Mar 30 2012 by Jennifer Buchanan, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
THEY’RE building bridges between their school and their community.
For after complaints from irate shop owners about mess and rowdiness of pupils during school lunch breaks, two Doon Academy teachers decided to take matters into their own hands.
Vice-principle of supported learning, Mark Kerr, and deputy head teacher Elaine Hetherington now patrol Dalmellington town centre, talking to the kids and shop staff.
Miss Hetherington explained: “We’ve really just been piloting it so far, this is our sixth week, but we’ve had a really positive response.
“It lets us be more aware about what’s going on outwith the school grounds.
“And the shop staff seem happier now that they know they can speak to us face to face.
“There was an incident a few weeks ago as well where some of our younger kids got into a scuffle during lunch. Mr Kerr and myself were able to intervene at an early stage which we wouldn’t have normally been able to do before.”
Mr Kerr added: “We’re purposely discreet when we’re out walking around, we don’t need to yell at the kids, they just have to see we’re here.
“All it takes is to subtly say to them to put their rubbish in the bin and they will.
“They’re now popping back into the shops once they’ve eaten their food to put their rubbish in their bin.
“It’s been going really well and I hope it stays that way.”
In fact the teachers go about their patrol so discreetly, some of the pupils didn’t even realise that’s what they were out in the town for.
One said: “I always put my litter in the bin so they’ve never had to talk to me, so I just thought they were just out for a walk.”
But the school kids and shop staff agree that it’s been better since the scheme started.
Fifth year pupil Heather Dunn said: “I would say everyone has picked up their behaviour a bit.”
And a worker from one of town centre shops, who asked not to be named, said that most of the kids behave anyway.
She said: “They’re a good lot in here, and if there’s any who do misbehave they’re quick to take a telling.”
Miss Hetherington and Mr Kerr hope to expand this to include more patrols and more teachers in the near future.
Miss Hetherington added: “It’s all about building community links. We’ve had a very positive response feedback from the shops because they don’t even have to pick up the phone anymore, they know we’re around.”