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Family at war brings schools closer

A bold project in Clydebank is tackling primary-secondary liaison through 5-14 environmental studies, the subject that causes most confusion for teachers.

The "Braidfield High cluster" involves the West Dunbartonshire secondary school with five associated primaries. Braidfield thought that its first-year pupils could benefit from continuity and that its teachers had something to learn from primary methods.

Peter Towndrow, an assistant headteacher at Braidfield, is working with primary and secondary teachers to write material for two topics. Most future Braidfield entrants will soon be familiar with the Rivers family, the focus for a study of Our Local Area.

Launched before the end of term at Whitecrook primary, it uses the story of a mythical family whose fortunes depended on the shipyards, whose life was disrupted by the Blitz and evacuation, had to endure the collapse of heavy industry and who now frequent the leisure centre and UCI cinema.

Among the teachers involved in creating the story, Evelyn Wylie at Kilbowie primary has a special commitment: she was among the wartime evacuees.

A family history satisfies a range of 5-14 requirements, from collecting evidence to using information technology and "taking action on health". When pupils arrive at Braidfield the list of departments which can make use of the Rivers experience is impressive: history, geography, modern studies, technical, English, drama, music, art, science and computing.

Another team of primary and secondary teachers are finalising work on The Millennium and Me. This set of challenges facing 21st-century Captain Meztak as he relaunches his stricken spaceship, will be trialled next session by Catriona McLean and her class at Linnvale primary, and the intention is to involve secondary specialists.

Mr Towndrow says that all departments will have an opportunity to see how a primary teacher approaches the curriculum and to confront the question: "Is there anything in this for me?" Sheila Campbell, headteacher at Kilbowie, says the project began when the five primaries were working together on environmental topics and were commissioned to write materials for use across Strathclyde.

Some of the topics were aimed at primary 7, and Michael O'Neill, head of curriculum development in Dunbarton division and now director of education for North Lanarkshire, agreed that secondary teachers should be brought in. They met together at Beardmore Hotel, part of the complex which houses Clydebank's most famous contemporary industry, the tax-supported HCI private hospital.

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