Giant mural at Westruther School

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Westruther Primary pupils have created a giant mural inside the school, showing the history of the village.

The artwork is the culmination of a unit of work called the ‘Living Room Project’, a partnership between Scottish Borders Council and Architecture and Design Scotland.

Principal teacher Nichola McCall said the project was a wonderful example of the new Scottish Curriculum for Excellence in practice.

She explained: “The project was supported by cultural co-ordinators in SBC’s arts development service, from which we received some funding to support our work.

“It gave the pupils the opportunity to take part in a series of activities that encouraged them to explore their built environment and the heritage of Westruther village. The main thread of the project was to investigate how the past has helped shape the village today, but doing so with a strong emphasis on the expressive arts.”

Through the SBC funding, the pupils worked primarily with Selkirk artist Marnet Hargreave, who has a long experience of working as an art specialist in schools, to create a mural inside the school depicting the children’s findings of the village.

This comprised of painting and collage techniques, with all the children - from nursery to Primary 6 - contributing to the final piece.

The funding also made it possible to enlist the services of drama specialist, Eleanor Crawford, to work with all of the pupils on a drama about the Twin Cairns, a local feature near the village.

The nursery children studied life in the past (toys, Victorians etc) and visited the museum in Hawick to look at artefacts from the past, while the P1-3 class focused on the history of the Westruther well and the changing use of the village hall.

The P4-6 children researched the history of the churches and graveyards and Border families in the area - all of which were approached in a cross curricular way, which led to fantastic developments in writing, numeracy etc.

Class teachers Ellie Spence (p4-6) and Sarah Green (P1-3) also enlisted help from the National Archives of Scotland in a ‘Glow’ meet and the Hawick Hub to provide a range of information to look closely at evidence from the past. They looked at old school log books and encouraged local residents to participate in their research of the area. Local landmarks were observed, sketched, photographed and researched thoroughly.

The children thoroughly enjoyed the project. In a letter to Kay Livingston, headteacher, P6 pupil Katy wrote: “I enjoyed doing our gigantic mural, however you had to pick a point that we had learned in our topic and I picked ‘Wolfstruther’ which is a name from the past. Eventually we finished our mural and it looks wonderful!”

P3 pupil Lucy wrote: “I am writing to tell you about our the Westruther well. The well is 25 feet deep. There was a small boot found in the well. If you throw a coin in, your wish will come true. Old coins were found in the well with people on them. Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, King George or King Edward. Surrounding houses in the village used the well in the past, for example, the Inn.”