Learning about democracy

Thursday 19 January was a big day for democracy as Yester Primary School pupils took to the polling station to vote for the party they want to the take forward school improvements.

The school’s sports hall was transformed into a polling station

The election was part of Primary 7’s ‘Democracy and Discrimination’ interdisciplinary learning topic, which has seen the children focus on the UNCRC, Children’s Parliament, Parliament and government in Scotland and the UK, prejudice and discrimination now and in a past historical setting – WW2 and the Holocaust. Yester has been one of four schools in East Lothian to take part in a project with the Children’s Parliament, investigated children’s rights and developing ideas to share children’s views and opinions across East Lothian.

Primary 7 pupils explored the features of a democracy and investigated how parliament and government works, reading the main political parties’ manifestos, before creating their own political parties, manifestos and campaign materials which were presented to all classes as electioneering got underway. Ideas included a tuck shop, reduction in single use plastics and food waste, charitable activities, the introduction of clubs to encourage socialising and skills development, and library and play equipment. 

Children across the school attended a polling station in the school’s sports hall to vote for one of five political parties: Breaktime Buddies, Inclusioknights, Successful Plants, Yester’s Eco Fun and Yester’s Future. Breaktime Buddies was duly elected having gathered 35% of the whole school vote. They will now oversee their ideas being used for school improvement: a Friday tuck shop with healthy snacks, slide and basketball net for the playground and opening clubs so children can socialise.

Duly elected: Noah, Fred, Katie and Cameron of ‘Breaktime Buddies’

Primary 7 class teacher Mrs Hamilton said: “The children were self-motivated, enthusiastic and resilient.  They developed group skills and worked together to share their plans for the school.  I was impressed by the thoughtful and ambitious plans they came up with to make our school a better place for all our young people.”

East Lothian Council’s Depute Leader, Councillor Shamin Akhtar, shared a special message with the children congratulating them on their commitment to improving lives through the democratic process. In the video she told them: “Your ideas will now make a difference to everybody in the school and that’s what the democratic process is all about: how do we make a difference to the quality of people’s lives. That’s exactly what you’ve done at Yester Primary School.”

East Lothian Council Depute Leader Cllr Shamin Akhtar sent a special message to P7 pupils on completion of the election.


Tell us your views

The council is sharing detailed information on its school buildings with a new website giving a full picture of its estate at individual school, cluster and East Lothian level.

The website – – brings together information on the condition, suitability and capacity of existing schools and the council is keen to hear the views of families, communities and learners.

This is part of the development of a Learning Estate Investment Plan for East Lothian. The plan will set out the council’s investment priorities for its schools to make sure that all facilities support high quality teaching and learning equally across the county, and to outline the investment needed for this to happen. It will also consider how school buildings support community use.

To share your feedback you can:


The feedback will be analysed alongside the results of the online questionnaire that was held in February and presented at a future council meeting. For more information, including dates of event in your area and a link to the questionnaire, visit

The pre-consultation will close on 10 December 2021.


Get into Summer!

Sports, play and free swims… it’s officially time to ‘Get into Summer’ in East Lothian!

There are lots of projects running throughout the holiday period giving children and young people the chance to be active, connect with others and enjoy the best that East Lothian has to offer.

Over £300,000 has been provided to organisations to develop activities that would provide fun opportunities especially to those most adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some activities will be available to all families across the county while others may only be available to priority families – those in receipt of Free School Meals, children with disabilities or Additional Special Needs, care experienced children and young people or young carers.

Examples include football and rugby activities, pop-up play events, lunch projects and free swimming.

Find out more about the activities on offer (including booking information where appropriate) at:


Scottish Youth Parliament elections

If you’re 14-25 and want to make a real difference for young people why not consider becoming a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament?

The Scottish Youth Parliament is ‘the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people’

Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) represent the voices of children and young people at the highest levels on the issues that really matter to them. This includes mental health and wellbeing, period poverty, marriage equality and climate change.

MSYPs successfully campaigned to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law, and recommended free bus travel for young people, which is being introduced later this year. Its current campaign is called Bounce Back and is making sure that children and young people’s rights are respected as Scotland recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Becoming an MSYP is rewarding, challenging and life-changing for you and others. There are also specialist subject committees where you can work in the areas that you are passionate about.

The next Scottish Youth Parliament elections are in November 2021. To register as a candidate you need to do so before 30 June. Our area is split across two electoral constituencies – Midlothian North and Musselburgh and East Lothian.

Find out more about becoming a MSYP and the difference you could make in the lives of Scotland’s children and young people – as well as your own. Visit the Scottish Youth Parliament Elections page.

Early Years

A moving experience for nursery children

Moving house can be stressful but the Early Years team at West Barns Primary School managed to make it a fun learning experience for their children when the nursery relocated into a new temporary unit.

The move to a temporary unit is part of a wider programme of construction at West Barns Primary to accommodate a growing school roll and the introduction of 1140hours of funded early learning and childcare.

As part of its child-centred approach, the nursery team developed learning opportunities that would help the children develop a sense of belonging and feel secure and included within the move.

Children were involved in every aspect of the move – from planning how the new space would look to creating cranes and their own construction site in the nursery. The build process itself was used to generate discussion and activities.

West Barns Primary School’s Depute Head Teacher Laura Hay said: “In the lead up to the move into our new nursery our Early Years team worked with the children to engage them in the process from start to finish. as a result of careful and responsive planning all of our nursery children have made a smooth transition into the new setting and feel safe, secure, respected and included.”

Visit the online journal created by the West Barns nursery team as a way to share their experiences and document the children’s involvement.

Early Years

Outdoor Classroom Day 2021 at Pinkie St Peter’s Primary School

Children at Pinkie St Peter’s Primary School in Musselburgh took part in #outdoorclassroomday2021 turning their playground into a giant space for learning.

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global movement to make time outdoors part of every child’s day.

In the weeks leading up to 20 May, children at Pinkie St Peter’s designed their dream outdoor classroom in preparation. Among their requests were tents, campfires, baked beans, marshmallows, hammocks, science experiments, art with natural materials, maths games, making music with natural materials, creating poems about nature, chalk to draw on the playground and time for bird watching. The school designed the day to include as many of these options as possible.

Pinkie St Peter’s Depute Head Teacher Scarlett Palmer said: “We are passionate about learning outdoors at Pinkie and are looking forward to taking part to further promote this across all curricular areas. We used our amazing outdoor space including our woods and loose parts play to facilitate learning outdoors all day. We even held our whole school assembly outdoors led by our senior leadership team. It was a really exciting day.”

On of many @PinkiePrimary #outdoorclassroomday tweets.

The school worked closely with the council’s Outdoor Learning team and shared information with parents and carers. 

Cabinet member for Education and Children’s Services Councillor Fiona Dugdale said: “We all know that outdoor space is important for health and wellbeing. Outdoor classroom day shows how important it is for learning, too. It’s great to see the team at Pinkie St Peter’s closely involving the children in planning a day of learning through play that is engaging, exciting and stimulating for all. Initiatives like this encourage people to look at their learning differently. It’s great to see the children develop with so many creative ideas for the day. I’m sure it will be a real success.”