Helping hand from TES Scotland

A NEW award, supported by The TES Scotland, to promote good practice in working with pupils who need additional support has been announced this week with the selection of the first finalists.

Organised by the Scottish Support for Learning Association, the finalists were chosen on the merits of their partnership arrangements. These were judged on the basis of work which was considered to be particularly innovative, effective, sustainable andor transferable.

The judges were: Kay Tisdall, of Children in Scotland; Mike Gibson, of the Scottish Executive Education Department's special educational needs unit; Pamela Munn, dean of education at Edinburgh University; Simon Macaulay, assistant secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland; and Neil Munro, editor of The TES Scotland.

The winners will be chosen following presentations at a special celebration conference in Stirling on September 6, addressed by Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, and Gordon Jeyes, director of children's services with Stirling.

The six finalists are:

* A guided writing project involving P2 pupils from Edenside primary in Kelso which aims to develop independent writing skills.

* A "reading buddy club" run by St Mungo's primary in Alloa, involving primary 7 and their "wee buddies" from primaries 1-6.

* A sensory impairment approach from Fife which works with a blind pupil from Lochgelly High, his friends, sensory impairment service staff and Fife Society for the Blind.

* A lunchtime support scheme run by the Barnardo's SPACE project with St Columba's primary in Dundee, aimed at pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties and using P7 children as mentors.

* An arts-based behavioural support initiative at Harlaw Academy in Aberdeen involves pupils who are not achieving academically or socially in a Friday afternoon out of school curriculum featuring film- making, photography and drama.

* A "letterbox project" run by the community education service in South Ayrshire along with the health board and other organisations provides a service for young people aged 12-20 in Girvan.

Bill Sadler, president of the SSLA, said that across Scotland there were huge local variations of provision, resources, terminology and staff roles. "It is not easy, nor perhaps wise, to compare. What is new and exciting practice in one school may be old practice in another. What is possible in one location may be unrealisable and perhaps not desirable in another. What works with one may fail with another."

The project was set up with a New Opportunities Fund grant and the Scottish Executive's special needs innovation fund. It is supported by Macdonald Hotels, Benenden Healthcare, the EIS, Children in Scotland and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

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