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Strangers unmasked

Co-operative learning has been improving behaviour at a Borders secondary, by getting pupils to know their classmates better. Second year art pupils at Biggar High were put in pairs to create a horror-type monster mask with papier mache, forcing them to use social skills to achieve the academic goal.

Key was pairing up pupils with someone they didn't know well, so they had to develop skills such as being polite and encouraging. Lorraine Leiper, an art teacher at Biggar, said the pupils worked well together once they got to know one another. They were able to share ideas, help and learn from each other, which improved attainment and behaviour.

She said: "They had to use their co-operative skills to get on. When we initiated it they were saying, 'I'm not working with him', but they developed strategies to work together. They may never speak to that person again, but they learned new things together. They are more confident, which builds into the "confident individuals" element of A Curriculum for Excellence."

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