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Edinburgh’s Educational Institutions Shine at Scottish Education Awards: Celebrating Eco Initiatives and Gaelic Education Success


In Edinburgh, two educational institutions have achieved remarkable success at the Scottish Education Awards, securing two prestigious trophies.

The first accolade was earned by Hope Cottage Nursery, which was honoured with the Making a Difference (Early Learning and Childcare) award for its outstanding eco and sustainability initiatives. Emphasizing its commitment to environmental responsibility, the nursery has implemented a plastic-free environment and embraced the principles of reduction, reuse and recycling. They follow three guiding principles in their daily practices: reducing waste, eliminating unnecessary materials, and prioritizing natural sources over synthetic ones. Furthermore, the nursery provides enriching outdoor play spaces, including a wildlife-friendly garden and Forest Schools, where children engage in nature exploration, gardening, and recycling activities.

Hope Cottage Nursery Winners

The second recipient of recognition was James Gillespie’s High School, which received the Gaelic Education Award. The school was commended for its exceptional dedication to developing Gaelic Medium Education (GME) and its integral role within the school community. Through fostering a culture of respect, ambition, and achievement, James Gillespie’s High School has actively contributed to the revitalization and growth of the Gaelic language. The award acknowledged the school’s continuous efforts in enhancing Gaelic Medium and Gaelic Learner Education, leading to improved outcomes for all learners and eliminating disparities.

James Gillespie’s High School winners

Additionally, Firrhill High School is poised to secure a hat-trick of national awards this month potentially. They are contenders for the title of the best secondary school in the United Kingdom at the Times Educational Supplement (TES) awards on June 23rd.

“It’s great to see that Hope Cottage and James Gillespie’s were successful in these national awards which reflects the excellent learning and teaching being provided in all of our settings right from early years up to high school.

“Children and staff from the nursery gave an outstanding presentation to the Education Committee last week on what they are doing about the climate emergency – we all learned a lot. Best of luck to Firrhill in the TES Awards next week – let’s hope Edinburgh manages to complete the hat-trick!”

Cllr Joan Griffiths, Education, Children and Families Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council

“We nurture our children’s love and wonder of the natural world. Engagement with our families and the wider community is extremely important to us. Through sharing sustainable play experiences, highlighting an ECO section within our monthly newsletters and appointing our sustainability leads, we have been able to make long lasting changes in not only our nursery, but in the lives of our children and their families. 

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank the highly skilled and dedicated team at Hope Cottage. These go ‘above and beyond’ each and every day, ensuring their interactions with children are meaningful and the experiences they provide are enriching. We hope this award will inspire other settings to make small sustainable changes. We can all ‘make a difference’ so let’s begin by making one small change today.”

Lisa McLaughlin, Principal Teacher at Hope Cottage Nursery

“We’re delighted to have won the Gaelic Education category. It’s an honour to be recognised and is a reflection of the hard work of all the staff.

“The collaborative approach taken by staff has seen the growth and development of the range of subjects being delivered in the GME and has ensured that Gaelic is embedded in the culture of the school. This award is recognition of that and the excellent learning and teaching that takes place.”

Neil McCallum, Head Teacher at James Gillespie’s High School

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