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.

 

 

British Sign Language class

A number of S6 pupils and two members of staff have been learning BSL now for three weeks, under the eagle eyes of Ian, Rachel and Helen from the Lanarkshire Deaf Club. We are becoming much more confident with our finger spelling, colours, animals, greetings, family groups and common signs. We can’t wait to start working in pairs on our conversational skills, beginning next week.

The ten week course, organised by Mrs Donnachie and Mrs Zambonini, is a chance for everyone to become more deaf aware, and to add to our communication skills.

Dyslexia Awareness Week, 7th-12th November 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pupils in S1-S6 were involved in a variety of activities, all aimed at raising awareness of dyslexia.  The Support for Learning department hosted a coffee morning to mark the start of the week, assisted by S3 ASDAN class.  This was very well attended and £104 was raised, which will be used to purchase equipment that will assist dyslexic pupils across the curriculum.

The ICT group blogged about dyslexia on Wednesday and this information was added to our school website.

Staff and pupils were encouraged to wear Ellie’s Blue Ribbons all week, as these have become a well -recognised symbol of dyslexia awareness.  Staff also took part in a “Wear it Blue Day” on Tuesday.  Our school Twitter account also has a “twibbon” attached to it all week, in order to raise awareness amongst our Twitter followers.

Mrs Macfadyen, the school librarian, organised a colouring competition and “What’s in the Box?” contest for pupils in S1-S6.  The winners of both will have their work displayed on our school website.  Both these activities highlighted the hidden disability that dyslexia can often be, but also showed off the creative side of a dyslexic brain!

Pupils were given access to the Dyslexia Scotland website during PSHE lessons all week where they were shown powerpoints distributed by this organisation. The site’s “Theme for the Day” was also highlighted to pupils in the school bulletin.

This variety of activities all helped to raise awareness amongst staff and pupils of a learning issue that affects 1 in 10 of us.

PSHE Latest

An important and enjoyable part of our PSHE programme is the use of visiting organisations and drama groups to challenge our pupils and to get them thinking about important issues. Already, we have seen Good Egg Drivers for S6, S2 and 3 have enjoyed Rich Cotterill and his band with an anti -drugs theme, whilst S1 have been the audience for Landed, an anti -smoking play.

Forthcoming events:

Thursday 17th November Baldy Bane Theatre Company with Nine Lives of Roddy Hogg for S1. Also on Thursday 17th November Friends Disunited will be performed for S5/6.

Freerice Challenge

Online game to end hunger

All PSHE classes have been working on the Freerice Challenge over the last couple of weeks. Freerice is a multiple choice online quiz which was originally designed by a programmer to help his children revise. He subsequently donated it to the UN World Food Programme to help feed people around the world.

Freerice is a multiple choice educational quiz. Classes can choose to answer questions on English vocabulary and grammar, maths, science, geography, literature, art history and languages.

2015_0601_7981Ten grains of rice are donated for every correct answer, paid for by sponsors with an interest in education. It takes 400 grams or about 19,200 grains of rice to feed one adult for a day, which seems like a lot but is actually about half a bowlful.

The Freerice Challenge has run through Tutor Time in the past few years, but this is our first year of running the Freerice Challenge through PSHE. We are hoping to establish a strong baseline total that classes can aim to beat in years to come.

PSHE Day 1

Report by Mrs Zambonini

S5 and 6 were involved in the first of two PSHE days.  The focus of today was personalisation and choice with facilitators giving pupils input on a range of topics.  The morning was spent carouselling around talks and workshops from SAAS, Financial Education, Personal Learning Planning and Skills Development Scotland.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The afternoon allowed pupils to opt into a talk of their choosing.  Marie Woods, Glasgow Kelvin College lecturer, gave a talk on life at college.  Kevin Thomson represented the Army careers service. Strathclyde University lecturers spoke about life at university.  KPMG staff spoke about apprenticeships, with Rathbone staff informing pupils about what training provision is available.

A huge thanks to everyone who gave their time to make the day informative and relevant for the pupils.

Titanic Project – Titan Crane visit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As part of our interdiscplinary project on Titanic, ten 4th years accompanied by Mrs Mulholland and Mrs Macfadyen, headed for the Titan Crane at Clydebank, to learn more about shipbuilding processes and working conditions. We were worried that the winds would prevent us being able to climb up the crane, but it was much calmer in Clydebank, and after a safety warning, we headed up in the lift.

The first thing that caught everyone’s eyes was the fantastic views from the crane. Despite the weather, we could see for miles in all directions, including downwards as the solid mesh provides excellent and somewhat stomach churning glimpses of the concrete below. However, the views of the Rivers Clyde and Cart, the Erskine Bridge, Glasgow and Lanarkshire were far more interesting, as were the constant planes flying into Glasgow airport.

Not surprisingly, some of the group were a little nervous; others were more fascinated by how the original crane drivers managed to work without any of the essential safety equipment used nowadays. Staff explained that the drivers would often climb up the structure for speed and wandered around on the girders quite fearlessly. The drivers had to climb carrying their lunch and a bucket because they couldn’t come back down until the end of their shift.

The safety discussion started questions about how many people had died from the crane; perhaps surprisingly there are no records of any deaths at all, although, the guide added, that may be because they weren’t recorded. Then the group remembered that people go bungee jumping off the crane and begged for details. Bungee jumpers squeeze through a small door in the mesh fence around the platform and walk around to the end of the crane, a thought which turned most of our group off immediately.

The view allowed the pupils to see how large John Brown’s shipyard had been before it closed, a closure which hit Clydebank as badly as Motherwell was affected by the closure of Ravenscraig. The Titan Crane is the last remaining part of the yard, but was originally only one of several.

Back on land, Titan staff provided some background on the crane. It was built by William Arrol and Co, who also built the giant gantry for Titanic at Harland and Wolff. They showed us a photo of some of the men and boys who built the crane. Like the Titanic, the Titan was held together by rivets. Rivet squads were paid as a team: the heater passed white hot rivets to the boy, who would catch the rivets in a bucket of sand or leather gloves, or even long tongs, and pass them onto the holder-up; the holder-up passed the rivet through a hole in the steel plate for the riveter to batter.

Inside the visitor centre, the staff provided some history of the yard, discussing some of ships built there: the Lusitania, the Queen Mary, and the QE2. The following day was the centenary of the sinking of the Lusitania by U-boat during World War I, a reminder that the Titanic wasn’t the only disaster at sea. The team also noted that the shipyards mainly escaped the Clydebank Blitz during World War II, possibly because the bombers mistook rain shining on the long winding Dumbarton Road as the River Clyde.

It was a fascinating visit: we discovered a great deal about the life of a shipbuilder, made some further unexpected ties to Titanic, and found out a lot more about Scottish industry.

Our thanks to the team at the Titan Crane for their warm welcome and for sharing their knowledge.

Titanic Project – Scottish Maritime Museum – Denny Tank Visit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Following the visit to the Titan Crane, the Titanic group headed for the Denny Experimental Tank at Dumbarton, part of the Scottish Maritime Museum.

The experimental tank was built by the Denny Brothers, the shipbuilding company famous for the Cutty Sark. The tank allowed the company to test hull designs before building the full size versions, giving them competitive advantage over other businesses. There’s even a direct connection with Titanic as the collapsible lifeboats were designed and tested at Dennys!

Museum staff explained how the tank worked, and demonstrated the towing equipment. The tank itself is 100m long and extremely deep. Emptying the tank took over a week! Pupils tried out the minitank which demonstrates how differently shaped hulls travel at slightly different speeds and are affected differently by waves.

Pupils learned how the paraffin wax hulls were created, before having a go at carving for themselves, although we had a bit of a weird moment when a certain nameless pupil compared the wax shavings to skin! You known who you are.

Heading upstairs, the group explored the drawing office, a wee treasure trove of tools used by the designers, equipment, including the graph paper making machine, and box after box of records, all beautifully handwritten. The 1887 advert for apprentices was quite someting, requiring applicants to sit exams for Maths, Theoretical Mechanics, Practical Plane and Solid Geometry and Mechanical Drawing.

We also learned some of the social history of the shipbuilders, including the fact that their wages were docked for spending too long in the toilet, or even for having too much tea! They had football teams and company events, and were a major part of life in Dumbarton. Their closure affected the town in the same way as the closure of Ravenscraig affected Motherwell.

Perhaps weirdest of all, we discovered that the company emblem was a blue elephant, which comes from Dumbarton’s coat of arms. Apparently, Dumbarton’s coat of arms features an elephant because Dumbarton Rock looks like an elephant. Apparently.

Easter Baskets

The S5/6 Personal Development class are selling Easter baskets complete with eggs of various sizes, little bunnies and chicks. Baskets cost £6 each and can be ordered through the school via Mrs Zambonini.

2015_0224_0151

The money raised from the baskets is being split between charity and to provide starter funds for the Personal Development class’s next project.

Senior PSHE Day 4

On Friday, senior pupils participated in in their fourth PSHE Day. Pupils rotated around six areas:

  • Good Egg Drivers: pupils looked over the Good Egg Driver website and learned about safety for new and learner drivers. 
  • Police Scotland: Pearl ran a quiz to review what had been learned on previous PSHE days, followed by a game focusing on drugs, crime and personal safety.
  • Samaritans: the Samaritans discussed the issue of self harm, with personal account footage on video. The group discussed ’emotional first aid kits’, and everyone was given a stress toy in the shape of a mobile phone. There was a valuable discussion around the idea that self harm was attention seeking, which the Samaritans were quick to dismiss.
  • Study Skills: Mrs Macfadyen discussed how important it was for pupils to recognise their own study preferences – music, silence, mind-maps, relaxation – and asked pupils to pass on their own advice to 4th year pupils sitting exams for the first time. The groups also practised making up stories to help memorise a list in order
  • Mentors in Violence Prevention: the work focused on a video demonstrating how violence could be prevented. The video itself sparked a lot of discussion about what constitutes consent, what constitutes assault, and the role of alcohol in violent situations. Pupils worked with each other to identify ways that violent situations could be diffused or avoided altogether.
  • Learning profiles: pupils reviewed their previous work on strengths and accomplishments and updated their files.

“My sincere thanks to everyone who participated in today’s events.  To everyone who took groups, covered classes, answered phones, escorted visitors, laid out chairs, sorted ICT, gave up rooms, catered, photocopied, registered, Thanks!” Mrs Zambonini, Principal Teacher, PSHE

 

2014 Senior Citizens’ Party

Report by Rachel Clinton

On Tuesday the 16th of December we held our annual Senior Citizens’ Party. We have been hosting the event for the past six years and as usual yesterday was a great success. The event was held in the school theatre and we had a very large turnout as expected.

Various departments throughout the school participated in organising and providing entertainment for the party:

Mrs Zambonini’s Personal Development and Enterprise and Employability classes have been working hard for weeks in preparation for the event, from sending out invitations to making origami water lily napkins. (My new party trick, impressive I know) The Home Economics department were cooking up a storm as usual preparing delicious treats such as cupcakes, shortbread, mini quiche and sausage rolls.

The entertainment itself was hosted by our very own dynamic duo Aaron Hawthorne and Scott Price who added some holiday humour to the event, even with their terrible Christmas puns, not pointing the finger at anyone in particular. *COUGH Scott COUGH*

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The afternoon began with one of our first year pupils, Anna Quinn, who done a very enthusiastic reading of “The Night Before Christmas”, which really set the mood for the rest of the party. Next up we had three more talented first year girls Erin Doyle, Morgan Brown and Katie Cadenhead dancing to Olly Murs’ latest hit “Wrapped Up”, oh how I wish I had their coordination and balance. *sighs*

Their routine was then followed by a slightly different style of dancing- of the Irish variety. Keryn Shearer (S5) and Katie Ann Hunter (S6) wowed us with their spectacular moves. Scott was right again, I was exhausted (and dizzy) just watching!

During our intermission we had a raffle, with a variety of different prizes to be won such as (a lot of) wine, chocolates, pampering gifts, homeware and even some shiny new cufflinks.

There was also a hilarious mini-pantomime performed by some of our sixth year drama students- the “true” story of Snow White, with a Scottish twist. It starred Lisa O’Rourke, Darcy Hendry, Aaron Hawthorne, Louise Bradshaw and Monica Kane.

We then had a rendition of “Santa Baby” by Jill McMurray with Jordan Mooney and Callum Wilson on bass and acoustic guitar.

Last but not least, we had a performance of “Christmas Lullaby” by our CARITAS choir, “Nuns and Moses”, joined by a few eager fifth years.

After that, it was time to party. We were midway through some conventional Christmas carolling when a special guest arrived- the bearded man himself, aka Dominic Cherrie, bearing gift bags for all. Needless to say the ladies were charmed, however we can confirm there was no mistletoe involved. To wrap up our fabulous afternoon we all joined in for a very long rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which, ironically seemed to go on for twelve days.

All in all the afternoon was a roaring success and all the hard work and preparation certainly paid off, everyone seemed to have a festively fabulous time and we can’t wait to invite everyone back next year. As our favourite elf once said: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

Cut it Out

Firefighters from Scottish Fire and Rescue came along to speak to senior pupils about the possible consequences of driving too fast, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the importance of wearing a seatbelt. The discussion includes video clips of the after effects of serious accidents, as well as the firefighters’ own personal experiences of having to cut people from vehicles after road traffic incidents.

Christmas Fair 2013

Our successful Christmas Fair took place on Saturday 30th November. We discovered many pupils have a natural talent for haggling and bargaining, encouraging lots of extra wee things into already bulging bags.Thanks to the wonderful collection of donations and pupils’ powers of persuasion over £1600 has been raised so far with funds still coming in.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have a huge number of people to thank for helping with this event:

  • thanks to pupils from the Personal Development and Enterprise classes who have worked hard to put the fair together over the last months. On Friday they reorganised our theatre and gyms, created and displayed a host of signs to lead customers to the fair, as well as looking after stalls, and the cafe, and subsequently tidied everything away again.
  • thanks to staff from across the school, who volunteered to help with the gathering of donations, taking care of the stalls, face-painting, nail decoration and the cafe with its lovely Christmassy choir, amongst a host of other activities.
  • thanks to pupils from the Photography Club who documented the morning for posterity, even when people kept moving about!
  • thanks to Cubis Castles, who kindly gave us a special deal on the bouncy castle.
  • thanks to Mrs Lyn Zambonini who coordinated the whole event from the beginning.
  • thanks to the local businesses and organisations who came along to help raise funds or made donations of goods.
  • thanks to our special Santa Claus, who managed to take time out of his schedule to come along.

Most of all, thanks to our pupils and their families who have supported the whole idea, brought a wonderful collection of donations as part of our non-uniform day on 29th November, and came along to support us on the Saturday morning.

Prizes
Congratulations to Jamie Duddy, Mrs McShannon and Mr Macfadyen, who won the baskets and Christmas cake.

Christmas Fair – 30th November

Report from S6 Personal Development Class

Our Lady’s High School are holding a Christmas Fair on the 30th November, 10-12 am in the school Games Hall.

At the fair there will be tombola, Christmas stalls, a tea bar, home baking and a raffle for prizes to be won. Also you will be able to join in our face painting and nail painting, meet our Santa at his secret grotto and enjoy the bouncy castle. There will also be live music and lots of Christmas goods that can be purchased like cards, gifts and make-up.

Donations of bottles, home baking and raffle prizes would be greatly appreciated. We hope to see you there!

S6 Mock interviews

Mrs Zambonini held an assembly for all 6th year pupils to explain the procedures for this year’s mock interviews.

To make the process as realistic as possible, each pupil has to collect and complete an application form which will be used as the basis for their interview with an adult volunteer from around the wider OLHS community.

This is an excellent opportunity for pupils to experience the tension of the interview process, gain useful feedback on their performance, and learn how to promote themselves and their talents more successfully in the future.