Congratulations to Fyvie Primary School who have been nominated in Scots School o the Year sponsored by Itchy Coo and Black and White Publishing in the Scots Language Awards 2020. Vote now!
We asked Fiona MacNab of Fyvie Primary School the following questions.
Tell us aboot yersel or yer ootfit.
Fyvie Primary School is a rural school in Aberdeenshire, with around 130 pupils and 20 children in the nursery. A lot of our pupils have parents who also attended the school and community is very important to us. Several languages are spoken within the school community and all are valued – but regardless of their first language all our bairns enjoy learning in and about Doric.
Whit wis it got ye involvit wi the Scots leid?
We have always had bairns who spoke Doric and have always done the traditional Scots poetry annually – but a few years ago when a class were doing a Scots language based around The Gruffalo it was the children themselves who recognised that we had fewer Doric speakers within the school at that time and asked if their teacher could arrange for someone to come and speak to them in Doric. That was duly arranged, and that kick-started the enthusiasm from staff to do more than just Scots poetry once a year.
Several members of staff then attended Scots language training provided by Education Scotland. As a result of that staff confidence in teaching Scots has grown, especially amongst those who are not from a Doric-speaking background. The children share the Scots they know in both spoken and written activities and are encouraged to share their knowledge with other classes too. We have noticed that children who can be reluctant to write in English are often much more enthusiastic about writing in Doric. Classes now help teach each other by producing, for example, word clouds and audio recordings of stories in Doric, as well as reading Scots stories to younger children.
Scots is now seen as an important part of Curriculum for Excellence: it is not only a feature of the literacy curriculum but also features as part of the 1+2 languages offered at Fyvie Primary School.
Ony particlar career heighlichts?
One of our members of staff was asked to pilot the Scots Language course offered by the Open University and was then invited to attend “A Scots Gaitherin”, the Scots Language conference organised by Education Scotland in association with Creative Scotland. At that event Matthew Fitt invited us to collaborate with him in illustrating a song for his website. The children set themselves (and their teacher) the challenging task of producing an animation telling the story of the song. The task proved to be even more challenging than expected when the technological challenges were compounded by the advent of Covid-19. With the likelihood of a lockdown looming, they worked together and supported each other exceptionally well to compress a planned 3-4 weeks’ work into only 4 days to complete and edit the animation before lockdown started.
(If you look closely at the animation you’ll see the poor wee “Coronavirus foxclub” – his leg and tail were cut off when the bairns were rushing to record their scene and didn’t have time to make another cub to replace him. Our video is here if you want a look: http://www.scotsinschools.co.uk/sing.html )
We have had some other school Scots language highlights in addition to this. Having several pupils placed as ‘commended’ and ‘highly commended’ in the Buchan Heritage Doric writing competition, and having 2 pupils winning prizes in a Scots language review competition organised by IntoFilm stand out as well, along with a group of P4 pupils who managed to translate “We’re Gaan on a Bear Hunt” into Doric by themselves and then performed it for our local playgroup, complete with actions.
When taking part in STV Children’s Appeal ‘Big Breakfast’ event last year two of our classes translated the advertising and menus into Doric. Another class learned the ‘Shoogly Woogly’, recorded it and sent it to a school in Australia who have now been learning some Doric words as well as the song & dance.
These are just a few examples of some of our Scots language work. Seeing children who do not often engage in Literacy tasks growing in confidence and enthusiasm has also been a highlight of our Scots language work for all the staff, as well as witnessing lots of positive interactions between pupils and parents about their learning in Scots.
Wha’s yer plans fir the days aheid?
We hope that by winning this award it would help to spur on the continued development of Scots throughout the school. We hope to continue to incorporate Scots into interdisciplinary projects, including John Muir Awards, and to reinforce to the children that Scots is a valued language. It is often used in class assemblies (which are performed to parents and the whole school) and the children build on their learning year-on-year.
We aim to continue to allow children to value their local language, be proud of their heritage and respect their sense of identity. We had planned to celebrate our local culture with a ‘Fyvie Festival’ last May but the Covid restrictions meant that couldn’t go ahead, so hopefully we’ll be able to do a community celebration of our language and culture sometime soon.
The Scots Language Awards 2020 will be online at www.scotslanguageawards.com. We will have a mixture of events on the 23rd / 24th October. Performing at the Award on Saturday 24th September will be Gerda Stevenson, Gary Robertson, Shona Donaldson and Jim Malcolm.
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This post is also available in: Scots