Document 1499

The Marra o a Simmer Skweel in Scots: Bit far's the Beens?

Author(s): Sheena Blackhall

Copyright holder(s): Sheena Blackhall


Afore discussin the marra, a body wad need tae ken fit kinno beens wad gyang inno sic a cultural broth as a Simmer Skweel in Scots. Recently, CPD in Aiberdeen hosted twa in-service days on makkin eese o the Elphinstane Kist, a Scots wab site I co-edit wi Les Wheeler(the former Advisor fur Scots in Grampian Region), as a resource fur skweels. Noo the Kist wis fower year in the makkin, an there's oral history in't, swatches o the makkers, music, bairn rhymes, even picturs bi Scottish peinters, sae a ploy like thon could be mony things tae mony fowk. As it turned oot, the first in-service day fur teachers attracted primary teachers, the secunt attracted secondary teachers an hauf o thon boorich hid nae Scots ava...or raither, made oot they kent nae Scots. Fit suited the first pucklie, wadnae hae suited the ither, sae ye maun bigg yer dyke afore ye plant yer crap.

Fa's the Simmer Skweel aimed fur? Gin it's teachers, they'll be sikkin information on educational resources, an wyes o deliverin thon resources. I've wirked in near eneuch twa hunner skweels fae the North East doon tae Brechin an Montrose, fae Nursery up tae Secondary level promotin Scots, an there's a rowth o difference in the wye ye approach the age reenges, ay, an the teachers as weel.

Mebbe ye'll wint tae attract oral historians? Mebbe ye mony interviews hae ye heard far the questions are pit in English an ye can hear the subject warsslin tae reply in English aa the time translatin fae the Scots they hear in their inner lug! Fin the polis interview a suspected ne'er dae weel, hoosaeiver, the hale interview is set doon in the naitural spikk o the accused an the accuser. Noo there's a study inno urban Scots wytin tae be daen!

Ye should ettle tae bring Teacher Trainin bodies thegither wi publishers an students at a Simmer skweel. The morn's students gaun intae the skweels will be orderin buiks fur eese wi classes. Whyles, I've gaen intae the Gaelic unit in Aiberdeen an watched their wye o wirkin wi bairns. They prent oot Gaelic thirsels fur readin schemes an glue it ower the's chaip, I dinna ken if its legal, bit it's ae wye roon the problem o readin schemes gin ye iver get the length o haein a Scots nursery, or a dedicatit Scots unit.

Fit aboot non-spikkers at a Simmer skweel? Last year I pyed masel ontae an Arvon Foundation course at Moniack Mhor on screivin poetry, led bi a Dublin poet, Paula Meehan an John Hegley, a Sassanach performance poet. It wis Hegley fa insistit we aa screive a poem usin Scots wirds. He photocopied pages fae a Scots glossary an ilkie ane o's hid tae pyke oot twa wirds, staun in a cercle an say them oot lood tae get the taste o them in wir moo. Efter thon, we'd tae tell aabody roon aboot fit the wirds meant in tae feenish, pit aa the wirdies (echt o them) inno a poem. (the 'drap in' wye o learnin Scots). The computer programmers fae Lunnon an the like war fair taen wi we aften forget is that ither cultures LIKE tae hear the native leid spukken. Gin we iver shakk aff the Scottish cringe an stop apologisin fur wir ain linguistic distinctiveness, we micht stert tae celebrate oor ain culture insteid o rinnin it doon.

Fitiver ye produce in Scots should be relevant fur eenoo: preservation's fine fur Egyptian mummies bit nae muckle eese fur a livin leid. Fa's designin SVQs in Scots? Fit incentives dae teachers hae tae promote Scots? Dis current publishin serve the needs o the curriculum tae the full?

There's a wee group o thespians in the North East fa tour the skweels pittin on plays tae brakk doon prejudice aboot mental health. They gie a hard-hittin performance syne there's an open debate. Fit aboot screivin them a play brakkin doon steretypes aboot Scots? Fit aboot showin THON at a Simmer skweel?

Will there be media representation at a simmer skweel? The bairns in the Gaelic Unit are aften on TV, daein Gaelic raps. It gies them a heist. It gies them 'street cred'. It gies their leid prestige. Foo mony skweels get thon amount o recognition in mainstream education?

Fit aboot representatives fae the Muckle Furth? Whyles I get a wee sup royalities frae the Netherlands or Norway efter a BBC programme on dialect/ leid's bin on. Fit aboot producin on-line simmer skweel wi video-conferencin?

The Boslit initiative gies Scots a heist, makkin eese o the leid in translation. Ae wye roon the spikker/non-spikker dilemma micht be tae hear the twa read ane efter tither....English, syne braid Scots.

Ye should definitely hae Scots music in ony simmer skweel as weel's a ceilidh tae feenish. Music's ane o the best ambassadors Scots ains. Fin I gyang roon the skweels I'm aye welcomed bi teachers because Scots can be cross-curricular. It lowps fae ae subject tae anither in the 5-14 curriculum nae bother ava. Whyles, though, there's a thochtie resistence....'We've deen Scotland last term ' they micht say, or 'Burns is nae or neist month.'

'Ah, bit hae ye dane Scots Music?' I speir. Usually they hinna because there's nae siller tae fund a music specialist, sae I wheech Scots in wi the guitar. The bairns screive their ain class sang in Scots tae a cannie wee tune, usually tae suit fitiver project they're daein, the Romans, say, or the Egyptians.

By thon time the teacher's fair trickit an ye can gie her Scots poems tae suit the Egyptians....J.K. Annand's 'Muckle Crocodile' , or 'The Puddock' (wis there nae a plague o them in the Auld Testament?) an ony ither breets ye can fin in gweed Scots Anthologies....failin thon, screive yer ain. Bairns is easy pleased. This is kent as 'Environmental Studies'. Did ye ken that Scottish Natural Heritage produced an official brochure entirely in North East Scots fur its Forvie Nature Reserve a puckle years back? Noo thon fairly DID grab media attention! A pity there wisnae mair o thon.

While yer aboot it, Scots is gran fur aerobics an translates weel intae the latest wee educational fad, 'Mind Gym'..... duntin, raxxin, birlin, lowpin......oh ay, aa Simmer Skweels should hae a wee bit relaxation. I'm telt that SCAT ceilidh dauncin is popular wi Scots an non Scots alike.

Elphinstane Institute rin bothy & traditional ballad-screivin wirkshops at Cullerlie. Fowk enjoy them. They screive their ain, aboot consarns o the 21st century. Les Wheeler trains North East Librarians tae storytell bi brakkin up Scots ballads like a daud o shortbreid inno three bittickies an splittin his trainee group up, tae digest each daud an syne retell it. Efter aa, the ballads aye deal wi love, daith an war, sae are timeless. Mair importantly gin ye've a group o fowk wi little or nae Scots ava, the ballads are screived in fit's bin described as 'wattered doon Scots', anely a twa three wirdies non-spikkers micht hyter ower. Aa this could weel be components o a simmer skweel, some like the Gaelic Feis that I've taen pairt in. The Gaels ken that peels taste better sugaret...

Finally, a Simmer Skweel, in the best tradition o the seannachie, should hae some trainin in storytellin. Interactive storytellin is a gran wye o winklin Scots ooto the tichtest buckie. 'An fit happens NOO?'....

Bit that's an endin ye maun screive fur yirsels, faiver his the kittlesome darg o designin a Simmer Skweel in Scots. I wish them weel!

This work is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.


Cite this Document

APA Style:

The Marra o a Simmer Skweel in Scots: Bit far's the Beens?. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 21 February 2024, from

MLA Style:

"The Marra o a Simmer Skweel in Scots: Bit far's the Beens?." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 21 February 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "The Marra o a Simmer Skweel in Scots: Bit far's the Beens?," accessed 21 February 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1499

The Marra o a Simmer Skweel in Scots: Bit far's the Beens?


Text audience

Adults (18+)
Informed lay people
Audience size 6-20
Writer knew intended audience

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 2003
Word count 1323
General description Conference talk

Text medium

Other Conference

Text setting


Text type

Prepared text (e.g. lecture/talk, sermon, public address/speech)


Author details

Author id 112
Forenames Sheena
Surname Blackhall
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 16
Upbringing/religious beliefs Brought up Protestant, now Buddhist
Occupation Writer and supply teacher
Place of birth Aberdeen
Region of birth Aberdeen
Birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Aberdeen
Region of residence Aberdeen
Residence CSD dialect area Abd
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Manager of Deeside Omnibus Service
Father's place of birth Aboyne
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Private Secretary
Mother's place of birth Aberdeen
Mother's region of birth Aberdeen
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic Yes Yes Yes Yes Elementary. Gaelic choir. Poetry.
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes