May 2015

Published: 29 May 2015

It has been a really good week this week.

We’ve had pupils all over Europe and East Central Scotland learning and enjoying time away from the normal timetable. I’ve had tweets from Barcelona and Venice, alongside those from the Cycling Group and Climbers out at Ratho. It looks like everyone has been having a ball (despite multiple punctures for the cyclists early in the week). In school, the S1s have been visiting various attractions – The National Museum of Scotland and Blair Drummond Safari Park to name but two. On Tuesday, I had the real pleasure of judging one of the enterprise group’s work on board games. The effort that they had put into developing, branding and advertising their games was superb. The adverts were particularly good; however, the pupils did look askance when I mentioned that we’d keep them to show at their S6 Leaving Ceremony (I suspect I might receive some bribes to get them destroyed before then!) Yesterday, some pupils came to interview me about Activities’ Week and it ended up that our chat ranged from trips to the new timetable that starts on Monday. All in all it has been another really successful week for us and it is completely down to the hard work of Mr Taylor and Mrs Weir (for coordinating the whole week), the staff for organising trips and packages, and the pupils for being engaged and enthusiastic. Thank you all!

As I mentioned, the new timetable starts on Monday. We are in the process of printing off individual timetables for pupils and getting things sorted so everyone can hit the ground running as of 8.56am on Monday. The only people who won’t be here to get started are the new S4 who will be away on work experience. I hope that they have a good week and that they get everything out of it that they need to. Massive thanks to the Guidance Staff for getting this organised (again, ably assisted by Mrs Weir – she will need a lie down in a darkened room by next weekend).

Also, next Friday sees us host a whisky tasting experience at Knox between 7pm and 9pm to raise funds for our new piano. It costs £20 and you get to sample six malts, learn and bit about them and hear some wonderful piano music. If you would like to attend drop me an email via the school email address and I’ll add your name to the list.

Have a great weekend.

S Ingham

Published: 22 May 2015

The Italy trip got away this morning at the ungodly hour of 3am (no, I wasn’t there to wave them off), and so begins Knox Academy’s Activities’ Week. And, what a week it is. It’s a great opportunity for youngsters to spend time with people they wouldn’t normally, and to get to know staff a bit better and in a different context. Equally it’s a chance for staff to see pupils in a different light and watch them grow and blossom as they try new things. It really is a jewel in the Knox crown and I have to say a massive thanks to Mr Taylor and Mrs Weir for organising it. The planning process pretty much begins as one Activities’ Week ends, and is relentless. I hope that all the pupils enjoy their week, be they in Spain playing football, in West Lothian sailing, climbing at Ratho or running round Blair Drummond. I look forward to hearing how it went on Friday morning.

The East Lothian Youth Games managed to happen this week, thanks to a glorious day on Wednesday. 450 young people from the six secondary schools took part in sports as diverse as football and golf. For the first time in a number of years, Knox managed to field complete teams in most events (well done on the “engagement”, folks!). We came joint third – a result no one can complain about and some particularly pleasing feedback from the event organiser was that “the respect that Knox participants showed to their opposing teams, the officials and each other was most impressive, as was the pride that was evident in representing their school.” I am generally very proud of the pupils, but it’s moments like this that I allow myself a self-satisfied grin – so well done everyone! Massive thanks to Mr Wands and the PE staff for organising our end of the event, accompanying, and encouraging the pupils.

In other sporting news I have to congratulate Amanda Martin in S1, who has been playing badminton to an extraordinarily high level. She is now achieved national ranking in her age group and is ranked 3rd in the country for singles, 2nd for doubles and is top ranked in mixed doubles. That is an enormous achievement and down to her hard work and strength of character. We couldn’t be prouder of her.

On the 29th & 30th of May. The ‘Jam Packed’ Computing Project is coming to deliver its first event in Scotland. The project is funded by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and RM Education. They’ve been having an 18-month tour with 18 free Jam Packed Community Computing Festivals. There are 3 events over the 2 days that are open to pupils and parents. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for updates and information. Tickets are free but you must register beforehand. If you have any questions, please get in touch with Mr McSwan at school.

And finally, we had our last PSP meeting of the session on Wednesday. Thank you to everyone who came along. We had a presentation from Max Sykes of Canon UK regarding an exciting project that we are working on together. (More of that in further updates). I would also like to extend my thanks to all PSP members (and other parents) who turn out to these meetings, and who are so supportive and positive – the partnership we have makes a big difference.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 15 May 2015

This morning I had the great pleasure in speaking to some of our outstanding S1 Geographers. Sophie Milne, Gregor Naysmith, Alicja Malek, and Sarah Turner have all produced very high quality investigations into a country of their choice. It was a real pleasure to discuss their work with them and congratulate them on the huge amount of effort that they had put into their work. Engagement is one of the core values of Knox Academy and it is great to see pupils demonstrating it.

Similarly, yesterday I managed to make it along (albeit briefly) to one of the "Soup, Smoothie and Sandwich" cafes that have been run by the Business Education Department witheS1 pupils. The have been working to develop their food item, have costed it, and got a chance to make it this week. It was great to see so many parents in to sample the food and give feedback. I personally tried a couple of smoothies and a particularly fine mushroom and thyme soup with doughballs. Thanks to Mr Flood, Mr Dempster, Mr McFarlane, Mrs Alison, Mrs Jackson, the pupils, staff ad parents for making the week such a success.

We have also had some sporting visitors in school to speak to pupils. Kerry MacPhee, a mountain bike and triathlon specialist came in under the aegis of "Champions in School", to share her experiences, understanding and mindset with pupils. We also welcomed Michelle Vidler from "Sky Sports Living For Sport" programme in to talk to the School of Rugby pupils. She emailed the school to say: “My favourite bit of the visit had to be (and sadly involves no input of my own!) where the kids shared with the group what had been their most significant gain so far from their school of rugby journey. I found the answers - more confidence, better teamwork capabilities, improved fitness - to be really uplifting and totally in line with what SSLFS is all about.” It’s great to have what we have thought confirmed by visitors to the school.

Last night, I had the great pleasure to be invited to dinner at Leuchie House – an establishment that provides high quality respite care for people and their families living with long-term physical conditions. Some of our senior pupils had chosen Leuchie House as their charity for the Youth Philanthropy Initiative presentation earlier in the year and we hope to develop our association as time goes on. Thanks to the staff and guests for making me feel so welcome.

In other news, it looks like Activities’ Week is coming together nicely – trips are planned, itineraries are finalised - it’s just the weather that we need to sort out. If your youngster is going on a trip, please make sure that they have the appropriate clothing and equipment when they leave the house in the morning.

A reminder that school is closed to pupils on Monday 18th May owing to a staff in-service training day.

Next Wednesday we have the last Parent School Partnership meeting of the session. The meeting starts at 6.15pm and any parent is welcome to attend.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 08 May 2015

Despite it being a shorter week here in school, we have managed to pack a lot in.

On the sporting front: this week I was informed that Georgia Greenan in S2 has been selected for the Under 14 East District Outdoor Hockey Girls Team for 2015. Georgia will now take part in the squad that will represent East at the Inter-district competition held in May. This is a really good achievement as there are a lot of girls that are already quite well known in the Edinburgh area and she was up against over 100 girls in S1 and S2. Alexander Riddell in S2 has made it into the East of Scotland final training squad in Hockey as well – no mean feat. And, in golf, Fraser Leonard (S4) was the winner of the East Lothian Handicap Order of Merit. This is a fantastic achievement by Fraser who has only been playing golf for a couple of years and has already smashed his handicap down to 18. My sincere congratulations to everyone mentioned, and thanks to the parents, coaches and teachers who have supported them.

On Wednesday I took the opportunity to visit a couple of classes. I was particularly impressed by Ms Anderson’s S1 Inter-Disciplinary Learning class (S1). They were giving presentations on factors that adversely affect the environment and then looking for possible solutions. The class was very supportive of each other whilst they were presenting – listening attentively, making good eye contact, and recognising when good points were made. Mrs Montgomery had a third year class as well at that time that was looking at the existence of god. The class had split into teams to look at arguments for and against – no easy task given that theologians have been wrestling with this one for a few hundred years. Again, the class was working well together, with pupils helping each other get the best arguments together.

Last week I received the following email from the BBC and have been asked to circulate it:

“Crash my Kitchen is a new and exciting online mini-series that will change the way families eat and give them the chance to taste and learn about food from across the world from the comfort of their own home. We are looking for 8 – 13 year olds and their families to take part. A mystery chef heads to their home to crash their kitchen for the day! Anyone who wants to apply should head to: “

It sounds like fun – good luck to anyone who applies – let me know how you get on.

Have a very good week.

S Ingham

Published: 01 May 2015

Well, it’s been the first week of the exams, and without wishing to jinx anything for anyone…things seem to be going smoothly – thank you to everyone for making that so. All parents should note that every pupil received a personalised exam timetable, that should hopefully be being displayed prominently somewhere around your house. This timetable sets out very clearly when pupils should be in for exams.

On Tuesday, the author Sam Hepburn came to visit the school to talk about her life and her latest book “If You Were Me” during their Period 5 English class. Sam spoke to pupils about her writing career and how she uses events around her to create her stories. A former documentary producer with the BBC, Sam does not shy away from topical issues for her novels. Her latest tackles asylum, terrorism and family loyalty. After her talk pupils had the opportunity to discuss creative writing and get books signed. Sam praised the pupils for their behaviour and thanked them for making her welcome during her visit to East Lothian. The event was organised by East Lothian School Librarians with publishers Chicken House and English Departments across East Lothian.

The Youth Games ought to have happened this week, but unfortunately needed to be postponed owing to poor weather. We are looking at prospective dates in the full expectation that we will be able to have the Games before the end of term. Watch this space.

As ever for May, there are a couple of Monday holidays coming up. Everyone is off on Monday the 4th because of the May Day Holiday and pupils are off on the 18th May (staff will be having an In-Service Day). There are no exams on the 4th, but there are exams on the 18th – although nothing that we study in school. Could I respectfully request that pupils do not come in to school that day?

Have a very good long-weekend.

S Ingham