Local project leads way on understanding adoption issues in schools

A pioneering project run here in East Lothian is helping to inform a national campaign on raising awareness around attachment issues for adopted and looked after children.

Iain Gray MSP met with representatives of Adoption UK at Holyrood to learn more about the Attachment Ambassadors’ Project which the charity has been running in the North Berwick schools cluster.

The project aims to raise awareness of attachment issues and early trauma which can put children at a significant disadvantage in schools unless handled with sensitivity, understanding and appropriate responses to challenging behaviour.

The project ran a series of workshops and training events for teachers, other school staff and parents, covering issues such as child development, inclusion and peer support. An in-service day conference on attachment, relationships and resilience was also attended by 130 teachers.

Six teachers, one in each cluster school, subsequently became Attachment Ambassadors, attending training provided by Adoption UK and receiving ongoing support in the form of group and 1 to 1 meetings.

Following the success of the project in the North Berwick cluster, the charity is planning to roll out the same project structure in schools in the Haddington and Lammermuir partnership area.

At the same time as this local project was being delivered, Adoption UK has been developing its Equal Chance campaign to make every school attachment-aware and raise awareness of the systemic changes needed to give adopted children the same chances as their peers.

The campaign launches on 27th June and Iain Gray MSP will host a reception at the Scottish Parliament on 4th September to highlight the campaign and its objectives to MSPs and the Scottish Government.

Iain Gray MSP said “I was pleased to meet with representatives of Adoption UK and find out more about its Attachment Ambassadors’ Project. The project has clearly been a big success in the North Berwick cluster, with teachers, other staff, parents and pupils themselves all benefiting from the training and support it has provided.

“We know that looked after and adopted children can face particular challenges at school, so it’s really positive to see East Lothian playing an important part in helping to increase understanding of children’s experience of attachment issues and how schools can better support them.

“The experience in schools in the North Berwick cluster shows that the project is not only beneficial for adopted children but that all children can benefit from increased awareness and understanding of attachment issues, relationships and resilience, as well as behaviour management approaches.

“I am sure that the Haddington cluster project will go on to be a similar success, and look forward to helping promote the charity’s Equal Chance campaign at their parliamentary reception later in the year.”

Fiona Aitken, Adoption UK’s Director, Scotland, said: “We are grateful to have received funding to continue our work in schools in East Lothian – our continued presence in the area allows us to offer ongoing support to teachers and schools who have implemented our Attachment Ambassador programme.  

“This programme, led by our education project manager and adoptive parent Kathy Allan, offers an opportunity for all children to benefit from school staff team’s increased knowledge and awareness of trauma and attachment issues.

“Our Equal Chance campaign is designed to offer adopted children the same chance as their peers in school, through programmes such as ours and encouragement of others to ensure their needs are better met and understood in their educational placement. Adopted and care experienced children are at a disadvantage due to their early experiences – we want to change their experiences of school to support them to achieve their potential.  

“We are delighted to be highlighting this campaign at our parliamentary event on 4th September, and very pleased to have the support of Mr Gray in the campaign and through the sponsorship of this event.

Music lovers and foodies are in for a treat at Gardening Scotland 2016

With just over one week to go until the start of Gardening Scotland – the country’s Outdoor Living Show – the event’s organisers are reminding people that the show is more than just a fantastic day out for gardeners.

This year’s event, which takes place from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th June at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh, promises to be an action-packed day out for everyone, whether you are interested in food, cookery or music, as well as gardening.

Foodies will take inspiration from the event’s Cookery Theatre, which will play host to a range of well-known chefs such as Wendy Barrie from the Scottish Food Guide and Neil Forbes from Café St Honoré. Visitors will get expert tips for delicious and inspiring recipes using the very best Scottish produce. The Living Garden exhibition will also demonstrate how you can grow your own delicious produce, from herbs to fruit and vegetables, for your own kitchen.

Music lovers are in for a real variety show during the three day event with a host of live performances from Scottish and international artists. Glasgow trio The Ragtime Dolls will entertain visitors with songs inspired by the 1940s group The Andrews Sisters, while the Dojo Performers promise to provide both a visual and audio spectacle for children and adults alike.

Outdoors enthusiasts will be kept entertained as they travel through the show gardens and floral hall by Beverley Smith on Alto Saxophone and Chris Reynolds on Trumpet.  As well as performing on the event’s band stand, the Vibe will be popping up around the showground keeping visitors entertained with spontaneous performances.

Musical hits from The Barrowband will enthral gardeners and foodies alike. This band’s mission is to change the eating habits of a nation whilst singing and playing the finest set of fruit and veg songs on Earth and beyond. They will be holding interactive performances in the Big Back Garden and will be featured in the bandstand – a guaranteed hit for the children to encourage them to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Martin Dare, event organiser, said:

“There will be something for everyone at this year’s Gardening Scotland. People love their gardens for all sorts of reasons, whether that’s for flowers, enjoying food or having an outdoor space to have fun in and enjoy time with friends.

“That’s why Gardening Scotland has it all covered. Our band stand will provide a great source of entertainment throughout the three day event for children and families alike, and once again we guarantee that foodies will have a day filled with gastronomic delights with our jam packed Cookery Theatre agenda and Living Garden exhibition.

“With just over a week to go we are counting down the days and look forward to seeing you there!”

Frugal Holiday Fun

Schools in East Lothian break for half term on Friday 7 February and pupils go back to school on Tuesday 18th February (Monday 17th is a staff in-service day).

Here are a few ideas for a fun-filled family break without spending a fortune.

Out and About

Scotrail Kids Go Free ticket not only give up to two free kids off-peak travel with each adult, you also get one free child entry to lots of great attractions including The Seabird Centre and Camera Obscura.

LothianBuses have a Family DAYticket which allows up to 2 adults and up to 3 children unlimited travel together, all day, for only £7.50

Just like playing with someone else’s toys, going to a different park, woods, beach or sport centre is always loads more fun than the local one. Why not explore a neighbouring area as if you were a tourist?

If you want to be active, why not check out these local sports venues:

Aubigny Sports Centre, Haddington
Dunbar Leisure Pool

Loch Centre, Tranent
Meadowmill Sports Centre, By Tranent
Musselburgh Sports Centre
North Berwick Sports Centre
www.mercatgait.com, Prestonpans

If wild places rock your world, then search the database of woods to visit at Visit Woods.  There are loads of ideas for outdoor activities at the Nature Detectives website.

If you or your children need a bit of an incentive to explore the great outdoors, you could combine your walk with a spot of geocaching – a sort of high tech treasure hunt using sat nav or the GPS on smartphones.  There are geocaches all over the world and East Lothian has a fair few hundred of them.  It’s a great way of of discovering new places.  Visit Geocaching.com to get started.

You could follow up your trip to a cafe afterwards.  Community Centre cafes offer great value for money.  East Lothian community centres with cafes include Bleachingfield, Musselburgh East, Ormiston, Port Seton, Longniddry, Pennypit & Prestonpans.  Contact details and opening hours can be seen here.

Culture & Heritage

The Fraser Centre has a varied programme of family-friendly films ranging from classics such as Whisky Galore to the latest blockbusters such as Gravity.  Tickets are all by donation.

DadsWork, with funding from Prestonpans Support from the Start, are having a Go Mad with Dad free Mid Term Movie Matinee on Wednesday 12th February 2014 at The Fraser Centre showing Disney’s Planes.  Doors open at 1.00pm and movie starts 1.15pm. Free refreshments will be available, FREE tickets are available form Kevin Young @ DadsWork on 0131 665 0848 / 07833741768 or dadswork@hotmail.co.uk. This movie matinee is for dads, male carers and their children. Further information is also available from Kevin Young. BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.

East Lothian Council Museums Service manages Dunbar Town House, John Gray Centre in Haddington and John Muir’s Birthplace in Dunbar, all of which have free entry.  Prestongrange visitor centre at Prestonpans is currently closed but the expansive site is open to explore.  The Coastal Communities Museum run in partnership with the Coastal Communities Museum Trust is also free to visit.

At £16 for adults and £9.60 for children, entry to Edinburgh Castle could hardly be described as “frugal”.  However, a family membership to Historic Scotland might cost less than you think.  An annual membership for 2 adults + children equates to £7.04 (or £5.70 for concessions) per month by direct debit.  This would give you unlimited access to all Historic Scotland sites including East Lothian gems such as Dirleton Castle, Tantallon Castle and Seton Collegiate Church. To add extra value to your trip, time your visit for when a special event is on such as the medieval jousting tournaments held at Linlithgow Palace.

Event Listings

The following websites are good for finding out what’s happening in the local area.

Radio Saltire

East Lothian Courier

East Lothian Council

For further afield, try The List.

Wet Weather activities

Bad weather makes holidays a challenge.

What do you do on dreary drizzly days? bake? draw? watch old movies? How about letter writing, code-breaking or board games?  We would love to hear your ideas!