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Published Date: 

13 Jun 2012 - 15:26

A leading local school and an inspirational teaching professional from Argyll and Bute are top of the class as they claimed a top accolade at the Scottish Education Awards 2012.


Alison Robertson, an additional needs support worker from Furnace Primary near Inveraray, collected the honour of Educational Supporter of the Year at the award ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, Glasgow. 


The judges selected Alison for the prestigious title to celebrate her dedication and professionalism towards helping local children with social and emotional support needs achieve their potential in a mainstream learning environment.


As manager of the school’s wrap around care club Alison’s day begins at around 7:30am when she prepares play and learning equipment for attendees of the breakfast club. The club provides a structured start to the day for children who receive breakfast and practice skills for life such as cooperation, food preparation and self management.

Children who attend breakfast club have a ‘soft start’ to the school day, which allows them to access the curriculum in a way that is tailored to their needs. Thanks to this approach, the children spend the vast majority of their time in the main class and are prepared for learning.

For three mornings a week, Alison fulfils the role of classroom assistant for P1 to P4 multi-composite classes. In this role she assists the class teachers and supports individuals and small groups in their learning. Her understanding of children and how they develop helps her to encourage active learning and celebrate the success of individuals.


After school finishes, Alison runs the Kool Kids Klub. This involves providing a stimulating environment and activities for children who require after school care and supervision.  Once again, her knowledge of child development ensures that the needs and abilities of all children are catered for.

Alison often spends her spare time organising, creating and updating displays or resources. Her work is seen all over the school and she is highly regarded by staff, pupils and parents.


Port Ellen Primary on the Isle of Islay has also been crowned a winner at the Scottish Education Awards 2012.  Staff and pupils from the school scooped the coveted Learning Through Technology Award to celebrate their integrated use of technology within the curriculum. 


The school uses technology to mitigate the remote island location and bring learning to life for students. 


Technology is used as a key tool at Port Ellen to enable children to develop literacy skills. Pupils in P6 and P7 use Nintendo DS consoles and Professor Layton to provide a motivating context for reading and writing.  Children with literacy difficulties are supported by a range of technologies including Clicker 5 to facilitate writing and Wordshark to support spelling and reading.

During a sports topic, children from P4 and P5 used Glow groups to develop links with a school in America, with reciprocal learning and teaching of the national sports baseball and shinty. Staff and pupils throughout the school have used Zumba and Lets Dance to encourage exercise through dance and have raised money for charity with a school Zumba session.

Port Ellen also uses technology to keep parents up-to-date and celebrate achievement, via the school website, blogs and Twitter. The school website was set up and designed by P7 pupils to provide information on everything from school improvement to learning games. Parents have also taken part in Internet safety training, delivered by staff and children.

Glow has enabled the school to overcome its isolation and make links with other communities. Through using Glow as an educational tool the children have worked with astronauts, authors, historians and scientists to place learning in a real life context.  

Technology is integrated into the daily life of Port Ellen Primary as a result of a positive attitude by children, staff, parents and the local community.  Technology is used as a tool to create a positive learning community, which removes geographical barriers and provides a rewarding context to enable pupils to become responsible digital citizens of the future.


Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell said:


“I regularly visit schools and speak with teachers and I know there is much excellence, professionalism, dedication and success in our schools from both pupils, parents and professionals alike. This good work is ongoing throughout the year and is widespread across education in Scotland.


“The Annual Scottish Education Awards offer a great opportunity for us to step back and take the time to reward those individuals and schools that have been nominated for their achievements. I would like to take this chance to congratulate all of those that have been nominated for the awards and particularly, those that achieved success in this year’s awards.”


Michael Breslin, Lead Councillor for Education and Lifelong Learning said: “I’d like to congratulate our winners and thank them for their dedication to young people and their outstanding contribution to education in Argyll and Bute. I’m delighted that we had so many nominations from our area for this year’s Education Awards and all those nominated should also be proud of their achievements.”


The Scottish Education Awards are open to all publicly funded schools and provide the opportunity to showcase the hard work and achievements of all education staff in Scotland. There are categories to recognise and reward the dedication of teachers, head-teachers and support staff across the country.   


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