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Lessons with practical impact

The nine enterprise projects being run by the S6 pupils at Peebles High are:l Bus Dl a charities committeel a committee to establish a school trophy cabinetl a committee to erect school flagpolesl an art committee to create sculptures from organic materialsl an atrium committee, to make the school's millennium atrium garden safer and more accessiblel a committee to set up and run an S5-S6 leaving day conferencel an African awareness conference, andl an Access for All committee to develop ways of making the curriculum more accessible for pupils with motor difficulties, wheelchairs, dyslexia difficulties and sensory impairments.

"These projects are designed to encourage a 'can do' attitude in senior pupils," says depute headteacher Paul Fagan. "They will all have a practical impact on the school, but it is the process that is as important as the outcomes.

"We have high academic success here, but there is also a high drop-out rate when our pupils go on to university. This often relates, I think, to a rural upbringing and to limited styles of learning. Even our brighter pupils sometimes resist the idea of going away to university because they can't see themselves leaving the Borders. So we want to encourage them to experience different kinds of learning," he says.

The S6 pupils seem enthusiastic. Jessica Rae, who is part of the Bus D team, says: "It will develop all sorts of skills - communication, team-building, organisation - because we will be working with so many different people. I think it'll be a good bonding experience and will give us all a great sense of achievement."

Andrew Lewin, who is on the organic art committee, explains: "We've decided to create organic sculptures for the Christmas music concert, for parents'

evenings, for the Easter services and for Manor Kirk, which is where the annual seniors' hike ends every summer.

"It'll be fun, we'll learn new skills and we'll be able to see an immediate impact on the school environment. And maybe learning these skills will help us get ahead at university, where I want to study to be a vet."

Michael Boyd is on the S5-S6 conference committee. "It's a fantastic opportunity. Think of it: a chance to shape everyone's last day of our school careers and make it fun.

"It'll be great team work. At the moment I'm doing a lot of liaising. I like the fact it's a chance to do something on our own. I'm sure it will help us to mature and develop a greater sense of responsibility."

Lisa Glass, who is on the Access for All committee, says: "We are committed to this idea and we don't need a teacher keeping an eye on us.

"It'll be a good experience for me as I want to be a psychologist or counsellor. It will increase the organisational skills of the pupils involved and give us a sense of self-empowerment, achieving it on our own.

"I chose this because of the tangible benefits. The next S1 intake will benefit, as will others, because it will be run over the years by succeeding S6 pupils."

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