Galashiels Academy

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Planning Minister visits the Academy

Planning Minister visits the Academy

On Tuesday 7th March, Galashiels Academy hosted the launch of an innovative four-year partnership with PAS, an educational charity that encourages everyone to get involved with their places through the planning system.

The Bridging Gaps project is the first of its kind in the UK encouraging a unique sustained partnership that will encourage and equip young people with the skills and tools of how to engage with planning their town and learn about decision making.

In addition to working with PAS the project will match students with partners from Scottish Borders Council, Energise Galashiels Development Trust and local Community Council to provide young people first-hand experience of learning to balance different demands, for example where do we put the affordable houses and what about play areas?

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart attended the first event of the project and spoke with students about the ideas the students have already identified to improve their town. He said:
“Planning affects everyone’s lives, so I’m delighted those involved in the Bridging Gaps project are providing a platform for young people to get involved. The project supports the ambitions outlined in our consultation on the current planning review, to encourage more people to get involved in planning, and give young people a stronger voice in the decisions about the future of the place they live in.

“I firmly believe that, through empowering communities, our planning system can help deliver great places and provide an attractive environment for investment through the uncertain times we live in.”

Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive of PAS said:
“Inspiring young people to participate in their communities chimes well with the key pillars of the Curriculum for Excellence, helping them to become responsible citizens, effective contributors and confident individuals.”

Last year, PAS and the Social Subjects faculty at Galashiels Academy ran a month-long pilot project successfully integrating the PAS "Patrick Geddes Young Placemaker Award" into the Social Subjects BGE curriculum. All 180 S2 students worked with volunteers from PAS and used the Scottish Government's Place Standard tool to survey their own area and come up with ideas for improvement. It was an extremely successful project which the young people really engaged with and enjoyed.


Holly Brydon and Lily Grey, S2 students who were involved in the project said:
“Using the place standard made us think about what could be improved in our area. We focused on Tweedbank pond and we designed a poster showing the way that the pond could be changed”
Student’s work was showcased at the PAS international conference in August and praised by key speaker Fiona Hyslop MSP and Phil Denning (Deputy Director, Education Scotland).
The Bridging Gaps project will also see students from last year’s pilot help to test out new digital tools to help engage local communities in the future of their place, including a new digital app for the Place Standard toolkit which was trialled at the launch on Tuesday.

Siobhan Call, an S2 student who was involved in the project praised the new app:

“The app was really good and nicely laid out. It is good that you can rate the questions and also add a comment if you want to explain in more detail.”

Jamie McConnell, another S2 student who was involved in the project explained the positives of the app:

“The app is easy to use, it will help people explain what they want done in their area and tell the council.”

Galashiels Academy Social Subjects faculty and PAS have agreed a four year partnership to introduce pupils to all aspects of planning and place. ‘Making places-bridging gaps’ will pilot at Galashiels Academy the flagship school in Scotland integrating PAS educational workshops into the curriculum in a sustained and meaningful programme from S2 through to S6.

Mrs Crawford, PTC Social Subjects explained the future of the partnership with PAS:
“We are extremely proud that Galashiels Academy is the first school in Scotland to engage with PAS in this manner and this session we have exciting plans to integrate further PAS educational programmes.
This year as well as continuing on with S2 students Young Placemaker Award, our S3 students in Social Subjects will take part in the YEP! (Youth Engagement in Planning) project. YEP! Teaches young people the skills to enable them to make an informed contribution to planning matters in their area, emphasising the role of community councils in town planning, and encouraging and empowering students to become involved themselves at a local level. We will also be engaging with Senior Students who are keen to be involved in shaping their local community as “PAS group ambassadors.” This is in keeping with our school vision that our young people “participate and add value to our local community.”