It's been a turbulent year in education, but many schools are starting the new academic year afresh. The final easing of restrictions has ensured that the school year comes with a sense of normality after the summer break. We spoke to students and staff at Mount Vernon Primary School about how their academic term started. Gayle Clarkson, Head Teacher, said one of the major differences for them is that the “bubbles'' have popped! As it’s become safer for students to mix, Mount Vernon Primary School has been able to re-initiate its Buddy Programme.
The Buddy Programme has been well established in the school for nearly 20 years. The programme connects students in Primary 7 and Primary 1. It builds valuable friendships between new students and older children, who are in their final year of Primary School. Victoria Collins, Depute Head Teacher told us, “Last year’s seniors were really disappointed that they weren’t able to meet with their buddies and take part in the various activities we usually plan.”
The social life of the school contributes to the kids’ overall happiness and wellbeing. Being able to socialise with their peers is invaluable. Harris, a P7 pupil, said “I’m excited about being in P7 and being a buddy. I hope we will be able to go on our residential week and join some new clubs.” Pupils can once again look forward to trips and extracurricular activities with their friends.
For new students, the Buddy Programme is a vital part of their school experience. Mrs. Reid, P1 Class Teacher, told us “The Buddy Programme is a great way to help our new pupils settle. The children get so excited when their P7 buddies come down to visit.” And Victoria believes the benefits of the Buddy Programme work both ways. She explained, “It helps our new pupils settle into school life but also provides opportunities for our P7 pupils to take on a more nurturing role.”
The Primary 7 students have expressed their excitement over being able to take part again. Laila, another P7 pupil, said, “I’m so pleased we can meet and play with our P1 buddies. I remember my P7 buddy. It’s something I’ve really looked forward to doing.” This new responsibility builds leadership skills and confidence for children before they go on to High School. It also creates a real sense of community in the school. Victoria said, “We are all delighted that the children are now able to mix and can enjoy building these special relationships.”