Building character and confidence

Inverurie Academy already offers a lot of things to promote the "four capacities" specified in the Scottish Executive document A Curriculum for Excellence, namely successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society.

One example is its weekly Active Steps programme of activities, which leads to a Duke of Edinburgh award. The best part is that "it gets you out of school every Wednesday afternoon," Billy Hunter, an S3 pupil, admits honestly.

"I enjoy the activities," he says. "We've done go-karting, horse riding, rock-climbing, quad biking - that's my favourite so far."

But for a boy who wants to be a lorry driver, there are also more positive benefits.

"It has changed me. I'm a lot calmer in class now and I get on better with my teachers."

The music, drama and art departments stage multi-disciplinary projects that nurture and develop the four capacities, and the history department recently published a book of contributions and interviews with local people to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Claire Yule, an S6 student, played a big role in researching and writing the book.

"I didn't always have a lot of confidence. I used to speak only when spoken to," she explains.

"I've learned so much by going out and interviewing people about their memories. I had never done anything like that before.

"Then there's all the organisational skills: arranging meetings, getting to them, writing it all up, checking that people are happy with it.

"It has been great."

As Scotland's top Standard grade home economics student, S5 pupil Mikaela Newman recently attended an awards ceremony in London.

"I flew down with my home economics teacher and back the next day," she says. "I had never been to London before so we took a tour in a taxi: Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park ..."

"I learned a lot about possible careers from the British Nutrition Foundation, which organised the ceremony. But what I'll remember most was talking to the Princess Anne, who was really interesting and very knowledgeable about nutrition."

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