Discussing the School’s Woman and Business programme, Mrs MacGinty tells the magazine: “For pupils to hear from women at the very top of their specialist field is, I firmly believe, a rare and invaluable opportunity. It may well change the course of a young life“.
Read the full Business Insider independent schools supplement
- Patrick Sawer, Sunday Telegraph Senior News Reporter
19 January 2020
It has long been a rite of passage for young children; the moment they first begin to grasp how to tell the time as their parents patiently explain the significance of the “big hand” and the “little hand”.
But the ubiquity of mobile phones and tablets, with their digital 24-hour clock, is threatening to make the art of telling the time from a traditional timepiece redundant.
So much so that a school in Scotland has found that pupils as old as 13 are unable to tell the time from the ‘analogue’ clocks hanging in classrooms and corridors.
Teachers at Kilgraston School in Perthshire began to notice that more and more of its senior pupils had no concept of how to read a clock, or at best struggled to do so.
The problem had become so acute that it had even begun to threaten the girls’ exam prospects.
Dorothy MacGinty, head of Kilgraston, said: “Pupils sit in examination rooms with analogue clocks and we have found some who struggle to understand how much longer they have left for an exam because they cannot read the clock face.”
Now the school, in the town of Bridge of Earn, has begun to teach pupils to read a clock the old fashioned way, without resorting to their mobile phones.
In fact mobiles and tablets have been banned during school hours to encourage the girls to look at the clocks around the school.
Teachers began to notice that it was taking longer than normal to teach junior pupils how to tell the time, either because they were not being taught at home or were not receiving “regular reinforcement” from looking at their watches.
However, it quickly became clear the problem was not limited to the younger pupils.
Mrs MacGinty told The Telegraph: “Our head of maths, Mrs Stephanie Speed, mentioned to me that she was also becoming increasingly concerned as more and more senior girls who were joining the school lacked this basic skill.
“Additionally there are maths applications that need this skill. It’s a fundamental numeracy life skill. We are encouraging parents and guardians to buy wristwatches for girls from aged five.”
It’s certainly not a matter of lack of intelligence.
These are pupils, after all, who have happily mastered complex calculus and equations that would stump the majority of adults.
Photo credit: Stuart Nicol/The Telegraph
But just as, following the introduction of domestic electricity, there must have been a generation of children who had no idea how to light the gas lamps their parents had grown up with, the paradigm shift from analogue to digital technology has created a divide in everyday knowledge.
Mrs MacGinty insists however that there are some skills that should transcend the generations.
“Society is changing and the curriculum should change to reflect this,” she said. “But some skills are too important to ignore.
“For example, we are still teaching pupils to read rail and bus timetables, even though it is no longer in the senior school maths syllabus, because it is important that pupils understand how to read these.”
She added: “Having the ability to understand the movement of the minute hand and the hour hand around the face of a clock gives young people a tangible understanding of the passing of time, not just numbers changing on a digital screen.”
Since many of the pupils at the independent day and boarding school, founded in 1930, do not own a wrist watch they were initially reluctant about being separated from their precious mobile phones during the day.
But it appears the rule has had the desired effect of encouraging them to look up at a clock to tell the time.
“Initially I felt anxious about learning to read the time,” said one 13-year-old. “But when I realised that I was not alone learning it didn’t seem to be as scary. Now that I understand it, and we don’t carry phones with us, I find myself using the classroom and corridor clocks to read all the time.”
And as Mrs MacGinty says: “Wouldn’t it be very sad if we got to the point where a whole generation of young people looked at Big Ben in puzzlement?”
The story was followed-up by the Daily Mail on Monday 20 January 2020
“I was approached by Alyth Braithwaite, one of our Junior Years pupils, last term,” said Dorothy MacGinty, Head of Kilgraston, “she was particularly concerned about the effect of air-borne pollution, partially caused by idle engines, on young people and I decided to look into the situation.”
Brief investigation threw-up many shocking statistics about an idle engine: The British Heart Foundation’s website states, bluntly, that: ‘Babies and children are especially vulnerable to air pollution as their lungs are still growing and developing.’
Mrs MacGinty said: “Additionally, the Royal College of Physicians estimate 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution, with engine idling contributing to this figure. Even living in a rural area we are not immune from the effects of pollutants, like PM10 or PM2.5, which penetrate deep into your lung tissue.”
Parent, Claire Alexander, sees the School’s move as very positive: “I think that the idling ban is especially encouraging as it is the children who are recognising and initiating the move. I am wholeheartedly behind the initiative and hope that everyone will join-in with the children’s enthusiasm.”
Kilgraston appreciates that often those offering a ‘taxi’ service to pupils often have to wait while their charges arrive at the chosen point. “We know hanging around for a child can be chilly work,” comments Mrs MacGinty, “so we have written to parents inviting them to come into the school, whatever the time, and wait in the warmth of Reception, rather than sit with their engine running in the car park.”
It’s not just little lungs that suffer
According to respected ‘auto’ website, Spark Plugs’, damage from an idle engine is not just inflicted on human recipients: “Excessive idling can damage your engine’s components, including spark plugs, cylinders and exhaust systems. Because your vehicle’s engine is not operating at its peak temperature when idling, fuel is only partially combusted, leading to a fuel residue build-up on cylinder walls. This is the gunk that can foul your sparkplugs and muck up your exhaust systems,” it says.
All part of the plan
Kilgraston’s no-idling policy dovetails closely with the School’s many environmental initiatives including the avoidance of single-use plastic and the discouragement of ‘fast fashion’, encouraging the use of vintage clothing.
“An independent school has recorded its best exam results in five years after it banned mobile phones.
Kilgraston School in Bridge of Earn imposed the ban last year and said it had found an immediate improvement in pupils’ concentration. Kilgraston lifted its phone ban for a Christmas carol concert to help pupils with the lyrics, but it was only staff who were browsing social media because the pupils had “got out of the habit,” Ms MacGinty said. Pupils and parents said that have noticed better communication, a reduction in anxiety and a warmer atmosphere both at home and at school since the ban.”
Read full article in The Times
Head of Kilgraston School, Dorothy MacGinty, also featured in The Independent over the festive break, discussing the need to be discreet and mindful of others while sharing your Christmas presents on social media…
TES carries a comment article extolling the virtues of First Aid teaching at senior school level, but asking if the country shouldn’t be trying to teach even younger pupils.
Kilgraston School’s Junior Years pupils learning vital First Aid techniques
Independent School Parent magazine – autumn 2019, senior edition – examines the independent sector’s approach to this subject and finds that schools’ ‘global outlook’ – and a sense of responsibility for the world – is firmly embedded within their ethos, with young people proactively embracing the challenges.
Kilgraston pupils’ campaign to reduce ‘fast fashion’, single-use plastic and their research into declining bird populations is highlighted on page 20.
Started at the beginning of 2019’s academic year and designed to give Kilgraston’s Senior School pupils the opportunity to meet industry experts and learn more about various careers, the programme has caught the press’ attention with this months’s much-respected Independent Education Today magazine featuring the initiative.
“The aim is to turn the school into an industry hub,” commented Kilgraston’s Head, Mrs MacGinty: “becoming the go-to destination for ambitious girls looking to enter the world of business, knowing that they will be nurtured and mentored, fully developing their entrepreneurial spirit.”
Daily Telegraph journalist, Judith Woods, visited Kilgraston during September, subsequently writing about her day with the pupils in her weekly newspaper column: “They (the pupils) want to fulfil their potential, in the classroom, on their mandatory cross-country runs and in their chosen fields of endeavour,” she enthused.
Later this month, tax specialists from Saffery Champness will be spending time with pupils.
During spring 2020, Nyree Conway, a Director with leading Scottish law firm, Thorley Stephenson SSC, together with a Procurator Fiscal and a Consultant Dermatologist, will, independently, spend time talking discussing their respective careers with senior school pupils.
During the visit from Hettie’s Teas, owner Clare Pinchbeck commented: “Logos, branding, names and promotional ideas were all discussed. Girls were very engaged. They were surprised that the product didn’t start with the tea but with a business plan instead.” She continued: “Girls’ wanted their tea to make drinkers feel ‘bubbly’, ‘invigorated’, ‘driven’ and ‘full of energy’. The creative energy from them was amazing, they just ran with it and their ideas for the brand and logo were superb and are now being carried forward into a viable product.”
More used to asking, rather than answering, the questions, the Daily Telegraph journalist gamely spent four hours with the tough young interrogators: “There was no slacking,” she said, “you have some keen news-hounds here, they really put me through my paces!”
Judith Woods is based in London having had a career that has taken her all over the globe.
Born in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, the youngest of five girls, she left home aged 18 to read German at Edinburgh University where she was an active member of the student theatre, appearing in numerous fringe festival comedy shows. During this time she also spent a year living in Berlin.
Judith graduated with a first class degree and joined a local, free, newspaper in Edinburgh, training on the job. She went on to work for the Edinburgh Evening News, speech radio and then The Scotsman, before receiving a call from The Daily Telegraph in London.
A contemporary of the now Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, she used to catch the same bus, as the peer, to work while he too was working at the Telegraph. She noticed that he always sat at the very front of the bus (he does, as we know, like buses!) and didn’t seem to understand how to fold a newspaper, bundling all the billowing pages into a great big ball.
Commenting on an interview with Theresa May MP, Judith told the girls: “Prime ministers are tough but a lot easier than teenagers, let me tell you,” she continued: “At Kilgraston there’s no messing, they get straight to the point and don’t give up until they have the answer they want!”
Head of Kilgraston, Dorothy MacGinty, said: “We were thrilled to welcome Judith. So many fantastic stories, she was such an inspiration to all of the girls.” Swimming with hammer-head sharks, travelling with Peruvian vigilantes, attending star-laced Oscar parties and interviewing teenage ‘influencer’ Zoella were just some of the subjects covered by the journalist. “A real eye-opener,” said Mrs MacGinty, “we were very grateful to Judith for giving up a whole day of her time, it was a a fascinating journey.”
Daily Telegraph article mentioning Kilgraston on 4.10.19
The autumn edition of School House magazine has just been published and features Kilgraston School in its 276 page volume. The piece about ‘Young eco-warriors’ is flagged-up on the front cover and highlights our ‘Wear it Again’ day among ideas from other schools, including plastic-free picnics, Christmas trees made from old drinks bottles and green ‘unicorns’ – mentors who monitor the environmental policies within schools.
Editor of the magazine, Annabel Heseltine, says she is: “Impressed with their commitment to go green.”
School House magazine is currently available to purchase in shops.
Kilgraston entry in School House magazine
In early 2019, when Kilgraston School pupils had the idea to address the 300,000 tonnes of unused clothes being sent to landfill every year in the UK, girls couldn’t have imagined how their vintage ‘Wear it Again’ day would capture the public imagination.
But it has, in a whole list of national media.
THE WEEK’s Independent Schools Guide Autumn 2019 edition is the latest in a long line of publications to feature the idea, making Kilgraston School its ‘Best green ideas’ winner.
The full Independent Schools Guide is available in shops and some articles can be found at THE WEEK
Girls from Kilgraston School dressing in vintage fashion during the ‘Wear it Again’ day to highlight the current trend of ‘fast fashion’ which contributes to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wasted clothing being dumped in landfill sites