River of learning

Moreen Smith, Education Director, Illuminat-Ed looks at how educational resources are connecting local young people with regeneration, and through them raising awareness with families and the local community.

The Clyde Waterfront Education website provides the kind of resources that will help teachers deliver a curriculum fit for the 21st Century. The Education website creates material that delivers the curriculum in a local context for learning and provides an opportunity to engage young people in the regeneration of their area.


Responding to educational targets

This educational concept is a leader in the field, providing a suite of materials which are readily accessible by teachers to enable them to link their classroom topics with their local area, engaging the pupils by providing a platform to give purpose to their learning by applying it in a local context whilst adding interest and relevance to the learning process.

The Curriculum resources, developed especially for Clyde Waterfront and written by local teachers, consist of 200 lesson plans covering all curricular areas and are downloadable through the site. The outlines are flexible enough to be used at all ages and stages.  Not only are the outcomes of learning achieved, but the approach adds value by delivering the 4 capacities of a Curriculum for Excellence. The content also deliberately addresses the Enterprise in Education agenda which aims to deliver skills for life and work.

To put this another way, the project has been designed to address the main national educational targets currently being focused upon by the government.  One of the advantages for teachers is that the outlines provide a model for how to adapt other lesson plans to meet these agenda.

How young people see the future

The Clyde Waterfront project demonstrates a commitment to seeing our young people involved in directing their own futures. There is a strong connection here with the whole approach for the regeneration project which is to ensure that people who live in the local communities benefit from the redevelopment which is taking place in the area. The regeneration process is providing a successful, sustainable and bright future for the young people who live along the Clyde.  Through this resource, pupils in local schools are encouraged to gain an understanding of their area and shown how their learning can be applied in the context of the world around them to enhance their learning and bring it to life.

Designed by teachers for teachers

Teachers who have used the resource have commented on how the concept supports what they are trying to achieve. The resource provides a starting point for introducing and creating ideas, developing new partners both internally for cross curricular work and externally with business and community, saves time on development, and gives teachers more ideas to enhance what they are doing.

Teachers have also been able to confirm to us that this approach engages pupils in learning, builds achievement and raises attainment. It involves the young people in their learning by encouraging them to learn in a local context where they see the relevance and purpose of what they are doing. This additional engagement alone makes the resource of value.


Classroom on the Clyde

River Trips have been introduced this year to provide more support for schools. The trips, which are subsidised significantly by Clyde Waterfront, include commentary, work sheets, tasks, interactive map and web resources as well as advice on how to best incorporate it into the curriculum, to ensure teachers maximise the experience.

One school has used the river trip to develop several projects of a cross curricular nature for S2 and 3 classes. Another has used the trip as the basis for studying various aspects of the local area to deliver an effective S1 topic in a Social Studies.  Senior students studying Higher Geography will use the knowledge and understanding gained to enhance their studies this year.  The added value to participating in such an opportunity cannot be overstated. Young people leave with a much greater understanding of their local area, the changes taking place, the history, the opportunities available to them, and this can only be of an advantage to them in their future.


Seeing it adds to the learning

By involving the young people, it is possible to increase awareness of the regeneration with families and local community and by working together, make the partnership stronger and of benefit to all.  Teachers gain an insight into how they can use the variety of resources in their area to apply learning. So for example, science teachers were keen to explore the water purification sites, the scrap metal industry, the wildlife and nature reserves as a means of enhancing different topics.  Equally the historical aspects along the river add colour to many curricular topics.

The whole project brings the river to life for pupils and teachers, discussing as it does, the significance of the river's past, present and future. It ensures our young people understand and are able to source relevant information about their local area and apply it in their classroom learning. It is a unique resource for schools and Clyde Waterfront are enthusiastic about providing substantial support to allow the education sector to maximise this opportunity.  The experience will most definitely have an impact on the depth and breadth and understanding of the curriculum, it will benefit pupils' learning outcomes and be a significant influence in delivering a Curriculum for Excellence.

The Clyde Waterfront  Curriculum resources will enable schools to extend the impact of classroom learning by demonstrating how that learning is applied in the world beyond school, highlighting the  relevance of the curriculum and engaging the local community, through young people, in the regeneration of their area.  It is  a concept that will be replicated across the country, and quite possibly internationally, as there are many benefits for all involved.

8th October 2009

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