Retirement is not the end of career

1st July 2011 at 01:00
Lifetime achievement winner intends to carry on good work

Brigid Duthie has no plans to stop working, even after retirement as principal teacher of support for learning at Perth Grammar.

The winner of this year's lifetime achievement category at the Scottish Education Awards plans to continue the work with young people with additional support needs that she describes as her "vocation".

In her 23 years at Perth Grammar, she has driven support programmes for hundreds of children and helped many more on their path through secondary and on to life beyond school.

One of her proudest achievements, she told TESS, was the success of the Individual Motor Skills Programme she developed with a colleague more than a decade ago.

Children come out of class four times a week over a period of six weeks to do exercises to address fine and gross motor difficulties, Mrs Duthie explained. The programme, which is tailored to each child, is monitored by senior pupils, who pick the children up from class, take them to the PE department for the exercises, and assess and feed back results. It now runs in more than 100 schools across Scotland.

She also developed a course to raise disability awareness, which has been used with S1 children for the past five years.

As part of it, current and former pupils with support needs talk about their experiences. "It is one of the most moving programmes I have been involved with - someone with cerebral palsy being able to talk about how it feels to have everything done for you," Mrs Duthie said.

Judges praised Mrs Duthie's work to create a smooth transition for new pupils with additional support needs coming to Perth Grammar by personally visiting primary pupils from as early as P5.

"She has developed fantastic relationships with parents," said headteacher John Low. Meeting Mrs Duthie and receiving her support lifted a weight off parents' shoulders, who often felt they had to fight hard for their children's provision, he said.

To equip young people with life and employability skills, Mrs Duthie developed a "Super Soups" course, in which they ran a small catering business, costing, making and selling a new soup every week. Not only did they gain SQA accreditation for their work, but pupils also grew in confidence and raised over pound;1,000 for charity over five years.

Mrs Duthie plans to devote more of her time to Motorvate Scotland, the private company she founded with colleagues in 2007, which focuses on early identification and assessment of young people's needs, working on their motor skills and providing training for parents and teachers.

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