SoA Year End Update 2006-2007

Mrs. McNeill, Mrs. Stewart and S3 pupils, Amy Brogan, Aileen Park Diane Ramsey joined staff and pupils from 6 other schools to share their experience of Schools of Ambition. Kirkwall Grammar and Sanday School are new to the programme, while Anderson High and St Ninian’s are two years down the line. Teachers were invited to give an overview of progress to date in their school.

Each School of Ambition has a different focus in response local circumstances, for example the focus at Hawick High is Girls of Ambition. Prior to the conference pupils had been asked to prepare a PowerPoint presentation titled “My School”. As usual our pupils rose to the challenge and with support from Mr. Gibson in Business Education produced a first class PowerPoint, which they presented to the conference delegates in the M.V. Norrona Cinema. Pupils and staff were involved in a range of activities on Shetland, Faroe Isles and Iceland organized by Anderson High School staff.

The activities ranged from discussion groups, film making, climbing up the side of a volcanic crater to swimming in a geothermal pool. Everyone worked hard, enjoyed the conference and had opportunity to see the most amazing landscapes.

This presentation is available on the school website which is

Social Studies – Study visit to New York       

The Social Studies departments are embarking on an international study visit to New York over the mid-term holiday in February 2008. Students will have the opportunity to study aspects of New York to reinforce their coursework which will cover topics at both Higher and Intermediate 2 level in Geography, History and Modern Studies.

The visit provides an extremely good opportunity for students to see many aspects of their courses first hand. Structured activities are provided by the tour company and staff members from all three departments will accompany the pupils to cover subject specific areas.

This study visit focuses on the core skills of Curriculum for Excellence which aspires to making young people confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

New Laptops for English and Modern Languages

The English Department and Modern Languages Departments have just taken delivery of fifteen laptop computers with another fifteen on the way which will be a shared resource. Although we have only had them for a few weeks they have been heavily used.

In English, S1 have been using them to write novels. They have been learning about how to describe settings in detail, using good word choice, how to create intriguing characters and how to build suspense. Many have written well over 1000 words. The laptops have enabled them to correct and improve their work as they write, so the finished piece is impressive but there has been no tedious copying out of first drafts.

S2 have been using them to write their essays on Divided City by Theresa Breslin. We have put the best paragraphs on display outside the English base.  Theresa Breslin came in to speak to the class and we have also used them to write thank you letters.

S3 have used them to research ‘The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens’ and Edwin Muir’s ‘Robert Bruce to Douglas in Dying’. They discovered some of the history behind these poems and looked at the characters and places mentioned in more detail. They have also used them to research for their Personal Studies on a novel, play or poems of their choice. They will also be using them to create presentations for their Personal Study talks.

In Modern Languages, enhanced staffing funded by School of Ambition has allowed all S1 and S2 pupils to
access technology once a week. The new laptops will be used for accessing French, Spanish and Italian resources online and typing up speaking and writing tests. In the middle and upper school they will provide an excellent online resource and allow pupils to keep a record of all folio pieces. They will certainly be of benefit to our pupils for many years to come.

Maths Puzzle Day

One hundred and fifty S2 pupils took part in the Maths Puzzle day.
The aim of this activity was to develop team working, communication and problem solving skills out with the maths classroom environment. Working in groups of 4 to 6 each group had to complete a task before moving onto the next puzzle. Pupils enjoyed the experience and were highly motivated. The response from staff and pupils was very positive and therefore the Mathematics Department intend running our own puzzle / theme day next session.

Space School

Daniel Pattoni has moved through to the next round of Careers Scotland Space school. Daniel will attend a conference to meet the next stage pupils and some astronauts and cosmonauts who are visiting Scotland on 13th June. He will work on-line during the summer to compete for a place at Space Camp in Florida. Good luck to him!

On June 15th, St Ninians was visited by two astronauts. S2 pupils were able to hear their presentation and ask questions and then our physics students from S3 – S6 had a chance to listen to them as they described first hand what space travel and working on the space station is all about. This was a very exciting opportunity for staff and students.

Strathclyde Unversity Visit

Also in science, ten of our new S3 pupils will visit Strathclyde University with Mrs Jaffray to take part in a series of workshops and tasks with other East Dunbarton schools. We look forward to becoming DNA detectives, designing and testing structures as well as meeting new people in science.

Glasgow University visit – Chemistry at Work

Twelve new S2 pupils went on Fri 8th June with Mr Heron to Glasgow University to take part in “Chemistry at work” which provided them with an insight into the uses of chemistry and allowed them to work with university students on practical and fun chemistry.

Science Centre

A group of 40 new S3 pupils have a great day out planned on 25th June at Glasgow Science centre. The pupils will tour the centre, work on forensic science then visit the i-max to see Walk on the Moon in 3D. The group will be accompanied by Mrs Hewitt and Mrs Murray.


The school has now received a plaque commemorating its success in the Morgan Stanley Community Excellence award. The plaque was unveiled at a short ceremony which was attended by representatives from Morgan Stanley, the Kirkintilloch Herald and pupils from Abronhill High which was runner up in the competition.

Business Brains for a Material World, is now well underway, involving S3 pupils in Art and Design and Business Management classes.

Art and Design pupils have been working closely with designers Becky and Louise from Boo Boutique to produce designs which have now been digitally printed and made into bags.

They have also been learning from the designers about the production and manufacturing process in their Business Management classes as well as looking at balance sheets and cash budgets. 
Together with the school’s involvement with Schools of Ambition this project has allowed us to make learning and teaching relevant, stimulating and motivating for the pupils involved.  It is hoped to extend the project to involved S4 next year and S5/6 the following year allowing more and more pupils to benefit.