Secondaries climb aboard Dame Ellen's 'circular economy'

Henry Hepburn

A charity set up by the record-breaking yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur to change how young people view the world - and how teachers work - has made rapid inroads in Scottish secondaries, according to a report.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, formed in 2010, links schools with university researchers and sets real-world business challenges.

The venture is part of a campaign by Dame Ellen to champion a "circular economy" which promotes recycling over traditional forms of manufacturing and consumption.

The charity commissioned a report by William Scott, emeritus professor of education at the University of Bath, to assess its impact to date.

A spokeswoman for the charity said the foundation now works with some 200 Scottish secondary schools, mostly in the Central Belt, which are using its resources and continuing professional development training for teachers.

She added that the foundation was close to its immediate target of working in half of Scotland's secondaries, but that the longer-term aim was to be in every secondary.

According to Professor Scott's evaluation, Education Scotland's chief executive, Bill Maxwell, believes the approach the charity takes "fits perfectly" with the transition taking place in schools with Curriculum for Excellence.

It has chosen six UK "pathfinder schools" to explore its ideas, including two in Scotland: Loudoun Academy in East Ayrshire, and Renfrewshire's Paisley Grammar.

The foundation hopes that while some schools "may be content to tweak the curriculum at the margins for a few students ... others will take a more visionary and systemic approach".

Paisley Grammar headteacher Caroline Amos said the school's teachers had been coming up with approaches to support the foundation's aims and Curriculum for Excellence. These include a design challenge for the entire S3 group at the 1,060- pupil school.

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