Graeme High pupils aim to motivate

Graeme High School pupils Amy Waugh, Sarah Tripney
Graeme High School pupils Amy Waugh, Sarah Tripney

Pupils have designed an awards scheme - just for themselves!

Youngsters at Graeme High School are facing up to the challenges that lie ahead by tackling a wide range of activities outwith the traditional learning environment of the classroom.

The aim is to give them the best possible chance of a job or prepare them better for college or university.

The GHS Achievement Award scheme takes the curriculum for excellence to a new level and is the result of an ‘Apprentice Team’, led by senior pupils Finn Crossley-Jones, Amy McEwan, Conor Grace, Duncan Swan, Stephanie Porter and others, working with Cala Homes director Alistair White to design a leadership programme to deliver the real skills employers often say young people lack today – skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work.

Together they came up with an initiative which embraces personal challenges as far from ‘schoolwork’ as you could imagine, including sport, volunteering, hobbies, home care and promoting their school’s achievements.

It starts in S1 and continues through to S3. Based on the respected Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme which they can work towards in S4, it sees pupils set themselves targets in three different areas each year – skills development, physical activity and community involvement. Each week they log their progress and discuss their achievements with a pupil mentor from fifth year.

Programme co-ordinator, principal teacher of expressive arts and wider achievement Lorna Lyon, said: “Everyone knows the importance of gaining formal qualifications at school, but our young people are involved in a wide range of activities and developing real skills employers often tell us young people lack. They are learning skills that will be of real value to them as they grow up.”

Tasks completed so far have been varied and rewarding.

In S1 a group of girls including Amy Waugh and Sarah Tripney are turning trash into fashion, working on eco-fashion outfits to showcase at the school’s Talent Evening on March 27. They are using all sorts of rubbish including CDs, newspapers and bin bags to make frocks. The project has not only raised awareness of the issues but allowed them to develop their creative skills.

Lewis Hunter is learning to play the bagpipes as part of his skills development course. He said: “At the moment I’ve just learned the scales and basic tunes on the chanter, but one day I hope to be able to play the pipes at weddings and special occasions.”

Boys from the GHS SFA Performance School of Football know how important teamwork is and at a recent school assembly Flynn Gray and Harrison Glassey not only displayed some fancy footwork but also gave an inspiring talk about being a team player, having a positive outlook and giving their all on and off the pitch. Harrison spoke for the squad when he said: “The Achievement Award has allowed us to think about how we can take that team spirit and attitude into a really difficult maths lesson on a Monday morning!”

Pupils are learning about being responsible members of the community.

Amy Black spoke to her mum about what she could do to complete the community involvement part of the award and tied that in with what she was already doing for the physical activity section.

The result is she has taken to the pool and completed a sponsored swim for charity. So far Amy has raised over £700 for Strathcarron Hospice and hopes to add more.

A budding politician, Aaron Reid wrote to his local MSP opposing a planned gas extraction plant a mile from his home.

Now he has been invited to the Scottish Parliament to discuss the matter with the Scottish Government’s fossil fuels expert Stuart McKay.