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Learning isall about skills, fun and a carrot

Pupils at Houston primary in Renfrewshire develop greater powers of concentration, application and memory through music, Myra Hamilton, the headteacher, believes. All pupils in P4-P6 learn to play the recorder and read music with spin-offs for other areas, including social skills.

"We believe that in addition to the sheer enjoyment of making music together, skills which are developed in learning to play music and sing are reflected in successful learning in other curricular areas, for example, maths and language," Mrs Hamilton says.

Staff are working hard to make it acceptable fr boys to achieve. Senior boys can stay behind for study support sessions between 3pm and 4pm with the carrot of football at 4.15pm.

An accelerated reading programme is proving also popular. Each book is supported by a computer-generated quiz which has multiple choice questions. Shirley Morton, Houston's depute head, said: "These are very detailed questions and they are challenging."

Parent workshops are another arm of the strategy. "We want to draw to their attention things they can do since they are not always aware that boys are under-achieving," Mrs Hamilton says.

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