Scottish Rugby’s hashtag opens doors for a talented young choir

Scottish Rugby’s hashtag opens doors for a talented young choir

What started as a classroom exercise in online communication and how to use a hashtag had a remarkable ending for a group of talented Scottish children at Scotland’s first summer Test at BT Murrayfield.

Some 15 children from Lochies School in Sauchie, Clackmannanshire, aged from Primary 2 to S1, were centre stage immediately ahead of the Scotland v France summer Test, before a capacity 66,181 crowd.

The children performed Scotland’s anthem, Flower of Scotland, using Makaton, an adapted form of British Sign Language.

Lochies is a specialist school for primary age children with severe and complex additional support needs.

Donna Wheater, the school’s depute head teacher, explained: “All of our children have multiple barriers to their learning and some barrier to their communication.

“Makaton is an adapted form of British Sign Language. It’s very energetic and you can get the gist of what the children wish to say and are feeling.”

The school has a Makaton Rocks choir and regularly performs songs from Disney movies and current pop stars like Jess Glynne.

But their journey to BT Murrayfield began when the children watched a Scotland match on TV.

“They were really inspired watching the preamble to a Scotland rugby game. When the piper played Flower of Scotland, they were extremely energised.

“Watching on TV, we found the whole atmosphere around a Scotland game very inclusive and very family-friendly. There was nothing when we were watching that made us think ‘that wouldn’t be suitable for our children’ and it really appealed to us.”

Miss Wheater added that as part of classroom work on digital communications and how to use hashtags, the Makaton Rocks choir, decided to post a video on YouTube of their own performance of Flower of Scotland and attached Scottish Rugby’s #AsOne to their post.

The post was seen on a Friday morning before a Scotland international by Scottish Rugby’s Chief Operating Officer Dominic McKay.

He said: “I’d defy anyone who saw the video that Lochies posted not to be moved by it. For us at Scottish Rugby our engagement with our supporters really matters and to see the sheer joy these children had through being ‘AsOne’ was very humbling.

“We then contacted Donna at the school and, I’m delighted to say, that we welcomed the Makaton Rocks choir to perform Flower of Scotland on Saturday.

“There are no barriers to being involved in rugby in Scotland and we know the children had a wonderful day.”

Miss Wheater added: “It was fantastic. It really showed the children how online communication can work, all through their efforts, a hashtag and Scottish Rugby.

“Working with these children is the best aspect of education. It’s the most rewarding and most satisfying. We are really making a difference to the children and their families on a daily basis.

“It sounds really cliched, but it is a privilege to work with the children who are achieving great things and progressing really well, even though they have these complex barriers to their learning and achieving.”

Scottish Rugby also welcomed a choir, Signed Songs R Us from the Tayside Deaf forum in Dundee last Saturday who signed Flower of Scotland using British Sign Language.

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