Whiting Bay pupils enjoy the great outdoors to secure John Muir Award

P6/7 pupils receive their awards at a group presentation at Whiting Bay Primary.

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Whiting Bay Primary School is top of the class again in the John Muir Awards.

Primary six and seven pupils have been participating in the scheme since 2010 and this year, despite pandemic restrictions, they once again fulfilled all the criteria and secured Discovery Level recognition.

Scottish-born naturalist John Muir founded the National Parks movement. The award scheme named after him encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment whilst providing fun and enjoyment of nature and fostering a spirit of adventure.

To achieve the award, pupils have to complete at least four days out learning in the natural environment and fulfil the four challenges: discovery; explore; conserve and share.

This year, the pupils’ focus was moors and mountains. They visited Machrie Moor and the standing stones on the west coast of Arran where they explored the setting and became more aware of their surroundings by doing activities that used the senses: blindfold partners; sound pictures; sketching and photography.

Pupils also explored Glen Rosa with the help of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) ranger service which helped them identify wildlife and habitats. Pupils were fortunate to see adders, eagles, sphagnum moss, butterwort and milkwort. Again, they used their senses to become more aware of their surroundings with a variety of games and activities.

On a visit to Brodick Castle Country Park, the youngsters learned how to build a shelter using resources found in the environment. They also learned how to purify water and made a fire to heat it. They visited the recreated roundhouse, finding out about life long ago on Arran, and made shale pendants with a bow drill. In class, they researched moor and mountain wildlife and wrote poems and imaginative stories.

At the Roots of Arran Hazel Glade, the students made a sound map, designed mini-shelters for imaginary creatures, created woodland perfumes, whittled hazel kazoos, completed a mindfulness exercise and created watercolour paintings and a nature collage. They also cleaned up litter.

A favourite location for the pupils was the Iron Age Fort at Glenashdale and the Giants’ Graves where pupils learned about how their ancestors lived on the land.

The conservation part of the challenge involved planting 45 trees in Glen Rosa, including an Arran Whitebeam, along with a visit to the Arran Community Land Initiative where the children planted trees and irises. They also stomped on bracken and learned how to protect saplings.

Principal teacher at Whiting Bay Primary School Raye Beggans said: ‘Well done to all the pupils who received their awards and appreciated all the outdoor days.

‘Our thanks go to Darren at Arran Community Land Initiative, NTS rangers Kate, Corinna and Jake and Arran Outdoor Education Centre staff Martin, Tom and Alex.’

Pupils normally share their award-winning experiences at an assembly attended by parents and members of the community and other classes in the school. But, unfortunately, Covid-19 safety restrictions prevented this from happening this year.

P6/7 pupils receive their awards at a group presentation at Whiting Bay Primary. No_B27WB01

Pupils visit the recreated roundhouse at Brodick Castle. No_B27WB02

Pupils learn about how their ancestors lived in the recreated roundhouse at Brodick Castle. No_B27WB03

Students make shale pendants with a bow drill. No_B27WB04

Arran ranger, Corinna Goeckeritz teaches the children about sphagnum moss. No_B27WB05

An exploration of Glen Rosa was included in the itinerary of outdoor excursions. No_B27WB06

Pupils enjoy their lunch break in an idyllic setting. No_B27WB07

Machrie Moor standing stones was a favourite location visited by the children. No_B27WB08

A sensory experience, children enjoy playing blindfold partners. No_B27WB09

A pupil enjoys the sunshine while painting a nature scene. No_B27WB10

Part of the John Muir Award involves learning about the legacy and life of John Muir himself. No_B27WB11