Visit by Norwegian teachers

Following the return of a World War two boat to Norway earlier this year, Johnshaven School has set up links with a Norwegian School.

Last week a number of the School’s teachers visited for an “away conference.”

On Friday the group of twenty teachers visited Stonehaven to learn about the local history and to see how this history is taught within schools.

Community Councillor and history enthusiast, Phil Mills-Bishop, led the group on an interesting and insightful tour of the town.

To begin with, the group visited the old town and saw the Plague Stones (at the back of the Stonehaven Police Station) of some of those who died of the Plague in the early part of the 17th Century.

The tour continued to Christian’s House, Mercat Cross/Clock Tower, Harbour and the Tolbooth which was kindly opened by some of the Community volunteers.

The Group were enthralled and many brought a gift in the gift shop or left a donation in the barrel.

After lunch they visited the War Memorial on Black Hill and alongside it the site of the last execution of a witch in Stonehaven. The group then walked along the cliff-path from the Memorial to Dunnottar Castle.

Mr Mills-Bishop said that during the tour he spoke to the teachers about teaching local history in schools. He said: “I chatted with Jaan (The Head Teacher) on the walk that children in Stonehaven knew little nor comprehended much about their local heritage both in terms of landscape or history. Knowing it better would not only help give them a sense of place and identity but in a very practical sense a potential career into tourist. Tourism is the third largest income generator in the Region after oil and food. This income helps preserve the natural landscape as well as the historical environment.

“This type of learning and engagement by young people should be part of the academic curriculum at the Primary stage. Jaan agreed that the problem of young pupils not understanding their environment and history is the same in Norway and the ‘Away Conference’ in Aberdeen and trips to communities such as Stonehaven were the first steps in helping detail a solution.”

Johnhshaven School head teacher, Jackie Fernandez explained a bit more about the link between the two schools. She said: “Pupils and staff at Johnshaven Primary School will be extending our links with the Borhaug School this year. The Curriculum for Excellence specifically refers to young people ‘developing a knowledge and understanding of the world and Scotland’s place in it’. International education can play a meaningful role in achieving all four capacities - enabling each child or young person to be a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor.

“It also widens the teachers’ horizons by providing an opportunity for them to look closely at different approaches, reflect on their own practice, develop a global perspective and improve learning and teaching. We have had several letters and pictures from the school and the pupils worked on a ‘Boat Project’ which will be sent to the Norwegian school, which is very close to the museum where the boat is being restored.

“I am extremely grateful to Mr Phil Mills-Bishop, who kindly stepped in for me to show the visitors the local area. He gave them a very informative and fascinating tour. The visitors hope to come down to Johnshaven next time and to meet Mr Don Marr, who has been instrumental in the restoration of the boat to Norway.”