APD Team’s Experience in Scotland, September 2019

The School Exchange Program by APD, India and Scottish Schools, Scotland

APD’s team of four enthusiastic individuals got a unique opportunity to visit Scotland, thanks to our generous sponsors and donors – Trinity High School, St Aidan's High School, St Ambrose High School, St Columbia's High School, St Mungo's High School of Scotland. The School Exchange Program by APD, India and Scottish Schools, Scotland lasted 15 days, from 1 September to 14 September 2019 during which the team learned much and shared stories, history and knowledge from India and APD.

The team comprised of Ramesh D Gongadi, Assistant Director, Strategic Partnerships; Ningappa, Coordinator, Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, Davangere; Lekha J, Manager, Livelihood, Bangalore; and Muninarayan, Coordinator, Inclusive Education, Vijayapura.

The APD team lands at Glasgow Airport on 31st Aug. 2019
The APD team lands at Glasgow Airport on 31 August 2019

“We visited ten schools during our trip. Among these, four were schools for children with special needs. All the schools ensure highest quality of education. They have very good infrastructure, with very good ratio of teacher to pupils and qualified and trained teachers. Children learn academic subjects and hone other aspects of life with life skills, personal growth, Science, Maths, sports and culture, food technology, ICT, law and protection, yoga, environment, Social Science, Political Science, Mental Health, music, Physical Education, social service, Hospitality, Carpentry, and more. The infrastructure meets the needs of every child. Utmost importance is given to both theory and practice. Children learn by doing.”, says Ramesh.

The team also got the opportunity to talk about the various programs, projects and activities implemented by APD to promote Inclusive Education and ensure quality of education among children with special needs.

Exchange with the Scottish Government

The APD team got the opportunity to listen to Scotland government officials present the recent policies for persons with disability including a policy on to increase the employment of differently abled people in the public sector. The government is doing excellent work in other areas including Education, Accessibility and Medical Rehabilitation.

The APD team spoke about activities at APD and its lifecycle approach, schemes implemented by the Government of Karnataka and the focus of recent policies on the achievement of Standard Development Goals (SDG) defined by the United Nations.

Lekha and the team shared about Livelihood related activities implemented by APD. Big thanks to the team of Trinity High School, Renfrew who arranged this important interaction. (Disability Exchange Program, an Initiative by APD and Scottish Schools)

With Scotland government officials
With Scotland government officials

Culture Exchange

The APD team made presented and shared the science behind various Indian traditions with the Scottish teachers and students. Several topics were covered such as why kumkum (red powder) is applied on the forehead, why cow dung cake is applied in front of houses, why people wish with Namaste (folded hands), reasons behind wearing topi (cap), women wearing bangles, having meals on a banana leaf etc. In the picture, you can see students wearing a topi and kumkum on the forehead.

Students sporting topis and kumkum
Students sporting topis and kumkum

The team also talked about the Indian flag, festivals and foods. All the teachers and students were eager to learn about Indian culture.

The team made Presentations on famous historical places of India such as Taj Mahal, Mysore Palace, Pattadakallu, Gol Gumbaz, Hampi, Char Minar, Gate of India, Golden Temple, Churches of Goa and more. The team also learned about various historical places of Scotland.

The team also shared information on famous Indian leaders such as Mahatma Gandhiji, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, Mother Teresa, Dr B R Ambedkar, Swami Vivekananda, Jagajyothi Basavanna, etc., during the School Exchange Program. The team taught some teachings of Jagajyothi Basavanna and some famous Kannada Proverbs such as Kayakave Kaialsa, Tayiginta Bandhuvilla Uppiginta Ruchiyilla etc., to the students.

Many thanks to Sachetha Gm, Belagavi team member, for the presentation preparation.

Visit to St Mungo’s High School

St Mungo's High School, Scotland started in 1953, has 300 students studying with over 100 teaching staff. The team saw that children are exposed to academic topics as well as life skills with subjects such as Life skills, Personal growth, Science, Maths, Sports and Culture, Food technology, ICT, Law & Protection, Yoga, Environment, Social Science, Political Science, Mental Health, Music, Physical Education, Social Service, Hospitality, Carpentry and more.

The schools’ infrastructure meets the needs of each child. Utmost importance is given to theory and practice, children learn by doing. Team APD talked about various activities implemented by APD to promote Inclusive Education and ensure quality of education among children with special needs.

APD team APD team honours the Head Teacher at St Mungo’s High School
APD team honours the Head Teacher at St Mungo’s High School

Visit to Trinity High School

The team was warmly surprised and touched to see APD’s visibility at Trinity High School. The pictures in this collage tell the story.

APD visibility at Trinity High School
APD visibility at Trinity High School

Students performed Scottish songs and dances during the cultural event held. The APD team performed Kannada movie and folk songs. Students of Trinity School performed a dance on the Indian song Jai Ho. An exchange of information also took place around Indian culture, food, dress, festivals, etc.

Visit to St Ambrose High School

St Ambrose High School is an international award winner. The team got a chance to participate in the Senior Awards Ceremony 2019 where the best performing students were awarded by the school. The team interacted with Mr Gerald McLaughlin, NLC Head of Education, Scottish Government and briefed him about APD. The team also conversed with Teachers, parents and students and enjoyed the food. It was a very fruitful day.

With Mr Gerald McLaughlin, NLC Head of Education, Scottish Government along with Head Teacher of St Ambrose High School
With Mr Gerald McLaughlin, NLC Head of Education, Scottish Government along with Head Teacher of St Ambrose High School

The APD team taught Scottish students few Indian rural games such as Lagori, Bugari, Chinni Dandu and Gothi. It was good fun and the students enjoyed the games. The team distributed a set of all these game materials to all the schools APD visited. There was good discussion on the activities at APD, the story of our founder, N S Hema, famous historical places of India, Indian marriages, and life stories of team members as well. Muninarayan and the team taught the students the Indian Sign Language.

Students learning Indian rural games
Students learning Indian rural games

Many thanks to APD team members Muninarayan, Lekha and Ningappa who arranged these games. This was an Indian and Scottish Sports and Games Exchange Program by APD India and Scottish Schools (School Exchange Program).

Visit to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland

A visit to one of the largest acute treatment hospitals in the United Kingdom and home to specialist services, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland, was a revelation. The team was exposed to one of the best West of Scotland Mobility and Rehabilitation Centre.

Many thanks to St Aidan's High School for arranging this visit. Good insights were gained on best practices at the rehabilitation centre.

APD team at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland
APD team at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland

Visit to St Francis Xavier's RC Primary School

The team visited one of the biggest primary schools in Scotland, St Francis Xavier's RC Primary School. The speciality of this school is that the students hail from 84 countries. The team interacted with few students from India.

APD team at St Francis Xavier's RC Primary School
APD team at St Francis Xavier's RC Primary School

Visit to Rosslyn School

Rosslyn School is one of the best schools for children with special needs. Team APD presented various activities being implemented by APD. They were exposed to good practices being implemented by Rosslyn School for the all-round development of children with special needs.

Exposure to best practices at Rosslyn School
Exposure to best practices at Rosslyn School

Visit to Firpark Secondary School

At Firpark Secondary School, Motherwell, Scotland, one of the model schools for Children with Special Needs, the team was happy to see children learned horticulture and had planted and grown many vegetables, flowers and trees in the school garden.

Learning and memories of a lifetime for all team members

There were many good things to learn such as:

  • The infrastructure developed to suit the needs of the children at various schools.
  • Pupil Support Departments where the needs of children with learning difficulties were addressed in a planned manner with active engagement of experts and parents.
  • Imparting life skills development and ICT at the school education level.
  • Fund raising for a cause - learnt how the students engage in resource mobilization - they have made APD labels, planned a size and design of donation boxes to attract donors.
  • Inculcating a ‘Growth’ mindset wherein learning is displayed on charts to adopt and teach others wherever possible.

The exchange program was an unforgettable experience for the APD team. Their learning and memories give us more peeks into their beautiful experience and unique perspectives.

Ramesh D

Dear Friends and Well Wishers, back to mother land. For 15 days, I had a most memorable and wonderful trip to Scotland UK. I can say this is the most important part of my life. I never expected this great opportunity. I thank my organization, The Association of People with Disability, India for giving me this golden opportunity. A big thanks to the whole family of APD for their constant support and encouragement.

In Scotland, each moment was a new experience and learning. We were able to see and learn good practice and are eager to share our experience and learning with our team members, partners, friends and family members.

Thanks to all kind-hearted and wonderful team of the head teachers, teachers and students of Trinity High School, St. Aidan's High School, St. Ambrose High School, St. Columba's High School, St. Mungo's High School and the Schools of Children with Special Needs. They have been a great support during the visit.

APD team in Student Exchange Program, Scotland

Thanks to our team members Lekha, Muninarayan and Ningappa for the great teamwork. I missed my family and friends and my loving children, very eager to see them. Thanks everyone for your best wishes and words of encouragement. 🙏🙏


My observations:

  • Education system was good.
  • Teachers used smart board in all classrooms and online methods.
  • Teachers teach based on children’s interest.
  • Teachers focus on talent, ability and effort.
  • The ratio of 10 children to 1 teacher ensures personalised teaching.
  • Children learn 12 subjects including language, music, cooking, sports and drawing.
  • Many learning materials were used, especially online.
  • Teachers show great commitment, dedication and time management.
  • The children exhibited good discipline and communication.
  • In some schools, I observed the Scotland police working for security purpose.
  • No air pollution, no sound pollution, totally clean city.
  • The special school was excellent. New disability friendly equipment was there in the schools such as a modern wheelchair, special hearing aids, sensory classrooms, specialized therapy materials and rooms.
  • Free of cost health treatment in government hospitals was provided including free cochlear implants.
  • Scotland government has a good livelihood scheme for persons with disability.
  • Time management and volunteer support is high.
  • The Disability Act is included in all sectors.
  • There were no traffic police because all were aware about traffic rules.
  • The historical places such as the Museum, University, old church, bridges were memorable places.
APD team teaching rural games of India to students in Scotland


I found the classroom system very well organized with technical Digi boards and iPads. Every teacher had their classrooms with required theory and practical resources. A pupil support program was in place to mould every pupil into a responsible citizen. The students had the option to switch to their interest areas such as Beauty and Wellness, Technical Engineering, Carpentry, Art, Music, Home Economics, Languages, Horticulture, Maths and Calculation, Social Science, Science, Information Technology and Communication.

The police were involved as staff to educate on crimes. Book authors were involved to increase the reading passion in pupils.

From the livelihood perspective, seeing the weekend hotel and saloons was interesting at Firpark Secondary school. The one-to-one on an individual person with disability was great to see. The Rosslyn Special school’s Model of Adolescence daily living model and sensory classroom set, and park was interesting.

The Government offers comprehensive facilities in Early Education, Education, Skilling, Rehabilitation, Housing and Health. Priority is given to ecosystem management, self-transportation and travel management system implementation and equality for women and disability. The initiative from the government was amazing.

APD at the hospital


For 15 days, I had a most memorable and wonderful journey of Scotland. This is a great opportunity in my life, one I never expected. I thank APD for this golden opportunity. Thanks to my APD family for the constant support and encouragement. I learned so many new things and good practices. Thanks to the kind-hearted and wonderful team of teachers and students of all the Scottish Schools.

Scotland is a small country, more resources, less population. It is a green and clean city. No air pollution, sound pollution or traffic. The Scottish government has good rules and regulations that citizens follow strictly.

The Scotland government provides all the necessities free for the special needs of persons with disabilities.

The education systems were very good. Twelve subjects were taught in the schools including Designing & Craft, Beautician, Cooking, Music and Dance, ITC, Carpentry, Drawing & Sports. Good teaching methods, well qualified teachers, using smart board in all classrooms.

Teachers taught through online classes. The students dress code, discipline, leadership & communication were very good. In the school, first preference was given to safety and security. Every school campus had one police room with one policeperson on duty. School police also takes classes for safety & Security.

We visited specials schools. They had very good infrastructure, instruments, well qualified staff, free services from the Scottish government for transportation, education, rehabilitation like surgery, therapy, mobility, accessibility and vocational new modern wheelchair, hearing aids, sensory classrooms, specialized therapy materials and green rooms.

APD at the Senior Awards CEremony

Thank you again from APD to the supporting schools in Scotland for this exceptional opportunity through the Exchange Program. We hope the journey continues and our organisations benefit from the sharing of knowledge, practices and most of all, empathy.  

Author: Ramesh Dundappa Gongadi

Editor: Monica Samuel

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