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Masterclasses kick off as pupils and teachers raise their game

An Aberdeen primary is stepping up a level by swapping children's `Golden Time' for a greater set of challenges

An Aberdeen primary is stepping up a level by swapping children's `Golden Time' for a greater set of challenges

In one classroom the pupils are customising old jeans with beads and glitter; down the corridor they're learning about football legend Denis Law, a former pupil at this Aberdeen primary.

Teachers have brought their passions into class and their enthusiasm is putting smiles on young faces. But it's not just about having a good time.

Kittybrewster Primary is swapping Golden Time for the Masterclass - a weekly session where pupils choose from a range of topics, such as football or fashion, fitness, health and beauty, cookery and sign language.

The sessions are cross-curricular and involve wide-ranging skills, including literacy and numeracy, health and well-being. Once they've completed the six-week courses, the children will receive certificates to mark their achievement.

"I was actively looking for something to replace or re-energise Golden Time, so that's where it really began," says head Ian Macindoe.

"Golden Time has been done on a Friday afternoon and I just thought it was a bit loose. That's where I first started to see if I could change, adapt or innovate.

"At the same time, all schools in the authority had to produce this curriculum map, which was like a vision statement three years down the line. So you had a first, second and third-year action plan - just showing the direction the school was going to move in. So Masterclass was dropped in alongside other things happening this session."

In line with Curriculum for Excellence, the Masterclass will offer the pupils personalisation, choice and depth in their learning. When children opted for football as their Golden Time activity, it involved a kick-about in the playground, but the Masterclass aims to bring a new breadth and depth of learning.

Participation no longer depends on good behaviour - everyone joins in. Only the infants still have Golden Time, and by next year Mr Macindoe hopes the whole school will have switched to the Masterclass.

In football, pupils will do mental maths, learn how to navigate round a football club website to build on their ICT skills and get coaching opportunities from an SFA qualified coach who works with school business partners John Lewis.

Mr Macindoe is entering into the full spirit and wearing a replica of Denis Law's number 10 shirt for today's Masterclass. One of his personal heroes, the footballer went to school here and lived nearby.

"The first game my father took me to was at Hampden, to see Denis Law play," he reflects. "That was in 1965. It counts for me that I am now headteacher of the school he once attended and, through that, I've actually shaken his hand and spoken to him at the official opening of the new Aberdeen Sports Village in March."

The school was invited to the launch of the state-of-the-art centre, at which the 70-year-old Law was one of the VIP guests.

What these children don't know about the footballing legend is not worth knowing. They even copy his trademark raised right arm gesture when he scored a goal. And it's not all boys who've chosen this: "I do it because I like playing football," says Ashleigh Davidson, 11.

This morning they are watching grainy black-and-white footage of Law's career highlights and been practising reading a passage about his role in a landmark Scotland victory against the reigning English world champions in April 1967.

"We've got the P7s in with the P4s, so we `buddied' them up and the P7s helped them with their reading - a simple bit of text, The Day Scotland became World Champions," says Mr Macindoe.

He is being teased at home and at school for bringing football to the fore.

"Jill Calder, the school administrator, and my wife both said, `Are you sure you're really doing this for the children?' he laughs, as he leads them out into the playground for some keepy-uppy before the bell goes.


Her passion for fashion inspired a Masterclass which is providing a new winter wardrobe for this class.

Pupil support assistant Lynn Rose has encouraged children and staff to bring in unwanted clothes, and this morning they plan to re-invent tired items with a bit of festive bling.

Lynn's showing the children a black vest she has revived with turquoise jewels from unwanted bracelets and earrings. "Quite a lot of boys signed up for this as well, so that was good," says Miss Rose.

Evan Thomson, 11, and a group of friends are sketching some ideas: "This is just a normal white shirt and I'm drawing a tie on it with fabric pens." Nearby, Osama Meshi, 10, from P6-7 says: "I chose this class because I like to design."

David McAllister, 11, had a lot of clothes he thought he could change into something else, instead of just wasting them, and Mariana Fikry, 11, is thinking of "sparkles and stuff".

The pupils will also have a workshop run by school business partners John Lewis ahead of an end-of-term fashion show. "They are going to show us how to turn day into evening wear by accessorising and adding things which will totally transform your outfit," says Miss Rose.

Staff from John Lewis visit the school every week to help P3 with their reading, and one of its chefs will help with the cookery Masterclass.

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