The BBC micro:bit has arrived

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum, Important Announcements

The BBC micro:bit is a small pocket sized computer with a built in motion sensor, compass and Bluetooth. This week all pupils in S1 received a free micro:bit funded by the BBC to encourage them to get interested in computer coding. Pupils were shown how to get started with the micro:bit during their computing lesson but the idea is that they should now take them home and get creative in what they can get the device to do.
All pupils have been warned to guard their devices carefully as many parents are keen to get their hands on them! They are for the pupils to use but parents can get involved by visiting to find out more about the device and helping to encourage their children to make good use of it.

The aim of this project, which has been targeted specifically at all S1 pupils, is to encourage a new generation of computer programmers in order to fill a projected skills gap in the job market in the coming years. Who knows? The next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs may a Charleston pupil.

Mr Duncan Dyker, Principal Teacher of Computing

A Trip Back in Time

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum

We left Charleston Academy at 8.06AM, as one pupil was late and we stalled on the first corner. We were headed for the World Heritage Site of New Lanark. We arrived at the village, having found that the road meant to save us 11 minutes cost us 30.

We went into the mill where we saw the machinery working. It was unimaginably noisy – even behind sound proof glass. We learned that the children would crawl under the machines to pick up the scraps at a huge risk to them. We went on a virtual tour which told us about the owner Robert Owen and the improvement he made to the mill and the people who worked there. There was also mention of their Mr Buchanan, who played the flute and taught the primary school pupils.

We then visited the school house where we watched a film about Robert Owen and his achievements. His rules on hygiene were very effective as when the cholera epidemic came only 30 people out of 2500 contracted the disease and only 10 died.

Robert Owen also created the first Co-op, as his workers got tokens to spend in the village store, the profits of which helped to pay for the school and a doctor for the village.

We spent the night in Cumbernauld, there were several highlights, one of which was the fire alarm going off in the middle of the night. This resulted in us having to leave our rooms and stand in the freezing cold. We learned to ensure that we were fully clothed before leaving our rooms.

On the second day we went to the Falkirk Wheel, it was ‘wheely good’ and links the Union Canal to the Forth and Clyde Canal. We were amazed to hear that they had 700,000 visitors last year. We then saw the Kelpies, which were huge and quite beautiful.

In the National Coal Mining museum we were given a tour by a man who had worked there. We were able to see some of the improvements made to mines and how they checked to see if there was gas in the mine. We saw the pit canaries which would have been used to test for gas as they had small lungs and would be quicker to react to gas than humans. One pupil was then able to power the engine for the mine.

We had a really good trip which made the topic easier to understand once we saw it working.

by 5E2 History Class

Blythswood Enterprise Challenge 2016

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Achievements, Curriculum, Important Announcements, Wider Curriculum

S1 pupils have been working very hard over the last 5 weeks participating in the Blythswood Enterprise Challenge 2016. The school received £150 in start-up capital with the vision that they would “make it grow” over a 4 week period. Led by their Business Education teacher Mrs MacRae, and with support from both the RME and Business Studies departments, the pupils have organised and run a number of activities and events to include a Coffee Morning, Quiz Night, making and selling bird feeders, bookmarks, and bake stalls, to name but a few.

Charleston Academy is one of the first secondary schools in Highland to run this event on such a scale and is very proud of the hard work and commitment shown by all participants. All pupils are receiving recognition certificates and house points at assemblies this week to celebrate and reward their success. We are overwhelmed with the amounts raised by each group and it was an absolute pleasure to be in a position to hand over a cheque for £2,271.90 at the Shiel house assembly to Adrienne Dempster, the Blythswood Care Fundraising Manager.

The money raised will go towards the 999 Fire Engine Appeal on behalf of Blythswood Care, which provides emergency service vehicles and training to remote areas in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The overall experience for pupils and teachers alike has been very rewarding and we hope to run the indicative again next year.

Mrs Heather Macrae, Business Education Department

Real Safari at Highland Wildlife Park

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Achievements, Curriculum

While everyone in school enjoyed an “On Safari” dress down day to raise funds for Botswana today, pupils based in the Arches and studying for their ASDAN qualification visited Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie today.

The pupils had to take photos of the animals and find out about their diet and habitats. They were accompanied on the trip by Jasper Hughes, Education Officer at the park.

The pupils are all studying for the ASDAN Animal Care short course.

Ms Lindsey Grey, Learning Support Department

Senior Prelims 2016

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum, Important Announcements

Prelim Exams for students in S5/6 begin on Friday 12 February with Higher and Advanced Higher English. They continue after the mid-term break, finishing on Friday 26 February. The full timetable can be downloaded HERE or below.

Find out more about SQA Qualifications HERE.

Please note that as in previous years there is no study leave for prelim exams. All students sitting prelim exams attend school as normal during the prelims. This includes attending Tutor Time for Registration at 8:50am every morning prior to any exams which are scheduled first thing. Study Leave will be provided for the May SQA exams as usual.

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Rural Skills Norbord Visit

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum

As part of their National 4 Rural Skills course, S3 pupils at Charleston Academy were given the chance to visit Norbord. Norbord, aka the Cloud Factory, is one of Europe’s main producers of OSBoard used in housing and furniture worldwide.

After a briefing in the boardroom, we were given a tour of the production line and given the chance to meet staff working throughout the plant. In addition, pupils also questioned employees in order to gain an insight into the skills and qualifications required to work there.

As expected the pupils were a credit to the school, and many have discovered an exciting new career possibility.

Mr Stuart Buchanan, Geography Department

Peru 2017 Launch

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum, Important Announcements, Wider Curriculum

After returning from the Christmas break, 12 pupils from Charleston Academy took part in the Peru 2017 launch night. The evening started with introductions from the Outlook Expeditions trip organiser. Time was spent letting the members of the expedition group get to know each other better through team building activities.

The group also discussed their own personal aims and reasons for signing up to the trip.

  • To have a good experience and have fun
  • To explore the country and culture
  • To visit Machu Picchu
  • To have an adventure
  • To try Peruvian food and buy Peruvian hats
  • To help people

The main focus of the evening was choosing the activities and projects the expedition team would like to take part in while traveling in Peru. Some of the activities like visiting Machu Picchu were easy and quick to agree on, whereas deciding which trek to travel proved extremely difficult based on the variety of options available. In the end the team decided to vote and a week camping and exploring the Rainforest won!

The 21 day trip poses physical, mental and psychological challenges from working at height (3400m), traveling in very changeable weather (desert/humid/monsoon) to sleeping in the Rainforest with wild animals (8 legged-monsters). While in Peru, the group will experience the culture of Lima, help improve the facilities of an orphanage in Cusco and share experiences with the children living there, climb to the top of Machu Picchu, soak in a natural hot spring before spending a week camping in the Amazon Rainforest and as part of their R&R do some Sandboarding after a morning of dune-buggying in the Huacachina desert and visiting the oasis.

  • The trip is heavily subsided by sponsorship and fundraising, if you would like to get involved or have any fundraising suggestions please feel free to contact the school and ask for Mr Scott Nairn or Mr Stuart Buchanan.

Trips and Visits

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum, Important Announcements, Wider Curriculum

At the relevant assemblies this week, we’ll be highlighting to pupils the forthcoming opportunities for trips and visits that are running at Charleston Academy.

One major addition to the trips we have planned is a visit to Peru in 2017 led by Mr Scott Nairn (Music Department) and Mr Stuart Buchanan (Geography Department). Read more HERE.

Forthcoming trips for Charleston Academy pupils include


  • France – February (Ski Trip): Mrs Kay Storey and Mr Ryan Mackintosh.
  • Italy – March (Curricular): Ms Sali Massey and Mr Shaun Foster.
  • Botswana – June (Wider Curricular): Mr Steven Tillman, Mrs Alison Fraser, Mr Donald MacLeod and Mr Chris O’Neill.
  • Belgium – October (Curricular): Miss Catherine Bain and others.


As well as our usual trips and visits the following will also feature in 2017.

  • USA East Coast (Wider Curricular): Mrs Lyndie Cameron.
  • Spain (Watersports Trip): Mr Russell McFee.
  • Peru (Wider Curricular – Outlook Expeditions): Mr Scott Nairn and Mr Stuart Buchanan.

Business Brunch for S3 Language Pupils

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum

SCILT (Scotland’s National Centre for Languages) organised a Business Brunch, on Tuesday 26th January, at the Kingsmill’s hotel to encourage S3 pupils to continue with languages in the senior phase.

The event provided schools from the Highlands with an opportunity to hear from various dynamic speakers who view language skills as a key part for the success of their business in a globalised market. Most importantly, it gave young people the chance to ask questions and find out more about the variety of careers and employment opportunities that are open to people who can demonstrate language skills on their CV.

The session concluded with inspirational speaker, Shauna Jennens from Dalmore Distillery. It was a successful day for the ten pupils from Charleston Academy who were invited to take part.

Mrs Sylvie Robinson, Languages Department