A quick look back at 2010
It's that time of the year where people feel reflective and start making lists of the best things to have happened in the last twelve months. I don't want to bore you to tears with another 'Top 10 of 2010' so instead I'll take the alternative route, get all emotional and tell a few tales...
The change in government at Westminster and the implementation of the new curriculum have made it an interesting time to be involved in Scottish education, bringing to mind that old Chinese curse, 'may you live in interesting times'. But, despite many of the headlines, it wasn't all doom and gloom.
There was so much good practice going on in schools it's hard to single out any examples. I loved seeing the wee faces of the 'class of the week' at Corsehill Primary in Kilwinning when they came striding into class proudly singing 'we won the cup!' as has become traditional after their weekly assembly. I was fascinated by the Paperclips project taking place in Cumnock Academy (amongst others) to enhance understanding of Holocaust education. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Primary 6 pupils at Carronshore Primary in Falkirk who gave our producer, Gerald Strother and I a real grilling about our jobs here at the BBC and showed us their blogs and wiki pages. I think we may have found a few reporters of the future for the BBC Newsroom!
If I had to pick just one highlight, though, it would be the day I spent at Hazelwood School in Glasgow. The pupils at Hazelwood range from 2 to 19 years old, and all have sensory impairments and pronounced support needs. We've had young people from Hazelwood in the LAB making a radio podcast, and we've previously made a film about the design of their beautiful building, which is a marvel of architecture and really empowers the pupils to be independent.
I happened to be there on November 5th, and watching how carefully they prepared for their 'Guy Fawkes' assembly was just amazing. An MP3 player was loaded full of firework sounds as the real thing might be too loud for some of the children, but the staff wanted them to have the sensation of fireworks. The bonfire was lit, even in the wet conditions, and marshmallows were toasted. My senses were alive - the smell of the fire and the damp wood, the taste of the marshmallow, the noises of fireworks, and it made me realise just how much thought has to go in to delivering learning for young people with sensory impairment.
I even had a go on a trampoline with Margaret, the rebound therapist, and watched as she used her momentum to get children moving who may not be able to exercise on their own. The reactions from the young children were amazing to see and the results she's had have been fantastic - children sitting up unaided, or pushing down with their arms where they couldn't before.
Combine this with the classroom where young children were listening to Polish classical music as one of their number was Polish, and they were learning about her homeland as a project - this place is inspiring and I was privileged to meet the staff and pupils there.
I'd like to say a big thanks to all the schools who welcomed me in this year - and I'll be out and about on my travels again in January. In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Maybe you'll ring in the bells with the programmes on the BBC, or in a more traditional way... in either case, all the best from the team here at BBC Scotland and we'll see you in 2011.