Historic Hooley at Holyrood!

In February, Katrina Lucas was one of thirteen teachers to receive Professional Recognition from the GTCS for her contribution to and development of Scots language teaching.  Here, she describes how Scots can transform a classroom, engaging reluctant learners and giving them an identity in the learning environment. 

Okay, maybe not a hooley exactly... more a genteel soiree, but historic nonetheless! I’ll be honest, I just liked the alliteration and the suggestion that the assembled Scottish education establishment were engaged in something subversive and edgy. And I suppose, in a strange way, we were. Intrigued? Let me explain.

In February of this year 13 proud, if slightly bashful, teachers were presented with Professional Recognition Awards by the GTCS for their contributions to Scots Language teaching. I was very privileged to be one of this eclectic (no, not eccentric) group.

By awarding Professional Recognition the GTCS has publicly acknowledged that Scots has status within Curriculum for Excellence, and can be measured for its positive impact on children’s learning. As a recognized minority language Scots is finally being taken seriously and not erroneously dismissed as slang or slovenly English.

It is this positive impact on learning that has been the driving force behind the Professional Recognition award. Yes, Scots is culturally enhancing. Yes, it is also historically relevant. Yes, in our increasingly diverse society it promotes social inclusion and national identity. But the bottom line is that it generates excitement about language. It builds confidence in the classroom, for both children and teachers. Teaching Scots has transformed attitudes and unlocked voices previously unheard. The introduction of Scots has had a positive impact on English language work in the classroom, opening up discussions about vocabulary, the history of language, audience, register, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, adjectives, nouns ... not bad for a P4 class!

I am fortunate to work in Falkirk and be a member of the Falkirk Scots Coordinators Network. This group, through their training with Matthew Fitt, have been able to provide support and share imaginative and innovative practice in Scots language teaching. As such I have also been involved in developing resources and providing CPD for colleagues within my own school and cluster partners.

 Scots has, for me and my colleagues, the ability to be truly cross curricular:  I have successfully used Scots for enterprise, geography and history topics as well as language, literacy, drama and art work. Itchy Coo proved that there was a demand for attractive and accessible Scots children’s books - many of which were in fact entry level texts for many adults who had never seen the words they used every day written down before.

I can only encourage others to start mining their local language and using it creatively in the classroom - and remember, you can use Scots throughout the year: don’t just save it for January!


Related Links:

Katrina co-wrote a report on teacher attitudes to Scots language teaching for the Scots Language Education Sub-committee last year.  She also contributed to the English Excellence group set up by Education Secretary Michael Russell, which investigated the question of what makes excellent practice in English. 

The BBC Learning Zone has a large selection of resources to aid the teaching of Scots in the classroom. 

The Scots Education Resources website provides teaching resources and training in the teaching of Scots. 

You can share your comments on Katrina's blog, or any experiences you have engaging with Scots, in the box below.