Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Staffin, Kilmuir & Uig Primary Schools Isle of Skye

We arrived on the Isle of Skye over the weekend and have spent the last 3 nights based in Portree.  Sunday afternoon and Monday were spent exploring the “island” with Mr Cumming climbing huge mountains and Mrs Cumming going on long, amazingly scenic drives!  Have a look at the photos and you will see how beautiful this place is.

Staffin PS
Today (Tuesday) I visited Staffin PS and met with Head Teacher (Principal) Margaret Nicolson.  Margaret is actually Head Teacher over 2 sites, the other being Kilmuir PS.  This is thought to be cost effective, but obviously a huge workload and one of the challenges  is reassuring parents that each school is of equal importance.

A major part of the school ethos is of looking after the environment.  Recycling bins are located out the front of the school, in the staffroom, school canteen and every classroom.  Any scraps left over from the school canteen go into a compost bin. 

Children plant and ultimately harvest the produce with the school cook cooking meals and utilising school produce when possible.  I appreciated the time Margaret spent with me at such short notice.

Kilmuir PS
I was shown around Kilmuir PS by Elaine Henderson a Nova Scotian, Gaelic speaking teacher.  There were 19 students at the school…3 students in one class where lessons were all delivered in English, and 16 students over 3 classes where lessons were give only in Gaelic.  Elaine even read The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Gaelic to us!

The school overlooks a main shipping channel and students are able to look up on an internet site and see which ships are passing by at a particular time.  The outdoor area consisted of the following: 
drystone dyking (a wall that is constructed from stones without any mortar).  Students observe insects that live in these walls for science lessons and study the different types of lichen that grows there.

a poly tunnel (greenhouse) where plants including vegetables are grown and where students are currently undertaking minibeast research.  The school also creates its own mulch and students are able to take home the vegies they grow.

Uig PS
I was greeted at the school door by Head Teacher Myra (Mary) Holt and 5 smiling children.  This was the entire enrolment of the school.  I also met Teacher Assistant Christine Morrison.  This school is in a building over 100 years old and also has magnificent views over the ocean.

The very enthusiastic students showed me around their school...inside and out and were particularly proud of their “grow bags’, where each student had a bag like our green recycling shopping bags.  They had decorated them with their names and had planted a variety of vegetables including: carrots, potatoes, rocket, spring onion, lettuce, cabbage, celery, leek, broccoli and some herbs.  If by the end of the year, the plants hadn’t fully matured the children were able to take the bags home and nurture them there.  They were also able to keep the produce.  The school received a grant which was used to purchase the grow bags and the seeds/plants.

Within the school grounds students were able to build their own cubbies and also had their own rock climbing wall, which was an initiative from the local council which funded these walls across Skye.
I was able to chat with the students about Australia and thoroughly enjoyed meeting them all as well as the 2 wonderful staff.


Emma Strong said...

Recycling bins are a great idea. Miles Franklin School in Canberra had sets of 3 bins scattered everywhere: regular rubbish, recycling, compost. Good fun learning what can and can't be composted, and saves on compost for your gardens/vegie plots. Hey, I see our max temps here in Bunbury are warmer than yours. No wonder you're all in jumpers.

Anonymous said...

How's it going Mr Cumming!
Looks like a nice school, wish I went to that school,but then again I'm glad I'm at Withers:)


alyssa said...

Hi Mr Cumming
Could we have a
rock climbing wall at our school? Where are you staying at?



Stuart Cumming said...

Thanks for all your comments..good to see you are checking out the blog. We have been really lucky with the weather...very light scattered rain, yesterday and I think that has been it since we arrived. Recycling bins are everywhere here in Scotland and most of the schools we have visited are using these well.Austin,we are very lucky with our school...most libraries are no bigger than our sick room and the staff rooms are a little bit bigger than Mr Cumming's office. Alyssa,the Scottish Govt gave that school money and they decided on building a rock wall, and I am looking forward to getting back to Withers to have discussions with students about what we can do with our grounds at Withers PS. We are at Inverness which is up in the north of Scotland and tomorrow we will be visiting a 1 teacher school. Today were fortunate to visit 3 terrific schools.
Mr Cumming

Fiona said...

The rock climbing wall is great, have seen versions of that in playgrounds in Perth, worth investigating,Its amaziing that with all that space and scenery schools today still need to develop grounds to get them to connect with nature, mayebe this crosses over and they will be all walking up mountains before long:)
Yo will be exploding with ideas when you get home


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