Celebrities recite their times tables

WHAT DO Ally McCoist and the First Minister have in common? Certainly, the media spotlight tends to fall on each of them with a certain regularity, but it's doubtful that Jack McConnell has ever reached the sporting heights of McCoist, or that the former Rangers and Scotland striker will ever scale the political ladder ascended by McConnell. Although stranger things have happened.

For the moment, however, their common cause is a little closer to the educational field of play, and it's one that was shared by eight other Scottish celebrities in Langbank Primary's recent venture into the world of enterprise in aid of the Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

As with many Scottish initiatives, the idea was born of frustration that major suppliers often look to England as their main market and only tag on Scotland as an afterthought. Or, in this case, not at all.

"It all began over two years ago," explains Margaret Fraser, Langbank's headteacher. "A former teacher at the school was trying to buy some tapes of multiplication tables. She scoured every shop and every learning centre she could find, but all the products had tables recited the "English way", with the multiplier coming second instead of first, rather than our traditional Scottish approach which has the multiplier coming first."

It was a (relatively) short step from there to formulating the suggestion that they "do it themselves", but what began as a fairly simple idea expanded to a more ambitious scheme that became a two-year project.

"It was a big learning curve for all of us," confirms Mrs Fraser, "and although it ticked lots of boxes in areas such as enterprise and the Determined to Succeed programme, that didn't compare for a minute with the excitement that it gave the pupils in what was a genuinely whole-school project.

"We've been extremely grateful for the help so freely given by so many celebrities."

Technical sound-mixing assistance from Stow College and breakfast-show DJ George Bowie of Radio Clyde come in for especial praise, as do sponsors Swallow Hotels, Arnold Clark and Phoenix Honda cars.

But it is the celebrities who make this CD of "Scottish times tables" a bit different - they range from the aforementioned political and sports stars to the wide-ranging talents of Carol Smillie, Lorraine Kelly, Louise White, Susie McGuire, Jackie Bird, and BBC Scotland personalities Dougie Vipond and Graham Anderson.

The chance for expressive performance to shine through is limited by the nature of the scripts, but the collection is a worthwhile addition to any primary school's maths armoury. And at pound;4 a copy, it won't break many budgets.

"It would be nice if a commercial sponsor were to be interested in marketing it even further," concedes Mrs Fraser.

"We'd be delighted to hear from any school wanting to buy a copy. They'd be getting a very useful CD - and be helping to support CHAS at the same time."

Contact Margaret Fraser, Head-teacher, Langbank Primary School, Dennistoun Road, Langbank PA14 6XH, 01475 540 294. Cheques (pound;4 per CD, inc. pp) should be made payable to Langbank Primary School.

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