October 2015

Published: 30 October 2015

Paul Cunningham, one of our rising young rugby players, represented East Lothian and Borders last Saturday when they took on Edinburgh at Murrayfield Stadium. East Lothian and Borders were narrowly beaten 26-19 despite Paul managing to score a try and kick two conversions. This was the fulfilment of Paul’s dream to play at Murrayfield and we are all immensely proud of him – hopefully this is the first of many times that he will play on the hallowed turf.

On Tuesday evening some of our S1 pupils returned to Yester Primary School to help out at an Internet Safety Evening that was being run there. The pupils gave their perspective on the safe use of the Internet and showed the primary pupils and parents some of the educational tools that we use in secondary school. Thanks to Mr Dempster and Mr Blair for accompanying our pupils and helping them put together a presentation that I know was really appreciated.

The Jazz Band has been out and about this week, playing at the Macmillan Cancer Support concerts. They played at both performances alongside pupils from other East Lothian schools. I didn’t manage to get along, but I am reliably informed by audience members that the group was, as usual, outstanding.

Last night we had a very successful S5/6 Parents’ Night. It was well attended and it’s always a pleasure to meet up with parents with whom we have developed a relationship over the last few years. Outside of parents’ evenings, if there is anything any parent wants to ask about their child’s educational experience, they should get in touch.

Today we are “Wearing it Pink” for cancer research – I know it’s a week later than everyone else, but we thought, given that it’s Hallowe’en tomorrow, that we would roll them all up in one. Pupils are donating what they can to help support early detection of cancer. It’s lovely to see how generous our pupils are, and how quick they are to think of other people. Particular thanks should go to the S6 Charities’ Committee for getting us all organised.

I heard some excellent news this week about a former pupil – Katie Archibald. “During her ‘Year in Industry’ programme placement, Katie, who is about to start her degree in General Engineering at the University of Cambridge, significantly enhanced the accuracy of predictions of modern radar modes, by developing an advanced clutter model which simulates expected clutter (radar reflections from the ground) using free Ordnance Survey map data. To develop the clutter model, Katie taught herself programming and designed her own software to draw 3D objects. As a result of Katie’s outstanding work, Selex ES has been able to reduce the number of flight trials required in testing and development. The company anticipates that this will result in significant savings each year, as well as being more environmentally friendly.” (selex-es.com) I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Katie, and wish her all the best as she starts her university career.

The PSP meets next week (Wednesday at 6.15pm in the Library), and any parent is welcome to attend.

Have a very good week.

S Ingham

Published: 23 October 2015

Thanks to everyone – pupils, parents and guests who helped to make Monday’s “Knox Idol” event such a success. It was a massive opportunity for the school to demonstrate its commitment to partnership working – especially with Canon UK, and for the pupils to show off their presentation and interview skills. All the pupils acquitted themselves with aplomb and I think that it was a hard task for Angela Leitch (Chief Executive of East Lothian Council) and Stephen Bates (Managing Director of Canon UK and Ireland) to choose which team’s pitches for improving the school was the best. The theme of the morning was “Confidence, resilience, prescience” – the attributes that employers are looking for in our pupils and the teams demonstrated these characteristics in spades. Eventually they chose Mark Sandford, Gordon Scott, Hannah Metcalfe and Gavin Sandford. The team focused on developing apps that would link pupils to online course work, monitor performance and help parents to see how their young people were doing – an interface with school for all the family! The winners said they were all ‘really chuffed’, found it to be a ‘really good experience’ and were looking forward to going to Canon’s UK HQ at Woodhatch, Reigate, Surrey – the main part of their prize. Canon UK will be flying them down for a day to meet senior managers and gain an insight into the ethos behind this global brand. Congratulations also go to the other pupils who took part: Iona Freckleton, Fiona Dickson, Angela Lynch, Chloe Craig, Adam Linton-Main, Leon Doig, Douglas Meikle, and Declan Jones.

Max Sykes, Account Director – procurement, Canon, said: ‘Knox Idol is a great thing for personal development and for personal statements and CVs and for developing skills and self-confidence. It’s a unique opportunity to gain certification, which will be a powerful credential for future employment. East Lothian Council Chief Executive

Angela Leitch said: ‘The three teams were all very confident, came up with some terrific ideas and were all pretty close but there were just some key issues that differentiated the winning team from the other two.’

Stephen Bates added: ‘For me, it was a wonderful experience of seeing the young people in action ... letting them expose themselves to people like us – the “dragons”. They were confident, they were articulate, and they were creative. I was very impressed with them and I was very pleased the teams stood out and delivered the goods on the day.’

On Monday night the Higher and Advanced Higher pupils enjoyed the surprises contained in the promenade production of The Devil's Larder by (multi-award winning) Grid Iron Theatre Company at Customs House. It was rollercoaster ride of a performance that will no doubt inspire them in their next unit of work and will provide material for their performance analysis essay in their exam. Our pupils were, as ever attentive audience members and a credit to Knox.

I also heard this week about a former pupil, Holly Betts, who has attained her MSc, in Palaeontology and Evolution (1st Class) from the University of Bristol. It’s a wonderful achievement, and I send my heartiest congratulations to Holly. I would ask any other former pupils to get in touch with their news so that we can let everyone know.

It’s getting to that time when we start thinking about Christmas and, in particular the Christmas Dance. The dance will be held on the 10th December and tickets will go on sale at the beginning of December. In order to be allowed to attend the dance pupils must have -15 House Points or better. All staff were issued with their tutor group’s individual House Points totals and pupils should make an effort to check their points. Pupils can gain merits (which convert to points) through performing well in class and going the extra mile in terms of conduct and helpfulness. The dance is a lovely event and I’m looking forward to pupils enjoying themselves and getting into the Christmas spirit.

S Ingham

Published: 09 October 2015

I can hardly believe that we are now at the October Break.

Thanks to all those parents, staff and pupils who have made it such a busy and fulfilling start to the session.

The next “big thing” on the horizon is…

19th October 10.00am until 12.30pm: Knox Academy, Fast Forward Event.

Staff and pupils from Knox Academy, alongside our colleagues at Canon have put together a morning that showcases our partnership working, and the opportunities that we can provide for young people. There will be the chance to hear a bit more about what we do; hear the pupils pitch ideas for school improvement; see some of the technology that Canon has on offer; get some insight into what companies, like Canon, are looking for as employers, and get some advice on how we can help young people become more employable. (More details here: http://knox.is/ZJY )

Feel free to come along and see what’s going on – the pupils would really appreciate the support for their “pitches” from 10.50am.

School resumes for pupils on 20th October, 8.44am sharp.

Have a very good week.

S Ingham

Published: 02 October 2015

I have so much to tell you:

Last Thursday some S6 pupils caught a performance of “All My Sons” at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. Mrs Maxwell said, “We had a great night last night - food then theatre. Staff and pupils loved the play, and the pupils did Knox proud in terms of conduct and enthusiasm. In their words, All My Sons was intense, engaging and affecting, and wrapped up with a dramatic ending which had us jumping in our seats!”

Last Friday afternoon, a group of Science Club members joined schools from across Scotland at Edinburgh Zoo for the first Explorathon organised by Heriot Watt University. Pupils visited a whole host of drop-in activities around the zoo including ones on DNA, using stem cells, how invertebrates can be used for testing water quality, and they also took part in a Smartphone Safari. I believe that everyone had a fantastic afternoon even though the penguins decided they weren't up for coming out to see us on the Penguin Parade!

Last Saturday one of our S5 pupils, Georgia Herriott abseiled down the Barns Ness Lighthouse in aid of the Bethany Trust. She was raising money to fund a shelter over the five coldest months of the year. We encourage all our pupils to get involved in fundraising, and I hugely admire anyone who takes such an extreme approach. Georgia’s efforts have raised nearly £300 so far and she is still taking donations.

On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the concert that was the culmination of the East Lothian Orchestra Intensive Rehearsal weekend. It was brilliant! The orchestra played two pieces: the music from the film Apollo 13 and Sibelius’ Finlandia. I cannot commend the pupils more highly and would like to thank all the staff who gave up their evenings and weekend to make it happen.

On Wednesday of this week, two of our senior pupils: Lucy Couperwhite and Adam Linton-Main took part in the Holocaust Education Trust visit to Auschwitz in Poland. Lucy described the visit as very “hard-hitting” and has really affected her and her way of thinking. She’s going to be presenting to some classes on her experience and I look forward to hearing her.

Two of our pupils have excelled recently on the football pitch. Jade Stenhouse in S3 is currently training with Hibs three times a week and Scotland once a week as well as playing her games on Saturday. Harry Bowles (our Head Prefect) has just been selected to play for the Edinburgh and Lothians Under 18 Football squad. Both of these young people make me very proud with their ability to manage both their work and studies and I wish them all the best for their upcoming matches.

School of Rugby is going well and players are avidly watching the current Rugby World Cup. They really enjoyed watching Scotland getting their first victory against Japan last Wednesday. This did not, however, inspire our own teams at the weekend, with only the Under 15 team being victorious. On the plus side, we are seeing more pupils attending rugby now and are happy to see more come along so if pupils are interested they should come along on Monday or Wednesday after school. This week Knox takes on Boroughmuir.

Last night we had a great S1 Settling-In Evening. I was a bit worried that, with the very fine weather, parents would find other ways of spending their Thursday night, but it was well attended. Each of the deputes talked about one of our school values (from wisdom, engagement and respect) and then parents were treated to a film about their children and how they are enjoying their first year at Knox. Thanks to everyone who came along and also to Chloe Craig and her team for making the film.

Next week we have the Parent School Partnership meeting on Wednesday, at 6.15pm in the Library, and the KASG Blingo Evening on Thursday. School shuts at 12.05pm on Friday and re-opens on Tuesday 20th October for business as usual.

Have a great week.

S Ingham