Pupils look to Polish-Scottish festival
Education Secretary visits Edinburgh Polish school ahead of shared heritage celebration.
Pupils, parents and staff at Edinburgh’s No Boundaries Polish school welcomed Education Secretary Michael Russell today (Saturday).
During his visit to the Polish Saturday No Boundaries School in the name of Wojtek the Bear, based at Leith Academy, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning heard how bilingual learning helped the pupils integrate better in their English-language school while also celebrating their Polish heritage and community.
The visit comes ahead of the Polish-Scottish Heritage Festival offering five days of shows, workshops and exhibitions across Edinburgh from June 19 and follows a recent visit to Poland by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture & External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop.
Mr Russell said: “I am delighted to join the staff and families at Edinburgh’s No Boundaries school to learn about the Saturday classes taking place across the country to help pupils from Polish families embrace their heritage. These classes have grown out of strong communities and the commitment to help young people integrate into their mainstream, English-language schools better.
“I would like to commend everyone at No Boundaries for this challenging and exciting project. I am very impressed by the hard work that goes into offering the pupils this service and I know that your bilingual language skills will give you an advantage in pursuing careers in the global economy.
“We take the issue of language learning and teaching very seriously in Scotland. This is why we have made an ambitious commitment over two Parliament terms to enable all young people to learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue – with lessons in the first additional language starting from Primary One and the second to be offered by all schools from Primary Five.
“Polish families make up the largest diaspora in Scotland today. The links between our countries have endured over centuries and we are committed to deepening them further. The upcoming festival will showcase talented artists and reveal some of the incredible stories that unite us and I would encourage families to check what events are happening near them.”
Ewelina Lukaszek, history teacher and the spokesperson of the Polish Saturday No Boundaries School in the name of Wojtek the Bear, said:
“We are delighted to host the Cabinet Secretary of Education and Lifelong Learning at our Polish Saturday School. Our school was set up five years ago by Joanna Ulatowska who is a Head Teacher and Michal Czyzykowski who is the Managing Director.
“At the school we would like to cultivate Polish language, traditions and history amongst the Polish children who live here in Scotland. We feel it is a great opportunity for the Scottish Government to acknowledge the Polish Saturday Schools in Edinburgh and around the country. As we are also aware of the strong historical links between Poland and Scotland, we are hoping to build up co-operation with the Scottish Government and to be recognised as one of its partners, as far as educational issues are concerned.
"In order to highlight the links we have decided to name our school after Wojtek the Bear, who is a symbol of the friendship between our nations. We are convinced that Mr Russell will understand our vision and this visit will be a beginning of a fruitful relationship for both parties.”
The Polish-Scotland Heritage Festival Programme can be found here.
The Cabinet Secretary for Culture & External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, visited Poland on 5-6 May to deepen relations and develop culture and business links.