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Edinburgh pupils study with the Red Cross

20 March 2009

Pupils giving presentationBRCPupils from St Thomas of Aquin's High School in Edinburgh have been working with the British Red Cross as part of an exciting new peer education project.

Around 140 third-year pupils have been taking part in the project, which helps them develop a greater understanding of important global issues.

The eight-week project allows the young participants to research specific topics, such as child soldiers and refugees, before presenting all their hard work to fellow pupils.

Tom Gillam, Red Cross youth and school manager, said: "Scottish schools are now expected to teach pupils about humanitarian and global issues as part of the curriculum and projects like this one at St Thomas of Aquin's can help teachers deliver this in a fun and practical way."

Child soldiers

The pupils, all aged 14-15 years old, tackled a variety of challenging topics, including: child soldiers and the relevant international laws; the reasons why people seek asylum and become refugees; the issues and stigma surrounding HIV; and the challenges the Red Cross faces in Scotland and around the world.

After an introduction to each of the issues, the participants were split into groups and allowed to carry out further research on their selected topic. The eight-week project culminated with each group giving a presentation to their peers, which demonstrated all of their findings and hard work.

St Thomas of Aquin's guidance teacher Kevin McCormack commented: "The peer education exercise was challenging, stimulating and rewarding – particularly at the climax of the programme, when the students had to present their findings on asylum seekers, refugees and the rise of the HIV epidemic to others in their year group, as well as teachers and Red Cross staff."

Tom added: "The feedback from pupils has been fantastic. All of the comments received were very encouraging and a credit to the pupils who made them and prove that young people in Edinburgh today are more than capable of understanding the world around them and taking an active role in it."

Lesson plans

The British Red Cross has a broad range of workshops and lesson plans geared towards helping teachers deliver the global citizenship agenda and tackle humanitarian issues in the classroom.

Kevin McCormack added: "The whole experience of working with the Red Cross was an invaluable for everyone involved in the eight week programme – the Red Cross themselves, teachers and all the third year pupils in the school."

For more information on British Red Cross youth and schools activities and workshops in Edinburgh and the Lothians, contact Tom Gillam on 0131 338 5725 or at

Find citizenship teaching resources produced by the British Red Cross.