Grandbuddies Project


P3 pupils in St. Vincent’s Primary School in East Kilbride completed a class project on “My Community” and, after some research, the experiential Grandbuddies Programme fitted the bill perfectly involving history, social studies and science. It also brought the project to life, perfectly exemplifying the Curriculum for Excellence, building community bonds and helping to reduce social isolation. The Project involved 23 P3 (6-7 year olds) and 14 local people all aged over 60 years.

What happened

The participants included 14 local elderly people from St Vincent de Paul Church, 5 “Scotland Reads” paired reading initiative in St Vincent’s Primary and 24 P3 pupils.

The local Church rep from St Vincent’s Primary Parent Council and volunteer with Scotland Reads agreed to ask members of the “Tea and Toast” Club which ran at the local church. The Home School Partnership (HSP) Worker at the school asked the Scotland Reads Volunteers if any of them would like to take part. The HSP Worker had also approached the Depute Head Teacher with the idea and she felt it would be a perfect with the P3 class as they were undertaking a project entitles “My Community”. She approached the class teacher who was very enthusiastic about the idea and eager to become involved. The teacher was especially keen as the Programme also covered the science part of the curriculum.

The facilitators, one Community Learning Worker and one Home School Partnership Worker worked with the class on 2 consecutive weeks for 90 minutes prior to the Grandbuddies being introduced. The pupils discovered how many of our traits and characteristics are inherited from our family. They discussed their views on age and ageing and learned that growing older is a process of growth, development and change. The pupils were prepped for the welcoming the Grandbuddies to their school and thought out questions they would like to ask them in relation to what they’d been learning.

The Grandbuddies took part in the following 4 sessions of 1.5 hours each. They were shown around the school by the pupils and “interviewed” by their own group of 3 pupils each, the Grandbuddies engaged with the pupils asking what the pupils do for entertainment, what they learn in class and shared with them what things were like “in their day”. They shared photographs with each other of themselves when they were younger. They took part in a “Simulation Centre” activity where the Grandbuddies led their group of pupils round different experiential activities focusing on changes to the senses such as hearing loss, changes in clarity of vision, changes in ability to touch, taste and smell to show how these changes can affect daily living. This session was particularly enjoyed by all.

The pupils and Grandbuddies invited the pupils families into the school to show what they’d been learning about each other, and finally a Celebration took place where the pupils visited the Tea & Toast Club, shared cakes with the Grandbuddies and everyone received a Certificate to show their learning from the Project.

Benefits for the Community

• Less generational conflict and understanding
• Built upon social capital and participation
• Assisted in countering ageism experienced by the young and old
• Values the contribution of all its members
• Better cohesion and connection
• Brought people together and friendships were formed

Benefits for the Younger People

• Ability to to differentiate learned from inherited characteristics
• Ability to understand the relativity of the terms young and old
• Increased recognition of the unique individuality and diversity of people of all ages
• Became more aware of their attitudes towards ageing and older people
• Learned more about the ageing process and the physical changes that occur as people grow older
• Increased understanding how living with physical and sensory changes affects older people
• Dispelled myths about what is true and what is not true about ageing and older people
• More appreciation of the roles of older people
• Increased perception of long life as an opportunity for continuous growth and development, not as a late life process of decline

Benefits for the Older People

• Increased motivation, sense of self-worth and increased confidence in being around children again
• An increased sense of purpose
• A valued identity and role
• Acquired new skills and built on and consolidated existing ones
• Investing time and knowledge in future generations and leaving a legacy
• An opportunity to foster and nurture
• Participating and feeling linked into a community
• Making new friends and reducing social isolation
• Challenged negative stereotypes of ageing and older people
• Felt energised and had fun
• Feelings of achievement from having an impact with others and changing negative beliefs
• Being a voice and representing a generation
• Reducing/challenging stereotypes and stigma
• Developed cross generational linkages within the community


Community Learning & Home School Team East Kilbride & Strathaven (CLDHSP Team), Inclusion Team, Education Resources & South Lanarkshire Council


• The pupils completed a questionnaire on the idea of ageing and older people at the start and end of the Programme
• Grandbuddies and teacher completed an evaluation format the end of the Programme
• Photographs were taken and anecdotal evidence was noted

What did and did not work

• The teachers engagement in the process was invaluable to the success as was the DHT, the janitor and the dinner ladies who all worked around the Programme to help us
• Having a school/church link worked very well for enlisting Grandbuddies and keeping in touch
• The simulation centre was one of the most enjoyed activities but equipment could have been better to make experiments work better
• We could have been clearer on which weeks to bring along memorabilia to share
• The family celebration worked very well as the teacher had worked with the pupils in-between sessions and prepared songs for the pupils to sing and organised that herself
• Make the letter exchange instructions more clear to everyone
• The Grandbuddies met the Scottish Children’s Commissioner, Tam Baillie, who was very interested in the Programme and “tweeted” very favourably on the visit.
• Tweak some of the exercises to make it easier to evaluate
• More clarity on some of the exercises will be more helpful to the next Programme
• Making the Memory Books for the participants was painstaking and time consuming so rethink process
• Try to cut down on larger groups as the Grandbuddies found it difficult when the children were excited and all tended to talk at once. One Grandbuddy per 2 children would be ideal.

What changed

• A positive relationship has been built between the school, the Tea & Toast Club, and the Scotland Reads volunteers. The P3 teacher has requested the Grandbuddies come back to help volunteer with the Outdoor Project, working with pupils from P1-P7, building further relationships


“I absolutely loved taking part in the Grandbuddies Programme. Each week was so different and the Programme was very well organised”
“I really didn’t know what to expect from it at first but I’m glad I went along to find out and now I want to sign up to take part in it again!”
“The pupils were so eager to learn from us what life was like when we were little. It was wonderful connecting with children again as ours are all grown up and living away now”
“I loved showing the Grandbuddies around our school and telling them about all the stuff we do”
“I loved looking at the Grandbuddies photos of when they were wee. It was funny that they were once the same size as us and went to school”

Local Priorities

Community Learning & Development Home School Partnership Service Plan:
Community Learning: Continue to offer opportunities, build parental capacity within schools and the wider community by:
• Reduction in social isolation
• Increased confidence and self esteem
• Increased community cohesion
• More community involvement in schools and wider community

Ensure promotion of wellbeing is at the centre of all activity by:
• Increase confidence and wellbeing

Increased awareness of wellbeing outcomes. Continue to offer curricular activities incorporating the 4 capacities of curriculum for excellence.
• Improved lifelong learning
• More effective contributors
• More responsible citizens
• More active learners
• More confident individuals

Scottish NPF Objectives

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).

SMARTER – Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

These NPF objectives could also apply:

SAFER & STRONGER – Helping communities to flourish becoming stronger, safer places to live, offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.

HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

Scottish NPF Outcomes

Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.

We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect it and enhance it for future generations

We live longer, healthier lives

We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger