Isle of Skye Pictures
This weekend is a long weekend in Scotland. Currenly we are on the Isle of Skye.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Isle of Skye Pictures
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Today we are in a most historic town called Stirling and Mr Cumming is meeting with some people here, so I thought I would hijack his blog and tell you about some of the less educational but beautiful scenery we are seeing.
After leaving Glasgow we drove north along the edge of Loch Lomond which I have always wanted to see because when I was growing up we were taught a song about Loch Lomond. A Loch is what we call a lake and although this was not that wide it is long and on the other side of the Loch beautiful mountains roll down to the water. There are so many old buildings everywhere, you can't believe it. Castles, ruins, manors, churches....some, people are living in, others are there for people to look at. After Loch Lomond we headed west and up to Fort Williams and again on the way up there, there were mountains, lakes, castles! We stayed the night at Fort William overlooking a Loch which we loved and then the next morning headed up to Ben Nevis...I have been told that a Ben is a mountain and a Glen is a valley....so I hope that's right. We caught a cable car 1/2 way up a mountain range and then Mr Cumming and I went for separate walks, with Mr Cumming going off the track as per usual to climb up to some snow, where he filled his water bottle. He loves climbing mountains particularly where there is snow!
We then heard about the Glenfinnan Viaduct which was the bridge used in 3 Harry Potter films where the Hogwarts Express travels across it, so we thought we must go there and take some pictures, especially for Chloe Anderson as I know how much she enjoys reading Harry Potter. That was absolutely unbelievable. I didn't realise a bridge could be so beautiful and for me it was quite breathtaking.
We continued up to the west coast to a place called Mallaig, a very picturesque fishing village with oceans on one side and mountains on the other. The roads are very narrow in most of these towns with buildings right on the edge of the road. We think we could see the Isle of Skye across the ocean and we hope to go up there next week. We then headed back inland and up to a place called Glencoe where there were the most magnificent mountains and waterfalls. It looked like something out of the dinosaur ages and Mr Cumming has said he will be coming back to Scotland one day to climb those mountains. All along the edge of the road are poles a couple of metres high and these are so people can find the roads when there is snow. It is hard to believe these mountains could be covered in snow as the only snow we are seeing is right on the very top of these high, high mountains.
We are now in Stiriling and I know there is a huge castle here with a moat that we will go and look at once Mr Cumming is finished working. It doesn't get dark till around 10.30pm so you can fit a lot into 1 day. Mr Cumming went for a walk late last night to the castle and said he nearly fell into the moat and was going to have to wait for a knight in shining armour or a fair maiden to come and rescue him. Fortunately he didn't fall in as I'm not sure there are many of them around any more!! This afternoon we head off to Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland and I have been told this is another beautiful place.....there are so many!!
Hope all is well at Withers...I heard you are having loads of rain..we have been very lucky...no rain as yet. Hope you are all enjoying the blog and I know Mr Cumming is really keen to talk with you all about what he has found in schools in Scotland and England. Take care.....Mrs Cumming
Posted by Stuart Cumming at 3:58 PM
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Tomorrow I'm off to visit two more schools, including one school with 40 students who are deaf and blind. The outdoor areas are really special places for these students. Mark will be taking me along to what I'm sure will be more inspirational Glasgow school.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Drove up to London to pick up Mrs Cumming, then the long drive to Glasgow. After arriving we went into Glasgow for dinner. Glasgow is just full of historic buildings.Glasgow
I'm off to visit Glasgow schools over the next two days with Mark Irwin the Sustainable Development Officer with Glasgow City Council. I hope to see how the partnership between local schools and the council has enhanced the children's outdoor education experience. At Withers Primary in Australia there may be some practical application with our Maidens Reserve Habitat Project and Partnership with the City of Bunbury.
Thanks to all the Withers students who are following this Blog, and especially to Room 3 who I hear from often.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
- Houses of Parliament
- Big Ben
- Tower Bridge
- Tower of London
- Nelson's Column
- Trafalgar Square
- River Thames
- Memorial Column, Which I climbed up inside spiral stairs.
- Westminster Abby
- Buckingham Palace
- 10 Downing St
See if you can match the pictures to their names.
More London pictures
Posted by Stuart Cumming at 5:01 AM
Saturday, May 22, 2010
The Coombes Primary School (Reading)
Fabulous school. The Outdoor’s program was embedded throughout the school.
Students who were in trouble sat in the staff room. This didn’t appear to be a common practice but was accepted on the day necessity, however enabled teachers to be free. Support staff as in all other schools were on duty at lunch time. These staff then had a 30 minute break once the children returned to class.
Students played throughout the grounds at lunch time. There were two distinctive sites and the older and younger students had separate play areas. The Head Teacher who began the school was obviously a real visionary and the school has developed, over time, outstanding grounds and environmental program. Visitors are common, a group of Dutch student teachers ware visiting on the day I was there.
Paths were a real feature. Wood chips which were a very good environmentally friendly alternative to limestone paths abounded. Use of waste from the local government clean ups were beneficial to both agencies. Paths twisted and turned throughout the grounds. Children just loved running and exploring these. They really added to the area of the school, giving the appearance that the school was a great deal larger than was the case. There was even a path that was well hidden and went around the perimeter of the school. You felt as if you were in a hidden forest while on this path. Children utilized these paths and were more often than not out of the site of duty staff. This was no accident and was how they were designed. The Head Teach likened it to a garden, “You don’t want to see it all at once, you want to be lead to different areas”
There were countless areas classes could use for lesson outside. Numerous story circles, an unbelievable “enchanted” story chair, amphitheatre, sitting areas. Countless vegetable plots “allotments” as they are known here, which classes were free to use as they saw fit. Again fruit trees abounded, and were interspersed throughout the school rather than in a specific orchard. There was what appreared to be a large forest that included species from throughout the UK. Really gave the school depth. Wonderful areas to take children without having to go off site.
The school oval “field” was out of bounds at lunch times but with all the other activities on offer this was not an issue. There were lots of small rooms used as classrooms for small group instruction that were interspersed throughout the school. A tree house was a well used room. This wasn’t used for playing in during breaks but as a learning area during class times for small group instruction.
There was lots of inexpensive playground gear. Logs, concrete blocks, tyres filled with cement. There wasn’t soft fall under these areas. The A/Head Patrick Prichard explained children needed to learn their limitations, risk taking was a part of life and children soon learn what they can and can’t do.
Again as in other schools I have visited many children at lunchtime we off on paths or areas out of sight of duty staff (Teacher Assistants) children were trusted to behave and did. If something untoward occurred children would find the teachers. There was not a sense of all children had to be visible to the duty teacher. Little nooks and crannies were developed as play spaces rather than blocked off. A “Chill Out Area” was one such place where children who just wanted some quiet time could sit. A computer club operated daily by Carol the ITC teacher and this was full of students on line and having fun. There was no compulsion to be outdoors at break times.
The local town is adjacent to an army barracks. The barracks contributes to works at the school through the provision of labour and machinery as required.
The environmental direction of the school has been achieved over time, with the school’s board of governors’ fully behind the Head Teacher in the overall grounds development.
Paths. Use of willow to develop paths, this is grown on site to involve students and cut down costs. A geology trail existed with huge stone structures from all over the UK interspersed throughout the site. Many of the stones had rules, saying and the like carved in them. Literally written in stone.
Adventure Playground. Use of large logs just piled on the bitumen surface was really popular with students. Vegetation from dense undergrowth to open woodland was close to classrooms.
Several ponds had been dug into the grounds and were fenced off. These provided aquatic environments students could utilize for learning. Livestock were also part of the school environment with a few sheep including a lamb fenced of with portable fencing on a side of the oval. Days earlier the mother had died while giving birth. This provided an opportunity to learn about life, and death. Learning opportunist such as these were utilised as they came to hand. The staff appeared very adaptable and able to make the use of opportunities as they presented themselves. An amphitheatre was well hidden in the woodland, which looked capable of seating the entire school if required.
The Coombes School Visit 20 May (Reading)
More pictures at Coombes School Visit