All posts by Erin Seils

Why Scottish Teachers Marched for Pay

On Saturday the 27th of October, Scottish teachers took to the streets of Glasgow, calling for  a 10% pay rise, here’s why.

The event was organised by Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland who said the value of teachers’ pay has fallen by more than a fifth over the past decade. The march started in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park before the march to George Square where union leaders and politicians addressed crowds. It took two hours for all the demonstrators to clear the park and join the march, with much larger turnout than expected. Almost 30,000 people took part in the rally, including 60 teachers from our own school.

One member of the EIS provided The Oystercatcher with this statement.

“Austerity measures have meant that Teachers’ pay has declined in the last 10  years.  Sub-inflation pay rises combined with increases to pensions, National Insurance and GTCS fees have led to cuts of around 24% in teachers’ take-home pay.  In this time, workload has soared with the introduction of CfE, the new National Qualifications and various other policies (National Improvement Framework, Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce etc). Workload and stress have soared and teacher recruitment is facing a crisis.

In the last 2 years, over 1200 teachers below the age of 40 have left the profession (these are teachers who are fully qualified and have been teaching for a number of years) and teacher training places at universities are unfilled. This is because graduates know they can earn more money in different jobs and in teaching in other countries.  Last year, there were approximately 800 unfilled teaching posts in Scotland.  Some councils are struggling to offer certain subject to pupils as they cannot get qualified teachers for those subjects.  According to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) statistics, teachers in Scotland work longer hours and more days than their counterparts in other OECD countries.

Although improving pay will not fix all the recruitment problems facing Scottish schools, it has to be the first step in making teaching an attractive profession.  The OECD average for teacher pay is £42000.   Teachers in Scotland (through their biggest union, the EIS, and the other teaching unions) are asking for a 10% pay award this year.  This would bring Scottish teachers’ pay up to around £40,000.  This is our compromise.  We are not asking for the 24% we have lost over the last 10 years and 10% doesn’t even take us up to the OECD average for teacher pay.

This is why over 30,000 people marched through Glasgow on 27th October – to ask the Scottish Government and Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) to “Value Education: Value Teachers”.  This is why teachers are currently being balloted on a pay offer that we consider divisive and derisory.  Without Teachers, there are no doctors, nurses, police, accountants.  It is time to demonstrate that Scotland values education by valuing the work that teachers do.”

Education secretary, John Swiney spoke to the Herald, saying:

“I hugely value the work teachers do and the vital contribution they make to improve outcomes for children.

“We want teaching to be a rewarding career choice – to keep people in the profession and to attract new entrants – and that is why the Scottish Government is contributing an additional £35 million this year for teachers pay.

“Through a combination of a 3% increase for all staff earning up to £80,000, restructuring the main grade scale and annual progression, the majority of teachers receive a rise between 5% and 11%. There would be a flat rate increase of £1,600 for those earning more than £80,000 from 1 April 2018.”

A Scottish government representative spoke to the BBC, regarding its joint pay offer letter with Cosla.

“The letter in no way undermines the democratic role of the teaching unions in this process nor changes our joint commitment to continue discussions with teaching unions in good faith”

While the governemnt believe the letter “accurately explains” the pay offer, teachers clearly disagree. The general secretary of the EIS, Larry Flanagan, believes the letter to be misleading.

“While the basic figures included in the letter are accurate, they have been laid out in a way that is profoundly misleading. The table indicating salary rises for teachers on the main grade scale creates a false impression of the proposed new salaries for teachers. The Scottish government and Cosla have let themselves down in seeking to interfere in the EIS ballot in this manner. It is against the spirit of the Fair Work Convention, which both claim to champion, and adds nothing to the factual information which the EIS has already communicated in full to its members.”

 

  • by Erin Seils, Editor of Science and World
  • Sources: BBC News, The Herald, EIS

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics Creator, Dies Aged 95

The mastermind behind many of our favourite superheros from Spider-man to The Incredible Hulk to Black Panther, has died aged 95.

Tributes to the Marvel Comics creator have flooded in following his death.

The cause of death remains unknown for the moment. However, an attorney for Lee’s daughter, told CNN he was taken to Cedar’s Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles by ambulance on Monday morning and sadly never returned to his home in LA.

  • by Erin Seils, Editor of Science and World
  • Sources: CNN, The Guardian

Instagram Co-founders Step Down

The two co-founders — Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s chief executive, and Mike Krieger, chief technology officer — of Facebook Inc.’s popular Instagram app are stepping down.

Image result for kevin systrom and mike krieger

Continue reading Instagram Co-founders Step Down

Snapchat: Drop in Daily Users

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In a recent press release from Snap Inc. statistics show a 3 million person drop in the number of daily Snapchat users from 191 million at the beginning of 2018 to 188 million in June this year.

This huge decline was likely caused by a Snapchat update which caused even so-called “Queen of Snapchat”, Kylie Jenner contemplated staying off the app for good. As an avid Snapchat user myself, returning to Snapchat after only a few hours of being offline I was in disbelief to find the app I loved so much in utter disarray.

February  2018 Update

In February 2018 Snapchat underwent a major redesign to separate content from the media and celebrities from those we interact with on a day-to-day basis. This wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, however, squeezing stories and chat messages from friends into a single page resulted in a mess which was difficult for users to navigate.

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It proved extremely difficult to find a single person who was happy with the new version of Snapchat, with users taking to Twitter to express their dislike of the new format.

https://twitter.com/Kennedy1042/status/966457407042936832

Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snapchat said they were “separating the social from the media” with the update.

While the update definitely separated news and world events from day-to-day interactions with friends, it also became more difficult for people to find content from some friends. By removing the Stories page to leave a space purely for media and content from celebrities, it became difficult for users to find the Stories of friends who they didn’t chat with every day.

The BBC asked young people for their thoughts on Snapchat after the update. People complained about the app being difficult to navigate and struggling to find their friends Stories (pictures which can be seen by all of a user’s friends and last for 24 hours). Some also said that they just don’t care about celebrities.

Personally, I use Snapchat both to follow my favourite celebrities and stay in contact with my friends. However, following the update there was a lot of celebrity content that wasn’t chosen by the user.

Rob Kniaz, co-founder of the technology venture capital firm Hoxton Ventures, gave his thoughts on the drop in users of the social app.

“I think it’s really dangerous. When you look at the numbers, if you’ve lost three million of your most active users by definition, it tells you something is materially wrong with the product and maybe the company.”

While some perhaps unwanted media content remains, Snapchat has made changes with the current version of the app to address some users’ concerns. One of the few features that Snapchat have kept from the February update is access to friends’ stories from the chat page. Fortunately, they have also been integrated into the discover page with celebrity and news subscriptions close by, ensuring that users don’t miss out on content. However, with Instagram Stories becoming more and more popular, the future of Snapchat is uncertain.

Instagram Stories

In June, Instagram announced its Stories feature alone was being used by 400 million people on a daily basis. Instagram Stories allow users to use augmented reality (AR) effects which are very similar to the “Lenses” that Snapchat offers.

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Snapchat recently introduced “Snappables”, AR minigames which can be played between two users, one of few features which sets them apart from Instagram at the moment.  However, just like Lenses, Instagram could easily create something similar.

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While Instagram poses a clear threat for the future of the app, Snapchat’s Chief strategy officer Imran Khan still has a positive outlook, suggesting that the capability Snapchat has for targeted adverts will help the company to contiue to develop.

“Advertisers can currently leverage over a thousand different segments for targeting with thousands more coming. One good example is advertisers can target their Snapchat campaign to people who purchased lipstick at a retail store.”

However, as Snapchat gets better at this, it could lead to users feeling a little creeped out by just how much the company can learn from then when they use the app.

Evan Spiegel also said he was “excited” and “optimistic” about the future, focusing less on the decrease in daily users and highlighting an increase in the number of people using the app at least once a month and also that Snapchat is getting better at holding on to new members over the age of 35.

  • by Erin Seils, Editor of Science and World
  • Sources: Variety, BBC News, Independent, USA Today, CNN

Fire Destroys Historic Building and Primark in Belfast

A fire in Belfast city centre has destroyed the 233 year old Bank Building where Primark is situated.

Continue reading Fire Destroys Historic Building and Primark in Belfast

Florida Mass Shooting

There has been a mass shooting in Jacksonville Florida, here’s what we know so far.

Police have reported multiple fatalities after a shooting at an online gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.

The first of four Madden NFL 19 Classic qualifier events, run by EA Sports, were taking place at the GLHF game bar today in Jacksonville.

Ryen Aleman from Texas, witnessed the shooting and spoke to CNN saying:

“Everyone ducked down. I got down and crawled to the bathroom. I heard so many gunshots, 20 at least. I’m so shocked I can hardly talk.”

The Jacksonville Sherrif officer tweeted warning everyone, including media teams, to stay away from the area.

A law enforcement official briefed on the incident has reported 4 people have been killed of the 11 who were shot at.

Memorial Hospital spokesperson, Pete Moberg has said at least three people injured in the shooting are being treated at the hospital and are all in stable condition.

Sheriff Mike Williams spoke at a news conference and has reported one suspect, identified only as a white male, is dead at the scene and says there are no outstanding suspects.

  • By Erin Seils, Editor of World and Science
  • Sources: The Guardian, CNN, The New York Times

US Senator John McCain Dies Aged 81

Vietnam war hero turned presidential candidate, Senator John McCain has died at age 81 after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Continue reading US Senator John McCain Dies Aged 81

World News of the Summer

A round-up of the big news this summer.
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Fifa World Cup Russia 2018

On Sunday 15th July France won the Fifa World Cup for the second time, beating Croatia 4-2 in the final held in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.  France’s triumph made their manager Didier Deschamps only the 3rd man to win the international competition as both a player and coach. Huge celebrations took place in France following the team’s win, with thousands of supporters welcoming them back as the players paraded down the Champs Elysees in Paris on Monday. Similar events took place 20 years prior when Didier Deschamps took victory in the world cup as the French captain.

Despite losing to France in the final, Croatia were proud to come as far as they did and had some celebrations of their own as the runners-up returned to Zagreb.

               Fans react in Zagreb after Croatia’s 4-2 defeat to France in the World Cup final.              Image result for world cup croatia celebrations
Ethiopia and Eritrea make peace

Despite the peace agreement made in 2000, two years after the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea began, the two countries have been in a state of “no war, no peace” for almost two decades. The war began due to conflict over their border, when the initial peace agreement was made it was decided that the town of Badame was on the Eritrean side of the border but Ethiopia refused to accept this.

When Abiy Ahmed took over as Prime Minister of Ethiopia, just 3 months ago, people suspected that this could lead to things changing however few expected it to happen so quickly.  The declaration was signed by the leaders of both countries when Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrea’s capital, Asmara. This summit between Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki was the first time the leaders of the two nations had met for almost 20 years. Families who have been separated by the border conflict are also now able to reunite as telephone and transport links have been re-established. The first flight from Ethiopia to Eritrea since the war, took off on July 18th with  passengers travelling to the Eritrean capital to reconnect with family and friends on the other side of the border.

Fitsum Arega, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia’s chief of staff tweeted following the summit:

UN Agree First Ever Global Compact on Migration

The United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration   was finalised on July 13th with almost unanimous support from the UN Member States.

Miroslav Lajčák the President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly spoke about the benefits of the compact saying:

“It can guide us from a reactive to a proactive mode. It can help us to draw out the benefits of migration, and mitigate the risks. It can provide a new platform for cooperation. And it can be a resource, in finding the right balance between the rights of people and the sovereignty of States. And, in December, it will formally become the first comprehensive framework on migration the world has ever seen.”

The Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration held in Marrakesh, Morocco on the 10th and 11th of December will mark the official agreement to the compact from the UN Member States.

Brexit

Brexit has taken a turn for the worst over the summer of 2018, crashing and burning into a heap of ashes that no-one’s quite sure ever really was, or what it could ever possibly be again. In early June, just weeks before the EU summit, politicians still had no workable ideas to fix the ever-looming problem of the Irish border and customs union, and on top of that the Conservatives struggled to contain their own internalised rebellion – however backbencher Tories began eventually laying off the criticism of Theresa May mid-June. Although, that doesn’t necessarily mean things got any better for May, which can be assumed by the immense number of panicked meetings she began holding with her cabinet nearing the tail-end of June as well as the fact the public were now rallying in the streets of London for the right to vote on how they wanted the deal to go. Things then continued to go even further south for the Tory government at the commencement of July, when the Brexit Secretary decided to hand in an abrupt resignation damaging an already fragile situation further.

As the whole Brexit debacle continues to unfold, it is becoming less and less clear what it’s actually about and just how our politicians should be handling it – although they definitely should be dealing with it better than they have been over the summer. More to follow on this specific subject this week.

  • By Erin Seils, Editor of World and Science (Brexit Summary by Rachael Smith Editor of World and Politics)
  • Sources: BBC News, CNN, The Guardian, UN Foundation

 

Slept all summer? Spectacular Science you missed…

From the blood moon to the discovery of water on Mars, and even an explanation for Scotland feeling the heat this summer, here’s the science news you might have missed.

Continue reading Slept all summer? Spectacular Science you missed…

Let Us Have a Lie-in

Erin Seils| Science and Technology Editior

How many times throughout the average school day do you say, “I’m tired”? If you’re anything like me, and several of my classmates, it’s something you grumble almost every period and if not, you’re at least feeling it.

Fortunately, I have some good news. It might not be your fault that you can’t seem to stop your eyes from closing when your teacher jabbering on and on about who knows what. Surprisingly, their monotonous, incessant ramblings may not be entirely to blame either. In fact, it’s all about our body clocks.

Continue reading Let Us Have a Lie-in

Original Irn-Bru No More

Erin Seils| Science and Technology Editor

If you haven’t heard already, A.G Barr are changing their Irn-Bru recipe and Scotland is outraged!

The sugar content is being reduced by approximately 50% replacing sugar with sweetners including Aspartame. Due to the “sugar tax” which will come into place in April this year,

Over 48,000 Irn-Bru fans have signed a petition on Change.org in an attempt to make Barr rethink this decision. However, Barr has now confirmed that full-sugar Irn-Bru is no longer in production.

Supporters have several different reasons from health concerns about the artificial sweetner, Aspartame, to simply the love that many Scottish people have for the drink.

“Aspartame is lethal! Worse for you than sugar.”

“If people want to buy sugar drinks its their choice … alternative is to buy diet or sugar free .. leave the recipe alone”

“Aspartame is a known carcinogenic. What a backwards move to make, not to mention loosing the original flavour to this cheap chemical! No thank you”

“You cannie just take our heritage away from us like this”

If Irn-Bru had kept the their old recipe a 2 litre bottle could cost as much as 48p more while cans could cost around 8p more due to the sugar tax. Would you be willing to pay the price?

Several of those who signed the petition said they would:

“Great change it for more artificial sweeteners that cause toxins to build up in the body causing MS type symptoms . Think I’d rather pay the sugar tax or better still fund research into non harmful sweetness”

“I love our other national drink and I don’t mind the sugar tax as it’s my special treat. Please do not change our Irn bru”

“They have already introduced sugar free and it’s pur choice if we want the full sugar one. I personally would pay more anyone worried can take the cheap sugar free option”

Ryan Allen who started the petition, “Hands off our Irn Bru” has said,

“I’ve got 24 glass bottles in my loft that will do me for emergencies.”

And he’s not the only one who’s been stockpiling Scotland’s other national drink while it can still truly be called “Original and Best”.

A supermarket in Irvine has stocked up on over 3000 bottles of the popular fizzy drink before the new recipe is rolled out.

Not to worry though, if you haven’t got a stash of the old stuff, Irn-Bru posted this message to put fans’ minds at rest.

As Irn Bru have said, 9 out of 10 people said they’ve “got an excellent or a good taste match” and this certainly seems to be the case.

Dazza from BBC The Social says he “cannae tell the difference” after comparing the “new wan”  to the “auld wan”.

Capital Scotland’s Garry Spence agrees.

The new recipe is expected to be avaliable in shops at the end of this month so if you want a final taste of the “auld wan”, or want to save a bottle for old times’ sake, you should get to the shops ASAP!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Erin Seils| Science and Technology Editor

Google’s 2nd phone is now available for purchase with the Pixel 2 being released on the 19th of October and the XL on the 15th of November.

Price

The Pixel 2 costs £629 with 64GB of storage, and £729 with 128GB. The Pixel 2 XL costs £799 with 64GB storage, and £899 for 128GB.

Of course Google had to show off their latest phone with a couple of adverts, in their usual witty way.

Design

Google has never claimed to produce the sleekest or best-looking phones but they have definitely listened to the people and decided to reduce the size of the glass shade on the back of the phone. The finger print sensor remains located in the same extremely accessible place on the back of the phone as it was in the previous Pixel model.

Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have an IP67 rating meaning that you have no worries about using your phone in the rain or that it will break if you drop it in water but most people recommend that you don’t leave the phone underwater for a prolonged period of time.

The sound quality of the dual front facing speakers make up for the large bezels which are slightly more apparent on the smaller version of the phone.

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Headphone Jack?

While Google made fun Apple for dropping the headphone jack last year they have now decided to drop it too. Unfortunately, the new phones don’t come with earphones included but Google does provide a dongle in the box so you can continue to use your old ones.

“The best smartphone camera in the world – again”

Being called the “pixel” the camera seems to be at the forefront of this phone. Google’s “More, more, more” AD even makes a not so subtle dig at Apple for having to add a sceond camera to their phones for portrait mode. This is certainly one of the smartest smartphones there are. Instead of using two cameras Google’s Pixel 2 uses something called “dual pixels” which splits each pixel in half to allow the phone to take photos which other phones need two lenses to do.

Unlike the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL come equipped with the same great camera.

While you don’t get the live preview of portrait mode like the latest iPhones provide the pixel 2 simply takes a few seconds to process and then gives you the option to choose whether you want to save the image with portrait on or off according to tech reviewer  Marques Brownlee.

Reveiwer Safwan Ahmedmia  uploaded a video to his YouTube channel SuperSaf TV, comparing the Pixel 2 XL camera with the iPhone 8 Plus, and showed that the Pixel seems to perform better overall – especially in low light.

Also, no need to worry about running out of storage ever again, so you can take as many photos as you like!

Rapid recharge – again?

Google claims that both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will fully recharge in just 15 mins. However many reviewers say that the phone actually takes at least an hour to fully charge but when fully charged it does last for around 7 hours.

Google Assistant – Squeeze!

While “squeezing” the phone for the Google Assistant does sound a little gimmicky, reviewer Marques Brownlee says that he has found himself using this feature a lot more often due to this method of quick and easy access. The Google Assistant also allows you to tyoe instead of talk to it which is very smart idea as Tech Radar recently asked “How often do you use Siri or Bixby? to which 79% of voters said “I’m not comfortable with it at all”.

Overall, both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL seem like pretty good phones which could certainly compete with others available at the moment.

 

 

Interview: Mrs Higgins on Anti-bullying

Erin Seils | Science and Technology Editor
Aidan McCall | Reporter

As this week is Anti-Bullying week, Aidan and I decided to interview Mrs Higgins, who has played a big part in raising awareness about anti-bullying within the school as well as beginning to create an anti-bullying committee.

Erin: When did you start to create the committee?

I’m not even sure that there is an official committee yet, I think that’s the next step is to get a kind of proper committee. I know last year I wanted to do something about bullying, I was kind of looking in to things because there were situations I was aware of and I became aware that there is a thing called anti-bullying week. So, I kind of started things off last year and we brought it into the making rights real. So I suppose the people involved in the making rights real are sort of part of that initial committee but I think we want to get a committee involving pupils as well and I think that would be really good to take it forward.

Aidan: What do you think being part of the committee would involve?

I think we would want to be looking at, you know, exploring what the issues are first of all and where the hotspots like where the main problems within the school are for bullying. We want to also be thinking about strategies of what we can do to flag up, perhaps, places that people can go to for support. Obviously we know the guidance staff and teachers as well but it would be nice if we had a wee committee of 6th years who were willing to be seen as somebody that you could go to because sometimes maybe for some pupils it might be easier to think of approaching a 6th year.

Erin: The 6th year leadership team spoke at the start of the year about having a drop in session with two memebers of the team each Thursday lunchtime every week. Do you think this would be useful in helping those who have problems with bullying?

That would be really good if we can get something that is kind of set up for almost like every day. And also, I would really love it if we had badges that were identifiers as well. You know, like SASB Strong or something like that – something that would signal to anybody in distress or concerned about something that that’s somebody who is actively involved in stamping out bullying that I can go to. I think that would be really nice if we could have that as well. And also just be thinking up other ideas. We’re having a workshop this year, whether we do something like that next year but also just to be thinking for the future what else can we be doing to raise awareness, to perhaps raise funds even to get visiting speakers or things like that would be really good if we could do.

Erin: Where is the workshop?

The workshop that we’re doing is round in the F Wing but that’s just kind of a wee homemade workshop. It would be nice if we could get  maybe people who work in this all the time in to do something as well, that would be really good.

Erin: Are there any other teachers involved apart from yourself in trying to start a committee?

There have been so many people who have been helping. I mean, because I went on about this I feel as if it was something I really cared about but I would say so many teachers have helped and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of not just teachers. The 6th years have been amazing, the janitors have been brilliant, the cleaners have been great, the head teacher has been really supportive, the ladies in the office – I feel as if everybody in this school has got behind this. So many different departments have given me things and lent a hand and things so it’s actually been a really positive experience because people care about the issue.

Aidan: What is the aim of anti-bullying in our school?

So one of the big aims we want to do is to is to give out a clear message that it is not acceptable and we want people to really think about what they are saying and what they are doing because sometimes people can say things without really thinking that what they are doing is bullying. They might just be thinking “I’m being funny” and  “this is just a laugh that I’m having with my friends” and not really thinking about the effects. So we do want people to stop and think a wee bit about what they are doing. We also really, really want people who perhaps are feeling bullied to know that we care about this, we do take it seriously, it’s a really difficult problem to solve.

When you look at the adult world and you see that there is still bullying happening in government. There’s bullying happening in Hollywood – in the adult world bullying goes on. So, it’s something we have to learn how to deal with, as in we have to get into the habit of taking a strong stand against it because this won’t be the last time you come across it. We really want people to start think “right, what I do makes a difference” but also to know even if the problem isn’t solved instantly it’s not because we don’t care – because we really do care but it’s really hard. So one of the purposes of setting up the anti-bullying workshop the way we have, we’ve tried to make it as nice an experience as possible because that’s part of us showing that we really care about you and we want you to have a really nice experience here.

We also really want you all to feel good about yourselves because we think if you feel good about yourself then you’re not going to just allow yourself to accept people treating you badly and you also won’t allow your friends to be treated badly and also if you feel good about yourself then you’re less likely to bully people as well, so that was the kind of main aims.

Aidan: What does your role involve? Being in charge?

I am kind of, and I didn’t really mean to be – I didn’t set off with that as a target, I just wanted something to happen. So, with a lot of support I have probably been left to kind of organise it. I visited other schools to find out things that they had done. I went to courses that were to do with global citizenship and pupil voice. Some of these things came up and I thought that sounded quite good so I went to visit other schools to find out how they’d organised things. I looked up lots of things. I asked pupils in school what kind of things they heard when bullying (was a problem), if they’ve known of any… So, you know, I did ask lots of other people for their opinion and their input as well and then I’ve tried to pull that together.

I’ve done lots of asking for favours, so people are starting to run away when they see me coming! They know I’m going to ask them for something! Science gave us a brain, Tech gave us wooden bricks and Modern Languages gave us headphones. The janitor painted the tree for me. Mrs Brownlie donated a branch from her garden. So many people did things to help – giving us bean bags, shoe boxes and things like that. Loads of people helped but I was the one who was asking for all the favours.

Aidan: What do you hope for the future of anti-bullying week?

I hope it’s something that people remember. I hope that perhaps it has challenged people’s thinking a wee bit, that maybe they think “uhhh.. I might’ve said that kind of thing in the past and that’s maybe not such a good idea”. I really hope that people think a wee bit about the consequences of what they’re doing but I also hope that it’s something that becomes more firmly imprinted in people’s minds – that they remember anti-bullying week. So, they’re more likely to take that forward and think about their behaviour and think about what they’re doing in the future and that we start to see a difference in people’s behaviour.

Who has had the chance to experience the workshop?

S1 to S3 and S6 are helping to man it in F009.

Erin: You’ve mentioned the anti-bullying workshop that we have in the school this week, for those that might not be aware of this could you explain what the workshop involves?

There’s six stations to go round. In each station we were trying to just tackle a slighlty different thing.

First Station

One of the stations is about tongues so we took a verse from the bible as our stimulus for that. It talks about “apples of gold in silver carvings is a word at the right time”,  so something nice can just be so precious. But, there is another verse in the bible that talks about the tongue being the smallest part of your body almost, but you can start a fire with it. So you were to divide up different sayings and obviously we want people to think about “well, why would that not be a good thing to say?” or “when is the last time I said something nice to somebody?

Second Station

Then, we had a station about building bridges to challenge stereotypes that we might put people in to: male and female. We also wanted to challenge what we think of as “normal”, the other side of the bridge was “normal” or “other”. Sometimes we kind of think that we’re normal and other people are different but actually there is no such real thing as “normal”.

Third Station

There was also the reflection station. This was the part that I wanted people to look at themselves and think “What’s good about me?” and write that up on the wall and say why. So there were mirrors to look into and they were to write why they were valuable. Then next to that was a wall where they were to say “Respect me because..” We really want people to feel good about themselves and to know that they count, we care about them.

Fourth Station

The next part was “Footsteps” where you were asked to stand in somebody else’s footsteps and think what their life is like. So we had two interviews. One was Kerry, a child psychologist, who is blind and so you were to listen to her experience of going to high school as a blind person. The other interview was Sanjeev Kohli from Still Game. He talked about growing up and people being racist towards him and dealing with casual racism. As his parents moved to the UK from elsewhere, “how do you think of your own nationality?”.

There was somebody’s lovely family album, well it’s not lovely in the sense that it’s upsetting, about the life that they’d like to have but the life that they really have not being good, using a foreign language or having a difficulty with reading. Really wanting people to appreciate that not everybody is coming here with the same baggage as you, some people have got very different circumstances but we’re actually all in the same boat.

Fifth Station

Then there was the shoebox activity. There’s five different shoe boxes each has a sort of character. It’s basically the story of somebody in some way connected with bullying – either the victim or the friend or perhaps the perpetrator. This helped us to think about how it would feel to be in that situation, what would you do or when could you reach out to that person.

Sixth Station

Lastly there was the tree with the rights of the child because we wanted to also highlight that it’s your rights that are affected. If somebody is bullying you they are taking away some of your rights. So they’d to look at some of the rights of the child and think about which ones they think are important and think about what it would be like if we didn’t have those rights respected. Then they had to write a wish for themself, a wish for the school and a wish for the world and tie it onto the tree.

It’s certainly refreshing to see just how much our school is contributing to the issue of bullying and Mrs Higgins’ commitment to tackling this encourages us to perhaps reconsider the way we treat other people.

Mr Rosenberg Runs Lisbon Marathon for Mary’s Meals

Erin Seils| Reporter

Mr Rosenberg took part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll EDP Lisbon Marathon to raise money for Mary’s Meals. I took the opportunity to interview him about this experience.

Was this your first marathon? What made you choose this marathon?

Yes it was. I’ve got a great affinity with Portugal. My wife is Portuguese. I’ve been there every year for the past ten to fifteen years. Lisbon is my favourite European city. I’m a keen runner, I enjoy running. I don’t run every single day but I do enjoy running and I’ve always said if I’m going to run a marathon it would be the Lisbon Marathon.

When I saw the London Marathon on the TV in April that gave me the impetus. So I checked on the website when the Lisbon Marathon was and it was actually on the first day of the October break. So I could run it and I wouldn’t have to worry about going to work the next day.

Did you have to do a lot of training for the marathon? 

Yes, I did. I was always fairly fit anyway. I was always a reasonable runner but I couldn’t really run any more than six miles – that was my maximum. So I went onto the website and I got a marathon training sheet. It was simply a sheet that allowed you to complete a marathon – completing it is quite a big thing. I picked up the training round about July and I ran in Madeira – a Portugese Island. It was very, very humid but I ran about four or five times there. I also ran in Porto, which is a city North of Lisbon. I ran a few miles there. When I got back to Scotland after the holidays. I then picked up the training programme. What you do is, you start off with small milages and you gradually build up. The last one I did was 20 miles in Strathclyde Park 3 weeks before the marathon and after that I tapered it down. So there was a training programme.

Did you find the weather a problem runnning in Lisbon?

To be fair, the weather in Lisbon in October is nice – except this year. It was very, very warm. We started off, it was twenty degrees at eight o’clock in the morning. When I finished at half past twelve, the temperature was about 33 degrees. And they made us run along the promenade for about two miles when we were exposed to the direct sun and people were struggling. When you’re running in Scotland and it’s a nice day you have a wee drink of water here and there. I had to drink 10 litres of water – that’s from eight o’clock until half twelve – and I had to pour another 10 litres over my head. My wife met me a couple of times, she actually gave me extra water to help.

Did you run the marathon by yourself or was there anyone else with you?

Just myself but my wife and daughter were there.  I knew exactly where the route was so I could say “get off the train at this point and meet me” so they met me at two diffferent bits round the road. They filmed me with their mobile phones and had the Scottish flags in hand. It’s actually very good because it’s quite a difficult thing but when you know someone is round the corner it gives you that wee bit of impetus.

What was your time for the marathon?

My chip time was 4 hours and 29 mins.

So, do you enjoy running?

I do. It’s a great way to keep fit. Well when I go running, I’m never running to get any sort of time – I never compete. But I do enjoy running because it keeps you fit and it helps to clear the mind.

Do you like to listen to music when you run?

No, I just think my thoughts.

Why did you choose to run for Mary’s Meals in particular? How much did you raise?

I’ve actually raised over £500 which is much, much more than I expected. The staff have been very generous but neighbours have contributed to it, my hairdresser contributed to it, family have contributed to it and I’ve managed to raise much more than I expected.

I chose the charity because I’m an educator and I understand the value of education, I understand the value of global education. And I honestly feel, if the whole world was better educated, the world would become a better place. I honestly believe all our problems will disappear provided educational standards keep on rising. Whether that will actually happen, I don’t know. But I certainly believe, the better educated the world is, the less problems. We know what the problems are: there’s economic problems, there’s terrorist problems, a huge problem with poverty – all of these things. Mary’s Meals is designed to help alleviate them.

 

 

Catalonia Declares Independence

Erin Seils| Reporter

The Catalan parliament has declared independence from Spain.

This motion was approved by Catalan MPs with 70 in favour, 10 against, and two abstentions in the 135-seat chamber.

Some have shown their support for the movement – Finnish MP Mikko Kärnä, tweeted shortly after the declaration was made:

On the other hand, it seems as though Catalonia may have to be careful about speaking too soon. Immediately after the Catalan Parliament announced their independence from Spain, Mariano Rajoy Brey, Spain’s Prime Minister tweeted urging Spanish people to stay calm and that the rule of law will be restored in Catalonia.

Continue reading Catalonia Declares Independence

Anthony Nolan – Could you save a life?

Erin Seils|

Last week, pupils and teachers between 16 and 30 were given the opportunity to save a life. After simply giving a saliva sample, they could now potentially cure someone with blood cancer.

Continue reading Anthony Nolan – Could you save a life?

5 New Technologies That Will Change Your Life In the Next 10 Years

Erin Seils|

It’s 2017 and it already seems as though we are living in the future. However, in the next 10 years it’s only going to get better.

Continue reading 5 New Technologies That Will Change Your Life In the Next 10 Years

What iPhone should you buy?

Erin Seils|

We’ve been hearing rumours of a new iPhone for the past few months. However, if you were planning on buying Apple’s latest smartphone, you’ve now got a decision to make.

Continue reading What iPhone should you buy?