Scottish Sayings – English Translation for the Sasenachs

Anyone who knows me knows that I have been a teacher for over 40 years.  English grammar and literature are high on my agenda. Some could say that I tend to sound a little posh.

Some say we are headed for Scottish Independence in 2014.  My opinions on that matter are my own.  However, regardless of the fact whether we may be part of the UK or an independent Scotland, I have always considered myself as Scottish first and British second.  I have always loved the lilt and phrases of the real Scots language.  Even although I may speak and teach proper English, when I hear the Scots word abroad, I always delight in hearing it and even become more Scots in talking to strangers just for the fun of it.

For a bit of fun, I wanted to post some Scottish sayings (traditional and modern) and their meanings for those who are not Scottish.  Firstly, please watch the Scottish expert on local sayings, Mr Stanley Baxter who is the expert.

Haud yer wheesht! Be quiet
Ah’m up to high doh! I’m worried
Y’er on tae plums No chance that is happening
Yer heid’s full o’ wee men You’re a bit scatter brained
Yer aff yer heid Are you crazy?
Awa an bile yer heid Don’t be daft
I’ll gie ye a skellpit lug! I’ll give you a slap on the ear
In the name o the wee man! For goodness Sake!
Yer bum’s oot the windae No chance
What’s fur you ‘ll no go by ye What’s meant to happen will
Skinny malinky long legs Tall skinny person
Skinny malinky long legs big banana feet Tall skinny person after Billy Connolly
Ah dinnae ken I don’t know
Gonnae nae dae that Please don’t do that
That’s pure dead brilliant by the way That’s good
Ah’m scunnered I’m fed up
Ah’m blootered I’m a bit drunk
See him – he’s burlin by the way He’s drunk
Get it up yae!  Ha ha!!

Yer talkin mince

 Your talking rubbish
I was sae hungert I coulda ate a scabby heided horse  I was very hungry
 Ah’m goin fir a swally  I fancy a wee drink
 Ah’m gonnae gie it laldy the nicht  I’m going to have a good night tonight
 Yer a bawbag!!  Made famous by “Hurricane Bawbag”
 Yer a numpty  You’re a no hope waste of space
 Ah don’t have a scooby  I don’t have a clue
 I’m Scotch! No no no!!! !Scotch is a drink (whisky).  If someone is from Scotland you call them Scottish or Scots – never Scotch.

Ones that We missed!!

Yer affy peely wally -You’re a bit pale


Should Scottish Government Scrap Plans for Pay Cut for Supply Teachers?

I read an article today by Andrew Denholm of the Herald Scotland entitled “New demand to scrap pay cut for teachers” which read:

Teaching unions and political opponents made the plea yesterday after a survey by Scottish Labour found 84% of local authorities did not fill all requests for short-term cover in 2011/12.

In addition, some 52% of councils also experienced problems filling long-term supply requests over the past year.

The highest rate of non-fulfillment for long-term supply was in Edinburgh, while for short-term supply the greatest problems were in West Lothian.

Of the local authorities in Scotland holding accurate records, half revealed a reduction in the number of teachers held on their supply lists.

The biggest drop in the number of supply teachers available was in Aberdeenshire, which lost 275 teachers from the supply list in one year alone. Read More.

As an employer of Scottish teachers who tutor in our Kip McGrath Education Centres, there are a number of tutors who teach for us at Kip but are also supply teachers in the Scottish Education system.  I have listened to their plight and cannot believe how badly these bright new teachers are being treated.

We normally only employ highly experienced teachers at Kip McGrath but I sometimes employ an inexperienced teacher who I believe is a star and will motivate and teach our students.  I find it so hard to believe that these bright and eager teachers full of so many wonderful ideas cannot get a full time permanent job in Scotland.

When I started teaching the world was a different place.  We could pick and choose the schools we wanted to work for.  Now everything is different and as a teacher who has had a very fulfilled life as a teacher, I genuinely feel sorry for the bright new teachers in Scotland who are struggling to find a secure, decently paid position in our Scottish Schools.

I also have had contact with this Group of Supply Teachers who are trying to raise awareness and give support.

They are also on Facebook at

Please note, I do not know anyone associated with either of these sites personally and they have no connection to Kip McGrath Education Centres but if you are a supply teacher in Scotland there appears to be a lot of support and advice on offer.

Power of Practice – Is talent or hard work the answer to succeed in Education?

We previously posted a blog on “How to help your child reach their full potential in life” in 2011 which was written by Angela Mitchell, a teacher and Director of Kip McGrath Cambuslang.

In our blog, we referenced an article by Mathew Syed, former three-times Commonwealth table-tennis champion.  Mathew Syed has now a best selling book called Bounce based on his view that everyone can succeed if you put in the hours and work.  He refutes the myth of the “child prodigy” and “child genius” and is adamant that practice and hard work can make any child a success, whether that be academic or sports related.

I subscribe to an excellent education blog written by Bill Boyd whose blog is at and tonight he posted an article based on Mathew Syed’s new book called “Bounce -The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice“.  This has prompted me to re-post our earlier blog.

We would thoroughly recommend reading this book and truly believe that born talent is a myth – the key to success in all aspects of life is not ‘born talent’ but is down to hard work and practice.

However, when we are dealing with children, this advice is only good if a child is receiving support from parents at home and teachers at school.  Many children are slipping through the cracks in education and not being engaged or encouraged to reach their full academic potential.  I despair at the number of children coming to me in primary school who cannot read properly.  How can children progress to Secondary School and learn and progress if their reading and writing skills are at P3 level?  Teachers are doing their best but with class sizes so big there are always going to be children with potential who are not achieving. What do we do?

This is our original blog post from 2011. I would like to mention Carol Dweck’s input from her link

Praise Your Child’s Efforts

I read an interesting article the other day, written by Matthew Syed, a former table tennis champion, about how we can possibly hold our children back with the words we use and set them up for failure in the future both academically and personally.

We’ve all heard a phrase like”my daughter is not very good at maths or sports – she takes after her mother!”  People assume that talent is all about genetics and parents can unintentionally influence their childrens’ achievements by repeating this type of phrase to spare a child’s feelings if they struggle in a particular area and praise their children highly on achievements and results.

However, there has been lots of research into this subject (see link below) and it shows that every child has the potential to excel in all areas whether it be Maths, English, Science, Sports, Arts etc regardless of genetics.  The brain has the capacity to learn and excel at anything, as long as the effort is put in and encouragement given in the right way.

We need to remove the mindset in children that they have talent for certain things like sport but are not academically gifted.  This is not necessarily true – every child has the potential to be an academic given the correct teaching methods and putting in the effort.  It is very important that a child has the correct mindset and realises that effort will bring them to the top in any field, not ‘talent’.

My view as a Parent

As a parent I quickly became aware of the value of commenting on behaviour as this was something my children viewed as changeable.  They knew I was angry with the negative behaviour and I praised their effort for trying hard to change it.  Something as simple as teaching them to ride their bikes meant commenting on how hard they were trying and with practise/effort they could achieve their goal of no stabalisers. Shouting to remind my oldest about a previously learned skill, such as timing it right to put both feet down after breaking, saved her from smashing head first into a tree in the park, then praising her for working hard on this –  previously she fell off every timed she braked and nearly killed off a few cats in the process!

My view as a Teacher

As a teacher, you have to get to know the children you work with and build up a relationship with them.  However, the last thing you want is for them to perform a task just to receive praise from their teacher.  Praise can either be a bond or barrier.

Allan McLean, ‘The Motivated School’ (2010) talks about contaminated praise where a teacher gives praise with the add on of ‘but I wish you could do that all the time’ or ‘why can’t you always..’  McLean states that praise should be relevant, specific and immediate.  Praise for effort encourages children to concentrate on their learning as opposed to showing off their ability.  It teaches values and builds confidence and much research points to the fact that it is related to self-esteem.  It is important to be confident in your ability to deal with difficulties and to know you will progress if you work hard and use the correct approaches, especially when the going gets tough. Confidence in ability is only useful when pupils are doing well, therefore, praise for effort changes their mindset to cope when they come up against a challenge.

This links with Carol Dweck’s research where she states that praising effort and not talent encourages children to view challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats.  Hers and McLean’s research impacts on our beliefs about talent and influences the way we respond and think.  We need to promote the view that IQ is not fixed and the brain is like a muscle – the more we exercise it the more it grows and our skills expand with practise.

My experience at Kip McGrath Education Centres

The foregoing is at the heart of the Kip philosophy and the materials we use.  As tutors we have to remind ourselves the impact words have and can either hold back or encourage an individual.  The materials provide students with skills practise and as they move through the programmes they can experience first hand how their efforts reap rewards.

For example, I have a young student who is dyslexic.  The computer programmes use a multi sensory approach where he hears, sees, touches and responds.  The written materials provide practise and the tutor teaches the skills and approaches to use when meeting new challenges.  He told me he hated language work in school but after coming to Kip for a while he now likes to read books and enjoys sitting in the library corner at school.  He knows he finds reading challenging but now has the confidence to use his skills and knowledge about language to tackle words when reading.  His mindset has changed.  He views himself as a reader and believes if he works hard and keeps practising his skills will expand.  He no longer believes he can’t read because he is not as clever as the other children in his class but is something he can work hard on.  His mum told me today that his class teacher can’t believe the difference in his attitude.  He contributes in class, asks for help and is determined to succeed.  He still has many challenges to face but with the support of his tutor, the Kip materials and praise targeted to his effort he has the capacity to deal with the learning challenges he faces.

Getting it Right

As a person I am not saying I am perfect.  It has taken me years and lots of courses, assignments and analysing my behaviour to make sure the impact I have on children/students I teach is a positive one.  Sometimes I get it wrong and feel like kicking myself but self-reflection is a great tool to put you on the path to getting it right.

Angela Mitchell (right) runs the Kip McGrath Education Centres in Cambuslang together with Lesley McAteer (both fully qualified teachers).  To contact us, please click on the photo to take you to our main website or call us on 0141 646 2314.

Sources and useful links for this Blog

East Kilbride Tuition – Do you know if your child is struggling at school?

Click image to go to East Kilbride Website

I am Margaret Carmichael and I run the Kip McGrath Education Centre in East Kilbride.

I pass two lovely new schools on my way to the Village in East Kilbride.  The children all look great in their school uniforms and you can sense that they are happy.

Talking to parents, it is clear that the teachers are working well with Curriculum for Excellence and most parents and teachers I have talked to believe CFE to be a good idea in principal.

Parents’ Concerns

However, I have noticed a distinct increase in parents expressing concerns about the lack of annual assessments as part of the new CFE and they find it difficult to guage how well their child is actually performing academically at school.  In some cases, this has resulted in parents being unaware of problems in English or Maths until they reach Secondary 1.

England have introduced a short reading test at age 6.  This gives parents a clear picture and allows them to know if help is required.  Having run Kip Centres for 12 years, I know that many children in the early years of primary need extra support in reading.  Parents knew this in the past because their child had not passed level A or Level B.

Our Assessments

At East Kilbride, I have a number of parents who have brought their children for assessments because they had concerns but had been told by the school that there were no worries.  When I did an assessment, it turned out that it was the parents’ instincts that were correct and that extra support was needed.

At Kip McGrath centres, we do a classic reading assessment which gives us a clear picture of a child’s reading age as well as indications of reasons for weakness.

Another area where parents have highlighted concerns is with performance in maths.  Unlike English, maths is a subject which requires building blocks and if some blocks are not there it is very hard for the child to progress.  This sometimes does not become clear until they start Secondary 1 and are given a maths test which can be very demoralising for the child.

Because all of our Maths and English tutors at Kip McGrath are fully qualified (and highly experienced) teachers, we are able to quickly pinpoint any particular weaknesses and create an individual learning plan for every student.

Arrange an Assessment

There are a number of ways to arrange a FREE educational assessment.  Either call Margaret Carmichael on 01355 266566 or email  Alternatively, visit our main East Kilbride website and click on arrange an assessment.

Social Media at Kip McGrath East Kilbride

At East Kilbride, we are embracing social media and it is an excellent way to communicate and share ideas with our students and parents.  Please like our Facebook Page and follow us on twitter  If you have friends who may be interested in Kip McGrath, please feel free to share.

East Kilbride Students

Our students are working exceptionally hard as always and we love to see them arriving for their lesson at Kip with a smile on their face.  What makes my job so rewarding as a teacher is when a student suddenly “just gets it” and to watch their confidence and abilities grow.  These are some of our Kip Stars!

Americanisms – 50 of your most noted Examples

I came across this article from the BBC about the 50 most hated “Americanisms” and I have to say this is something that irritates me somewhat.I have a very close friend who uses the phrase “24/7” every time we meet.  I have no idea why but that particular phrase really annoys me.  I also watch America’s Next Top Model (only because my daughter loves it and it is something we watch together).  That’s my story anyway!  I hate the way they use the word critique as a verb instead of criticise.  I understand from reading online elsewhere that this is becoming acceptable but to me it just sounds wrong.

Due to the amount of American TV we all watch I suppose this is inevitable. I know that the English language is continuing to evolve as it has over  hundreds of years with the influence of other languages so I suppose I am just being a bit of a snob here.

Anyway, please read the list and let me know if there are any Americanisms that annoy you.

Blog written by Kirsty McHugh, Scotland Administrator at Kip McGrath Education Centres Scotland

The Apprentice Final 2011 – What does this say about our education system?

TV’s brightest and best but they know next to nothing

So The Apprentice is now finally over and Tom is the winner.  This is the candidate, along with fellow competitor Helen who in the previous fast food task thought that Byron wrote at the same time as Shakespeare and that Christopher Columbus was British and discovered the potato!  The other two candidates were no better.  They named their Mexican Restaurant Caraca’s.  This would have been an apt name if the restaurant in fact was Venezuelan and not Mexican.

I came across this article by Virginia Blackburn, Daily Express Columnist who was obviously as shocked as me at the total lack of the candidates’ knowledge of history, geography and culture.  As a teacher, I was very interested to read her comments about the “debasing of this country’s education system”

Blackburn states that perhaps it would be better if we had an education system where the academic elite are filtered into a separate system so they are not held back by less academic and those who disrupt learning in class.  She believes we can then tailor the teaching and learning to suit all.  Firstly, society would not tolerate this and secondly the government would never fund it. Also, that is exactly what the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland is meant to do.

It is a well known fact that individuals with a disposable income have the choice to employ tutors or send their children to private school if they feel this would help but those without such financial means can’t.  She also states that poor parenting is adding to our problems in schools.  She uses personal experience saying that our society is too child-centric where we let them set their own agenda and that schools bow to the pressure and bullying tactics of parents, stating that this attitude means that children disrupt classes, attack teachers and sue the school over trivial matters, such as being able to wear corn rows (a hairstyle).

However, we have laws that mean schools must involve parents in their child’s education and that children have a voice too.  It is difficult for schools to find a happy medium.  I have had parents demand that I move their child to the ‘top reading group’ or skip a whole section of reading books to push them on.  The child in question was a good technical reader but had poor comprehension skills and a distinct lack of understanding regarding what they were reading.  I tested the child to back up my professional judgement but despite this the Head Teacher demanded I move the child anyway.  I stuck to my guns because I wanted to do what was best for the child and gave the parents advice on how  they could support their child’s reading at home.  I was told by the parents that “they didn’t have time to read with them and that was what school was for”.

The writer points out that life is competitive and children should learn skills they need and told why they need to learn them.  This is an excellent point.  I am always totally honest with my classes and explain why they need to learn certain skills or about certain things, because without a purpose they see no point in it whatsoever.  Also they need to learn that they may not enjoy everything school has to offer but they owe it to themselves to try their very best at everything. The class teacher should be adapting tasks to suit all the children in the class and teaching the necessary skills.  One child in my P6 class used to play up every time I introduced a new maths concept basically because he perceived himself to be the ‘cool kid’ and did not want to look stupid or unintelligent to his class mates.  I had to come up with strategies to counteract this or he would literally wreck the classroom.  As all teachers know, some children have learning difficulties they have to overcome such as retention and it’s the teacher’s job to work with the child to do this.  Due to budget cuts, larger class sizes and the growing array of learning difficulties children have, this is extremely difficult for teachers.

An important point in the article is that despite large class sizes in Hong Kong discipline problems are zero.  Disruptive children are excluded immediately and their families feel deep shame with the result being such problems are extremely rare.  Over the years I have become acutely aware of the escalating behaviour problems within schools.  I am currently doing supply teaching in the primary sector for two local authorities.  Recently I have been in several schools where I have had to work hard to control behaviour which has seriously affected the teaching and learning.  I had a class of 13 children and could not believe the level of poor and disruptive behaviour from 8 of the children.  In addition, their skill levels for maths and English made me weep.  This is simply not good enough for our future generation and I worry about their future.

I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that the wheels of education turn extremely slowly.

The Curriculum of Excellence was born in 2004 with working groups and lots of excitement and discussion.  It is now 2011 and primary schools are struggling with some aspects of it and it is just taking off in our high schools with no one any the wiser on how the secondary exam system will work.

Thank you to our guest blogger, Angela Mitchell, one of our qualified teachers who runs the Kip McGrath Cambuslang/Burnside Tuition Centre .  If you would like to comment, please feel free to do so below.

Cambuslang Tutors, Angela MitchellFollow Kip McGrath Education Centres Cambuslang on Facebook.

SQA announcent – Higher grade D now a Pass!!

Amazing Change in SQA policy for Higher Grade Passes
In today’s edition of Scottish Daily Mail (6th April 2011) it was reported by  Graham Grant, Home Affairs Editor on the front page that the SQA have implemented an extraordinary change of policy regarding the pass rate for Scottish Highers.
A Grade C or above has been the official pass rate for years.  Under the new guidelines, students who ‘fail’ the Higher with a D will be classed as having passed and receive the same credit as those achieving a C or above.  Amazingly, this has to be backdated to 2004 and all students who attained a D will receive a replacement exam certificate.
Dr Gill Stewart, Director of qualifications at the SQA is quoted as saying “changing how a D is seen will give a fuller and more accurate picture of attainment”.  The SQA admitted that “the changes reflected the fact that, regardless of grade, each candidate completed the same number of learning hours but that employers, colleges and universities would still use grades to gauge candidates’ mastery of a subject”.
As qualified teachers, this is something that I am sure we at Kip McGrath will be debating about over the coming weeks.  I would be interested to know what others thought about this.
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