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Birdsong banishes big school blues

"HAPPINESS," in the words of 12-year-old Christopher, "sounds like birds singing and feels silky." With typical Glasgow gallusness, and sporting a brand new Rangers jersey, poetry-making was the last thing that might have been expected of him. More predictably for a youngster living in the city's sprawling Drumchapel housing estate, he wants to be a professional footballer.

Less predictable and slightly less poetic was Jennifer, also 12, whose wish was to be "a Big Mac so I would be Queen of McDonald's". Her aspiration is to be an architect.

They were two of the 36 children taking part in Glasgow's first summer school for primary pupils transferring to secondary. The transition programme is an extension of the Drumchapel primary support project which targets pupils who need behavioural support or who are underachieving. There were 24 children at a two-week session in Drumchapel High, with another 12 attending for a week.

In addition to working in language, art, craft and design, PE and information technology, there were visits to the Hunterian Museum, Anniesland College, where they surfed the Net, and the Trossachs where they swapped their surfboards for canoes.

Patrick McGrory, a technical teacher in Drumchapel High, volunteered to break into his holidays to take part. "The summer school has given many of the children confidence they might not otherwise have had," he said. "When they go to secondary, they should not feel so alienated."

Anne Thompson, the project's co-ordinator, said that, as well as making new friends, the group has learned new skills and had lots of fun at the same time. The summer school will culminate in a "display and celebration" in mid-August so that parents can see examples of the children's work.

The parents of 11-year-old Kerryann will no doubt be amused when they read her poem describing surprise as "tasting of pickles and smelling of chips". Perhaps by then she will have finally decided what she really wants to be - a basketball player or a model.

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