Archive of: October, 2020

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As infant teachers, we hear it all the time! ‘They grow so fast…I can’t believe they are going to school’ ‘I’m just not sure they’re ready…they’re so young’.   It always seems a puzzle to me, therefore, why there is such a sense of urgency for children to move into a formalised school setting at the age of 4 and a half or even 5.   This is becoming a particularly interesting debate as increasingly research is showing us that young children; are experiencing challenges to their mental health, they are increasingly experiencing issues around anxiety and lack of resilience and frequently display other challenging behaviours which are often a result of the frustrations they are feeling.   

The question we ask ourselves, as infant teachers is: Why is this so?  

Could it be that something as simple as extending a child’s learning within a play-based setting for longer and allowing children the time to develop both emotionally, socially and academically might be a solution to these, most challenging dilemmas?

Even after a decade of working in infant education, it always amazes me how much children learn from each other; their peers, siblings and friends.  I think as adults we also sometimes forget just how much ‘academic learning’ happens through play, within a play-based setting.  

Here at Cargilfield, we are given daily reminders of the important role that play gives the children as they grow and develop and how pivotal it is to their learning and establishing their habits as lifelong learners.

We see examples of this every day in all sorts of wonderful ways, a few of which I have highlighted here:

All manner of fantastic art work and den building takes place where the children are able to use their imagination and problem-solving skills to create something wonderful.  These types of play scenarios are crucial in developing the children’s imagination, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

rightColBody

Creativity through play has also been shown to extend and enrich children’s learning in many different ways; creating their own self-portraits, making woodland art pictures and scavenging for items to make their own woodland crowns are just a few examples of how children are able to consolidate and process their learning through creative endeavours.  These sorts of activities are so important to help brain development in infant children as they promote cognitive, social and emotional development aswell as helping to develop a range of multi-sensory skills.  It is these types of experience which help to build self-esteem, resilience and cognitive understanding which become crucial to the children as they increasingly are faced with; challenge, self-doubt and change as they progress through school.

The experiential learning of a play-based setting, for example using water, sand etc, enables children to test their hypotheses, stretch their imagination and explore their senses through these different mediums.  These ‘learning opportunities’ encourage the children to lead their own learning to help them develop their physical, cognitive and social skills in a variety of ways which are becoming increasingly critical for children further down the path of their own educational journey.

Engaging with the real world whether it be planting pumpkin seeds and thinking of ways in which we can help the seeds grow or what we can make/do with the pumpkins once they have grown, are all opportunities which build an inquisitive mind.  Learning through ‘doing’ enables the children to discover, learn and explore their natural surroundings.  It empowers children to lead their own learning in this instance; deciding what we plant, how we might help the seeds to grow and what we want to do with the vegetables which will emerge.  Ultimately, this will develop key thinking skills, resilience and self-belief in children who engage in this type of learning.

Role play and creative drama also plays an important role in the children’s learning at this early stage.  It is through this type of play that the children are extending their understanding of community, culture and the wider world as they take on different characters in play and learn to empathise and understand the feelings of others as they ‘step’ in to their shoes.  All crucial aspects of emotional intelligence which the children will increasingly come to rely on as the progress through school and in to the wider world.

So, when we take a step back and consider ‘I’m just not sure they’re ready…they’re so young’.   Let’s not forget that their physical, cognitive and social skills can often be nurtured far more successfully in a play based setting when children are 4 and 5.  Those extra months spent immersed in play can often make a monumental difference to a child’s progress towards becoming a successful learner and an effective contributor in later life.  The benefits of which might not fully be recognised until adulthood. Therefore, when we reflect on the fact that ‘they grow so fast’ surely it is important to remember that it is often an investment in play based learning at an early age which ultimately pays the largest dividend.

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As infant teachers, we hear it all the time! ‘They grow so fast…I can’t believe they are going to school’ ‘I’m just not sure they’re ready…they’re so young’.   It always seems a puzzle to me, therefore, why there is such a sense of urgency for children to move into a formalised school setting at the age of 4 and a half or even 5.   This is becoming a particularly interesting debate as increasingly research is showing us that young children; are experiencing challenges to their mental health, they are increasingly experiencing issues around anxiety and lack of resilience and frequently display other challenging behaviours which are often a result of the frustrations they are feeling.   

The question we ask ourselves, as infant teachers is: Why is this so?  

Could it be that something as simple as extending a child’s learning within a play-based setting for longer and allowing children the time to develop both emotionally, socially and academically might be a solution to these, most challenging dilemmas?

Even after a decade of working in infant education, it always amazes me how much children learn from each other; their peers, siblings and friends.  I think as adults we also sometimes forget just how much ‘academic learning’ happens through play, within a play-based setting.  

Here at Cargilfield, we are given daily reminders of the important role that play gives the children as they grow and develop and how pivotal it is to their learning and establishing their habits as lifelong learners.

We see examples of this every day in all sorts of wonderful ways, a few of which I have highlighted here:

All manner of fantastic art work and den building takes place where the children are able to use their imagination and problem-solving skills to create something wonderful.  These types of play scenarios are crucial in developing the children’s imagination, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

perch_rightColBody

Creativity through play has also been shown to extend and enrich children’s learning in many different ways; creating their own self-portraits, making woodland art pictures and scavenging for items to make their own woodland crowns are just a few examples of how children are able to consolidate and process their learning through creative endeavours.  These sorts of activities are so important to help brain development in infant children as they promote cognitive, social and emotional development aswell as helping to develop a range of multi-sensory skills.  It is these types of experience which help to build self-esteem, resilience and cognitive understanding which become crucial to the children as they increasingly are faced with; challenge, self-doubt and change as they progress through school.

The experiential learning of a play-based setting, for example using water, sand etc, enables children to test their hypotheses, stretch their imagination and explore their senses through these different mediums.  These ‘learning opportunities’ encourage the children to lead their own learning to help them develop their physical, cognitive and social skills in a variety of ways which are becoming increasingly critical for children further down the path of their own educational journey.

Engaging with the real world whether it be planting pumpkin seeds and thinking of ways in which we can help the seeds grow or what we can make/do with the pumpkins once they have grown, are all opportunities which build an inquisitive mind.  Learning through ‘doing’ enables the children to discover, learn and explore their natural surroundings.  It empowers children to lead their own learning in this instance; deciding what we plant, how we might help the seeds to grow and what we want to do with the vegetables which will emerge.  Ultimately, this will develop key thinking skills, resilience and self-belief in children who engage in this type of learning.

Role play and creative drama also plays an important role in the children’s learning at this early stage.  It is through this type of play that the children are extending their understanding of community, culture and the wider world as they take on different characters in play and learn to empathise and understand the feelings of others as they ‘step’ in to their shoes.  All crucial aspects of emotional intelligence which the children will increasingly come to rely on as the progress through school and in to the wider world.

So, when we take a step back and consider ‘I’m just not sure they’re ready…they’re so young’.   Let’s not forget that their physical, cognitive and social skills can often be nurtured far more successfully in a play based setting when children are 4 and 5.  Those extra months spent immersed in play can often make a monumental difference to a child’s progress towards becoming a successful learner and an effective contributor in later life.  The benefits of which might not fully be recognised until adulthood. Therefore, when we reflect on the fact that ‘they grow so fast’ surely it is important to remember that it is often an investment in play based learning at an early age which ultimately pays the largest dividend.

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Cargilfield

When to start school?

An important decision, with many options

Read More


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introTextExplore and be curious!
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As we reach the end of this first half term of the academic year, I have been reflecting on how well we have all managed to acclimatise to the new ‘normal’. It has been absolutely great to be back at school and to be teaching the children face to face once again. As ever, they have been amazing; they have adapted so well, shown immense resilience and have thrown themselves into their learning, always giving their best. 

As a teacher of Humanities, I have previously written on this blog about the value and benefits of educational visits, learning in the field and the ‘outdoor classroom’.  It is a great shame that we haven’t been able to do as many trips as we would have liked, however, we have still managed to appreciate our local natural environment. We have been able to get time outside each day for games and have even completed some outdoor learning, such as the recent F4 litter pick. 

As we all look forward to a really well deserved half term break, I wanted to encourage you to try to keep the learning experiences going at home. When I was training to be a teacher (and subsequently), I have been encouraged to emphasise and appreciate the ‘awe and wonder’ of teaching a subject like geography. We don’t need to be sitting in a classroom to experience this, in fact, it is much harder to appreciate the scope and wonder of our environment indoors.  As we are unlikely to be able to do much travelling or socialising over the half term break, might I suggest 4 simple things we could do over the holiday which should be both enjoyable and hopefully a little educational as well!

1.  Get outdoors. I always feel really lucky to live in this great city. There are so many interesting buildings with a rich and diverse history. I have been trying to explore further afield myself by visiting new places at the weekends. 

    https://www.ionedinburgh.com/travel/hotel-guide/10-best-walks-and-around-edinburgh

    2.  Use maps. There is a great ‘beginners guide to maps’ on the OS website and you can also download the App which I have found great fun to use with the family when out on walks. As a school we also subscribe to digimaps for schools devised by the University of Edinburgh. If you have a look at this you may find some really interesting information both historic and geographic about your local area. We are licensed to share the log in details with all members of the school community so please do take a look with the children if you get chance.

      The website is https://digimapforschoo...   Username: eh46hu Password: wimbed2619

      3.  Watch TV! Whilst this does tend to be a last resort in our house, there are some really enlightening documentaries which are both highly engaging and educational and may help ‘while away’ a bit of time (especially if it is raining outdoors). A recent watch I can highly recommend is My Octopus Teacher. A moving and intimate portrayal of the life of an octopus in a kelp forest in South Africa. I hadn’t realised quite what enigmatic, complex and intelligent creatures they are. We were totally transfixed by it at home. 

      4.  Read a book. Again, for the days when we can’t get outside, I can recommend a book called Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. There is a child friendly hardback version of this book available on Amazon. The art work is beautiful and the text is accessible for children, giving them an insight into the political and social characteristics of the main nations around the world. 

        Above all, have a great half term break and all the better if you get the opportunity for a bit of ‘Awe and Wonder’!

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        As we reach the end of this first half term of the academic year, I have been reflecting on how well we have all managed to acclimatise to the new ‘normal’. It has been absolutely great to be back at school and to be teaching the children face to face once again. As ever, they have been amazing; they have adapted so well, shown immense resilience and have thrown themselves into their learning, always giving their best. 

        As a teacher of Humanities, I have previously written on this blog about the value and benefits of educational visits, learning in the field and the ‘outdoor classroom’.  It is a great shame that we haven’t been able to do as many trips as we would have liked, however, we have still managed to appreciate our local natural environment. We have been able to get time outside each day for games and have even completed some outdoor learning, such as the recent F4 litter pick. 

        As we all look forward to a really well deserved half term break, I wanted to encourage you to try to keep the learning experiences going at home. When I was training to be a teacher (and subsequently), I have been encouraged to emphasise and appreciate the ‘awe and wonder’ of teaching a subject like geography. We don’t need to be sitting in a classroom to experience this, in fact, it is much harder to appreciate the scope and wonder of our environment indoors.  As we are unlikely to be able to do much travelling or socialising over the half term break, might I suggest 4 simple things we could do over the holiday which should be both enjoyable and hopefully a little educational as well!

        1.  Get outdoors. I always feel really lucky to live in this great city. There are so many interesting buildings with a rich and diverse history. I have been trying to explore further afield myself by visiting new places at the weekends. 

          https://www.ionedinburgh.com/travel/hotel-guide/10-best-walks-and-around-edinburgh

          2.  Use maps. There is a great ‘beginners guide to maps’ on the OS website and you can also download the App which I have found great fun to use with the family when out on walks. As a school we also subscribe to digimaps for schools devised by the University of Edinburgh. If you have a look at this you may find some really interesting information both historic and geographic about your local area. We are licensed to share the log in details with all members of the school community so please do take a look with the children if you get chance.

            The website is https://digimapforschoo...   Username: eh46hu Password: wimbed2619

            3.  Watch TV! Whilst this does tend to be a last resort in our house, there are some really enlightening documentaries which are both highly engaging and educational and may help ‘while away’ a bit of time (especially if it is raining outdoors). A recent watch I can highly recommend is My Octopus Teacher. A moving and intimate portrayal of the life of an octopus in a kelp forest in South Africa. I hadn’t realised quite what enigmatic, complex and intelligent creatures they are. We were totally transfixed by it at home. 

            4.  Read a book. Again, for the days when we can’t get outside, I can recommend a book called Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. There is a child friendly hardback version of this book available on Amazon. The art work is beautiful and the text is accessible for children, giving them an insight into the political and social characteristics of the main nations around the world. 

              Above all, have a great half term break and all the better if you get the opportunity for a bit of ‘Awe and Wonder’!

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              Cargilfield

              Take time for some 'Awe and Wonder'

              Explore and be curious!

              Read More


              Posted on

              IDValue
              perch_page_path/teaching-and-learning/news/archive.php
              introTextNow, more than ever.....
              image/cms/resources/internet-safety-600x300.jpg
              imageAltCargilfield
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              In a world where we are relying heavily on technology to access content online and with the demands that remote learning and lockdown have imposed upon us, it is unsurprising that our children are being exposed to a world of online activity than ever before.  It is incredibly difficult for some of us adults to keep up with what the children are doing online.  Lockdown will have seen children engaging with friends online more than ever before and with new apps and social media platforms being created and launched every day, how do we keep up with children the ever-changing online world?  

              We simply cannot and that may seem like a very worrying fact for parents.   

              As a teacher (and a parent) I am aware that I won’t be able to prevent children from using apps that are deemed unsuitable: I can warn the children of the dangers but children will be children; they will be inquisitive or perhaps will feel peer pressure to have apps because their friends have them.  

              Therefore, it is paramount that we educate children on how to stay in control of what they are doing online and what to do if they feel they are worried or anxious about something they have seen or done online.

              At Cargilfield, we learn how to be Internet S.M.A.R.T.

              Safe – Stay safe by ensuring personal information and passwords are kept secret. 

              Meet – Never meet with an online friend in person, even if you feel you know that person well. 

              Accept – Do not open or accept e-mails from people you do not know. 

              Reliable – The Internet is not always reliable.  It contains a lot of false information. 

              Tell – Tell a trusted adult if anything online makes you feel uncomfortable. 

              Unnamed

              rightColBody

              The most important one I focus on is Tell.  In the real world, when something is bothering us, we need to tell someone.  A problem shared, is a problem halved.   It is important that we do not bottle it up inside.  The exact same approach should apply when we feel something online is bothering us.

              Of course, this might be seen as being easier said than done.  What if a child was forbidden to download a particular app but did it anyway and then someone started sending them hurtful messages?  Would the child be too afraid to tell because they are more worried about the consequences of disobeying their parents?  In my lessons, the message to the children is that parents would be more upset if you kept your worries to yourself and not tell them.  The children are also aware that there is always the option to speak to a teacher at school or another adult that they trust.

              The Internet is so vast and exciting to young children but there are so many pitfalls and perils that they won’t be aware of.  We all have to play a role in keeping our children safe when online and can constantly remind children of these dangers but my advice to parents is to take an interest in what their children are doing online and to remind them how to be Internet S.M.A.R.T. 

              If parents would like to know more about what they can do to help, I recommend the following websites: 

              https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/

              https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers

              https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers

              RM

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              In a world where we are relying heavily on technology to access content online and with the demands that remote learning and lockdown have imposed upon us, it is unsurprising that our children are being exposed to a world of online activity than ever before.  It is incredibly difficult for some of us adults to keep up with what the children are doing online.  Lockdown will have seen children engaging with friends online more than ever before and with new apps and social media platforms being created and launched every day, how do we keep up with children the ever-changing online world?  

              We simply cannot and that may seem like a very worrying fact for parents.   

              As a teacher (and a parent) I am aware that I won’t be able to prevent children from using apps that are deemed unsuitable: I can warn the children of the dangers but children will be children; they will be inquisitive or perhaps will feel peer pressure to have apps because their friends have them.  

              Therefore, it is paramount that we educate children on how to stay in control of what they are doing online and what to do if they feel they are worried or anxious about something they have seen or done online.

              At Cargilfield, we learn how to be Internet S.M.A.R.T.

              Safe – Stay safe by ensuring personal information and passwords are kept secret. 

              Meet – Never meet with an online friend in person, even if you feel you know that person well. 

              Accept – Do not open or accept e-mails from people you do not know. 

              Reliable – The Internet is not always reliable.  It contains a lot of false information. 

              Tell – Tell a trusted adult if anything online makes you feel uncomfortable. 

              Unnamed

              perch_rightColBody

              The most important one I focus on is Tell.  In the real world, when something is bothering us, we need to tell someone.  A problem shared, is a problem halved.   It is important that we do not bottle it up inside.  The exact same approach should apply when we feel something online is bothering us.

              Of course, this might be seen as being easier said than done.  What if a child was forbidden to download a particular app but did it anyway and then someone started sending them hurtful messages?  Would the child be too afraid to tell because they are more worried about the consequences of disobeying their parents?  In my lessons, the message to the children is that parents would be more upset if you kept your worries to yourself and not tell them.  The children are also aware that there is always the option to speak to a teacher at school or another adult that they trust.

              The Internet is so vast and exciting to young children but there are so many pitfalls and perils that they won’t be aware of.  We all have to play a role in keeping our children safe when online and can constantly remind children of these dangers but my advice to parents is to take an interest in what their children are doing online and to remind them how to be Internet S.M.A.R.T. 

              If parents would like to know more about what they can do to help, I recommend the following websites: 

              https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/

              https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers

              https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers

              RM

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              Cargilfield

              Importance of staying safe online

              Now, more than ever…..

              Read More


              Posted on

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              introTextImportance of reading is key!
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              How can I support my child outwith school?

              “If you want your child to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein

              We are often asked by parents how they can support their children’s learning at home. Parents are children’s first teachers and therefore a lot of what they have always instinctively done is still valuable.

              Reading.

              Read to and with your child as much as possible. At school we read to promote a love of literature from an early age. You can do the same. Stories at bedtime are a natural way to settle your child for a good night’s sleep. At the same time you are creating important positive associations with reading and literature. This love of literature is the foundation of your child’s life-long reading experience. Don’t forget to let them see you reading so they appreciate the value of reading as a life-long human skill.

              When you are out and about ask your child to read signs for you. These may be street signs or labels on museum items or on monuments. Having a go is much more important than accuracy, and you can help with the hard words. Remember to ask what the sign means.

              Writing

              When you are out and about get your children to send postcards to their friends and relations. Always carry some stamps and a pen for this purpose. This encourages them to do a manageable amount of writing, and then, in due course, enjoy the positive feedback when people receive their words.

              Encourage your children to make notes for you when you are planning a task. For example, dictate your shopping list, then when you get to the supermarket, ask them to read out the items for you. This reinforces the usefulness of writing, and that it is even more than conveying a story.

              During the longer breaks encourage your child to create their own journal of their experiences. Allow them to choose a special notebook and encourage them to put in items, e.g. tickets and photos, which they have collected. In addition discuss their treasures and suggest they write notes to explain their significance. The more enthusiastic you are, the more they will want to develop their journal. Do not worry if they do not write a diary as such, just share and enjoy their written reflections.

              rightColBody

              Numeracy and other mathematical skills.

              Depending upon what stage your child is at there are lots of informal ways you can help your child. Get them to read numbers on, say, houses you are passing. Ask which number comes before and after. Ask them to read out prices for you. Practise tables and number bonds when you are stuck in traffic. Make up numerical problems for your child to solve while shopping, e.g. “how many sandwiches will we need if Granny and Grandpa come on our picnic?” Bake with your child as the measuring of ingredients is excellent practice, as well as the baking itself being a vital life skill. Play shops with your child using plastic or real coins. Encourage them to spot 2d and 3d shapes in the home and when you are out and about, and see if they can spot patterns. Encourage your child to tell the time both on analogue and digital clocks, starting with “o’clock”, then “half past” and so on. Play games that involve counting or patterns. Make your home maths-friendly by having equipment such as rulers, scales, etc all readily available. When you use them explain what you are doing to your child. Encourage your child to make comparisons, e.g. which is the heaviest, longest, smallest fastest, hottest, most expensive etc.

              Your child’s class teacher can tell you exactly at what level to pitch your questions.

              Remember to keep it fun!

              Maggie Pithie

              Learning Support Teacher

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              perch_introTextImportance of reading is key!
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              How can I support my child outwith school?

              “If you want your child to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein

              We are often asked by parents how they can support their children’s learning at home. Parents are children’s first teachers and therefore a lot of what they have always instinctively done is still valuable.

              Reading.

              Read to and with your child as much as possible. At school we read to promote a love of literature from an early age. You can do the same. Stories at bedtime are a natural way to settle your child for a good night’s sleep. At the same time you are creating important positive associations with reading and literature. This love of literature is the foundation of your child’s life-long reading experience. Don’t forget to let them see you reading so they appreciate the value of reading as a life-long human skill.

              When you are out and about ask your child to read signs for you. These may be street signs or labels on museum items or on monuments. Having a go is much more important than accuracy, and you can help with the hard words. Remember to ask what the sign means.

              Writing

              When you are out and about get your children to send postcards to their friends and relations. Always carry some stamps and a pen for this purpose. This encourages them to do a manageable amount of writing, and then, in due course, enjoy the positive feedback when people receive their words.

              Encourage your children to make notes for you when you are planning a task. For example, dictate your shopping list, then when you get to the supermarket, ask them to read out the items for you. This reinforces the usefulness of writing, and that it is even more than conveying a story.

              During the longer breaks encourage your child to create their own journal of their experiences. Allow them to choose a special notebook and encourage them to put in items, e.g. tickets and photos, which they have collected. In addition discuss their treasures and suggest they write notes to explain their significance. The more enthusiastic you are, the more they will want to develop their journal. Do not worry if they do not write a diary as such, just share and enjoy their written reflections.

              perch_rightColBody

              Numeracy and other mathematical skills.

              Depending upon what stage your child is at there are lots of informal ways you can help your child. Get them to read numbers on, say, houses you are passing. Ask which number comes before and after. Ask them to read out prices for you. Practise tables and number bonds when you are stuck in traffic. Make up numerical problems for your child to solve while shopping, e.g. “how many sandwiches will we need if Granny and Grandpa come on our picnic?” Bake with your child as the measuring of ingredients is excellent practice, as well as the baking itself being a vital life skill. Play shops with your child using plastic or real coins. Encourage them to spot 2d and 3d shapes in the home and when you are out and about, and see if they can spot patterns. Encourage your child to tell the time both on analogue and digital clocks, starting with “o’clock”, then “half past” and so on. Play games that involve counting or patterns. Make your home maths-friendly by having equipment such as rulers, scales, etc all readily available. When you use them explain what you are doing to your child. Encourage your child to make comparisons, e.g. which is the heaviest, longest, smallest fastest, hottest, most expensive etc.

              Your child’s class teacher can tell you exactly at what level to pitch your questions.

              Remember to keep it fun!

              Maggie Pithie

              Learning Support Teacher

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              Cargilfield

              How can I support my child at home?

              Importance of reading is key!

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              Cargilfield where everyday is an adventure

              Welcome to Cargilfield! We hope this short film gives you a glimpse of what life is like for the girls and boys at our school. We would love to welcome you in person to tour Cargilfield and explain more fully exactly what makes a Cargilfield education so special and so different. Please get in touch with Fiona Craig, our Registrar if you would like to find out more; her email address is [email protected] or you can telephone her on 0131 336 2207.

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