Scots skills displayed by the group.

We rounded off a super afternoon with refreshments: local tattie crisps, Scottish chocolate treats and our national soft drink – ale in this area, juice to some and ginger to others. And a treat for those who had stayed until the very end (most of the adults who were not troubled by having school buses to catch) – some folk music from our resident piper Robert Legge and Dr Fairbairn on guitar.

Duff Hoose really felt like Oor Hoose that afternoon. And the great news for the future  is that HES interpretations team is going to adopt the materials produced by the bairns: there will be Doric for visitors to the property for years to come.

For more information about Duff Hoose visit their website.

If you would be interested in taking part in an Oor Hoose project in your local area, contact Diane.Anderson@edcuationscotland.gsi.gov.uk

Duff Hoose group






Scots Language Ambassadors

The latest Scots Language Ambassadors newsletter (issue 4) is out now.

In this edition, we hear fae oor twa ambassadorial Bills – Wullie Oliphant and Bill Herbert – aboot their excitin first-hand experiences o workin wae Scots in schools in Fife and Dundee.

First, we hear fae Wullie, reflectin on his experiences o teachin Scots in primary schuils in the Auld Grey Toun:

Syne the stert o the year a’ve been in eicht wee schuils arooond the Auld Grey Toun Dunfermline daein a wheen o work wi the leid. A’ve worked fae P Wan aw the wey up tae P Seeven!

Some heidies wanted me to dae aw the classes wi wan visit each, an ithers went fir the twa classes wi five or sechts visits.

Up tae noo we’ve looked at pairts o the boady, claethes and beasts and a’ve yaised boxes o claethes an stuffed toys – games  – sangs, poems an even the wee PowerPoint noo an agin!!!

Some o the dominies have been daein their ain poems roond about Burns Nicht and the bairns have luved letting me hear them.

Am really gled tae say that A’ve got dates in ma diary richt up tae the end o Merch and will hae visited aboot fowerteen schuils bi then!

It gans withoot sayin that a’ve had Romanian, Polish and Latvian bairns in ma classes and they have aw had a smashin time learning some o the leid o their new hameland!

And noo, fae Bill Herbert, poet, Professor O Creative Writin at the University o Newcastle, and Scots Language Ambassador at Grove Academy, Dundee:

When I was working as Scots Language Ambassador with kids from my old school, Grove Academy in Broughty Ferry, our discussions about Scots were probably more helpful for me than for them.

As you might imagine, very few pupils from a predominantly middle class catchment area were interested in stating that they spoke Scots, so a distinction between use and recognition vocabularies proved very useful: everyone was prepared to understand far more Scots than they said they spoke. The old assumption that it is a working class speech, in other words, remains intact. It was my job not to get them speaking Scots, however, but to recalibrate their classification of it to suggest that they already spoke more Scots than they might realise.

We started with some basic category divisions. Working from the old Dundonian tricolon of jute, jam, and journalism, we tried thinking of Scots as being composed of three elements, accent, vocabulary, and grammar. We also considered it as ranging across three categories, Dundonian, a more general Scots, and Scots English.

A final group of three that enabled further vocabulary-building arose from the distinction that while one type of Scots may be spoken now, we were also well aware of words or phrases belonging to our parents’ or grandparents’ generation, then adding to that the idea that some words from any of these categories had other origins (ie were loan words). That gave us an overall grid as follows:

accent | vocabulary | grammar

Dundonian | Scots | Scots English

contemporary | historic | loan

Of course, some of these terms were less familiar than others, but these were bright kids, and it didn’t take more than a few examples to kick off discussion:

Eh | dreich | awa the messages

peh | pech | outwith

radge | chittery bite | cundie

Crucially, the addition of an historic or etymological level added a degree of analytical rigour to the discussion (as well as the possibility of literary usage), especially in the key area of identifying what might be uniquely local or culturally Scottish about what we were saying or could remember hearing or having read.

Food was a good topic, as was weather or mood, and one example that proved very useful was street names, where I opposed the local examples of the West Port and the Nethergait. Working from the unexamined or default principle that anything not recognisably Scots must therefore be English, people conjectured that the West Port referred to a former dock area, while the Nethergait must have something to do with some medieval gate into the city.

I then pointed out (in my role as fascinating Professor Pedanticus) that there had never been a port at the West Port, but that the city gate (or, in French, ‘port’) had indeed been there, and, while there was never a gate at the Nether-, Over-, Murray-, or Seagate, we did have a word for ‘walk’ derived from the Scandinavian: ‘gait’.

Ye can read more o Bill’s fascinatin thochts on Scots on his blog here:

Bill’s blog

In ither news, the Scots Language Coordinators team and the Scots Scriever Hamish MacDonald have been working with teacher colleagues in the Scottish Prisons Service with a view to enhancing Scots learning provision for Scottish prisoners. Co-ordinators Diane Anderson and Simon Hall have also been co-delivering at SQA Understanding Standards events for the Scots Language Award in Glasgow, and lecturing to PGDE English Students at Strathclyde University. A series of partnership events coordinated by Bruce Eunson have taken place with agency Into Film, revolving around four new Scots versions of Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo’s Child – in the Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeen and Dundee varieties. Finally, a joint project between Education Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and the Orkney Heritage Society will see the launch of a brand new, digitised version of the Orkney Dictionary at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on April 8th.

Please keep us up tae date wi all your Ambassador engagements, and if you have any contributions for the next issue o the SLA News we would love tae receive them! We are very grateful tae oor Ambassadors for their time and commitment. Please mind on that receipted travel expenses for schools visits can be reimbursed. Expenses forms are available fae Simon Hall 

Scriever Kirktonholme 5

UNESCO International Literacy Day 2015 at the Glasgow Science Centre

The choice of the Glasgow Science Centre reflected two UNESCO themes for 2015:

  • Literacy and Sustainable Societies and
  • International Year of Light and Light Based Industries
Minister with Literacy and HR
Joined Up Working

Dr. Alasdair Allan, MSP, Minister for Learning Science and Scotland’s Languages provided the keynote speech and launched the Scots Language resource, biographies of famous Scottish scientists in Scots and English. Of special interest is the Scots Scientist James Clerk Maxwell who predated Einstein and contrGlasgow Science Centreibuted to the understanding of light.

Dr Allan said: “Literacy, has a massive effect on the sustainable development of communities around the world.

“Literacy attainment is a key focus in Scottish education and raising the levels of literacy learning is something we’re aiming to address with the Scottish Attainment Challenge.”

Professor Sue Ellis, University of Strathclyde, co-author of the research Closing the Attainment Gap has highlighted the importance of understanding and teaching different literacy strategies for different subjects.

A key impact was the raising of awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a meaningful context for learning

The benefit of interdisciplinary learning was the theme of the key note address from former BBC presenter scientist Heather Reid OBE.  Workshops reflected this interdisciplinary approach.


Minister Joins Teachers to Celebrate Scots Success

On Wednesday 29th April Dr Alasdair Allan joined teachers from Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire for their seventh and final twilight CLPL session on Scots in schools.

Practitioners from all three authorities were celebrating the Scots language work that they had developed in class as a result of participating in this training. The course began in January this year and was delivered by Katrina Lucas, one of Education Scotland’s Scots Language Coordinators. Aimed at primary practitioners, it focussed on learning and teaching approaches for reading, writing, listening and talking in Scots. Teachers were encouraged to explore how Scots could support literacy work in the classroom, and all participants contributed short presentations where they shared their ideas and learners’ achievements.

Dr Allan was interested to hear teachers’ first hand experiences of using Scots as part of Curriculum for Excellence – joining in with the lively discussions and workshop activities before addressing the assembled teachers, their Head Teachers and Council representatives in Scots.

Jacqueline Morley from GTC Scotland was also on hand to guide those assembled through the process that leads to Professional Recognition for Scots language teaching.

If you would like to find out more about help and support available for Scots language learning and teaching please contact Katrina Lucas at: Katrina.Lucas@educationscotland.gsi.gov.uk

If you would like more information about Professional Recognition please contact Jacqueline Morley at: Jacqueline.Morley@gtcs.org.uk

Scots in Falkirk
Scots in Falkirk

Scots Language Poetry with Stuart Paterson

Small - Stuart PatersonJoin us for a lively Scots language poetry reading session with poet Stuart Paterson on Thursday 5th March at 1.30pm.

Scots poet Stuart Paterson will be joining us live in the Glow TV Studio to read you some rhymes for bairns. Find out what makes him ‘squeamish’, where ‘The Tobermory Dodo’ went to and what he thinks about the ‘Houlit’ Join in and learn new Scots words or add even more to your vocabulary and learn some great new poems.

Register to take part in Glow TV – Scots Language Poetry with Stuart Paterson

Sanquhar Primary Spiks Scots

Scots language is being used and taught increasingly in schools as a way of enhancing literacy skills and learning across the curriculum. A good example of this can be found at Sanquhar Primary School in Dumfries and Galloway where Scots is used across the school and throughout the year as appropriate: it is not just for Burns Night!

On Monday 26th January ITV Border ran a very positive feature on the work which is going on there on its magazine programme Border Life. One of Education Scotland’s four Scots Language Co-ordinators, Diane Anderson, was there to see how Scots is benefitting the learning and teaching in the school for herself.

You can watch the programme by visiting http://stv.com/border and clicking on the “Watch Border Life” tile.