National Poetry Day – Pupil Poem!

British red post box, isolated on a white backgroundOn National Poetry Day this year, 2D undertook some activities in relation to the Scottish Poetry Library’s poem postcards.

Below is a poem written by Elena, in which she imagines what it would feel like to be a pillar-box, filling up with all sorts of different messages (this year’s NPD theme) only to be emptied at the end of the day.

Elena’s fantastic poem is a response to Meg Bateman’s poem ‘The Pillar-box’ which you can read by clicking here.

The Pillar Box – by Elena T

Softly, gently,

They drop one by one.

Letter by letter,

Word by word,

Day by day they come.


I hoard them all,

In my red painted frame.

I keep them dry,

I hold them safe,

Ready for reclaim.


First come the love letters,

Packed with words of love and longing.

They were written at dawn,

At the start of the day,

For then it can seem less daunting.


The business letters:

Bills and complaints and queries.

On bright white paper,

With stark black font,

The first, perhaps, of a long and tedious series.


Postcards of holidays,

From far away places.

They tell of fun,

And of games,

Of night time walks and sunny beach races.


And, of course,

For every happy there must come a sad.

The letters that didn’t make it,

The letters been sent back,

‘Return to Sender’ stamped by the young post lad.


Commiserations are the worst,

They make me want to groan.

It is hard,

It always is,

To say goodbye to one whom we have known.


Each letter that comes,

I will read and I will think.

Some are happy,

Some are sad,

But in each journey I am just a link.


The postman arrives,

At 4 O’clock each day.

He takes the letters,

In his bright red van,

To each destination, far away.


And thus I am left empty,

To wave goodbye to the sun’s last ray.

I will wait,

Until tomorrow,

Before I hold the letters of another day.


Book Group Cinema Trip

missperegrinecoverToday all the library Book Groups, encompassing pupils from S1 to S6, enjoyed a trip to the Empire cinema at Clydebank for an exclusive showing of the new film adaptation of ‘Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children’. The adaptation of the novel by Ransom Riggs is directed by Tim Burton, and stars some big names including Eva Green, Judi Dench and Samuel L Jackson.

There was unanimous enjoyment of having a whole cinema to ourselves! Many thanks to Mrs Gilchrist for organising the special showing. Reaction to the film itself was generally positive, though there was some spirited debate about the changes that have been made in adapting from the page to the screen. Here are a few vox pop pupil reactions…

“I really enjoyed reading the book, and the movie was good too.”

“We were surprised by the changes made to the plot, but overall it was an enjoyable experience”

“The film was very different from the book, but still great!”

“There were a lot of loop holes. It’s worth just waiting ’til it’s on Netflix instead – but still worth a watch!”

“The CGI was great!”


Graphic Novels

Have you ever tried a Graphic Novel?


Graphic novels are often compared to comics but are much more sophisticated in terms of their themes, artwork and plots: many are just as complex as a novel.

The school library has a rapidly expanding collection of both comics and graphic novels for all ages – including some specifically for seniors (S4-6).

Speak to the librarian, or pop in and have a look in the graphic novel section for yourself!

Junior titles include:

  • Thunderbirds
  • Simpsons Comics
  • Dracula
  • Infernal Devices (manga)
  • Coraline
  • Silverfin (Young Bond)
  • Percy Jackson
  • Alex Rider: Eaglestrike
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet

Senior titles include:

  • V for Vendetta
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • Kingsman
  • Fun Home

Words, words, words

The English Department was lucky enough today to be visited by three inspirational writers who shared their invaluable expertise and love of language, both written and spoken.kirsty logan

In the morning, the Advanced Higher English class welcomed Kirsty Logan – bestselling author of ‘The Gracekeepers’ and ‘The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales‘. Kirsty offered a whole host of expert tips, ideas and stimuli which left the class inspired and enthused.

In the afternoon, a group of Higher and Advanced Higher pupils worked with the fabulous Jenny Lindsay and Rachel McCrum (better known as ‘Rally and Broad’!) who delivered an interactive workshop on performance skills that culminated with a glorious series of pupil poetry recitals.Rally and Broad

Look out for pupil responses to these two events coming soon (here and in the next BAnner), as well as more information about the upcoming ‘Poetry by Heart’ regional heats.

Our massive thanks go to all three writers for offering up their time and expertise today! Find out more about Kirsty here and Rally and Broad here.

SUNNY DELIGHT: school show a sensational smash!


There may be a lack of real sunshine about as these October nights begin to draw in, but a brilliant company of pupils have brought dazzling talent and bags of warmth to Bearsden Academy with their production of the hit musical “Sunshine On Leith”!

The tale of servicemen Davy and Ally returning to their lives in Edinburgh, set to the music of The Proclaimers has it all: humour, heart and a rousing, feel-good finale that sent the first night audience home with grins as wide as Princes Street!

Matthew Docherty and Sam Taylor are the two soldiers, facing their futures, family tensions, feuds and fraught relationships with their girlfriends Liz and Yvonne (the equally superb Kirsty Carter and Charlotte Seaton, respectively). Supported by an extensive cast, crew and band that draw on talent from across every year group, these young actors unfold a simple story that asks some complex questions about life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

Impressive set piece numbers like the satirical ‘Throw the R Away’ and rambunctious ‘Let’s Get Married’ are woven – not unlike a fine tartan – with beautiful ballads and haunting duets like ‘Misty Blue’ and ‘Sunshine on Leith’. The showstopper of the evening, however, is undoubtedly the deeply affecting ‘Letter from America’, which showcases not only each lead’s individual skills (including Andrew Traynor as Rab, and Amy McCall as Jean) but also their ability to harmonise together beautifully.

Innovative staging and a tireless backstage crew make the very most of the space, while the dynamic band deliver the toe-tapping soundtrack with gusto and flair. The two-hour run time zipped past, and by the final, euphoric chorus of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” it was clear that every single member of the audience had fallen in love with the lads and ladies bringing a little bit of Leith to life at Bearsden Academy.

The English Department sends its utmost congratulations to EVERYONE involved in the production. We are sure the remaining performances will be a smash!

Get a ticket – if you still can – before it’s “Over and Done With”!

Attention all new Nat 5 and Higher candidates!!

Returning to school in August is probably the last thing on your mind right now. After a hectic term, you deserve a long and relaxing holiday away from school. It’s important to rest and recharge. Nonetheless, the summer break is also the perfect time to sow the seeds of your future success, allowing you to reap the rewards in autumn.

Click through to find out how you can hit the ground running in your Nat 5 or Higher English course.

(and to find out what any of this has to do with Benedict Cumberbatch…)

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Avoid the ‘Summer Slide’ and dive into a good book!

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

Summer is a chance for a well-earned rest and some fun in the sun. However, if you want to keep your brain active and ensure you return to school in the best position to start your new courses, you should make some time for a good book. Two months without any reading can make returning to school in August harder, while keeping up a regular reading habit over summer will give you that extra edge over your classmates when the new term rolls around. But it’s not all about academic performance: reading can be one of the most pleasurable and rewarding pastimes out there – all it takes is the right book!

To help you find something to read this summer, why not check out these two incredible infographic flow charts from Just click on the images to enlarge, or follow the links at the end.

Happy reading and best wishes for a restful summer to all pupils and parents from the English Department! 

Summer-Reading-Flowchart-Young-Adults what to read


If you are having trouble enlarging or viewing these flowcharts, the originals can be found here:

Denotation, Connotation and Don Paterson (or ‘why a word means more than one thing’)

While preparing lessons on the poetry of Scottish poet Don Paterson, I stumbled across an essay he has written about ‘lyric poetry’. While it is a very challenging and sophisticated essay, a couple of paragraphs strike me as useful in understanding how words work.

If you are interested in what makes a word mean something, if you’re a Higher pupil revising close reading, or if you want to know why you might be forgiven for calling this an apple….



… then read on…!

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World Book Day!

world-book-day-2014 Happy World Book Day!!

All around the planet today, celebrations of the printed word have been taking place. In our very own library, Mrs Barry and Mrs Gilchrist have created a tropical island paradise (rubber palm tree and all!) with displays of pupil and staff’s ‘Desert Island Reads’ – the three books they would most like to have with them if they were shipwrecked on a desert island.

Pupils in S1 and S2 have also received a £1 book token from their English teachers this week, too. These can be spent on orders from the Cover2Cover Book Club catalogue (also available from your English teacher) or in any book shop, where a range of specially written £1 books have been released to celebrate World Book Day.

The internet and Twitter have been a-buzz with many wonderful events, ideas, blogs, games and activities today. You’ll find the World Book Day site here.

Writes of Passage

Perhaps one of the best features of WBD2014 has been the ‘Writes of Passage‘ list – 50 books voted for by young people and adults that are sure to change your life and keep you reading. One of the questions pupils and parents most often ask us English teachers is ‘What should I/my child be reading?’ The answer will obviously depend on age, reading ability and interests; be assured though, that there is something on the ‘Writes of Passage‘ list sure to appeal to almost anyone!

Why not check it out and find yourself a book to change your life… and when you’ve read it, write a book review and we’ll post it here on the blog!

Keep reading, Bearsden Academy!

Teacher Reads: ‘Bad Science’ by Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre speaking at TAM London O...

On a train journey to Aberdeen (and back) a little while ago, I read Ben Goldacre‘s very entertaining critique of dodgy research and dubious medical practices, ‘Bad Science‘. The book looks at how incompetent maths, flawed research and outright lies are used to sell ineffective products and useless medical treatments such as reiki, homeopathy, ‘superfoods’ and detox diets.

Cover of "Bad Science"Some of the chapters look at particular events or products. (The chapter exposing the once-omnipresent ‘nutritionist’ Gillian McKeith is particularly shocking.) Others look at wider issues, such as how scientific research can be misinterpreted or deliberately fudged by the media, pharmaceutical companies or even scientists themselves.

I was shocked by many of the revelations in the book and – although some chapters are a bit maths-y and require some concentration to understand the statistics or graphs involved – found this glimpse into the world of ‘Bad Science’ very enjoyable reading.

Ben Goldacre is somewhat evangelical on the uses and abuses of bad science – his website and his column in The Guardian feature very topical discussions of current scientific and statistics-based news stories, and his TED Talk on how to fight bad science is also very entertaining. I would thoroughly recommend the book to anyone after a good non-fiction read… and especially for anyone aspiring to work in the fields of medicine or science!