Green message ticks box

Jean McLeish

A stornoway teacher marked the end of her teaching career with a whistle-stop tour of the Highlands and Islands, to act as a mentor for this year's Big Green Challenge competition.

English teacher Christine MacCuish left the Nicolson Institute in September, after a career which began almost 40 years ago. Last year, she coached a team to success in the regional debating competition, so she was invited to share her tips with teams at six other schools.

Ten days after retiring, she took just three days to visit three Lewis schools and then crossed the Minch to Plockton, Gairloch and Ullapool.

"It's been a very nice way to remember the end of my career," says Miss MacCuish, who had accompanied prizewinners to Navarre in Spain, which gets more than 60 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.

Miss MacCuish adopted renewable energy for a project with her Standard grade pupils.

"We wrote about it and discussed it. By this time, people were beginning to argue because the Lewis wind farm projects were very, very topical and everyone had very strong views."

This year, more than 120 S1-3 pupils from 25 Highlands and Islands schools are in the debating competition, which is organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Keith Grammar was runner-up last year and its coach, principal teacher of guidance Alison Harper, is preparing novice debaters for this year's first round.

"I chose them because I thought they had the necessary skills and aptitude for it," she says, "and also the bottle, because debaters need a fair bit of bottle.

"It's teaching them logic and it's teaching them confidence. It's making them look at an issue that is really topical and is proving increasingly relevant.

"This is a topic that young folk in particular get really fired up about. It's all the things required by A Curriculum for Excellence - it's ticking every box."

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Jean McLeish

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