What is Education For?

10-12am Saturday 20 November – Big Hall Bellfield

Organised by Alan Hepburn, Simon Bateson, Gemma Seth-Smith, and Serge Marti

Facilitated by Simon, Gemma and Serge, as Alan could not make it for family reasons.

Key Question: 

What can we do in the realm of education in the community, to make Portobello a better place?

Additional Questions:

What is education for?

What, how, where and when can children best learn?

How can we ensure that the curriculum is relevant for young people in today’s world?

How can we foster the values, skills and attitudes to enable young people to live purposeful lives and make a positive contribution to society?

What is the role of parents, teachers, local communities and businesses in supporting young people to learn?

Plan for the Event:

10.00 Gathering

10.10 Intro to the Heart Talk (Alan 5 mins)

10.15 Introduction to Education in Portobello (Alan 5 mins)

10.20 About the Tree Approach (Serge 5 mins)

10.25 Roots Introduction (Gemma 3 mins)

Roots groups (Gemma 7 minutes)

Root circle and add to tree roots (Gemma 10 mins)

10.45 Trunk introduction (Simon 5 mins)

Everyone writes 3 principles on cards and lays on the floor (Simon 5 minutes)

Silent grouping (Simon 5 mins)

Simon Summarise and Adds a few to the trunk (Simon 5 mins)

11.05 Branches Introduction (Serge 5 mins)

Split into groups add ideas to leaves (Serge 20 minutes – others to mingle)

Broad themes for branches – do people have any other themes to offer?

  • Creating community – deepen the weave of community in place
  • Skills that are needed for the future / economy
  • Education for sustainability / nature / climate / environment
  • Inclusivity / Diversity / all sections of community can meet their potential
  • Creativity / music and Arts
  • Health and Wellbeing / sport

In each branch think of all sections of society: Babies and tots, children, teens, youth, adults, olders/elders, marginalised groups

Adding ideas to the tree branches and canopy (Serge and Alan 20 mins)

11.45 Final sum up and how this continues (? 10 mins)

12.00 End


Felt-tips, big roll of paper, Leaf shaped post-its, Small cards

Porty Education Tree



Skills for the Future

Sustainability / Environment

Inclusivity / Diversity

Deepening Community Connections

Creativity / Music & Arts

Health & Well-Being


Skills for the Future

Trainings for good communication (Community / Schools)

Once a week sharing of skills

Community Skills Audit: 

What do we need? 

How do we do it?

Advocate for skills for climate solutions to be taught in schools

Skills for Resilience and Survival

Create Shelters for use in Outdoor Edcucation

Define steps to create a Regenerative Community

Permaculture Afterschool Clubs – food growing in community spaces

Sustainability / Environment

  • Pool outdoor learning resources, training, stories (cross-fertilisation)
  • Make P1 full outdoors
  • Series of workshops on nature
  • All children in all schools have outdoor learning experiences every week.
  • Food and Growing
    • Community Poly tunnels and learning session about food and growing
  • Nature Porty series of walking talks
    • Our ocean (what is the state of the North Sea in Porty? pollution? biodiversity? industries using the water? 
    • Our history (when and how was Porty built, who are the characters through history etc)
    • Our biodiversity (birdlife, sea-life, wildlife)

Inclusivity / Diversity

  • Barriers to professions / people with diverse experience being involved in schools. 
  • Child-led curricula – children are the curriculum
  • A bottom-up platform / voice for teens with the community (with Porty HS)
  • Challenging the independent sector / separation / dominance of
  • Connection between High School and Primary School
  • Youth Clubs
    • Youth clubs and places for the young people to hang out that are warm and safe.

Deepening Community Connections

  • Online Map: 
    • Develop the structure of an online community generated resource of all of the events / facilities / businesses / support groups etc. Target people moving to Porty as well as existing people.
  • Porty News?
  • QR code Tour: 
    • Create and display QR codes to share the history / future of important places. (Swimming pool, church, cobbled streets, prom, kiln, towerbank, town hall, etc)
  • New community Traditions and grow existing ones like the Loony Dook.
  • Reverse Skylark Closure and open more such places
  • Place for Time, Space, Safety
  • Connect all Community initiatives / businesses to actively involve teenagers
  • Community upside down day
    • Teenage inclusive week
    • Teenage inclusive community (?)
  • Government funded sports teams
  • Sports Day
  • Places for Cross Age Dialogue
  • Library: appreciate, celebrate, resource
  • Linking intrusion / inclusion
  • Place for Debate
  • Portobello Market Hyped up
  • Porty Skillshares
    • Taking the Dalriada conversations further. 
    • Ask local people to host a workshop on their expertise / passion. Eg Bakery hosts a bread making workshop; Jewellery maker host a jewellery making workshop; 
  • More community events / street parties
  • Meet the high street / workshops per shop

Creativity / Music & Arts

  • Spanish French German rhymetime for kids
  • Language cafes
  • Porty Carnival – road close high street
  • A joint open platform for artists / creative activity in Porty
  • Porty History Club and Mini Museum
  • Free extra-curricular activities

Health & Well-Being

  • Reclaim the streets for women
  • Enhance communication between groups to increase participation (online)
  • Moderated anonymous surveys around health and well-being
  • Wellbeing walks for mentally / physically less well – use existing walkers as guides. Art walk walks as routes
  • Community recycling / collective activities
  • Industrial composting
  • Health in community beyond ‘classes’


Aspirational (transition, keep on at it, long-term goals)

Walking softly on the earth (sustainability for ecology)


Prioritise marginalised voices (think kids and youth)

Remain open to ideas / info 

  • lifelong learning
  • enhance thinking
  • wish to learn 
  • intrinsic motivation 
  • learning based on peoples / childrens real lives and loves


  • Inclusion regardless of ability, class
  • Inclusion of the next generations
  • Inclusion of those with learning difficulties
  • Respect for the individual, dialogue
  • Secularism
  • Responsibility for the collective

Two-way, mutual, cooperative, compassion, feel safe, dialogue

Lifelong healing, trauma aware, kind, creative 

Interconnection groups, community-building, place-based, friendship, engaged in real world of building community. 

Roots – what is the foundation of our education in portobello

Celebrating what’s happening already – Existing facilities in Porty

After school clubs – Highland fling, TASC

Holiday clubs for kids

Dance School

Yoga studio

Children in Permaculture

Woodcraft folk


Portobello High school

Forest school

Primary school community – everyone in it for fun

Music school, community choir, meetings – lovely way to learn

Fun fiddle music school

Community school – sport’s facilities

Porty Baths, turkish baths, swimming lessons, gym, classes

Edinburgh College


Newhailes detectives

Kayaking, sailing lessons

Rowing club

Art Life Drawing

Portobello Book Festival

Community Choir

Drama EYT


Mother and Baby groups – sing and sign etc

Activities for teenagers

Art walk


Wild swimming

Beach bonfires

Bonfire night

Hogmanay on the beach, looney dook

Places and spaces in Porty





Figgy Park, Daisy Park, Rosefield, Quarry, 

Churches – St Marks, Portobello and Joppa

Woodlands and Figgy burn

Outdoor learning


Sailing rowing club – low cost and great

Tennis courts

The prom


The washhouse

Civic and democratic Spaces

Large monthly market


Tribe Porty

Pirate Park and Fish Park

Stunted / Damaged Roots

Class issues – does that influence school?

For now we have a diverse community in Porty – will this decrease in the future – Brexit

Centralised policies

Portobello High school – doesn’t work for some

State Education (needs to be more flexible and responsive)

Divisions arising from referendum

Ageism in Portobello, especially for teens and youth

Make the community more inclusive of the kids

State education is not integrated in the community

Sunday school and other church groups

Other influences on learning in Porty

History of Porty, industrial

Variety of housing proving diversity

Art community

Geddes / John Muir –  rich history of scottish pedagogy

Interconnection between groups

Dynamics of groups – learning cooperation (model it!)

Social aspect of learning

Tolerance – everyone is important

An Alliance between school and community

Policies – Education policies