Summer School 2019

by Christopher Walker (head tutor)

When I was offered a teaching position for this summer with the Stirling School of English, I thought: this will be good. But what I didn’t know was how good it would be. It wasn’t good. It was amazing. In fact, it was one of the best teaching experiences I’ve had in my ten-year career as an English teacher.

And for that I need to thank everybody at the school, and most particularly the students.

Right from the beginning my students were all wonderful. More than that, even: all of the students were wonderful, but I didn’t know that until the first day-trip, which took us to the quaint town of Callander. It was there that I really got to know the rest of the school’s students, and not just those who had joined my class. They offered me food when we reached the top of the hill we were marching up, and they chatted happily to me as we marched back down.

That first week otherwise involved rather a lot of hard work – the start of school always does. But my students showed great patience with me, explaining where to find the things I needed in Stirling, and what the difference was between Raploch and Riverside, for example. They also suggested some great places I could go to at the weekend – though, sadly, I never did visit that Syrian restaurant in Glasgow. 

The other teachers were supportive too, taking on board my suggestions for their lessons and adding some of their own – I intend to steal the best of their ideas and tell my colleagues back home that I thought of them! The creche workers did a fantastic job through our Family Learning initiative and thanks to the hard work of those involved, it was yet another one of the successes we enjoyed.

The weeks went by so quickly. Students came and went – though many stayed with us for the whole four-week program – and I learnt so much about Syria, Sudan, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Brazil, Hungary, Spain… well, the list goes on. I shall miss many things about Stirling. I’ll miss the singing of the seagulls; I’ll miss the castle looking down on me as I walk to school each day; and I’ll miss my long walks by the river, the Wallace Monument sitting proudly in the distance. But more than anything I shall miss my students, those wonderful people who greeted me every single day with a smile, who kept smiling through our lessons (even when we spent a whole morning exploring conditionals!), and who still had a smile for me when we said our goodbyes at four o’clock. We explored Stirling together, as well as Edinburgh, Linlithgow, and Dunblane, and when I think about these places after I return home, I will remember most of all the time I spent with my new friends.


2019 marks the 35th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), when our school joins thousands of charities and voluntary organisations across Scotland to celebrate volunteering.

Our 54 volunteers are involved in tutoring international students, looking after students’ children, running administration and social media, raising funds, helping out at events and as trustees. 

To be a volunteer, it takes…

Generosity, a willingness to give your time to others
Understanding, because their lives might be very different from your own
Empathy, an ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they must feel
Compassion, to truly care about making someone else’s life better
Patience, because the process doesn’t always go as smoothly as it might
Dedication, to stick with the project and see it through

Our volunteers have shown these qualities and so much more, so we thank then for all they do.

”I continue to enjoy teaching at SSE and I always feel really happy when I’ve taught a class, there so this has a positive impact on my life in general.”

” Volunteering gives structure and purpose to my week and is motivating”

” The most rewarding about volunteering at Stirling School of English is friendships formed, trust and a widening of horizons.”

”The students can be so appreciative. It’s nice when you feel that they have improved with your help”

”It is interesting learning about the culture of other countries and meeting new people, especially young people”

Inspired by this year’s theme, Time to Celebrate, our volunteers celebrated by having a meal together at The Mediterranea Restaurant in Stirling on 5th June. Our students wrote thank you messages for them, too. Here’s some: 

Inline image
Inline image
Inline image
Inline image

Our Volunteers are the backbone of our school and we are extremely grateful for their work and support.

Here’s to the Volunteers’ Week 2019! 

International Supper and Ceilidh

To celebrate another successful academic session, we held an international supper and ceilidh in the Albert Halls on 30th May.

Sixty seven students, volunteers and friends each provided a plate of food from their own country to share. And what a spread it was, savoury and sweet, as well as Scottish tablet and fudge for afters!But that was not the end.

The evening continued with musical entertainment, Scottish tunes, ending with a very powerful rendition of 500 Miles sung with gusto by all. This tune now seems to be as popular as Scotland The Brave with our students!

Finally, it was time for the dancing, when everyone learned the steps of our favourite Scottish dances and participated with enthusiasm and great joy. During school holidays, a Summer School will be running. All information is on the website.

By Tricia Atkinson

National Vegetarian Week

To celebrate the 2019 Vegetarian Week Stirling School of English was funded by the Vegetarian Society to hold a special session for their English learners.

Instead of the normal day-to-day group learning of English, tutors and students alike took their place at tables to hear about the easy use of vegetables not only for a healthy diet, but also within a healthy budget. Shelley Kirk who runs the The Sunlite Café in Cowane Street in Stirling, provided knives, cutting boards, bowls and a wealth of vegetables, for all tables; and students set to create their own vegetable extravaganzas.

A dash of oil, a spoonful of mayonnaise, a mix of herbs and spices and a dollop of quinoa, yogurt, barley or whatever …  and the masterpieces served in cups or wraps were ready to photograph and share.

And of course the students practised their English too, in a real-life situation. The students were also challenged to replace their regular meals with at least two vegetarian/vegan meals every week and to participate in a competition to produce the best/most exotic/most varied dish. The prize, a healthy food hamper, will be presented to the winner at the International Supper and Ceilidh on 30th May in the Albert Halls (6:30pm).SSE would like to thank both the Vegetarian Society and the Sunlite Café for their support for this excellent day and invite everyone to the International Ceilidh.

by Tricia Atkinson

Summer School 2019

Classes take place from Monday-Friday 10am-4pm. On Wednesdays, we have a full-day excursion.

Creche is available for children under the age of 12 for £10/week. The deadline for creche registration is 18th May.

Our tutor coordinator this year is Christopher Walker. You can find more information about him by watching his youtube channel:

To register please email us the completed registration form with the assessment:

Easter Bonnet Competition

This year’s Easter Bonnet Competition started the school’s spring break.

The Easter bonnet is a type of hat that women and girls wear to Easter services, and (in the United States) in the Easter parade following it. Ladies purchased new and elaborate designs for particular church services, and in the case of Easter, taking the opportunity of the end of Lent to buy luxury items. Now, in a more casual society, Easter Bonnets are becoming harder to find, as fewer and fewer women follow the tradition.We started off with some sweet snacks brought by the students and volunteer tutors to give us some energy. Then, everybody got on with the work..

The judges (our chairman David Howes, volunteer tutor observer Gaele Macfarlane and a board member Norman) could see that everybody worked really hard on their bonnets. and put lots of imagination and effort into it.

As the students paraded and showed off their bonnets around the school, the judges were overwhelmed with both the quality and the amount of English spoken.

As usual the standard of entries was outstanding and it was even more difficult than ever to choose a winner! The 3 winners (Lilian, Hasnaa and Nora) received chocolate eggs.

Thank you to everyone for participating!

Annual Burns Supper and Ceilidh

We, at the Stirling School of English, held our Burns Night ceilidh on the evening of 24th January 2019 at Stirling’s Albert Halls to celebrate the birthday, life and achievements of Robert Burns, who is widely considered to be Scotland’s national poet.

To start our celebration, the haggis for our dinner was ceremonially piped into the hall, with Hugh reciting the poem “To a Haggis” as he cut it up. Our meal consisted of  a cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps (which are a kind of turnip) and mashed tatties (potatoes), followed by a chocolate-and-cream topped fruit trifle, which is a sweet and traditional dessert. We all had great conversations around the tables and made some international friends.

Margaret then delivered the ‘Immortal Memory’, a speech talking about the life and achievements of Burns, about his birth into a farming family and his rise to his status as Scotland’s national bard, with word of his poems spreading and putting his work in high demand. Catherine Burns recited his famous poem ‘To a Mouse’ and we were also told how he, of course, very much liked the ladies and would write love poems and record traditional songs across Scotland.

After this, our band for the evening played us some songs by Burns and fully engaged the assembled crowd, also adding the Proclaimers’ “500 Miles” to the list of songs, as this is a firm favourite.

This was followed by ceilidh dancing, expertly taught to us by Duncan and Margaret. It was a very successful evening and had a great attendance of people from around the world to celebrate this occasion.


New Class!

Our new class – LOCAL ACCENTS AND PRONUNCIATION – starts on 23rd January.

Wednesdays, 6:00 – 7:30 PM, at the Volunteer Scotland venue: Jubilee House, Forthside Way, Stirling FK8 1QZ. 
The classes will be based on recorded clips by local people and involve a lot of vocabulary learning, listening and role plays.

Further details:, 07925249243

Click here for directions :)!