DST - Jigs and Reels for Stewartry schools
January 26, 2022
Dumfries and Galloway’s Active Schools and Community Sports Team in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright (the enthusiastic and effervescent Louise and Amy) have been delivering Scottish country dancing (SCD) in Stewartry schools for a number of years, usually starting in the autumn term and working through until the end of January or early February. Children learn the dances in their local school and then come together in a multi-school event that showcases their wonderful dancing. And what a fabulous event it is, full of activity, energy, tartan, smiles and happiness.
Louise and Amy had always wanted to grow this event, grow the number of schools and children participating and grow the opportunities for teacher CPD in this area of practice. They wanted to achieve this by using the Jigs and Reels pack created by the RSCDS at national level in collaboration with educational specialists and Scottish Government. Jigs & Reels is a progressive programme of Scottish country dances for teachers of children and young people. It facilitates teaching in school, works at basic and more advanced levels and is a stepping-stone to bronze, silver or gold accreditation for each school engaged with the programme. (For more information about Jigs and Reels click here). Louise and Amy love the pack. They say, “The resource is truly one of the best we’ve worked with in any sport/activity as it comes with written instructions as well as a DVD (or web-based videos) for those, like ourselves. who are more visual learners.”
However, there were two barriers to development. Firstly. buying the Jigs and Reels packs from the RSCDS shop needed money. Secondly, teaching in more schools and supporting teacher CPD needed more pairs of hands, ones that were experienced in SCD. So Louise and Amy, supported by Jayne Riddet, (Dumfries Branch and regional representative from the Scottish Schools Working Group) who had been encouraging schools in Dumfries and Galloway to take up the Jigs and Reels Programme, approached Castle Douglas Branch for help. Representatives from the Branch attended the schools’ day of dance in early 2019 following which a number of members agreed to work in local schools and in CPD sessions to support teachers in skills development. The Branch also committed to providing funds for a number of packs that were dedicated to the memory of Willie Little who had done so much in his dance-teaching lifetime to promote SCD for children. But there were more schools than the Branch could afford to sponsor.
Scottish country dancing is an important part of children's heritage in Scotland, recognised by Castle Douglas Branch in the classes for junior dancers that it seeks to run each year. But promoting Scotland’s heritage is also a key interest of the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership based in Castle Douglas. Louise and Amy approached Galloway Glens for help which was willingly and generously given in grant aid. Together, the Castle Douglas Branch and Galloway Glens were able to ensure that every one of the 21 schools in the Stewartry area had a resource to be used year-on-year so that all the Stewartry’s young people could learn Scottish country dancing. As Louise and Amy said, “Being able to hand all our schools a much needed and valued resource has been a genuine joy for us both.”
With Kirkcudbright Branch also offering support for the programme we hope that we have created strong working partnerships between the Active Schools Team and the local RSCDS branches that will help develop stronger school-branch links and that we will see pupils continue to enjoy this wonderful activity, and develop their fitness, in our communities by dancing from school to branch and beyond.
Sadly, Covid has meant that we have not been able to realise our ambitions together in quite the way we planned. However, we remain committed and enthusiastic and we look forward to many thoughtful hours learning and teaching the dances in the Jigs and Reels pack and to sharing them in a happy day of dance when restrictions allow.