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WATCH: Plockton High School students learn traditional boat-making skills in the Am Bàta project with professional mentors

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Plockton High School Students learn traditional boat making skills with professional boat makers in the Am Bàta collaborative project, which has been running since 2007.

The project is a collaboration between Plockton High School’s technology department and the Ullapool-based professional boat-builder, Mark Stockl.

The project was originally started in response to many young people leaving school early as a result of limited opportunities locally.

The aim of Am Bàta is to help pupils build their entrepreneurial capacity, work in collaboration with others, whilst developing strong employability skills. The students are commissioned to build new boats and carry out repairs by private clients over the school year.

Vice-convener of Highland Council, Biz Campbell, said: “Launch day is an exciting event in Plockton! The celebration begins with a procession of the completed boat down the street which is always a fun spectacle for everyone involved. The community each year look forward to a shared moment of jubilation when the boat finally reaches the water after months of labour from our talented young people.

“Plockton is a beautiful coastal village. This project provides a service to our local community by building and repairing boats using traditional methods and materials while also preserving skills which have been handed down for generations.”

Education chairman, Cllr John Finlayson, said: “Having been a head teacher in Plockton for 12 years in the '90s, I know how important sailing and sea activities are to the local community and how important the traditional skills associated with boat-building are for both Plockton and the west coast generally. Involving our young people in education out with the classroom which develops practical skills is something I am keen to see happening in more schools and I congratulate Plockton High School and the local community for supporting the innovative and relevant Am Bàta project.”

A short 8-minute film was also made, highlighting the process traditional boat building project at Plockton High School is now available to watch on the Highland Council’s YouTube channel.

The short film features the staff, former and current pupils of Plockton High School, who share their thoughts on the project and the impact the project had, on themselves as well as the local community.

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