January 2015

Published: 30 January 2015

This week the assemblies have been led by senior pupils talking about online safety. It’s a big thing for pupils to run assemblies for other pupils, and they get nervous no matter how old they are. The seniors acquitted themselves very well and hopefully got their point across to the younger pupils. We were also lucky enough to have visitors from SCILT (Scottish Centre for Information on Language Teaching) to talk to pupils from S2 and S3 on the benefits of studying languages.

It was a pleasure to welcome parents from P5, P6, P7 and S3 to school on Wednesday for information evenings about the National Qualifications and the transition from S3 to S4. I hope that we managed to give people a decent overview of how we tackle the National Qualifications here at Knox and reassured parents that we have everything in hand. Remember, if you have any concerns about how your youngster is doing, or how they are progressing, get in touch with either their Guidance Teacher or Head of House (DHT).

Yesterday I had four very excited pupils into my office after their trip to the “F1 in Schools” competition. Findlay Wallace, Archie Goddard, Connor Moore, and Andrew Syme beat off stiff competition from older, more experienced teams to win the “Best Engineered Formula One Car” prize. Far from being satisfied, and sitting back to enjoy their success, they have assured me that they will be in the workshop next week to get ready for the next competition. They also paid tribute to the support from Ms Leggatt in the Technologies Department who has helped and supported them all the way through the design and manufacture process.

Last night I attended, what has become, one of the highlights of the session: The Burns’ Supper. It was organised by the Knox Academy Support Group and everyone pitched in to help. The whole evening was kept together by Mr Blair who acted as Master of Ceremonies. The haggis was piped in by Grant Campbell and was processed by our “chef” Connor Lynn, and Mrs McInnes addressed the Haggis with gusto. Hamish Moodley delivered the Selkirk Grace with aplomb and the food got underway being beautifully served by some of our junior pupils. The musical entertainment was brought to us by the pipers (Ewan Naysmith, Ninian Wilberforce – who got proceedings off to a flying start with his solo, Grant Campbell, Josh Marsh and Alexander Hogg) and drummers (Clara Wilberforce, Hannah Green, Ciaran Gibson, Amy Kean, and Claire Thomson), the Goats’ Toes, and Georgia Herriot, who gave us a haunting rendition of “Ae fond kiss” accompanied by Naomi Rogers on violin. Caitlin Wright and Perry Stewart read “A man’s a man for a’ that” and we were to have seen videos made by Jenny Vischer, Sophie Charbonnier, Anna Horsburgh and pupils from 1L2, but were thwarted by technology on the night (their work will be on the website, though). Mr Illingworth was charged with giving the “Immortal Memory” and we were treated to his thoughts on Burns, John Knox and John Muir – there was a truly East Lothian flavour to his words. The Head Boy (Calum Paul) then gave his “Toast to the Lassies”, making wry observations about the differences in the sexes, and Annabel Jackson (Head Girl) replied on the Lassies’ behalf. They both spoke with wit and wisdom. The evening flew by and everyone left in high spirits and with smiles on their faces. None of it would have been possible without the hard work and support of the KASG team. Special thanks should also go to Mrs Ball for cajoling people to take part and getting us all organised.

Can I ask again that parents do not bring their children onto the school campus by car unless it is absolutely necessary? The congestion in the car park is getting worse and, in attempts to avoid it, drivers are making ill-advised manoeuvres that are endangering the health and safety of others.

Next week we have the S3 Parents’ Consultation Evening on Tuesday from 5pm until 7pm and there is a PSP meeting on Thursday at 6.15pm. I look forward to seeing you there.

Have a great weekend.

S Ingham

Published: 23 January 2015

The week began with my challenging the S4 at assembly to think about what they would achieve this week. I know that it can be very difficult in the face of workload and pressure to actually see the wood for the trees and encouraging pupils to prioritise and set goals for themselves is essential. It is especially important for the current S4 as we get into increasingly frequent cycles of assessment. I would encourage pupils to make good use of their diaries, making sure that they note everything down and then plan what they need to do each week. There were some revision classes being offered before Christmas and still more are coming on stream around now. We recognise that between now and Easter is full-on for our S4-6 pupils and do our best to support them. Please check the website or give the school a call if you want to know about revision classes and further support. The National Parent forum has some good advice for parents on how to support their youngsters and can be accessed here: http://www.npfs.org.uk/national-5-revision-in-a-nutshell/

Yesterday we had our S1 Parents’ Evening. It is fair to say that there was many a smiling face from both staff and parents at the end of the evening. The parents that I spoke to seemed happy with the support that we offer their children and feedback was being well received and hopefully acted upon. It’s great to have enthusiastic and proactive parents who work in partnership with the school – after all, we all want the same thing – the best possible outcome for children.

I have a few reminders for next week:

On Monday we have the photographer in to take the S3 photos. Can you please ensure that your youngster is properly attired in Dress Code. As I know from experience – these photos last a lifetime, so it’s as well to make sure that you look as smart as possible in them.

On Wednesday we are looking forward to meeting some of our prospective parents from P5 to P7 at an evening about the National Qualifications. Doors open at 5.30pm and we will have various presentations, refreshments, and an opportunity to talk to staff until 6.30pm. At 6.30 pm we welcome our S3 parents whose children will be going through the coursing process in the next few months. Primary parents are welcome to stay for the second meeting if they are interested. It would be good to hear from the P5 to P7 about attendance – so, if you are coming please drop the school an email or give us a call.

Finally, on Thursday we have our Burns’ Supper. Tickets at £5 for children and £10 for adults. It is usually a great evening with good food and entertainment. Tickets can be obtained from anyone on KASG or, more specifically, from Mrs Ball. I look forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime, have a very good weekend.

S Ingham

Published: 16 January 2015

It’s been an interesting week given the weather – I hope that everyone managed to get through the wind, rain and, in some cases, snow unscathed. As ever the school remains open unless you hear otherwise via the website or local radio.

On Monday and Tuesday we welcomed Andy from “Tree of Knowledge” who came in to speak to S2 about resilience and to the S3 about “Growth Mindset”. The workshops were based on the work of Professor Steve Peters (This Chimp Paradox) and Professor Carol Dweck (Mindset). The pupils found the sessions entertaining and engaging and Andy has challenged them all in their thinking and actions. We will be revisiting these workshops with the pupils in three months’ time to see what impact they have had on their thinking and learning. We were also lucky enough to be offered a parents’ session on Monday night that was well attended.

Every morning this week we have been hearing about the school’s partnership with Ruhanga School in Rwanda. Over the years we have raised money and taken stationery and sports’ equipment out there to help staff and pupils get the most out of their education. Listening to the presentation really makes me think about how lucky we are here, that most of us think nothing about buying new pens and pencils, and take school equipment for granted. We are hoping to continue our support for the school by having a “Dress-Down Day” on Friday 13th February. We would ask all pupils who take part to donate a pound, which will go towards paying for some 13 year old pupils to carry on with their education. I hope that you feel able to support us in this.

Moira Young author of Dustlands Trilogy visited the school on Wednesday this week. The event was organised by Mr Plain, School Librarian, and the English Department with colleagues from Scottish Book Trust. Moira spoke to S2 pupils about how her family life stories inspired her writing and how everyone has a story inside them. As well as reading extracts of the first novel, Blood Red Road, and playing the book trailer; pupils heard how it is being developed for film by director Ridley Scott. A trained opera singer, Moira ended her visit with an aria from The Marriage of Figaro. Pupils had a chance to purchase books, collect an autograph and talk one to one with Moira about their writing. Moira was full of praise for our pupils and said what a great audience they were.

There are a couple of events coming up that we would love to see you at. The first is the Burns’ Supper on 29th January from 7pm. Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for pupils. It is a great event with plenty of good food and entertainment. One of our Young Enterprise teams is putting on a talent show (they originally wanted to do it earlier in the year but it had to be postponed). It will take place on the 11th February at 7pm and tickets are on sale in school as I type.

Next week I look forward to meeting our S1 parents as they come in for their first Parents’ Night. It takes place on Thursday, 22nd January, between 5pm and 7pm. Pupils should have brought home a letter and should be signing their parents/carers up for appointments.

Have a good week.

S Ingham

Published: 09 January 2015

Happy New Year one and all!

After the whirlwind of celebrating Christmas and getting all the UCAS forms signed off, the beginning of term has been no less busy.

Firsty I would like to welcome Mr Easton and Ms Kirkwood to theScience Faculty.

Some of the S6 have returned with university offers already and all the senior pupils are looking at an eleven and a half week dash towards the Easter Holidays. I spoke to the S4 to S6 pupils about this, reassuring them that there is a lot that can be done in that time, but that it will take focus and commitment. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you or your youngsters.

The PSP met on Wednesday evening. Given the proximity to the start of term, it wasn’t an overly long meeting. However, there was the chance to reflect on all the wonderful end-of-term events from Christmas Boxes, to the concert, to the panto, to the YPI finals. It’s great to hear that everything we do is so appreciated.

There are a number of events coming up, the highlights being the S2 and 3 Parents’ Evening for the Tree of Knowledge seminars that are happening next week. S2 and 3 parents are invited along to the Hall at 6.30pm on Monday night to hear about what the pupils will be experiencing. We have had 40 responses to the letter that we put out before Christmas with the invitation. If you didn’t see the letter or haven’t yet responded, could you let us know that you will be coming. Also, one of our more popular social events: The Burns’ Supper will be held on Thursday 29th January at 7pm. Please put that date in your diary so that you are quick off the mark when the tickets go on sale.

I notice that there is snow forecast over the weekend. I hope that that doesn’t mean we are going to have a miserable January/February weather-wise, but, just in case, could you make sure that you have discussed travel and going-home arrangements with your child should we have to send pupils home owing to poor weather conditions.

Thank you and have a very good week.

S Ingham