2nd October 2009 at 01:00

Music - On a high note

The Scottish Flute Trio, under its director Ruth Morley, has been awarded Scottish Arts Council funding to run composition workshops for senior pupils in Fife, East Renfrewshire and Orkney.

In Fife, the project will be based at Madras College in St Andrews. It will bring composer tutor Kenneth Dempster, as well as a trainee composer tutor, to the school over the next few weeks. They will work with 10 senior music students on the composition of works for the expanded flute trio - flutes plus cello, clarinet, bass and marimba. In addition to students developing compositional skills, an end-of-project performance will take place. There may also be scope for some of the work to feature in the trio's professional spring-time tour.

Home Ec - Food for thought

There has been a surge in uptake of food courses in Scotland's schools and colleges, says the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

The number of candidates taking home economics and related courses across Standard grade, Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher increased to 20,839 in 2008-09 from 20,036 the previous year, a jump of 4 per cent.

Frances Gallagher, a trustee of the British Nutrition Foundation, said there was a big shortage of food technologists, so in a time of rising unemployment young people were being drawn to this sector. The number of boys interested in the food industry was also on the rise. Home economics and related subjects, moreover, had never been marginalised in the curriculum as they had been in England.

The figures were revealed by SQA qualifications manager Graeme Findlay at the recent BNF conference in Edinburgh. He also told delegates that Advanced Higher health and food technology, which was in danger of being axed after the number of candidates fell from 32 in 2007-08 to 20 last year, had won a two-year reprieve.

Gaelic - A language and a Scholar

The addition of Gaelic to one of the world's largest distance-learning programmes has been hailed as another step on the way to ensuring the language's long-term survival.

Gaelic is to become part of Heriot-Watt University's online Scholar programme. It helps pupils in almost every Scottish secondary school with over 30 Higher and Advanced Higher courses, and has more than 100,000 registered students worldwide.

"The programme is particularly useful in honing language skills, as our technology helps the user with the pronunciation of new words and sounds," said Phillip John, the university's dean of science and engineering and executive chair of the Scholar Forum.

He added that the programme, which will become available to pupils in 2010 and is aimed at those learning Gaelic as a second language, allowed learning outside the school day.

Michael Russell, Minister for Gaelic, said: "This initiative has the potential to contribute to the real challenge of ensuring we can take Gaelic learners through to fluency, at the same time giving them opportunities to use Gaelic in everyday life. That is the only way we will ensure a secure and sustainable future for Gaelic in Scotland."

The Scholar Gaelic programme, which came about thanks to an pound;80,000 grant from the Scottish Government and assistance from Learning and Teaching Scotland, will also be available through Glow, the online network for Scottish schools.

French - Long may it Glow

Glow, the Scottish schools' intranet, has transformed the teaching of modern languages in one Dundee primary, a conference heard last month.

Sharon McQuillan, depute head of Barnhill Primary in Dundee, told the MLPS conference run by the Scottish Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research, that ICT had greatly enhanced her school's opportunities to motivate pupils to learn French. Roughly 98 per cent of Barnhill's P6-7 pupils had internet access at home and Glow had allowed it to cross boundaries between school and home.

In 2007-08, Barnhill was asked to trial the draft modern languages outcomes and experiences for A Curriculum for Excellence. A group of P7 pupils worked on one outcome at the second level which focused on the use of ICT.

Last year, it developed this work with another P7 class. Taking au cafe as the context, the children researched French cafe culture and recorded their findings, using a Glow group as a virtual learning environment. They used webcams, video recorders and easi-speak microphones to develop their French conversational skills and then created presentations in groups to demonstrate what they had learnt. The work earned the school a "Focus on Achievement Award" from Dundee City Council for innovation through A Curriculum for Excellence.

This year, Barnhill has been planning and recording its experiences and outcomes, including assessments and evaluations of pupil progress, with the help of a Learning and Teaching Scotland online tool.

It has established a link with a twin primary in Boigneville in France, and has set up a Glow guest account for one of the teachers in France. This facilitates email correspondence and also allows pupils to video- conference via Glow Meet.

"All of this can now easily be shared among practitioners, both locally and nationally, via the Glow portal," says Mrs McQuillan.

Computing - Computer says yes

The British Computer Society has announced plans to set up an academy of computing to create an integrated and coherent approach to advancing IT across education, research and business.

It is establishing the academy in partnership with key stakeholders such as the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing and the UK Computing Research Committee. It will address how best to:

- develop and support a cohesive community inclusive of scholars, researchers and professionals with a shared commitment to the advancement of computing;

- facilitate the scientific and engineering-based application of computing knowledge within organisations to support transformational change;

- endeavour to ensure the relevance of computing knowledge throughout the education, business and research sectors;

- promote excellence in the creation, study and application of knowledge in computing;

- engage with the public in order to facilitate a greater appreciation of the successes and challenges of computing, and facilitate informed debate about the roles computing should play in society at large.

PSE - Exhibition a hit

An exhibition of art and poetry created by pupils to highlight domestic abuse is on display at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop until October 7.

Professional poets and sculptors have worked with young people from various Edinburgh schools in a pilot project run by the city council and Edinburgh Women's Aid, in partnership with the sculpture workshop.

An estimated one in five women in Scotland are abuse victims and the project was set up with the aim of raising awareness of the complex issues surrounding domestic abuse.

Poets Anita Govan, Liz Niven and Helen Lamb, alongside sculptors Lara Greene, Elaine Allison and Patricia Bray, worked with P6 pupils at Liberton and Carrick Knowe Primaries, S3 at Boroughmuir High and Leith Academy, S2 at Woodlands Special School and the Canongate Youth Project to create exciting sculptural work with words.

The exhibition will go on tour after next week to the schools and centres involved; it will also be included in the NHS Lothian's Mental Health and Well-being programme of exhibits during October.

The poems have been collated into a book which was launched at the exhibition, and will be distributed across the city's schools for further exploration of the theme.


Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, 25 Hawthornvale, Newhaven, Edinburgh EH6 4JT


Arts - In their own space

Argyll and Bute's "Homecoming Rhapsody" celebration is to showcase the area's youth talent in music, photography and fashion.

The event, which will take place on October 28 and 29 in Oban and Helensburgh, will involve 120 senior pupils from Argyll and Bute's 10 secondary schools.

Following two days of residential rehearsals, the performers, artists and designers will open the celebration with a reprise of the Rhapsody musical work, written and directed specially for the young people of Argyll and Bute by Donald Shaw, the co-founder of Capercaillie. The performance will involve a mix of Gaelic song, pipes, drums, fiddles, accordions, guitars, woodwind, brass and percussion.

It will be accompanied by projected images of "our space" - a photographic collection from pupils across the area's secondary schools, who have worked with international photojournalist Colin McPherson in a series of school workshops. An accompanying stills exhibition will then tour Argyll and Bute secondaries.

The second half of the event will be a fashion show featuring hats, shoes, jewellery and garments, made by art and design students on the theme of "Scottish influence abroad".

The hair and make-up will be done by pupils from Islay High, with assistance from professional hairdressers and make-up artists.

Each school has selected several pupils as models for the fashion show; they will work on choreography and performance skills with a professional choreographer and drama consultant.


Social studies - The bonnie Clyde

The Classroom on the Clyde trip aboard "MV Cruiser" has been relaunched, following its success last year.

Some 120 social studies pupils and teachers from Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow were among the first to sail "doon the watter" this session as part of the initiative sponsored by Clyde Waterfront, which is responsible for co-ordinating and promoting the pound;5-6 billion regeneration of the river.

Classroom on the Clyde was launched last year as part of its Curriculum Resources for Schools initiative, which brings to life the regeneration and career opportunities of the River Clyde for primary and secondary pupils across Scotland. Its dedicated website offers 200 lesson plans written by teachers for teachers, linking 12 themes around the Clyde with the Scottish curriculum.

Operated by Clyde Marine Services, each Classroom on the Clyde trip takes about two hours, allowing teachers and pupils to view the regeneration of both banks, sailing from the SECC past Braehead and Xscape to Clydebank's Titan Crane.

Marianne Brady, principal teacher of social studies at Holyrood Secondary, said, "There is no doubt that this educational resource does a great job in raising awareness of the past, present and future of this vitally important artery for Glasgow and Scotland. Teachers across the country should be impressed also with the quality and volume of downloadable lessons available on the website."

It is the first time a national regeneration project has been used to create a comprehensive teaching resource linked to the Scottish Government's Enterprise in Education programme.;

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