Comenius Schools Partnership

Ella McDonagh writes the following report:

At the beginning of term Mr Port let us know that Ms Campbell’s application to take part in a Comenius Schools Partnership Programme was successful and we have been awarded a grant of 22,000 Euros from the British Council to fund this. The Comenius Schools Partnership Programme gives young people the opportunity to make cultural links with schools in different European countries. Named after Jan Amos Comenius, often considered the father of modern education, Comenius has two main objectives:

  • to develop knowledge and understanding among young people and education staff of the diversity of European cultures and languages, and the value of this diversity
  • to help young people to acquire basic life skills and competences for their personal development, for future employment and for active European citizenship

Our school has been given the opportunity to work with four other European schools:

Instituto Istruzione Superiore C. Golgi in Italy, 7th  General Lyceum of Illion in Greece, HS/RS Lehre in Germany and Preili State Gymnasium in Latvia. Our project will run over two years, during which we will visit each school in turn to plan, discuss and evaluate  our input into the project. Each school will study the cultural and political heritage of their area and consider how this has shaped their environment. In planning and working together, pupils and staff will have the opportunity to increase their awareness and appreciation of our their own and other cultures within the European Community. Direct contact with staff and students from other countries will promote citizenship and develop the feeling of all belonging to the same community, and, it is hoped, build lifelong relationships and friendships amongst the partnership countries. Pupils will improve their research skills and out-of-school learning, widen their outlook and become active and responsible learners and active Europeans.  In Gairloch we will concentrate on our historical, linguistic, artistic and musical culture and how it has made our country what it is today.

We hope that the exchanges between schools will help all students in our school to develop a sense of intercultural understanding, improve our communication in languages and encourage personal achievement.

Our first visit is to Preili State Gymnasium in Latvia. This visit will be in November. Four pupils from S5 and S6, Kirsty Alexander, Ella McDonagh, Alasdair Paul and Sophie Donald along with Ms Campbell and Ms Hunter, will set off for Riga, followed by working meetings with our partner schools in Preili, where pupils will stay with host families.

I am delighted to have such a wonderful opportunity to visit Latvia. It is a unique opportunity that I doubt I will ever get again. I am really excited about staying with host families and learning about how they live, although I’ll have to learn some Latvian first.

School news 20th August 2010

Exam Success – Gairloch High pupils received another good trawl of results this year in National Examinations.

Roxanne Ramsay achieved A passes in Advanced Higher Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  This is an excellent result by any standard due to the high levels of personal commitment required at this standard.  Advanced Highers will have prepared Roxanne well for University study.

Many of the other S6 pupils that left school at the summer, appear to have achieved the grades required to continue with further and higher education.

Well done also to Anna Hulme, Conal McDonagh and Carianne Johnston in fourth year.  All three pupils passed 8 subjects at the top level.

In fifth year, 6 pupils achieved 5 Higher passes in one sitting.  School Dux, Sophie Donald received 5 A passes and Jennifer Leonard, Ella McDonagh, Katrina Port & Alasdair Paul received 4 A’s and a B.  James Staddon also gained five Higher passes.  Many other pupils in the year also achieved a successful mix of Higher and Intermediate exam passes.

Higher English produced 17 passes (8 of which were Grade A) while successful results in the Higher Music, Art, French & German stand out alongside Higher History.

Although there has been concern regarding the lack of a teacher specialising in History several staff in the school have worked incredibly hard to make sure that the pupils don’t lose out.  Ms Velt prepared the Higher candidates very well and this has resulted in all the candidates passing the final exam.  Three of those achieved Grade A.

Mrs Somers has provided a similarly impressive success in the fourth year Standard Grade History course thereby preparing pupils for future progress.  Both these teachers, while maintaining good results in their main subjects, typically represent the dedication and commitment of all the teachers to work with the pupils to give them the best chance possible of exam success.

Every year we analyse the results closely to see how we can improve our teaching.  Although some pupils may be disappointed, overall the results are very encouraging and the individual success of many pupils very good.  Well done to everyone who put in the effort this year.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – Over the summer Roxanne Ramsay took part in her Gold Expedition and has now effectively completed her Gold Award. The following pupils received their Bronze Award at Assembly on Tuesday 17th August: Kim Lister, David Gorman, Conal McDonagh & Alexander McFedries.  Well done to each of these pupils.

Schools Bible Project – Pupils from S2 had work submitted for this UK wide project as part of their RE course.  Ainlsie MacKenzie, Rebecca Griggs, Laura Ridehalgh, Emma Morrison, Ryan MacLean and Caitlin Johnston (now S3) all received certificates of merit for the high standard of their work.

Visitors from Malawi – Two teachers from our link school, Mr Chimtali and Ms Ajawa, arrived in Scotland on Wednesday 18th August and will be with us for two weeks.  They will be working with pupils and teachers in the High School and Primaries developing joint projects and letting us learn more about life in their country. We hope that many people in the community will have the opportunity to meet with them while they are here and we invite you to join us at a community ceilidh on Saturday 28th August.

Parent Council – Parents organised themselves along with help from some staff and former pupils to sell burgers at the Highland Gathering on the 2nd July.  The fare was popular and £450 was raised on that day.  The stalwart of the burger stand over the last two years has been Mrs. Yvonne Spence.  Thanks to Yvonne, on behalf of staff and pupils, for her active contribution in supporting the school in recent years.  Whether in her role as a member of the Parent Council or while helping DofE pupils and others learn basic cookery she has been a wonderful support to the school.  We hope that she will still be available to work with pupils even although her two daughters have now left school.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra projectGairloch music pupils are fortunate in being chosen to work with members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra during August on a project about Minimalist Music, culminating in a concert in Eden Court Theatre in September.

Former Pupil Success – We have been notified by the University of Glasgow of the following awards:  Euan Long – B.Eng and Douglas McNeil – M.Eng.  University of Aberdeen has awarded Nicola Young MA in Psychology.  Congratulations to these three former pupils.  If anyone is aware of other former pupil success at any level please let us know via the school office.

School news 2nd July 2010

Staffing – Pupils and staff bid farewell to computing teacher Mr A. McSwan last week.  Mr McSwan joined the school two years ago and made a stalwart contribution to many aspects of school life.  We wish him well for the future as he enters married life and begins a new job in the Scottish Borders.

DofE Silver Cycling Assessment – Congratulations to Kirsty Alexander, Alasdair MacLennan, Conal McDonagh, Anna Hulme and Alasdair Paul, who have all passed their DofE silver expedition. They used school mountain bikes and trailers to travel on old drove roads from Contin to Ullapool via Strath Vaich, Croick, Duag Bridge and Knockdamph, over three days. Mr Johnston and Mr Milner supervised them. Mrs Johnston assessed the group. The pupils started training for this expedition in January. Thanks also to Mr Gorman, Mr Sutherland and Andy Bowker who have all helped them get their cycle skills, fitness and mechanical ability up to the necessary standard.

DofE Bronze Walking Assessment – 19 pupils from S3 took part in DofE bronze qualifying expeditions on 21st and 22nd June. After a misty and slightly drizzly start, the weather remained dry and even hot on the second day, but the midgies were out in force. All teams completed their expeditions successfully and in good spirits. Many thanks to Dougie Coull for arriving to collect us in the bus with a wonderful spread of refreshments which were greatly appreciated by participants and leaders alike.

Thinking in Stereo – A recent project involving Anne Marie Goldie, the well-known Scottish radio presenter, resulted in the production of a short radio programme by the current S1 pupils.  Two Lochs Radio recently broadcast the programme and each pupil received a copy on a CD.  See the photographs here…

S1 Debate 23rd June 2010This House believes that Scottish school pupils take their education for granted. The S1 cross-curricular debate has become an annual event in the English Department.  This year S1 researched the issues in Social Subjects and learned in English how to participate in a parliamentary-style debate.  Several points were argued persuasively by the three teams of two on each side, and the audience of S2 contributed several more in the “Floor debate”.  The motion was defeated by a substantial majority.  Holly Morrison and Ceitidh Hulme were judged to be the best team, and others were complimented for individual strengths.  See some photographs here…

For the motion:  C Wyatt + E Owens; H Morrison + C Hulme; K MacKenzie + J MacRae

Against the motion:  S Parsons + C Street; J Claydon + P Hill       J MacLean + C Alexander

Malawi Backpack Appeal – This year Gairloch High School will be sending 21 Back Packs to Scottish International Relief.  The backpacks will then be shipped to children in countries such as Malawi, Uganda, Liberia and Romania. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the project this year.

Parent Council at the Gathering – Thanks to the members of the Parent Council and volunteers who ran a burger stand on the 4th July to raise funds for the school.

More Pupil Success – Ross MacDonald took part in the Lairg Music Festival on Saturday 19th June. He entered 3 competitions and was placed 1st in 2 of them and 2nd in the other one. He won the 16-18 accordion solo March Strathspey and Reel and the Open solo Pipe March Strathspey and Reel.

Ross is is a pupil of David MacKenzie in Dingwall and will the joining National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton this August.  Read more here…

Conal McDonagh has also been offered a place at Plockton.  While we wish both boys the best for the future it is a great loss of talent to the school and they will be sorely missed!

World Cup Football – On the last day of term most pupils took part in a football competition. Spain took the boys tournament while Rangers won for the girls.  Thanks to Mr Cumming and other staff who took on the organisation of this event.  See some photographs here…

School resumes for pupils on Tuesday 17th August.  Check out the website for photographs of prizegiving and sports events.