“Winning the World’s Best School for Community Collaboration would not have been possible without the help of our outstanding local community.”
These were the words of David Mitchell, Head Teacher at Dunoon Grammar School, as he expressed his thanks to local residents, businesses and community groups who played a part in the school achieving the global accolade in T4 Education’s World School Prizes.
Mr Mitchell said: “Dunoon and Cowal is a beautiful area and people are proud to call it home, but a lack of employment opportunities meant that over the years a large number of school leavers felt the need to move away from the area in order to pursue work or further education.
“We wanted to break that cycle, so over the last few years we have been working closely with local businesses and organisations to look at gaps in the local employment market and develop skilled employment opportunities to enable more young people to stay in the area. As a result, our curriculum now offers more than 50 courses, many of which are tailored to local industries.
“This has been hugely successful and has not only helped identify positive destinations for pupils; it has also really strengthened relationships between the school and the wider community, and helped pupils to develop important leadership skills. I am sincerely very grateful to everyone who has helped us on our journey to becoming a world leader in education and look forward to what is yet to come.”
The Community Collaboration Prize recognises schools that have developed close partnerships within their community, and Dunoon won the award for its wide range of local, national and international projects, including:
- A Covid-19 recovery programme that saw young people in the school live streaming bingo and other games into care homes.
- Working with local members of the community to design a lasting monument to those who lost their lives during the pandemic, and identifying a suitable area to erect it.
- Running events in local primary schools when children could not attend clubs out with the school during lockdown.
- Designing coded digital solutions to the climate crisis and presenting them to world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow
- Visiting communities in Malawi, Costa Rico and Ghana to build education and health facilities.
- Its role in the Dunoon Project – a large eco-friendly project to regenerate the area and create employment opportunities.
Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “Dunoon Grammar has always been at the heart the local community but over the last few years this has become even more apparent.
“Together, pupils and community partners are working in tandem to help future proof Argyll and Bute. They are harnessing skills and creating bright futures, and I will continue to offer them my full support in all they do.”