February 2015

Published: 27 February 2015

Following a very successful trip to New York the group returned safe and sound – if a little chilly. It sounds as if the pupils had a brilliant time exploring all that the city has to offer. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen – parents, pupils and staff. I am sure that everyone who went has made memories that will last them a lifetime.

On Tuesday night senior pupils wended their way to the Lyceum Theatre to see Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”. It is described thus: “Written in the wake of the Second World War. This timeless parable continues to ask urgent questions about justice, and how to do right when the world goes wrong. The full epic sweep and scale of this powerful drama is brought to life by a large cast of actor musicians. Rich in music and song this production gives full voice to Brecht’s powerful tale of the terrible temptation to do good.” According to Ms. Whitfield it was an excellent production that will definitely help the senior pupils in their study of the play. Thanks to everyone who made that trip possible.

Yesterday some very excited pupils received their Raspberry Pi computers following success in the Skyscanner/Young Scot giveaway. Most were telling me that their evening was going to be spent getting the machines set up and running. It’s great to see so many pupils interested in technology to this degree. Today, a mixed-year group of pupils will be heading off to the National museum of Scotland to have a look at the “Game Masters” exhibition that is on there at the moment. It features over 100 games and the work of 30 videogame designers. According to the NMS website, “The exhibition explores the development of videogames through interviews with game designers, rare original game artwork and interactives, as well as looking forward to how independently produced games are leading the way in design, aesthetics and game play.” I suspect the staff and pupils are in for an entertaining afternoon.

Next week I look forward to seeing S4 and S5 parents on Tuesday evening to get the ball rolling for their course choice. We have been discussing options in classes already, but the choice process begins in earnest from then. We are also in the final throes of organising our Easter Revision timetable, which we hope to have out to pupils and on the website very soon. There will be classes running on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week – running over two hours in the mornings and two hours in the afternoons. I look forward to seeing the pupils taking advantage of this opportunity.

Have a good week.

S Ingham

Published: 13 February 2015

The week started with a veritable Twitter and media storm concerning one of our PE teachers – Mr MacKinnon, after his exploits on the football field (namely his majestic goal for Spartans against Berwick). He has been characteristically modest about it but we are all very proud of him.

In further sporting news, we have our fingers crossed for Amanda Martin who is competing as part of the Lothian Badminton Team in the Celtic Challenge Under-13 Team Event today. Amanda has been playing for a relatively short time and is showing great promise, so we are sending her all our good wishes.

Today pupils are dressing down to raise funds for our partner school in Rwanda. Given that some senior pupils have had their English and Maths prelims in the Hall this week; it is good to end on a slightly more informal note, and raise money for a great cause at the same time.

Tomorrow, a very excited group of senior pupils will be heading off (with some staff, of course) to New York. Hopefully they will have missed the worst of the February weather in the States, and will have a wonderful time. I look forward to hearing all their news when they return.

School shuts for the holiday today at 12.05pm and we re-open at the usual time on Monday 23rd February.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 06 February 2015

Following on from the well-attended S3 Information Evening last week, we had the S3 Parents’ Evening on Tuesday. Again, lots of interested and engaged parents turned up to find out how their youngsters are doing, and to get advice on choices for next session. Hopefully we will be able to accommodate all the pupils’ choices and give them the best possible educational experience. Next week we have coursing appointments for S3 pupils, and course choices need to be into the school by Friday 13th.

On Wednesday the Parent School Partnership met. We discussed issues in the school car park in mornings and I was able to report that we are going to be making some changes to the lay-out of the car park in order to alleviate some of the traffic issues we are having. Sad to say, if these measures are unsuccessful and we still have people making dangerous three-point-turns in front of the building, or folk speeding onto the campus, we will have to start shutting the school gates to everyone barring taxis and school buses. So, if you can drop your child near to the school and not drive onto the campus, I would be extremely grateful.

We also introduced our “S1 to S3 Tracking and Monitoring” plans to parents and will be talking to pupils about them in assemblies next week. The long term aim of this is to raise attainment. Each pupil will receive a "Learning Conversations" Booklet that they must look after carefully for the remainder of the session. Long term, this will mean that pupils will have to official learning conversations with each of their teachers twice per session (once before Christmas and once after). During these conversations the teacher and pupil will discuss their long term targets. Pupils will be asked to record these targets in their booklet and also consider the strategies they will need to use to meet these targets. The teacher will also record them within our management system. Pupils may be referred to Guidance if there is a concern that targets may not be reached and appropriate staff can then intervene to provide support. There will be a real responsibility placed on the learner to consider their own learning and next steps. Please encourage your child to look after their booklets (which will be issued in plastic wallets during assemblies next week).

Also on Wednesday I was delighted to hear that 37 of our pupils are to receive Raspberry Pi computers next week. Skyscanner and Young Scot teamed up to offer pupils from Edinburgh and Borders the opportunity to own a computer and the accessory kit, and there were 500 in the giveaway. Well done to all that applied.

If you remember earlier in the year I mentioned that some of our swimmers had qualified for the Scottish Schools Championship in Aberdeen. Congratulations go to all of them, but in particular Fiona Dickson who came 4th in the 100m Freestyle with a time of 1.02.38 and 5th in the 200m Individual Medley, completing that in 2.33.44. This was a very impressive display.

NHS Lothian have asked me to relay the following message about upcoming immunisations: Thanks to immunisation, diseases such as polio have disappeared in the UK. However, these diseases could come back as they are still seen in many countries throughout the world - which is why it’s so important for young people to get their jabs. Although they were probably immunised against tetanus, diphtheria and polio as a child, and may have some protection, they still need a teenage booster to complete the routine immunisations and give them longer-term protection. Likewise they need a booster dose of the MenC vaccine as a teenager to be protected from meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by meningococcal group C bacteria. The booster dose increases protection against MenC and is given at the same time as the tetanus, diphtheria and polio booster. These vaccinations are provided in school by the NHS Lothian school nurse team. If your child is due to be vaccinated you will receive a letter this week. Please ensure you read this and discuss vaccination with your children. Please ensure completed consent forms are returned as soon as possible to school. More information can be found on the Immunisation Scotland website.

Next Friday we are having a dress-down day to raise money for our partner school in Ruhanga, Rwanda. The funds will go towards ensuring that young people there get to stay on at school and get the qualifications they need. It just costs £1 and I would encourage everyone to join in. Please be aware, that whilst we are “dressing down” pupils need to remember to dress appropriately for school i.e. no really low-cut tops, hot pants, onesies, or clothing made of material that would cause a health and safety problem should they have to attend Science or Technologies that day.

School closes for the holiday at 12.05pm next Friday and everyone resumes on Monday 23rd February at the usual time.

Have a very good weekend.

S Ingham