Moving Up

It is the end of another school year and for my eldest child, the end of primary school as he looks forward to starting at the big school after the holidays. Having spent his time in P7 in the brand new Noss Primary in Wick and the wonderful learning environment that if offered, he will now be the first full S1 in the newly opened Wick High with all the opportunities that this community campus has available including the adjacent public library and swimming pool. Neither school has been without its problems during construction and settling in with many more no doubt to come but on the whole, the facilities that this generation of Weekers will learn in is second to none and you hope that they realise just how fortunate they are compared to their peers elsewhere in the county. Now that we hear that the tragicomedy “Independent”/Labour/LibDem led Highland Council appear to be in desperate financial straits, I am thankful that these community buildings have been constructed. It goes without saying that once again, the administration lay all blame at the door of the Scottish Government rather than take responsibility over decisions previously made.

Having spent 2 induction days there last week, he seems to have taken all the changes in his stride which is a relief for his over cautious parents. The cafeteria style dining has proved a big hit with all its grown up options and he seems comfortable in operating its cashless payment system; his biggest problem seemed to be a lack of time to finish all he had chosen and following on from that, the realisation that he needs to learn to budget! Things have moved on a fair bit from when I started high school 30 years ago and I am sure that I will be subject to much rolling of eyes as only teenagers can do over the next few years if I dare to offer any suggestions.

In the final few days of term, all work done over the previous year comes home with the child and in between the sheets of mathematical workings and spelling practise, you find the unexpected gem of a well crafted story or piece of artwork and the much anticipated diaries. Anyone who has ever complained about something being exaggerated or taken out of context on social media has nothing on the mind of a child when they write about their home life at the weekend! Sometimes embarrassing but always funny, these are kept to return the favour when they grow up! Also appearing home are their topic projects that they have worked on and it is inspiring to see the work that teachers put into making these interesting for the pupils and what they learn from these as well as curiosities that are piqued and in some cases, will start a lifetime interest.

One of the projects that P7 did last year was the Scottish Parliament and although he has obviously been brought up in a politically motivated household, it has been great to see all the things that he has learnt from it and his own beliefs and priorities coming through. A mock election was held where they created their own parties, produced manifestos and held hustings and they then passed a budget. 8 choices were offered for them to choose from and they had to give their reasons; I have to admit I was surprised at the reasons he gave for knocking back some of the budget options but his successful choices were for a recycling scheme, smoking cessation programme and free public transport for under 10s with additional sports clubs funding, home insulation and organic farming being dismissed out of hand. I’m not entirely sure however that any MSP would be overly chuffed with his assertion that their job consists of reading letters, emails and attending party meetings!

One of the highlights of the topic was when Gail Ross MSP visited their classroom to talk about the Scottish Parliament and posed for an individual photo with each member of the class which they were all delighted with. Looking through the sheets that have come home, I enjoyed the timeline he had made of significant events such as 1458: The Scottish Parliament commands the slaughter of wolves, 1471: That Parliament bans football and golf so that archery can be practised to defend the country and 1945: SNP win first seat in Westminster until I reached his final entry 2014: Scotland voted No in the Referendum. Seeing a natural progression of events written down and then with the incredible returns of 2015, 2016 and 2017, I am heartbroken that this opportunity was denied to us especially when you see how events are unfolding and that we are powerless to stop them. As the situation continues to develop and impact upon Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, it is unforgivable that the stability of the country for these voters of the future that are entirely innocent can be sacrificed rather than protected.

I know from parents of pupils in other schools that their children have also greatly enjoyed learning about politics and this should be nurtured – learning about the institutions that affect every part of your life and world is as important as learning sums and spelling if we are to continue the rejuvenation of the youth vote that has evolved in the last few years.