Dear ELPs…a thank you letter

Dear Amy, Steven, Dale, James, Melissa, Rachel and David,

Thank you very much for the most AMAZING birthday cards ever!

You must have worked very hard in order to produce work so fabulously wonderful!

I really like the cocker spaniel and the Hibs badge – and I just LOVE the pictures you have drawn of yourselves. It makes me very proud to be your teacher when I see what you can do and you have certainly made my day!


Mrs Binnie

Aged 21 and a very big three quarters…

Preston Lodge boccia heroes…

On Tuesday several Preston Lodge pupils took part in an inter-school boccia competition at Meadowmill Sports Centre. Competing against pupils from a range of East Lothian and Edinburgh schools, our pupils stood out from the crowd as having real talent and ability. A national boccia talent scout was at the event and commented to Mr Bennion how skilled our players were – with at least one of our boys already tagged for possible involvement at a national level from last term.

Everyone at Preston Lodge should be rightly proud of the performance and conduct of our participating pupils – never has there been so many smiling faces in one room!

Well done Cameron, Dale, Steven, Amy, David and Melissa!

Thanks also to Mr Bennion for organising our school’s participation and for supervising the trip. Big thanks also to Stuart and Louise for ably supporting him throughout the day.

Post Office trip is First Class…

This week as part of our Life Skills development we paid a visit to the local Post Office. Our mission was to investigate:

  • how much a first class stamp cost
  • how long it takes for first class mail to be delivered
  • how much a small parcel being posted to Dundee would cost
  • how we buy stamps
  • how we get someone else to post our parcel
  • how we post a card or letter

We walked to the Post Office, practising our Green Cross Code along the way, rehearsing the lines we would have to say when we got there. Dale was to try and post a parcel, Amy was to find out how much a stamp cost and Steven was to put the stamp on a card and find out where you posted it. This was going to involve speaking to new people, asking important questions and listening hard to the answers. We were going to have to work as a team and bring back what we learnt to the classroom for discussion before writing up an item on our trip.

Gossip Girl stirs the pot about missing cakes with Miss Angus!


This week Gossip Girl has been interviewing Miss Angus, our Home Economics teacher. Hoping to get some of the gossip about those gannets in CDT Gossip Girl asked the questions nobody else dares!

Gossip Girl – Miss Angus how long have you been at Preston Lodge?

Miss Angus – I am now in my sixth year here.

Gossip Girl – Did you always want to be a cooking teacher?

Miss Angus – No! I wanted to be a primary teacher but then I spent a week in a secondary school and loved it and so changed my mind!

Gossip Girl – What is your favourite food?

Miss Angus – I love all food but I really like an Indian meal from the take away!

Gossip Girl – Who is your favourite TV cook?

Miss Angus – James Martin who does a programme on a Saturday morning – I think he’s rather dishy!

Gossip Girl – Why do you like him?

Miss Angus – He makes great food with lots of butter, cream and nice meats. And he’s rather dishy!

Gossip Girl – Is it true Mr Cruickshank steals all the cakes?

Miss Angus – YES! He is terrible! He is SO GREEDY! He just has to smell the aroma of baking and he appears at my door pretending he has a question to ask. He is awful!

Gossip Girl – We hear you are getting married this summer – what will be your new name?

Miss Angus – Mrs Beattie!

Gossip Girl – Is it true that Mandy and Fiona are going to be your bridesmaids and wear big pink fluffy dresses?

Miss Angus – They are going to be my bridesmaids but I won’t put them in pink. Possibly lilac with pink trim!

Miss Angus asked for a lovely photo of James Martin to accompany this interview. (Not Mr Cruickshank aka greedyguts).

Star turns…

This week in ICT we have been practising our writing skills in addition to our word processing and blogging techniques…

We were asked by Mrs B to write a short story about one of two events:

  • the school concert
  • the Variety Club Party

Our short story was to contain the following:

  • which event we were describing
  • at least two different reasons why we enjoyed the event
  • an image to illustrate our feelings (to be obtained by using our internet skills)

Half of us chose to write about the school concert and the other half chose to write about the Variety Club Party. Here are some of the extracts lifted from our MS Word files – we hope you enjoy reading them.

We went to the EICC to have fun! We got to see a band playing and we got to see a girl dancing. And the band was playing “Dashing through the snow” and then Santa came in to the hall. We went by train and taxi and walked”.

“We had fun at the concert. Mum and Dad and Gran and Paw came to watch. I liked the bag pipes.I liked the trumpet.”



I   had  fun at  the  Christmas    concert   I   sang a song and  I   watched  the   pipes   and drums .   I sang Living  in my own world  and everyone    cried!

These simple stories took a lot of effort and enthusiasm to write for our special young persons. They set about their task with great vigour and used a number of strategies and techniques to help them work as independently as possible – they especially loved using the MS Word “WordTalk” Toolbar to check their own writing made sense. (Especially as you can make the tool voice Scottish – this always raises a giggle!)

Our pupils may not be able to express themselves in written or oral form in the same way as their mainstream peers however they are most certainly able to relay to us in their own way what being involved in things like the school concert means to them.

Whether is was the sheer force of the energy levels in the build up to the event, the incessant chatter about the performance to all who would listen, the excitement of being given a dressingroom and private buffet (thank you so much Mrs Pow!) or the emotional tears before, during and after the shows – we KNOW how much this meant to these youngsters. Inclusion is best served properly – and we can only express our heartfelt thanks to the Music Department for making these young people feel completely included.

*So many staff assist us in delivering an integrated and elaborated programme for our ELP youngsters that ensures they have as real a taste of inclusion as we can possibly manage. It’s a time of year for saying thank you and we appreciate the hard work and care that is put into the ELP pupils from so many mainstream teachers and other staff.

We regularly ask the pupils for feedback as to how they are enjoying and coping with the rigours of the programme and – without fail – when we ask about the “best things” about being at Preston Lodge the pupils tell us they love the classes where mainstream and SfL staff come together to make things happen. So a huge THANK YOU to all the mainstream staff and support staff who have made these children so happy in their school life.

These young people feel they belong to this school, are hugely proud of this school and are thriving in this school thanks to all your efforts. It is impossible to imagine life without them now and whether it is simply that you say hello to them and make them feel part of things, let them feed your fish, get your shopping so they can practise using money, teach them to make toast, encourage them to sing, make jewellery boxes with them, dance with them, sing with them, play dodge ball with them, encourage their art work, show them how their bodies work or make them laugh…a big THANK YOU.

And a Merry Christmas 😉

ELP Science taken to a Higher level…

Last week in ELP Science one of our pupils was given a very unique opportunity to join a Higher Grade Biology class for a lesson.

Our ELP Science curriculum is an enhanced and elaborated, differentiated programme devised by Mrs Binnie (SfL and Science) and  Mrs Allan (Biology) and, more recently, Mr Kidd (Chemistry). It strives to meet common ground wherever possible with the mainstream curriculum whilst delivering a very unique and life skills orientated course. We have lessons on how to gut and cook a fish, investigations into how yoga might help your blood pressure and general health and many a lesson where we get to sing silly songs, practise telling the time or writing our letters and words. You name it, we do it.

However, we have never managed to tie into the mainstream curriculum in quite such a lofty manner until now!

Last week Mrs A was undertaking a lung dissection with her S5 and S6 pupils and mentioned this when we were in Senior ELP Science because we are currently looking at the lungs (in our own way, words and at our own level). One pupil is hoping to undertake Biology at Access 2 level next year, shows a real inclination towards the sciences – and they LOVE GOO. Mrs B wondered whether he might enjoy and benefit from seeing the dissection too? And so it came to pass…

Mrs A’s HIgher mob were introduced to our Star Scientist and the intricate and exciting experiment began!

We are delighted to report that our young super science geek had a fantastic time and very much appreciated being able to see for himself:

  • the windpipe and how it really DOES look like a hoover hose!
  • the way the lungs branch into many small channels
  • how pink the lungs are!
  • how big lungs are (although these were not human lungs we hasten to add).

Although we did not deem the experiment suitable for any of our other ELP pupils (at the moment) for a variety of reasons (from being very squeamish to not being at that developmental level yet) they all benefitted on their class mates return to ELP Science.  

Our ace reporter was more than happy to relay what he saw in the Higher class (in his own words) and explain in even more detail than previously how the lungs work.

Well done young man!

Variety is the spice of life!

On Monday December 14th 2009, our ELP pupils were lucky enough to attend this year’s annual Variety Club Christmas Party at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. The event is nationally renowned and we were delighted to be able to give our pupils the opportunity to take part in something that is such a well known annual occasion.

The trip was ably and diligently marshalled by Mrs Todd, assisted by Mrs Menzies, Mr Leslie and Mrs Binnie – and we would like to say a big “thank you”, especially to Mrs Todd, for making this happen.

We travelled in a variety of ways in order to get to the EICC (pictured above).

Firstly, we set out on foot in the cold December rain to the local train station – taking the long way round in order that our wheelchair bound pupils could access the platform for Edinburgh. We then boarded the 10.37am train into the city, with a kind guard helping us get ramps sorted so that our wheels could access the carriage. We watched as we whizzed past Wallyford, Musselburgh, Portobello before finally reaching our destination – Waverley Station.


As we arrived we could see the Christmas lights, the trees, the German Market and the big wheel pictured above. Edinburgh looked very festive indeed! The EICC is not really very far from the station however it is not well served by a bus service at the moment – much to do with the fact Princes Street is still a permanent road works. We also had to consider the needs of all of our party and so opted to take a 5 minute taxi hop to Haymarket. Again we had the services of a kind taxi driver who helped us get our hot wheels into the first cab (with a bit of help from Rachael). Soon we were on our way down Castle Terrace and heading towards the main event!

When we arrived we were greeted by two very smart men wearing uniforms. At first some of us thought the Navy were guarding the event but then it was explained to us that the men were in uniform for their job – they were to be smart and professional looking when they greeted visitors into the centre. We were soon shown down into the main function suite (pictured above). It was set out with lots of big round tables, had lovely twinkling lights all round the walls of the room and had a very Christmassy feel indeed! Table 31 had been set aside for Preston Lodge – the organisers had thought of everything – and there were exactly the right number of chairs for our personnel. We felt we had been made very welcome indeed!

The party started off with a lovely concert performed by a variety of organisations:

  • Lighthouse Dance Project (a dance group with special needs dancers who performed two routines in delightful manner)
  • Firrhill High School Orchestra and Percussion Band (who were frankly outstanding – there were hairs standing up on the back of necks during their performances)
  • West Lothian Wind Band (who ran an excellent medley of Christmas classics)
  • A young lady called Beth who performed extracts from River Dance (and amazed Dale with her coiled, curly hair!)

and one other special guest star…can you guess who it was?

Father Christmas dropped by on his way to Lapland to continue making his Ben 10s and Hannah Montana dolls. With him he brought a sleigh full of presents – each one specially chosen for our lucky guests! Mrs Todd and Dale went up to meet Santa when he called out our school name and collected a sack of goodies for our table. There were lovely toiletries and leather handbags for the girls and CD players for the boys. Some got art sets and others got cuddly toys. It was a very generous Santa we encountered in Edinburgh!

After the excitement of the sleigh and the presents Santa spent a lot of time going round the tables meeting all the boys and girls. Some of us got our photographs taken with him – and we will download these later this week during ICT.

The party then got into full flow with a disco and games. We danced like Beyonce, musical statued with the best of them and took part in a massive conga round the EICC. (We have a lovely photo of Mrs Todd taking part in this – so watch this space!)

Sadly, it was all too soon time to go home. And we made our way back to Prestonpans via planes, trains and automobiles (well foot, train and taxi).

We all had a fab time and just want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who made it possible, especially Mrs Todd!

12 days of Christmas and having fun in ICT!

This week in ICT we have been using our internet and Microsoft Word skills to make a presentation on The Twelve Days of Christmas for our classroom wall. In planning how we were going to approach this mission, we had FAR TOO MUCH FUN singing the lyrics to the song 😉

We divided the 12 days into 3 bundles of 4 and allocated each bundle to one team. Team Dale had the task of finding suitable illustrations for days 1 to 4, Team Amy had to find lovely pictures to show off days 5 through to 8 and Team Steven were given the job of coming up with images for days 9 to 12. With great vigour we set about finding Lords a leaping, geese a laying and golden rings.


We used Word to capture our images and arrange them into an order – a numerical order but without the numbers. Instead of a number one, we had a partridge in a pear tree, instead of number seven we had the swans swimming…and created a fabulously festive number line for our younger ELP colleagues to use in maths throughout the month of December.

Oh and we sung for Scotland along the way…

Try our Christmas Quiz to get you in the festive mood…

This week we have been working on writing our own special Christmas Quiz to practise our writing  and ICT skills. Have a wee go and see how many answers you know! (We will publish the answers later).

Question 1

What are the names of Santa’s reindeer?

Question 2

In the song “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” what will “soon be out of sight”?

Question 3

What did my true love give to me on the Fifth Day of Christmas?

Question 4

In the Christmas film “Its a wonderful life” how do we know an angel has gotten its wings?

Question 5

Who plays Santa in the “Santa Clause”?

Question 6

Who speaks to the nation at 3pm on Christmas Day?

Question 7

What Christmas movie is this photo from?

Question 8

Which band has had the most Christmas Number Ones in the last twenty years?

Question 9

When was the last time an X Factor winner wasn’t Christmas No 1?

Question 10

Who invented the Christmas Cracker?




Good luck and Merry Christmas from The Elps!

Start of something new…special blog report

This year we will be taking part in the School Christmas Concert instead of taking part in the Talent Show (just to give everyone else a chance, obviously 😉 ).

We have been rehearsing with Mrs Sinclair our rendition of a High School Musical song “Start of Something New” and we are having great fun.

In ICT today we have been looking for a video of it online so that we can sing along when ever we get a spare minute. We found a few on You Tube.

Here is one link Amy found to a singalong version!

We are really looking forward to being part of the school Christmas Concert for the first time and just can’t wait to be up on stage singing again!

Amy and Steven

November 18th 2009