Sign of the times at Lathallan
Segae Ugbe, S4 pupil, Lathallan School

Segae Ugbe, S4 pupil, Lathallan School

Pupils at Lathallan School, near Montrose, are using the lockdown to learn a diverse variety of new skills ranging from mastering sign language to songwriting and crocheting as they take part in a series of on-line activities as part of the school’s personal development programme.

Friday afternoons at Lathallan are dedicated to Personal Development Afternoons (PDA) for every senior pupil. This gives them the opportunity to choose a co-curricular activity to enhance and develop their skills set.

With an average of 15 options on offer, the choice usually includes activities such as skiing, rock-climbing, catering, photography, volunteering, engineering and even working on the school’s small farm or learning how to make barista coffee and running a community coffee shop.

Now they’ve had to take a completely new approach to their PDA programme and teachers at the school have come up with an innovative and challenging range of activities which pupils can engage with online.

Using a combination of video, apps and online tutorials, pupils can choose from nine activities with more being added each term. Some of these will be incorporated into school life when lockdown ends and the pupils return to school, while others will result in formal qualifications.

Pupils studying songwriting, for example, will explore and develop songwriting techniques and collaborate with others to compose music in a range of styles with the new music being performed at future school and community events.

The British Sign Language (BSL) qualification course will be taught over 10 lessons, with each lesson being assessed through BSL videos and questions. Pupils who achieve at least 85% in each assessment plus a final assessment will be awarded BSL accreditation.

Three teachers are helping pupils develop cooking and baking skills with weekly recipes for them to try. Pupils taking part will also have the opportunity to gain their food hygiene certificate.

Other activities available are film making, creative writing, crochet, photography, online games against one another and online chess tournaments.

“The Personal Development Afternoons are an important part of school life at Lathallan,” said headmaster Richard Toley.

“We strongly believe that children should have a well-rounded education. There’s more to that than just helping them reach their full academic potential, it’s also about equipping them with a wider set of skills and knowledge which will help them approach their future with confidence.

“The activities they take part in during PDAs contribute to developing life skills such as teamwork, decision making, problem solving, resilience, communication and interpersonal skills.”

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