Reece McFadden visit

As part of S1 Literacy Group’s work on the drama text “Fight Club“, the pupils received a visit from Commonwealth medal winner and former pupil, Reece McFadden.  He spoke to the pupils at length about how he became involved in the sport, his experiences of training and the dedication needed to take you to the top.  He then taught the pupils how to train with the use of boxing gloves and pads – they learned a lot from him and were all pretty exhausted by the time the visit came to an end!!

BBC School Report 2017

BBC School Report provides an opportunity for pupils between 11-16 to experience a day in a newsroom, creating and reporting on the news. Groups can choose to report on the events of the day as they occur, build their own reports on a theme, or a mixture of both. Our Lady’s BBC School Report 2017 focused on the Transplant Games which are taking place in North Lanarkshire from 27th-30th July this year.

In advance of School Report Day on 16th March, pupils spent every Friday lunchtime in the Library selecting issues to investigate, improving their knowledge of organ transplants and making contact with relevant organisations and individuals who might be able to help them. As the day drew closer, pupils also volunteered time after school to learn about and practice sending requests for information, interview techniques, creating surveys and writing reports. Senior pupils involved worked on a storyboard for a video report.

One group of pupils set up an interview with heart transplant recipient, Mr Brian Gorman, who described his life before and after his operation. Mr Gorman explained that he did not know whose heart he had received but that he sent an update every five years to the donor’s family through the hospital to say thank you.

Another group interviewed the Chair of the North Lanarkshire games, Councillor Jim McCabe, who explained the reasons why North Lanarkshire was so keen to host the event and personal friends who had died because the wait for the transplant had been just too long for their bodies to cope.

Pupils were also keen to investigate attitudes to and knowledge of organ transplantation in school and created a survey for staff and pupils.

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On the day, pupils completed more surveys and also visited asked staff if they would like to share their reasons for carrying a donor card. The group created bullet points from all of their sources of information which became part of our School Report Ideas Wall. They collated the responses of the survey and designed posters to illustrate their data, which were combined with the storyboard and bullet points to create our video report. They wrote reports on all of their investigations. Throughout the day, pupils took photos of their colleagues and tweeted what they were up to. We even sent a photo of the dreich day outside to BBC Weather Watchers!

Naturally, with such a lot going on we had one or two issues, but the pupils were fantastic, and remained positive throughout, even when Mr Kerr and Mrs Macfadyen were tearing their hair out.

Our thanks to everyone in OLHS for their support, to Mr Gorman and Councillor McCabe for taking the time to come along to the school, and to everyone who responded to our e-mails and requests for help. We couldn’t have done it without you.

All of our BBC School Report work is available by clicking here.

Jamie Loudon, British Airways

Report from Mr Smith

The S5/6 Travel and Tourism class had a guest speaker this week. Jamie Loudon is the airport manager for British Airways at Edinburgh Airport.

Jamie spoke passionately about his job and his career so far. The pupils enjoyed his stories from his time as an air steward and had the opportunity to ask questions about the travel industry. The class woud like to thank Jamie for taking the time to talk to them and for all his advice he gave them for the future.

Visiting authors: Martin Stewart and Alan Bissett

We were delighted to host two author visits on Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th December in the Library with authors Alan Bissett and Martin Stewart.


Almost 100 S3 pupils were treated to readings, question and answer sessions and Alan’s take on everything from favourite books to films to River City, which he writes for, and how he used memories of his childhood friends to create characters for his first novel. Martin, speaking to S2, explained his writing process, the difficulties of getting published, how to write with a bored dog and his inspiration from photographs. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visits and learned a lot about writing for a living – perhaps we will see some more published authors from Our Lady’s in the future!


Thanks to both authors for giving up their valuable time, to Scottish Book Trust for co-funding the event and to Mrs Macfadyen for organising the visits.

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.

MSP visit

Graham Simpson, MSP, visited our Higher Politics class this week. Graham led discussion on his own journey into politics, conservatism in action in the UK and counter arguments in response to criticisms of conservatism. We are very grateful for the time he spent with us and the knowledge gained. This experience will undoubtedly help our young people as they progress through their studies. Our class now have the opportunity to engage in an exciting follow up task and we are very grateful for this opportunity. #pollitolhs

I think it’s safe to say that Mr Simpson enjoyed himself too.

Colin Fox visit


Colin Fox, National Co-Spokesperson for the Scottish Socialist Party, visited our Higher Politics class this week. Colin led discussion on his own understanding of socialism as a political theory, socialism in action in modern Scotland and counter arguments in response to criticisms of socialism. We are very grateful for the time he spent with us and the knowledge gained. This experience will undoubtedly help our young people as they progress through their studies.

Titanic Project 2016 : Storyteller

Professional storyteller, Allison Galbraith, returned to OLHS to help the Titanic Group record their stories. Each pupil chose a different aspect of the Titanic to focus on, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator. Allison had previously visited to introduce herself and build pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger at the beginning of the project. Each person was invited to share a little about their name and family background until everyone was at their ease. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to know when Allison would be returning.

Allison started the group off with some breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups, including tongue twisters and jaw massage, before we settled on the comfy seats to record the pupils’ work. Allison provided additional advice on reading speed, pausing and presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite the dangers of breaking into the giggles, every pupil recorded their own work beautifully.

Cathy MacPhail

Award winning author, Cathy MacPhail, visited 3rd year pupils to share her experiences of becoming published, the sources of her plots and the trailer for the recent film made from her first novel, Another Me.

Along the way, Cathy managed to get the pupils to imagine the spookiest things that could happen in the room they were in, and volunteered one of the pupils to be at the receiving end of all this trauma (sorry, Gemma!) From unseen voices, flickering lights and echoing footsteps, it wasn’t clear if her victim would get out alive!

Fortunately all had survived by interval, and we took Cathy off for some discussions with coffee and senior pupils. Advanced High English now includes a Creative Writing element, and the class appreciated Cathy’s insights into character, plot and how to get writing.

Many thanks to Cathy for all of her advice and stories. We look forward to welcoming her again in 2016 to discuss writing with S2 pupils.

Particle Physics at OLHS

Report and photos by Mr Law. Additional photos by Miss McGinty

Dr Aidan Robson from the University of Glasgow delivered a stimulating and highly enlightening presentation to our Higher Physics class on Friday 6th March. As Co-convener of the ATLAS-UK Standard Model working group at the Large Hadron Collider of CERN in Switzerland, he is clearly a world expert in this area of physics.

With clear explanations and analogy he explained about the Standard Model of the fundamental particles that our universe is made from and why we accept it with regard to the work at CERN.

Providing all we needed in order to build our own cloud chambers (particle detectors) our students set out to provide the high temperature gradient required for the saturated “mist” that enabled us to view the jet plane like contrail paths resulting from the cosmic particle collisions all around us.   Clear plastic tumblers, masking tape and felt brought back memories of Blue Peter, although the dry ice was never required to my recollection.

As particle physics is a part of the new Curriculum for Excellence Higher, this activity was certainly a welcome and extremely useful supplement to the course.

Well done to the students and staff thoroughly engrossed in participating and, thanks again to Dr. Robson for his time and resources.

PSHE Day – Skills Development Scotland

On Thursday 15th January, OLHS held a very successful Senior PSHE day for all pupils in S5 and S6. Pupils had the whole day out of class for a number of important meetings and training sessions.

Ruth Robertson from Skills Development Scotland delivered The Buzz Personality Test, getting pupils to think about personality traits that they possess, how other people are different to them, and how they could use this information to help with their career decision making.

Part of the training involves pupils being given a four letter code. Each code refers to an animal – easier to remember than a code for most people – which suggests the types of job that a person might wish to investigate. This was very popular with pupils, with deep consideration about whether an owl or a bear really expressed their personality best.

Once they had their code / animal, pupils were asked to think silently for thirty seconds about their dream job, and how they could achieve this goal, before sharing their thoughts with a partner. The point of this exercise was to find out whether quiet, personal, more introverted consideration was easier for them than noisier, shared, more extroverted analysis, or vice versa. However, It became clear very quickly that for some, being silent for thirty seconds was almost painful. Whether this was due to their enthusiasm for their plans or a simple inability to wheesht remains unclear.

Many thanks to Ruth Robertson and her colleague for their time in Our Lady’s today.

Margaret Mitchell MSP

Report from Miss Halket

Margaret Mitchell MSP visited our Higher Politics class on Friday. Pupils had the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding further, through questioning Mrs Mitchell, on her Conservative values. Our pupils felt confident enough to share their views with Mrs Mitchell. This was a fanastic opportunity. Our pupils were articulate, mature and enthusiastic. The whole class and staff would like to thank Mrs Mitchell for her visit.

Steve Cole visits Our Lady’s!

Report By: Kasia K

Last Friday, on the 14th of November, Steve Cole came to our school to talk about his new book, “Shoot to Kill“, which is a book based on the adventures of James Bond.

The wait was long because his taxi was a bit late and I sat there thinking to myself who this person was and what he was going to do. Finally he arrived, he was a fairly tall man, he wore jeans and a black top, he had a backpack too. When he jumped on the stage, he introduced himself as Steve Cole. He said that his book was based on the adventures of James Bond, as he wanted to continue the books, as the actual author who made up James Bond passed away.

I must admit, I was a bit bored at the beginning, but once he took out the Nerf guns, my eyes got wide and I had this weird, yet interesting smile on my face. He asked who wanted to play a game, my hand shot right up. I made these ”me, me!” noises that a Primary 1 would do when they want someone to choose them for something. Sadly, he did not choose me. But watching people fail, and hit different objects was funny. The end was coming and I was still wanting more.

I was super excited that the actual author of a book was here, in my school..standing on the stage that I was soon to stand on. Our librarian also said “Whoever asks the best question, gets a poster signed!” I thought of many questions but me being me, I asked the question “What inspires you?” and I didn’t get the signed poster.

During Tutor I looked him up and his blog. He has a blog where he posts everything he does, for example for Halloween he wished his blog-readers a Happy Halloween. I commented on some posts asking some questions that I really was looking for an answer to. Finally I shut of the computer, and went for break.

Steve Cole visit

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Steve Cole came to OLHS as part of his tour to promote the new Young Bond book, Shoot to Kill. Despite being held up by traffic, Steve arrived in Our Lady’s, got set up and practically bounded onto the stage, entertaining 1st and 2nd year pupils from OLHS, Firpark and Clyde Valley High School for the following hour.

Steve started by showing the book’s trailer and explaining the origins of James Bond, before moving onto spy gadgets, past and present, including cameras, some rather weird weaponry and seriously silly cars. At this point he invited pupils to come up on stage and try some target practice (with Nerf blasters) before reading a short extract from the novel.

Finally Steve answered a huge number of questions, with signed posters for the best three questions, before signing autographs and books.

Many thanks to Random House and Steve Cole for their visit, to CultureNL for inviting us to host, to Scotia Books for helping with the books for sale, to Mrs Macfadyen for organising the event and to the 6th years who volunteered to help out with directing our visitors and selling books.

You can also read one pupil’s review of Steve’s visit by clicking here.


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Pupils in S2 and S6 enjoyed fantastic talks from graphic novelists, Metaphrog, on Friday 31st October.

Metaphrog, otherwise known as John and Sandra, provided a tour through comics and cartoon characters from The Beano to Popeye to their own character, Louis, discussing the process of design, the development of story and the need for strong, simple shapes.

They also provided an idea of how comics are seen in other countries before running a short animated version of Louis. In addition, 6th year pupils had the chance to draw their own characters with advice from our guests.

At lunchtime, John and Sandra kindly reviewed the plans drawn up by the senior creative writing group who are designing their own country in which to place their fiction, and provided guidance to pupils about how to move their plans forward.

The event was joint funded by Our Lady’s High Library Resource Centre and Creative Scotland’s Live Literature programme, which is managed by Scottish Book Trust.  Many thanks to the departments for providing the opportunity for pupils to attend, particularly English and Art and Design and to School Librarian, Mrs Macfadyen, for organising and coordinating the event.

Colin Fox visit

Report from Miss Halket

Higher Politics class

Higher Politics class

Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party spokesperson and founder member, visited the Higher Politics class on Tuesday 28th October. Pupils had the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding further through questioning Colin about his Socialist values. Our pupils felt confident enough to share their views with Colin. They were articulate, mature and enthusiastic.

The whole class and staff would like to thank Colin for his visit and we very much look forward to him returning next year.

Visit from Frank Roy, MP

Report by Miss Halket

Mr Frank Roy, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, visited the Higher Politics class. He spoke of the ways in which he represents his constituents and how proud he is of our area.

Mr Roy and the class discussed the arguments put forward by the Better Together campaign. This allowed them the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and understanding before they vote in the Independence Referendum this September. It also allowed them the opportunity to investigate both sides of the debate, after having recently met with Mr Colin Fox.

Pupils and staff very much enjoyed the visit and are extremely grateful to Mr Roy for taking the time to share his views with his young constituents.

Rotary Club Dinner

From Mrs Sinclair

Congratulations to Sam Kelly and Stephen Ross who represented Our Lady’s last night at a special dinner in The Bentley Hotel hosted by the Motherwell Rotary Club.

Sam spoke about his experiences in Our Lady’s, particularly highlighting his sixth year, which included experiences in Caritas and the Duke of Edinburgh Award. He went on to tell the assembled audience about his plans to go to Africa to assist with a building project for young people for which he is currently fund-raising.

Stephen also talked about his time in Our Lady’s and the expectations which the teachers have of our pupils.  He went on to describe Caritas, Duke of Edinburgh and his experience of volunteering in Bothwellpark.  The audience also heard about the fantastic trip to CERN.

Both boys did a great job and were complimented by the assembled club members, receiving a a token of their appreciation for their efforts.  Well done to both Sam and Stephen who did the school proud.

Kirkland Ciccone

Kirkland Ciccone with Angus and Brian.

Kirkland Ciccone with Angus and Brian.

Author, Kirkland Ciccone, visited Our Lady’s on Friday 22nd November, to discuss his life, his love of books, and his novel, Conjuring the Infinite with 3rd year pupils from the English Department.

Kirkland, a North Lanarkshire lad himself, kept the class giggling at the more surreal elements of his existence, before explaining how he became a published author, and why  the class should vote for Conjuring the Infinite to win the Catalyst Book Awards.

Before leaving, he staked his claim to becoming one of their favourite authors by signing everything put in front of him, and even allowing each pupil choose their own colour!

Thanks to School Librarian, Mrs Macfadyen, for arranging the visit, and to Miss McGhee for the loan of 3rd year for the afternoon.