Academy scoops prize for its newspaper links

23rd July 2010 at 01:00
How Bishopbriggs Academy is building links with working professionals

It used to be that if someone came to school to tell pupils about their job, it was a special occasion - a diversion, even a distraction, from the more important day-to-day grind of lessons.

The Bishopbriggs Academy attitude to building links with working professionals shows times are changing, as principal teacher of enterprise Sarah-Jane McCrory makes clear: "I think (links) are absolutely crucial when you are trying to prepare children for the outside world."

Ms McCrory's job title alone suggests a school in touch with the imperatives of curricular reform (it also has a principal teacher of health). There is further innovation in "employer partnerships", which extend across 10 departments. These were highlighted by judges as one of the main reasons for the East Dunbartonshire school winning the secondary Enterprise and Employability Across Learning prize.

Businesses and organisations involved include the Scottish Book Trust, toiletries-maker Arran Aromatics, The Fort shopping centre, the Goethe- Institut and a local nursing home. A particularly strong bond exists between The Herald and Evening Times newspapers and four departments: history, modern studies, art and English.

This enabled a photographer to work with the Higher photography class on a poster campaign to promote reading, writing and numeracy in the school. The Herald's deputy editor worked with pupils from S1 to S6 to look at how conflict was reported in the media.

The partnerships have also benefited staff, by showing fresh approaches to teaching their subject, and the employers themselves. Suilven Plazalska, a jewellery designer who worked with Higher art and design pupils, was inspired by her experience with the academy to such a degree that she has embarked on a new career - as a teacher.

Grange Academy in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, won the Entrepreneurial Learning Award after opening up its own town centre shop, The Wee Fir Tree, to sell products made by pupils. The project was featured in `The TESS' on December 18 last year.

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