Since 2009 Inverallochy School has been actively making its school grounds an exciting place to play and learn. They are one of many schools now demonstrating that this is a process and not a product. It’s not about a one-off grant fund application or waiting for the local council to do something, but an integral part of the school’s ethos.
Recently I was passing by and the latest artwork caught my eye at the front of the school – made entirely from fishing nets and other gear used by the local fishing industry.
It’s a really good example of children learning about their local community and also from their community. According to the school newsletter, many people came along to volunteer including the head teacher Eunice Stephen’s dad Bobby; Pastor Willie Watt; Adam Duthie’s dad Alistair; Mark Masson’s dad Mark Andrew; and Andra Whyte skipper of For Ever Grateful. They all worked with the children to enable this project to happen.
It was a really popular activity with the children. A quote from their newsletter stated:
Miss Stephen asked fa wid like to learn to mak nets as she kent Alexander and Adam were yole daft. Eight boys scoffed doon their denner and raced to the gym hall ivery denner time for twa wiks. They were at engrossed they sometimes forgot to ging for their lessons at half past een!
At the en o the twa wiks Bobby said they hid deen awfa weel and wid be ready to gwa ontae the pier and men nets! They learnt far mair than he thocht possible, splicing, lacing, patching a hole and jining bits o’ nets agither. Weel done a’body!
As you have noticed, the text is written in Doric – the local dialect in NE Scotland. This may not seem a big deal, but attention given to local culture is an important part of place-based learning and recognising cultural and natural heritage and how the two are intertwined.
The rest of the photos show what a wonderful job has been done. Not only were nets made but the artwork outside developed. The detail is impressive. Also the the artwork is likely to last a long time outside as it’s made from items that are made for extreme outdoor use.
For more ideas about using nets in school grounds have a look at this post.
I think Inverallochy School’s efforts can make all of us involved in education ask how we can establish such close working partnerships with our local industries. It is such a positive reflection on a community and how a school can help children create a sense of belonging.
After more than 20 years of being the inspirational head teacher at Inverallochy, Eunice Stephen resigned in the summer. She is heading off to Nepal to work as a VSO volunteer. She has left such a positive legacy and I wish her well – this post is published on the day she flies to Kathmandu!