A magical mystery tour

1st May 2009 at 01:00
One Highland primary found a lucrative niche in the market when it created a DVD of Gaelic songs for nursery children

Since it premiered in November, Portree Primary's DVD of Gaelic children's songs - De an-diugh? ("What's Today?") - has sold around 300 copies and made almost Pounds 2,000 for the Skye school.

The enterprise project began over a year ago, when it dawned on pupils in the school's P6-7 Gaelic-medium class, during a lesson about rhyme, that programmes in Gaelic for pre-school children were scarce.

"Mrs MacDonald said her kids watched lots of nursery programmes, but none were in Gaelic," explains Angie (Angus) Grant, 11.

For its enterprise project, the class decided to rectify the situation. A company was set up - also called De an-diugh - and the pupils applied for posts, submitting their CVs and being interviewed by headteacher John Finlayson. Now the DVD is a reality but, along the way, the pupils have faced tough decisions and had to become accustomed to negotiating with big businesses like Sony, which produced the disc.

Their first difficult decision came when the film-maker brought in to help told the class they should aim to make it just five minutes long, far shorter than anticipated.

"For five minutes, it wouldn't have been worth it," says Angie.

"Children would watch it once and that would be it," feels 11-year-old Nathan Stewart.

Ultimately, the pupils decided that what was on offer was not what they were looking for and they employed a different filmmaker. They had already decided against carrying out the filming themselves, because they wanted a sleek, professional finish.

The children do, however, star in the DVD alongside wee ones from the school's Gaelic nursery class. They employed a choreographer and a drama worker to hone their acting skills and help with the storyline.

The P6-7s also took responsibility for teaching the songs to the nursery children. "They set up a rota and went down and taught the songs and actions to them," says Shona MacDonald, the class teacher.

De an-diugh? has a simple storyline, which young children will be able to follow and identify with. It begins with the four-year-olds from the Gaelic nursery listening to a song with their teacher, before she and they fall asleep in class. When they wake, the toy clown, which sits in the corner of the classroom, comes alive and takes them on a magical musical tour of the school.

What has made the disc attractive, the school claims, is that the final product is both DVD and CD, so children can watch the film at home and listen to the songs in the car.

The pupils are delighted with their film's success. According to Angie, "doing the acting in front of camera and talking with big business people" has given him more confidence.

Fellow P7 pupil Sean Stevenson agrees: "This has given us practice and encouragement for future jobs."

Angie also hopes that the disc will help more children learn Gaelic.

The enterprise project has been hugely valuable, says Mr Finlayson. "It has resulted in a high-quality finished product and the pupils have experienced a variety of situations which mirror what can happen in the real world and world of work," he said.

"They experienced having to plan and fund a project, work collaboratively and price their product so it covered their costs and was also affordable - everything that Determined to Succeed and Curriculum for Excellence are about."

As well as the dual disc, the enterprise company decided to sell books containing the lyrics. The profit from this - over Pounds 200 - was donated to Children in Need. The school plans on putting the profits from the disc towards a new minibus.


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