bridge building

A CLYDEBANK school’s exceptional effort in promoting equality has been praised by Scotland’s leading anti-sectarian charity.

Pupils at St Eunan’s Primary in Drumry were presented with a special award by Nil By Mouth in recognition of the school’s commitment to building a fairer society.

The Gilmour Street school became the first in West Dunbartonshire to receive the charity’s ‘Champions for Change’ award and it’s hoped their success will inspire other schools in the region to follow in St Eunan’s footsteps.

Through its anti-sectarianism drive, all P7 children have developed an awareness for the need for change and are committed to spreading a positive message to other schools, friends, family and the wider community. Their ongoing activities involved a link-up with nearby Linnvale Primary which saw pupils and teachers from both schools work together in a common cause. The project involved a literacy topic using the novel Divided City by Theresa Breslin to highlight an issue that has been a problem in the West of Scotland for generations.

Last week Nil By Mouth campaign director David Scott attended the school to present the award and congratulate the pupils and their teachers on a job well done. He Said:

“St Eunan’s is the first school in West Dunbartonshire to receive our ‘Champions for Change’ award which is sponsored by the Scottish Government to recognise best practice in tackling sectarianism in schools. This award is richly deserved.

The pupils and staff at St Eunan’s have impressed us hugely with their commitment and energy. The school have worked closely with Linnvale Primary and local faith leaders, such as Father Boyle and Rev McIntyre, to give pupils a better understanding of the rich variety of religions and cultures in Scotland.

Pupils have developed their own anti-sectarian activity packs, studied the ‘Divided City’ book, interviewed their families about their own views, designed several poster campaigns and staff attended workshops aimed at raising awareness of sectarianism.”

The two schools have been developing the inter denominational partnership over the last two years and are eager to build on a flourishing relationship that it is hoped will become stronger as the years progress. P7 pupils Jack McAvoy and Sonia Djabali, both 11, were in no doubt about the value of the project and how it has helped them to understand the wider issues of inequality that exist in Scotland and around the world.

Jack said: “It doesn’t just cover religion, it covers racism, ageism and all forms of discrimination and it teaches children to grow up to be kind to other people no matter who they are or where they come from.”

Sonia added: “We want to teach the next generation to grow up and not get involved in sectarianism. It’s been great to learn about it and we are really pleased to get the award from Nil by Mouth.”

Also in attendance was Terry Lanagan, executive director of Education Services at West Dunbartonshire Council, who was also full of praise for the school’s achievement.
He said:

“I was delighted to learn of the Anti-Sectarianism Accreditation awarded by the charity Nil by Mouth to St Eunan’s Primary School in Clydebank. The award is well deserved recognition for a joint project with Linnvale Primary School aimed at tackling prejudice and sectarianism and celebrating diversity.

“I was hugely impressed by the articulate manner in which primary 7 pupils talked about the project. In particular, they spoke enthusiastically about the new friendships they had formed with pupils from Linnvale. They also spoke of the importance of diversity and the terrible effects of prejudice. The children are now eagerly anticipating a retreat for the pupils of both schools organised jointly by the two school chaplains.

“Projects such as this can go a long way towards tackling sectarianism which has blighted so many communities in the west of Scotland for many decades.”

Speaking on behalf of the teachers, Joanne Baker who was involved in the project from the beginning said the it was a genuine team effort involving teachers from both schools, parents and of course the children who embraced the project and made it such a success,

She added:

“It was about bringing the community together and letting the children realise that just because they come from another school doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. They can play together and experience lots of different things together. It was great for pupils and teachers because the teachers got to work together on the projects and the children worked together as well. It’s been a real success, led by the children who have got their parents involved as well which has meant it has been taken into the home as well as the school which is excellent.”