Part 2 – Visiting E. Lothian



Yesterday Kim, Gail and I drove out to East Lothian to visit Musselburgh Grammar School and Wallyford Primary School. The day was organised by Ollie Bray, a Depute Head at MGS.

Our first port of call was Wallyford. We visited a primary 7 class where the children were engrossed in their Nintendo DS as they worked to improve their brain age! I was really impressed by how absorbed the children were in the activity. There was a great question and answer session afterwards. I learned that:

  • the children love it, but half an hour of such intense concentration is enough for them
  • they sometimes forget that they are even in class because it’s the type of activity they would normally take part in outside of school (the atmosphere was very informal – some children sat in small groups on large cushions on the floor)
  • they often used this as a ‘settling down’ activity right after lunch
  • the 20 to 30 minute activity was counted as part of their mental maths for that day
  • some found it frustrating that the voice recognition didn’t recognise their accent (the Australian visitors agreed – the word ‘yellow’ caused them the most problems!)
  • Some of them liked the fact they could compete against their classmates – others preferred to work hard to improve their own scores
  • age 20 is the optimal brain age (I tried it later and scored 80 …. I’m blaming the voice recognition tool!!)




The children packed up the equipment and we were escorted downstairs to the primary 3 class. These children played the ‘Drawn to Life’ game. The purpose is to create and customise heroes, weapons, vehicles, animals and more. The children then play with their creations and watch them come to life. Once again, these children were totally absorbed in the activity. Ms Betteridge had made worksheets to go along with the game and the children then used the experience to help with imaginative writing. The primary 3 pupils confidently used expressions such as :

  • settings
  • characters
  • plot
  • props to help solve problems

I overheard two pupils discussing the coins they had accumulated. They accurately read big numbers such as 7765, 9981, and even 7001. They were also able to easily put these in order of smallest to biggest – very impressive 🙂


Back at MGS we had the pleasure of talking to Jamie and Andrew, to 1st year pupils. They talked to us about The Guitar Hero project that they were involved in to aid the transition from Primary to Secondary school. I’ve read about it before on Ollie’s blog, but it was great to meet two of the children who took part and hear things from their perspective. I scribbled down some notes as we questioned them … again, I’ll use bullet points to give snippets of what they said (so, it’s not a chronological order of events!)

  • In primary 7 they formed small groups. The groups were chosen by the teacher because the pupils found it difficult to choose from a large friendship group
  • the rock bands planned a ‘Round the World Tour’
  • Activities spilled into various curricular areas. For example – In music, they practised ‘beats’. In English, they kept a ‘Rock Diary’. In Art they designed their own instruments and drew rock stars
  • Each of the feeder primary schools had one guitar and the groups took turn about to practise.
  • There were competitions at the weekly Golden Time slots (even the teachers joined in!)
  • Once in High School, everyone had a common issue that they could discuss with children they didn’t know
  • They were grouped again in High School with new people – again chosen by the teachers. Both boys thought that the project meant that people were less likely to be shy
  • New friendships struck up really easily because they all had a shared experince to discuss
  • In Craft Design and Technology class, the new groups designed postcards using graphics in Photoshop. These were then sent back to their P7 teachers (they couldn’t remember receiving a reply back?)
  • Although they felt very at ease socially with their new clasmates, the boys still felt a bit intimidated by the size of the new school

 I thoroughly enjoyed the day and need to say a big thank you to Ollie (I hope he doesn’t mind that I pinched the pics from his blog – trust me to forget the camera!).

Thanks also to the staff and pupils who made us all so welcome …. and lunch was great, too 🙂

6 thoughts on “Part 2 – Visiting E. Lothian

  1. Hi Margaret, Glad you enjoyed your day in East Lothian. As Ollie probably said, we’re extending the Guitar Hero project across all 6 clusters this session, so there will be lots more experience to draw on by the end of the year. So far we’ve held the first planning workshop, some snaps of which you can see on Flickr. Some staff got quite excited, never mind the children!

    If anyone’s interested in finding out more, there’s a project blog at where the staff involved have shared their planning documents showing how they linked to Curriculum for Excellence outcomes.

  2. Sounds like one of the best days ever had at school! Interested to hear if the school bought their own DS’ or if they were from LTScotland? Would be a great investment for any school, but maybe quite hard to set aside the cash. Perhaps a Local Authority ICT support department could invest in a set and then loan them out? :o)

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