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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Fife

Waid Academy bolsters The Courier’s ‘Can It’ campaign

September 29 2016

Staff and pupils at Waid Academy in Anstruther threw their weight behind The Courier’s ‘Can It’ campaign earlier this year and pledged on Wednesday to keep backing the initiative in the weeks ahead. Several Fife secondary schools are supporting The Courier’s drive to ban caffeine-based fizzy ‘energy’ drinks from school premises in a bid to improve the health and wellbeing of the region’s youngsters. Specially designed ‘Can It’ water bottles are being given out to the new S1 cohort at participating schools as a thank you for signing up. Teachers said they plan to hold assemblies in the coming weeks to reinforce the ‘Can It’ message. The school’s health and wellbeing group has been raising awareness of the potential effects of such drinks, while Waid’s student congress has aimed to increase the number of water fountains on school premises. A deal was struck with the school’s PPP partners for one to be installed in the sports hall before the summer break. Rector Iain Hughes said: “We currently do not sell carbonated drinks from any outlet in the school but there is still a task ahead to limit the number of these being brought onto school premises. “We strongly believe that for the significant health benefits to our learners that we have to break down the culture of drinking energy drinks.” Teacher Jacqui Smith-Mackay added: “Now that they have the bottles, we’ll have an assembly to explain to the pupils why they have got them and there will be a big drive from our Health and Wellbeing Group. “We have mooted it around the school and have some of The Courier’s articles and photos from earlier in the year, but it’s something we’re keen to get behind. “We’ve got the Co-op nearby, the pupils have got the pocket blazers, so you’ll see them try to come in with energy drinks every morning.” Other Fife schools backing the campaign include Kirkcaldy High, Bell Baxter High, Lochgelly High, Balwearie High, Glenrothes High, Queen Anne High, St Andrew’s RC High and Inverkeithing High. The campaign was also endorsed by Fife councillors earlier in the year.

Fife

Kirkcaldy High encourages other schools to follow their lead after sweet success of sugary drinks ban

March 21 2016

Schools across Scotland have been urged to consider following a Fife school’s lead by banning sugary drinks altogether. Senior staff at Kirkcaldy High School made the bold and potentially controversial decision back in October 2013 to curb consumption of fizzy juice and energy drinks to improve pupil health and wellbeing. The school’s rector, Derek Allan, insists the move has been a success others would see the benefit of following. Chancellor George Osborne announced a sugar tax on fizzy drinks in his Budget last week. Mr Allan said he appreciated that the ban was not popular with all pupils and that it has been difficult to monitor, but said he was thoroughly in favour of the sugar tax dubbed the ‘Irn Bru Tax’ by some. He said: “The high sugar content is linked to tooth decay, obesity, diabetes and hyperactivity, and high caffeine intake is also known to be a potential harm to young people’s health. “It is the right thing to do and it shows our school’s commitment to health and wellbeing.” As well as the ban on sugary drinks consumption in school, parents and carers were asked to refrain from sending children to school with a packed lunch containing a can or bottle of any sugary soft drinks. While Mr Allan said that he was not naive enough to think no sugary drinks are ever smuggled into the school, he is sure that the symbolic stance Kirkcaldy High had taken had seen a positive impact over time. “It has made our young people think more about sugar intake, and that can only be a good thing,” he added. The school’s pioneering stance has once more come under a national spotlight at the Children in Scotland Food Matters conference in Edinburgh, with Kirkcaldy High’s achievement in tackling childhood obesity and diabetes highlighted. Many of the delegates attending the conference, including Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood, described the school’s sugar ban as a valuable and forward-thinking initiative and agreed it would go a long way towards tackling the massive problem faced by Scotland in terms of obesity and other diet related conditions. Pupils from Kirkcaldy High also offered their own input at the conference, sharing their experiences with health professionals and other interested parties. Vicky Mitchell, principal teacher of health and wellbeing, said: “It was great to see the pupils being involved in the debate and asked for their thoughts. “Choosing to study health and food technology, the girls already have a keen interest in health, nutrition and food and seeing them use this knowledge was excellent.” Kirkcaldy High School is known for its enlightened and proactive approaches to teenage health, and was awarded the Cosla Excellence Award in 2014 for ‘Reducing Inequalities and Improving Health’.

Rocktalk

Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Fife

End of term signals end of an era at Fife schools

July 1 2016

The end of the 2015/16 school session  also signalled the end of an era at three Fife secondary schools ahead of big changes after the summer. More than a century of education came to an end at Viewforth High School’s current building in Kirkcaldy’s Loughborough Road this week, while staff and pupils at both Kirkland High School in Methil and Buckhaven High School are now looking forward to life at Levenmouth Academy in August following their schools’ merger. Youngsters at Viewforth High, which opened in 1908, have already been given the chance to sample their new surroundings at the brand new Windmill Campus in Windmill Road, although Viewforth will very much still retain its identity moving forward. Fife’s first community campus will bring together a number of facilities that currently operate from standalone premises in the east of the town, most notably Rosslyn School, Sinclairtown Library and the Kirkcaldy East Local Office. However, Viewforth High has kept its name – and rector Adrian Watt hopes it keeps much more than that. “While the new school facilities are excellent I will not forget the comment of a youngster in my daily dozen (get together session) just after the new school was announced,” Mr Watt noted. “While I was enthusing about the wonderful new labs, computing facilities and sports pitches we would have, she brought me back down to earth with the comment: ‘Mr Watt, I hope the new building doesn’t spoil the school.’ “To her the school is more about the people than the fabric. “It’s those key relationships and that ethos of nurture and care which mean so much. “We must ensure that we take these Viewforth values with us – that sense of ambition and aspiration, those features of care and compassion, as well as that longing to serve the local community.” Meanwhile, pupils and staff have said their farewells at both Kirkland and Buckhaven High Schools as part of the transition arrangements following their merger. Buckhaven High School has many famous alumni, including Scottish Conversative leader Ruth Davidson and former First Minister Henry McLeish, and Kirkland High has also been home to many who have gone on to have notable careers, but a whole new generation of pupils will be looking to use the new Levenmouth Academy as a springboard to bigger and better things. Work started on the £45 million project in March 2015 and the new school, which will have capacity for up to 1,800 pupils making it the second largest secondary school in Scotland, will also be complemented by a brand new Fife College campus on site. That will be up and running when the new term starts on Wednesday August 17, with pupils also expected to turn up to school in their newly-designed uniforms. Craig Munro, Fife Council’s executive director of education and children’s services, said: “I am delighted that the children and staff of Buckhaven High School and Kirkland High School will shortly be enjoying the outstanding facilities of the new Levenmouth Academy. “These new facilities along with the new facilities for Fife College on the same campus places the Levenmouth Learning Campus in an unrivalled position nationally.”

Politics

Ruth Davidson insists the Conservative manifesto will be bursting with ideas

March 29 2016

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has pledged to unveil a manifesto "bursting with ideas" following internal party allegations that she has not presented any detailed policies. Jim Terras, chairman of the Selkirk Conservative and Unionist Club, has called for "policies or a detailed manifesto" and said Ms Davidson's performance in the first televised election debate was "very poor" in a steady stream of criticism on social media. Mr Terras has also pointed to several demands for detail on the ConservativeHome website, in response to Ms Davidson's article defending the UK Government's tax decisions and criticising those of her Scottish opponents. It follows a leak of an internal party document which claimed the manifesto will not present the Conservative plan for Scotland, but will outline how the party has changed and "what we will pressure the Scottish Government on in the next parliament". Ms Davidson rebuffed claims that her party has been silent on policy, insisting she has pledged to build 100,000 new homes, hand colleges £60 million, reform education from pre-school to post-secondary, reform Police Scotland and the courts, address the "target culture" in the NHS and invest in roads and digital infrastructure. She told the Press Association: "Maybe Jim doesn't read the papers but I can't say that we haven't been putting a lot of ideas out there. "We will have a full manifesto bursting with ideas. We have been the only people holding the Government to account on some of this stuff for months." Ms Davidson said she had not seen the leaked paper until it was published in the Daily Record, but said its central claim that "the manifesto will not be presented as Our Plan for Scotland" is "clearly false". She added: "A manifesto is all about policies and ideas, and that is exactly what ours is going to be as it has been at every other election." The Edinburgh Central candidate visited Little Learners Nursery in the south of the city to support Save the Children's Read On, Get On campaign and outline her education policies. "We have seen literacy and numeracy fall in Scotland," she said. "We also see a really big gap in young people from poorer communities and the better off and that gap grows as they progress through school, so it's something that you need to address. "We need to empower teachers more within our schools, so we want to have greater decision-making power for our headteachers and school leaders, such as hiring of staff, budgets and allocations. "Of the money that is designated to schools by the Scottish Government, 20% never reaches it to the school gates. It is spent and kept by councils. "Some of it is spent very well but we think some of it would be better spent by teachers." She called for a significant proportion of the £650 million coming to Scotland from the Chancellor's Budget to be spent on schools. Ms Davidson also highlighted the opposition of the education sector to the Scottish Government's plan to appoint a "named person" from health and social care to monitor the wellbeing of every child in Scotland. She said the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and the Association of Heads and Deputy Heads have raised concerns about the scheme, as have the Association of Scottish Social Workers, Police Scotland, the Law Society of Scotland and senior social workers. In her article for ConservativeHome, Ms Davidson said “middle earners in Scotland will be forced to pay £3,000 more in tax than people in England over the next five years” under the SNP’s income tax plans. “By the turn of the decade, the difference in take home pay for someone touching £50,000 will be £800 a year,” she said. “And, secondly, the additional rate may go up too.” She added: “Our message in this campaign will be that we will fight to keep people’s taxes as low as possible, not just because workers deserve to keep more of their own money - and they do - but also because it is good for Scotland. “I want to deliver the kind of balanced parliament that will make better decisions for all of us.” She said a Labour opposition will leave Scotland “on a high tax escalator” with “a high tax first minister being told by a high tax opposition leader that taxes aren’t high enough”. She added: “It is only the Scottish Conservatives which can stop that escalator in its tracks.”

Readers' letters

Ship deer over to Skye to save them?

March 11 2013

Sir, It was with some dismay and I must admit, some amusement, I read the letter regarding deer culling from Anne Haddow (March 7). She declares a cull by trained marksmen to be cruel, but surely this is better than a doe seeing her fawn being mown down by a car or lorry, or conversely the fawn being left with no mother and being extremely lucky to survive on its own? The truth is there are far too many for their own good and as spring and summer arrive with lighter mornings, they will soon be out in abundance at 5am, beside the roads bordering and going through Montreathmont Forest and other places, resulting in their death and damage to motor vehicles to be paid for by the owner. And yes, this is after taking extreme care, but their camouflage is good at the side of the road. Can I suggest that if Ms Haddow wishes to prevent their deaths through car strikes or culling, then she can arrange to ship a few thousand over to Skye, where she stays, from Angus and The Mearns and save us all a problem, with the inherent damage to gardens, crops, young trees and the foodstuff of other forest species. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were, as she states, on the hills, but the roe deer are not! Geoff Bray. Heather Croft, Letham, by Forfar. Other methods of note-taking Sir, Re your article on the HIS Ninewells report (March 5), the headline states “no written notes” were taken by the HIS inspectors, during the original September 2012 inspection. This gives the impression the inspection was “sloppily” carried out. These days, however, handwritten note-taking is an old-fashioned way to compile evidence and the inspectors almost certainly used “checklists” and utilised video and tape recordings. These will have been collated and incorporated into the final 24-page report which also contained “verbatim” quotes from patients. The Courier article also quotes Chief HIS Inspector Robbie Pearson as apparently implying the September Inspection was not a “formal” inspection, but I can only assume this was taken out of context. The report I downloaded from MSP Jenny Marra’s website was a formal final report and any suggestion otherwise is misleading to the public. The original report was not published but was “amalgamated” into a further HIS Ninewells inspection report after NHS Tayside challenged some of the findings. A full summary of the NHS Tayside requests for changes and the HIS final report can be accessed from the HIS website. Jennifer Helen Allan. 18 Grangehill Drive, Monifieth. A hackneyed reference Sir, Perth councillor, Elspeth Maclachlan, in her letter on the so-called bedroom tax (March 7) makes the hackneyed left-wing reference to “wealthy Tories”. Voters do not need to be wealthy to vote Conservative. They simply have a different outlook on life, wishing to stand on their own two feet, work hard, pay their way and, if possible, not look for state hand-outs. Simple arithmetic should tell the councillor all Conservative voters cannot be wealthy. There are so many that most of them must be of quite modest means, such as myself and my parents before me. On the other hand, Tony Blair is only one example of the many Labour politicians and voters who can be classed as very wealthy indeed, advocating comprehensive education and the NHS for other lesser mortals, but sending their children to private schools and making use of private clinics when ill. It is very similar to the situation in the old Soviet Union which I visited in 1961. The few cars to be seen on the streets of Moscow and the then Leningrad belonged to high-ranking Communist Party members who preached equal rights for all, except that some were more equal than others! George K McMillan. 5 Mount Tabor Avenue, Perth. Kirkcaldy pong has returned Sir, The Courier were very good over many years, (from 2001 to 2010) telling of the trials and tribulations facing the people of Pathhead, Kirkcaldy regarding the infamous Pathhead pong. The sewage works went on fire on February 2 I alerted the fire services at 3.30am on that date and the part that went up in flames was the newest part, the odour elimination area. So far, nothing has been done to eradicate the awful stench coming once again from that place. Now we find out that it will be another seven to eight weeks before a part can be found to repair the damage! Scottish Water haven’t a clue about customer relations or anything else. Their heads are firmly embedded in the Pathhead Sands. Norma Rutherford. East Lodge, Mid Street, Kirkcaldy.

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