New principal’s ambitious plans for Bute schools

Andy Ridgway outside St Andrew's with textbooks from the new maths curriculum.
Andy Ridgway outside St Andrew's with textbooks from the new maths curriculum.

The new principal of two Bute primary schools is hoping to transform the maths curriculum for his young charges, and rekindle a love for engineering.

Andy Ridgway took over North Bute Primary and St Andrew’s in March after a teaching career across Europe and Africa, with his last post being a headteacher’s role at an international school in Serbia.

North Bute Primary School in Port Bannatyne.

North Bute Primary School in Port Bannatyne.

He is now responsible for just over 100 students in the two primary schools, based in Port Bannatyne and Rothesay respectively, and he hopes to make maths fun and make engineering a viable career choice for more students.

Andy told the Buteman: “We will be the first school in Argyll and Bute to embrace the Primary Engineering initiative that my dad Professor Keith Ridgway has helped set up for us.

“We are due to take children from both our schools to see the factories my dad built and machine tooling to encourage them to go down the route of becoming engineers.

“We are basically aiming at primary level because once children get to secondary school level they have already made their choices away from Maths and Physics and it is too late.”

He also plans to introduce a new method of teaching maths, called Math - No Problem. Andy explained: “This programme is teaching children a conceptual understanding of mathematics and encouraging a love of Maths rather than teaching to pass a test which was the market failure of the text book market for the last 20 years.

“The programme is based on the ‘Jerome Bruner approach’, taking time to understand topics fully rather than rushing through it.”

He lives at the Straad, and said island life has made him feel very welcome.

He said: “The people here have been so welcoming, it really feels like a close community. The council has been very supportive in getting this new curriculum off the ground as well.”

Jacqui Shields, a teacher at St Andrew’s, is looking forward to implementing the Singapore Maths curriculum.

She said: “We are always looking for new ways to motivate and inspire the kids, and that’s why we’re interested in these new methods.”