Masterclass that crosses all boundaries

12th December 2008 at 00:00
P7 to S6 students have been creating prints under an artist's and each other's guidance

The opportunity to work with a well-known artist cannot be topped for students studying art and design. In nine schools across Scotland, this has become reality for 158 children over the past six weeks.

Willie Rodger, one of Scotland's best known print-makers and master linocut artists, has been helping Primary 7 pupils up to Advanced Higher students creat prints as part of their coursework.

Rodger has been working with Media Matters Education Consultancy, using Glow, the Scottish schools intranet, to provide online tutorials and workshops, with each pupil allocated their own page to upload their work in progress, commentary and final results.

"Lots of schools had asked me to visit," says Rodger. "I couldn't physically get around them all, so we came up with the idea of producing a DVD. Progressing on to using Glow was a natural step."

Each class was assigned a task by its teacher. Having watched the DVD, they were then ready for the masterclass workshop with Rodger at the end of October.

"There is a chat facility on Glow, which we open up to the students at lunchtimes and after school on a Friday," explains Angela McEwan of Media Matters. "They have been very good at putting constructive comments on each other's page and they ask each other questions.

"They chat to each other and if they are on for a while, we sometimes set them tasks. Assessment for learning is very much the concept."

Alison McCloy, a principal teacher at Kirkintilloch High in East Dunbartonshire, agrees. "It is an excellent use of assessment for learning as well as encompassing A Curriculum for Excellence.

"The opportunity to work with Willie Rodger is pretty phenomenal. Each link-up has gone really well. It has encouraged us to think of other ways of using Glow."

The pupils have been enthusiastic too, even spending spare time on their work. One described it as "an excellent experience and I will remember it for the rest of my life".

"The DVD was a great help, particularly for ideas," says art and design teacher Odette Brown of Park Mains High in Erskine, Renfrewshire. "And it was motivating for the students to see an artist at work."

While Rodger is central to the work, Media Matters does not underestimate the role of teachers. "Class teachers are absolutely crucial," says Ms McEwan. "It is very much hands-on art and design. We want it to be part of the coursework."

A link-up with each school this month allowed Rodger to speak to every pupil individually about their creations. "I was impressed and surprised by the level of work and questions asked," he says. "I think the kids have got a lot from it. They have found out the possibilities of the medium and found it an interesting experience."

He has also been impressed by the way pupils have helped each other. "The pupils' chatting is a plus," he says. "We should share more ideas. Too much is under lock and key."

The grand finale is today with the launch of an online exhibition.



- Back School, Western Isles, S2 Landscapes inspired by the community

- Bargarran Primary, Renfrewshire, P7 A Glasgow skyline at sunset

- Clydebank High, West Dunbartonshire, S2 Animals, fields, weather

- Dumfries Academy, S1 Patterns in images: stonework, roof tiles, window frames

- Hazlehead Academy, Aberdeen, S2 Character portraits of people in class

- Kirkintilloch High, East Dunbartonshire, Advanced Higher One object, many memories

- Morgan Academy, Dundee, S3 Your Dundee

- Park Mains High, Renfrewshire, S3 Proms in The Park

- Strathaven Academy, South Lanarkshire, Advanced Higher Various, including My Journey


A class in nine schools across Scotland was assigned an art task by their teacher. Having watched the DVD produced by Willie Rodger, one of Scotland's best known print-makers and master linocut artists, they were all ready to follow the masterclass workshop with him at the end of October using Glow, the Scottish schools intranet. Each pupil was allocated their own page to upload their work in progress, commentary and final results, and Glow facilities allowed teachers and other pupils to regularly leave comments. A link-up with each school earlier this month allowed Rodger to speak to every pupil individually and give feedback.

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