Primary pupils to be taught in shipping container

Jo MacFarlane, centre, with pupils Taylor Bevis, left, Kieran Easton, Josh Duncan and Brodie Gannon. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Jo MacFarlane, centre, with pupils Taylor Bevis, left, Kieran Easton, Josh Duncan and Brodie Gannon. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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PRIMARY school children are to be taught in a shipping container, the Evening News can reveal.

Teachers at Mayfield Primary have issued a call to local firms to donate a container which they want to turn into an outdoor classroom.

The cut-price teaching spot – which will set them back at least £7000 if a donor does not come forward – will accommodate up to 30 children and host regular classes.

School leaders said the sea container will give them a unique, funky space complementing what they already have.

Senior staff stress the plans are not a reaction to overcrowding concerns and say the new facility could be kitted out at minimal cost, with health and safety risks ruling out electrical equipment.

Meanwhile, areas such as Edinburgh – which has serious overcrowding issues – are likely to be watching the Midlothian experiment with keen interest.

Mayfield headteacher Jo MacFarlane said: “It will be used to enhance our outdoor learning experience. It could be used for absolutely anything – arts, science, reading.

“It would just really make learning more enjoyable, fun and interesting for the children. For example, you could have maths learning, where young children could be counting branches on trees, or leaves.”

Moves to secure a container means Mayfield is following in the footsteps of Sacred Heart Primary in nearby Penicuik, where a similar facility has been in use for a year.

“This will be for outdoor learning. In our school improvement plan, there’s a proposal to improve our school grounds this year,” said Ms MacFarlane. “It’s something I think is really important – using our local environment to enhance learning. Some of the children could be taking chalk out of the drawer and drawing number patterns or something similar on the pavement.”

She added: “We want to focus on the basics. But there are so many social skills that the children could learn through being taught outdoors.”

Parent leaders at the primary school say the facility will encourage and inspire pupils. Indeed parents are assisting with the search and have placed an advert for a container on the Freecycle website.

Donna McLachlan, 31, a mum of three children, said: “We wanted to do this because it’s going to help our kids. It will help them learn. They will be in a different environment – it’s like a wee adventure for them.”

Shipping containers measure 20 feet and are made out of steel. Extremely durable, they are having an architectural “moment”, popping up in countless trendy projects.