A podium for young values

25th February 2011 at 00:00
A film on greed and alienation impressed the judges of a new award, writes Julia Belgutay

The first John Byrne Award, designed to encourage sixth-year pupils to consider values, has been won by four pupils from Currie High in Edinburgh.

The award was named after the writer and artist John Byrne, in recognition of his contribution to the arts and his view that students should be encouraged to develop their own set of values. It is set to become an annual event, which will be open to individuals and groups from schools all over Scotland. To take part, pupils have to study a "stimulus", chosen by the panel, which portrays a view on values.

This year's stimulus was Jimmy Reid's 1972 rectorial address at Glasgow University on "alienation", which he famously defined as "the cry of men who feel themselves the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control" and "the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes of decision making".

Following in-depth research, candidates had to develop their entry, choosing any medium they liked, including text, drama, film, music or art, to convey their opinion on the values portrayed in the stimulus and hold a presentation on their submission.

The winning team of Terri Steel, Beth Cairns, Hannah Smith and Calum McCulloch produced a documentary film exploring the themes of greed, selfishness, alienation and participation. They won pound;7,000 and a print by Byrne, which was handed over by the artist at a ceremony in Edinburgh.

A total of 22 teams from six Edinburgh schools competed, and the judges included John Byrne; Richard Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh; Joyce McMillan, political and social commentator; and Boroughmuir headteacher Jack Hamilton.

Percy Farren, the senior depute head at Currie High, said: "I am immensely proud of these four young people and know that the values that we all hold so dear are safe in their hands."

`Cry of men'

For his rectorial address in 1972, Jimmy Reid spoke of the sense of alienation that affected Britons.

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