Olympics help Scottish schools strike gold

10th February 2012 at 00:00
The UK's major sporting event has captured the imagination of Scottish pupils

Scottish teachers and pupils are embracing this year's Olympics in London - often with greater enthusiasm than schools in England.

Schools at a "legacy" event in Glasgow last week showed how the Olympics and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were already having a dramatic impact on school life.

The tone was set by Shona Robison, the Commonwealth Games and sport minister, who said that 1,783 schools (65.8 per cent) were involved in the Get Set schools programme that ties in with this year's Olympics. Some Scottish councils have a greater proportion of schools involved than England does as a whole.

At Calderglen High in East Kilbride, different subjects have struck up Olympic alliances: art and technical to make "medals"; music and drama to work on dances and an opening ceremony; home economics and science on calorie intake and anti-doping.

Head Tony McDaid said the publicity for the London games made it a topic that resonated, even more than in other Olympic years.

Numerous projects have further captured Calderglen pupils' imagination, including an exchange with a school in South Africa, work with Namibian sprinter Marilyn Diamond and designing art for the Olympic village.

"It's quite exciting to think that a piece of art by one of our young people could be what Usain Bolt sees when he gets up in the morning," Mr McDaid said.

It was too late now for schools to think about a long-term Olympics legacy if they hadn't started already, he told the conference - although there was still time with the Commonwealth Games.

The success of the cross-curricular work, Mr McDaid added, led to a bold decision to embrace such an approach even beyond the Olympics topic. For six weeks, S2 pupils will be taken out of the normal curriculum, to stretch their imaginations by designing flying cars and writing graphic novels, among other projects.

Meanwhile, Linlithgow is to hold its own Olympic Games. A series of interdisciplinary challenges is taking place, before the "Lin Olympics" themselves on 9 May, involving Linlithgow Academy and its 10 cluster schools.

The choir will have 10-15 pupils from each school; an Olympic torch will be made by a local foundry; and, from this month, each Friday a different staff member will run a leg of a torch relay.

"There's something special going on in this cluster," said Gillian Millar, headteacher of Low Port Primary.

Linlithgow primary PE specialist Lesley Malone said the project was succeeding because of the huge enthusiasm for the Olympic theme, despite being wholly reliant on schools raising funds themselves, with help from local businesses.


Students take the lead

More than 1,000 pupils and students from across Scotland are taking part in a Commonwealth Games youth leadership and volunteering campaign.

Lead 2014 was launched last week at the University of Stirling, and aims to inspire young people's leadership skills.

The programme, run by Sportscotland, the Youth Sport Trust and Glasgow 2014, is working with pupils from 137 Scottish secondaries in February and March, at conferences around the country.

University student volunteers will mentor the pupils in how to organise a Commonwealth Games-themed sports festival for local primary schools.

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