Maths Challenge 2017

Congratulations to our Maths Challenge winners in S1 and S2 this year. 16 pupils received an award, which is fantastic!

First Year

Congratulations to Divine Ofosuhene, who was Best in Year and won a Gold Award!

Rhianna Commerford won a Silver Award

Imogen McFadden, Daniel Mathieson, Kamil Balinski, Sophie Oates and Lara O’Hanlon all won Bronze.

Second Year

Congratulations to Paul Murphy, who was Best in Year and won a Gold Award!

Olek Kyc and Luke Robertson won Silver Awards

Mark Fitzpatrick, Philip  Meikle, Nikodem Szlagor, Emily  Macfarlane, Favour Azeez and Eilis McNally all won Bronze Awards

Your teachers are very proud of you!

A special thanks to Miss Lees who helped some of our maths superstars get challenge ready.

Titanic Project 2017: films and measurements

The Titanic Crew spent the morning watching the 1958 film, A Night to Remember, and compared it with the 1997 film, Titanic, that they were more familiar with. The pupils preferred the older film because it focused on the disaster. Throughout the film, our resident Titanic fanatic, PT English Mrs Millar, pointed out important events, areas of controversy and the background of various passengers.

The afternoon was spent with Miss Lees and Miss Wheeler from Maths who helped pupils to visualise the size of Titanic by comparing it with our school building. The crew took the trundle wheels around the yard for their measurements before working on their calculations. It turns out that the school could fit twice into the footprint of the Titanic!


Excellence and Equity Awards 2017

School awards highlight positive initiatives

Excellence and Equity Awards 2017
Productive Partnerships – Purposeful Learning
Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell
Titanic Project

 As a result of changes to SQA exams, staff at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, spotted an opportunity to provide an exciting programme of interdisciplinary experiences for some of our National 4 students. Our aim was to help pupils gain additional qualifications while expanding their life experiences and raising awareness of the options available to them on leaving school, all through focusing on the Titanic disaster.

We are now approaching the third year of this vibrant project which runs over three weeks of the SQA diet. The programme coordinators are PT Pupil Support, Lyn Zambonini, and Library Resource Centre Manager, Jennifer Macfadyen and involves staff from across Our Lady’s High School, local businesses, voluntary groups and national organisations.

Following an initial introduction, the programme is split into four broad areas: ship building and design; life aboard the Titanic; the disaster itself; and the rediscovery of the wreck.

We were stunned to discover that the steel plates that built Titanic had actually come from the Colville Steelworks in Motherwell, making a wonderful connection with our local heritage. Pupils were lucky to experience Tata, now Liberty Steel, in the process of rolling the steel plates with a guided tour by staff at the plant, who also provided pupils with many stories of life at the steelworks and a thorough grounding in Health and Safety routines.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to take advantage of the Clyde’s vast experiences in ship-building, visiting the Titan Crane at Clydebank, and the Denny Tank Museum at Dumbarton. Titan staff explained how riveting gangs worked, how the shipyards were a part of the community and how dangerous life was while the Denny Flotation Tank demonstrated the engineering expertise involved in designing and testing ships’ hulls. The group also discovered that Denny’s was even involved in testing some of Titanic’s lifeboats. This information became invaluable when learning about buoyancy with Science teachers back at OLHS, and designing their own hulls.

Pupils also learned more about some of the passengers and crew aboard and the different lives they led on a luxury liner depending on their class. English showed the films, A Night to Remember and Titanic, and compared the special effects and reliability of each. Our group were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice by working with Lifestyle Development staff to create a shipboard lunch for staff – although staff did not know until the last minute whether they would receive the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class treatment and dining experience.

To bring everything up to date we contacted Greenock Ocean Terminal who kindly arranged for us to have a tour of the Caribbean Princess. We used this experience as a focus on careers, bringing along our Careers Advisor, Miss Ruth Robertson from SDS to provide detailed advice. Seeing aboard a real cruise ship gave pupils a whole new way of looking at the world, and the numerous careers open to them. They were also keen to compare the Caribbean Princess to what they had already learned about ship design. They were definitely impressed by the safety regulations and the numbers of lifeboats.

Turning our attention to the disaster itself, Mr Walter Lee from the RNLI kindly came along to demonstrate what happened with the iceberg and graphically explain what would have happened to the Titanic’s passengers in the water, including the effects of hypothermia – he even brought along his own mini iceberg!

Other activities have included creating a map of the world demonstrating the Titanic’s route (Social Subjects); printing and poster making (Art and Design); trying out Morse code (Science); an afternoon swimming courtesy of NL Leisure (Lifestyle Development); building their own model Titanic (Social Subjects / Art); discussion of moral issues relating to women and children first and the treatment of 3rd class passengers (RE); further moral issues relating to the wreck arose following a screening of Ghosts of the Abyss: should the Titanic be raised? Should material be removed? Should the ship be left to rust to nothing? (English); and multi-lingual newspaper front pages (Modern Languages).

With so many stories being generated from the project, we wanted pupils to be able to record the aspects that were most important to them, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator, so we introduced the group to storyteller, Allison Galbraith, thanks to part-funding from the Scottish Book Trust. Allison demonstrated the art of storytelling, and guided the group through creating and recording their own stories, helping them to record their own voices for posterity. Allison started by introducing herself and just talking with the group, building pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to participate. Allison also demonstrated breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before recording began, with further advice on presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite occasionally breaking into the giggles, every pupil managed to record their own work beautifully.

Discussion with pupils led to an additional trip which saw us taking the ferry to Rothesay and the stunning Mount Stuart House. This mansion was completed in 1912, the same year as the Titanic disaster and thus pupils were not only able to experience actually travelling across water – a new experience for all of them – but to see luxurious interiors similar to those of the ship they’d been learning all about.

The Titanic Project continues to develop with partnerships emerging as various individuals and groups express an interest in participating. In 2016, our pupils were even able to join with St Brendan’s Primary as part of their anniversary visit to Belfast to see the Titanic Museum for themselves.

The Titanic Project has been a huge success over the last two years. We have seen the pupils blossom, gaining in confidence, pulling together as a team, and their ideas of what’s available to them in the future have expanded rapidly. Each year pupils have created an exhibition of their experiences which have been visited by classes from across OLHS and visitors to the school, leading to further discussions and expressions of interest. Last year all of the pupils involved achieved the SQA qualifications. “Local investigations” at SCQF level 4.

Feedback from pupils themselves has been outstanding:

”I thought it would be boring, but it was brilliant!”;

“I liked how we went on adventures and explored all the museums”;

“I seemed to get a better relationship with people that I hadn’t spoken to since primary”;

”I actually wanted to come to school!”

The Project continues to explore new ground and build new partnerships. Staff coordinators continue to collect materials, ideas and contacts and we look forward to its continuing success long into the future.



Pi Day 2017

Report from Miss Lees

On Tuesday 14th March pupils and staff in the school celebrated Pi day. Pi jokes were added to the daily bulletin, the maths teachers wore a variety of Pi related clothing, Pi quizzes and colouring sheets were available from the library and Pi facts were added to the school twitter feed. S1 pupils all worked together in the Kamwokya room to create a colour coded paper chain that displayed the first 1000 digits of Pi. S2 had double fun, writing Pilish poems in English, where they had to use the digits of Pi as the word lengths in the poem. They then arrived at maths and made Pi Skylines, representing the digits visually as buildings. At lunchtime pupils could take part in a Pi recital. A closely fought battle ended with an amazing S1 Imogen McFadden reciting 109 digits from memory. Mr Drummond presented the winning pupil with a trophy and a Pi cookie. The S2 winner of the Pilish poetry also received a cookie as a prize. The staff were surprised and happy to find apple Pi(e)s delivered to their departments at lunchtime, courtesy of PT Maths Mr Drummond. Thanks to everyone who made the day such a success!

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π Day is coming!

Pi Day is celebrated each year on March 14th (ie 3.14). This year, events in OLHS will include:

  • a π colouring competition (Library, lunchtimes, 50p to enter, Mon-Thur)
  • a π word quiz  (Library, lunchtimes, 50p to enter, Mon-Thur)
  • a π reciting competition (S1/2, Library lunchtime, Tuesday 14th March)
  • a whole day of activities in Maths, English, Modern Languages etc

Maths Away Day

Report from Miss Lees

The Maths Department are offering all S4 pupils who will sit the National 5 Maths exam this May the opportunity to participate in a Revision Away Day on Saturday 18th March. Pupils will particpate in tasks and workshops throughout the day designed to help them focus on exam questions, strategies and techniques.

As a reward for their hard work the day will end with a visit to Air Space, East Kilbride. All food and transport are included in the £20 price as is the two hour Air Space session. It is an excellent opportunity for pupils, who are urged to return their tear-off slips and payment ASAP.

Maths Enterprise Challenge Day 2016

Report from Miss Lees

On Friday 3rd June, our S1 pupils were out of their usual classes to take part in an Enterprise day run by the Maths Department. Groups of pupils completed activities in the morning including Match 10 (a fun online maths game), Orienteering in the school grounds, Tower Building and a variety of other tasks requiring a mix of teamwork and problem solving skills. The afternoon was spent in the games hall completing a very energetic maths relay. Teams were awarded points in all activities and the relay.


Congratulations to the winning team: Nial Burke, Keela-Chae McCreadie, Paul Murphy, Lucy Thompson and Paul Welsh.

Future Funds Initiative

Report by Mrs Anderson

All S1 pupils are entitled to a £10 voucher on opening a credit union savings account. Each time they deposit any money at all they earn points on their Young Scots card and can win prizes based on these points. This is a great way for our first year to take on some responsibility and learn about saving. Mrs Anderson (PT Maths) and Mrs Woodside from the Maths Department are currently distributing the credit union forms.

To open an account and receive their £10 voucher the pupils simply need to fill in the form, sign it (signature from guardian also required) and bring it back to school.

National Poetry Day 2015

Staff displayed their favourite poems for National Poetry Day 2015. Ms Steinert also offered staff the chance to create a poster for their poems using Illustrator software.

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All images copyright free or used with permission at Mrs Macfadyen’s insistence.

Maths Enterprise 2015

Report from Mrs Anderson

On Friday the 8th May the Maths Enterprise Day took place for all first year pupils. It was a very successful day and the pupils thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the morning the pupils were put into teams and made their own team banner. They then took part in a variety of activities within the maths department. Favourites included the activities from ‘ITV’s The Cube’, building a tower, and the paper ring (where the record was 24 pupils inside one paper ring using nothing other than ONE sheet of A4 and a pair of scissors).

In the afternoon the pupils went to the Games Hall to take part in the Maths Challenge Relay. Pupils were set challenge questions and had to race to see which team could answer the most question and achieve the most points. In the end, after much frenzied and frantic running around, Team 10 were named the Champions with 270 points.

The winning team, Wiktor Witkowski, Daniel MacLeod, Dylan Kelvin, Weronika Kahl, Anam Rehman and Ewan Jeffrey, all received a gift voucher and the all the associated glory of being complete mathemagicians!!!!

Thanks also to all of the third year pupils who helped out:

P1/2/3/4: Damian Bonnar, Erin Burt, Molly Cuthbert, Luke Dickson, Saoirse Higham, Marc Hobson, Declan Kane, Rebecca McQuaid, Heather Nugent, Mark O’Rourke.

P5/6: Kenny Barr, Rhodri Bevan, Damian Bonnar, Jack Burnett, Erin Burt, Molly Cuthbert, Luke Dickson, Emma Dolan, Hannah Duddy, Saoirse Higham, Marc Hobson, Declan Kane, Ryan Kane, Kelsey Kearney, Jamie Lester, Dearbhla McCabe, Kate McDonald, Louise McLaughlin, Joseph McNally, Rebecca McQuaid, Eirinn Molloy, Heather Nugent, Mark O’Rourke, Patrick Quinn, Matthew Robertson, Kayleigh Rowatt, Niamh Simmonette, Euan Stevenson, Clare Thompson, Anthony Weir.

OLHS Easter School, 8th-9th April 2015

Easter School will run on Wednesday 8th April and Thursday 9th April. During this time there will be tutorials in each subject which will last for one and a half hours. Each day will start at 9.30 a.m. prompt and finish at 3.00 p.m.

Pupils who attended last year’s Easter School found it extremely useful,  enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere with staff, but noticed that they covered far more than they might have managed studying alone.

Please note there will be no transport or catering facilities available during Easter School, However it is hoped that each day there will be an ‘Upper Crust’ run organised for those who do not wish to bring a packed lunch.

You will be asked to sign up for 3 tutorials per day. Each tutorial will only have space for 20 and not every subject will be represented. You will NOT be allowed to opt for the one subject 3 times in one day.

Easter School 2015 Timetable. Click to enlarge.

Easter School 2015 Timetable. Click to enlarge.

There will also be opportunities for supervised study and/or relaxation sessions.

Pupils who intend to attend Easter School should fill in the form they were given at the S4 assembly last week or at Senior PSHE Day on Thursday 15th January and return it to Mrs Mulholland by Monday 19th January. 

Parents/Carers also need to countersign this form.

A copy of the form is available below.

OLHS Easter School pupil 2015 (PDF version)


Tartan Day 2014

Report from Mrs Connor

Pupils and staff celebrated St Andrew’s Day with a whole school “Tartan Day”. Pupils were allowed to come to school out of uniform and were asked to wear something tartan or Scottish. The school was very colourful with tartan kilts, trousers, tops, tammies etc on parade. They were asked to donate £1 to St Andrew’s Hospice for this privilege. The event was organised by Andrew House pupils and Mrs Connor.

As well as Tartan Day there were other events around the school including the sale of tartan bows and ribbons. A staff coffee morning took place at interval with Michael Clark (Andrew House Prefect) playing the bagpipes and Emma Kirkwood and Declan Murray from 1A singing Loch Lomond. During lunchtime a “Scots Corner” was set up, selling saltire cupcakes, tattoos and face painting. Again, all proceeds going to St Andrew’s Hospice. The Maths Department even got in on the act by delivering lessons on designing your own tartan. A great day was had by all.

The final total of money isn’t in yet but will be well over £500.

Maths Enterprise Competition Finals 2014

Report by Miss Renicks

As one of four schools in North Lanarkshire to qualify, Our Lady’s High School attended the Scottish finals of the Maths Enterprise Challenge in Glasgow Science Centre.

The four pupils, Patrick Quinn, Niamh Simmonette, Magen McNulty and Michael McKenna, competed fiercely, tackling difficult maths problems in four challenging rounds against 61 other schools from across Scotland. Although the pupils did not win, they worked extremely hard, had a brilliant time and thouroughly enjoyed their day.

NLC Enterprising Maths Challenge


On Friday a team of four pupils from OLHS were second in the Maths competition for schools in North Lanarkshire. There were 23 teams entered in the competition and the team consisting of Magen McNulty, Michael McKenna, Niamh Simmonette and Rhodri Bevan put in an excellent performance to finish second.

Each team participated in four rounds:

  • build as long a bridge as possible using spaghetti and sellotape
  • answer a variety of maths questions within a time limit
  • problem solving
  • maths relay race.

Our Lady’s, along with competition winners, Coltness High School, will now progress to the national finals, which will be held at the Glasgow Science Centre in November.


Maths Challenge 2013

A team of our pupils took part in the National Finals of the Maths Challenge Competition yesterday in the Glasgow Science Centre.This is the first time we have made it to the finals, having come third in the North Lanarkshire heat. There were 56 schools from all over the country who had won their regional heats.The day consisted of a range of mathematical challenges but also included an hour to explore the Science Centre as it was closed to the public.

The pupils had a great day and finished 32nd ,which with 397 secondary schools in Scotland makes them in the top 10% in the country. The team consisted of Sophie Tougher-Mitchell, Owen Leach and Lewis Donnelly from S4 and Magen McNulty and Michael McKenna of S3. Congratulations go to them for a great performance both yesterday and in the heats .

Maths Challenge

Report from Mrs Connor

The date of the national final of the Maths Challenge competition is approaching. A group of four pupils from S3/4 will be competing against approximately 50 other schools in Scotland who made it through to the grand final. This is the first time a team from Our Lady’s have made the final, which will be held in the Glasgow Science Centre on 19th November.

Representing Our Lady’s is Lewis Donnelly and Sophie Tougher-Mitchell from S4 and Magen McNulty and Michael McKenna from S3. Best of luck to them!

North Lanarkshire Mathematical Challenge 2013

Report from Mrs Connor

Our Lady’s High School came third in the North Lanarkshire Mathematical Challenge competition yesterday in Cumbernauld Town Hall. All 24 secondary schools competed in problem solving activities and working in a team followed by a relay in the afternoon.

The pupils are now going forward to the national competition later in the year. The Our Lady’s team consisted of Sophie Tougher-Mitchell & Lewis Donnelly from S4, and Magen McNulty and Micheal McKenna of S3.

Huge congratulations go to them on a fantastic achievement.

OLHS Maths Challenge team, 2013

OLHS Maths Challenge team, 2013

S1 Maths Challenge

Report from Mr Hair

On Monday 24th June all S1 pupils were split into 20 groups and participated in the 2013 Mathematical Challenge. In the morning they were involved in activities which included, building a tower with straws and tape, attempting activities based on the TV program ‘The Cube’, moving paper cups without touching them, catchphrases, using the new ads in the school and trying to get as many pupils through a sheet of A4 paper! The record for the final activity was 20!

In the afternoon the teams ran a relay of maths questions in the Games Hall and to give them a rest they had some other quiet activities. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the day and can be commended for their enthusiasm, teamwork and behaviour.

The challenge was won by Group 5 and the successful pupils were Emma Dolan, Nicole Clarkson, Sophie Bradley, Aidan Burke and Zak Docherty. Congratulations to all!