January 2016

Published: 29 January 2016

Thanks to everyone who helped with the hospitality for the rugby matches that took place last Saturday morning. We received many compliments about how welcoming we are and how polite our youngsters were. It’s a treat for me as head teacher to hear this, and I would like to extend my gratitude for all the support that we get from Haddington Rugby Club, parents, staff, and pupils.

On Wednesday night we had a really well attended S3-5 Information Evening about course choice. Thanks to everyone who came along. We were treated to a whistle-stop tour of everything that is available for our young people in the Senior Phase of school. I would like to thank representatives from Edinburgh College (http://www.edinburghcollege.ac.uk/ ) , the Academies Programme (http://www.southeastscotlandacademies.org/sesap.html) , East Lothian Works (http://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/EastLothianWorks), and Skills Development Scotland (https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/), who attended. As ever, I pointed parents in the direction of the National Parent Forum of Scotland website that has some excellent resources (I particularly recommend http://www.npfs.org.uk/career-education-a-world-of-possibilities/ regarding careers). The evening kicked off the yearly cycle of course choice and, whilst we like to think that we have answered lots of questions, there still might be things that we haven’t thought of. Remember, there is no such thing as a daft question when it comes to helping your youngster decide on their future, so if you are unsure of anything, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Last night was the school’s, now annual, Burns’ Night. It was a grand affair with pupils and staff alike entertaining us all. The food was excellent and complemented the excellent speeches from Mr Swinney, Harry Bowles and Natalie Forrest. Mr Swinney was as eloquent as ever – claiming that Burns’ ability to empathise with others and be kind is what makes him special. Harry began his speech with a kind gesture of flowers and chocolates for his mother, and then went on to talk about the other “strong” women in his life. Natalie finished up with a spirited response to his Toast to the Lassies, letting him know properly where he stands in the pecking order! Mr Illingworth’s MC-ing kept everything ticking along, allowing for seamless transitions throughout the evening. Thanks to all those who went to make the event such a success – from those who came in to set the tables, to those who sang and played for us. The Pipe Band played with skill and gusto, the Chamber Choir was a treat, and the Goat’s Toes were toe-tappingly good. As ever, we could not have done it without the hard work and support of parents, pupils and staff, aided and abetted by our own Mrs Ball.

Next week the S3 have coursing appointments and there is an S3 Parents’ Consultation Evening on the 2nd.

Have a good week.

S Ingham

Published: 22 January 2016

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Scott Thomson, one of our S6, for winning the Junior U60kg category at the Scottish Open Judo Championships held at Meadowbank last Saturday. Scott continues to work hard at his studies and play hard at his sport, and is a real role model for all youngsters here at Knox Academy – I couldn’t be more proud of him.

We had a very successful visit to the Granton Campus of Edinburgh College this week. Mr Flood, Ms Easson and Ms Adam accompanied forty of our pupils to the open afternoon. It was a great opportunity to see how the college works and for pupils to familiarise themselves with the buildings. Hopefully this will enable the young people to make the best decisions as to next steps and how we can support them in that.

On Wednesday there was a very busy S4 Parents’ Consultation Evening. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces. From what I could glean as people sped from one appointment to another, it seems that pupils are getting clear feedback on what they have to do to ensure that they get the grades that they deserve come the summer. We are in the process of collating a list of after-school study clubs that will go on the website in due course and I know that Mrs Falconer has put the wheels in motion to begin getting the Easter Revision sessions sorted. If any parent did not manage to get an appointment with a member of staff on Wednesday and would like to catch up with them, get in touch with your child’s Guidance Teacher and they will do their very best to facilitate a meeting.

We’re having a bit of a crackdown on late-coming at the moment. Pupils need to be in their register classes by 8.44am (there is a warning bell at 8.40am). The doors automatically lock after the 8.44 bell and we are taking the names of pupils who arrive after that time. Pupils who are late three times in a week (without an excuse from their parent) will be required to attend a detention. If you know that your son or daughter is going to be late, could you please furnish them with a note, or give the school a call? Also a reminder about Dress Code – basically it’s: white collared shirt (long or short sleeves); school tie; sweater or fleece (navy or black only - no adornment); black trousers or skirt; black shoes or trainers with no additional colours.

We are going to be trying to encourage as many of our pupils who are 16 and over to register to vote. It’s a really simple process (five minutes, really) to register and all that the pupils needs is their National Insurance Number - just go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Next week is a busy one. The S4, S5 and S6 start their benchmarking assessments – good luck! On Wednesday there is an Information Evening for pupils who are presently in S3, 4 and 5 regarding course choices and transitions into next session. And finally, on Thursday is our, now sold-out, Burns’ Supper.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 15 January 2016

There have been a couple of notable sporting successes that I have heard about this week: on Monday we heard that Fraser Samuel (S6) and Lucy Ballantyne (S3) have qualified for the Scottish School's Swimming Championship finals. We wish them all the best for the 30th January. Also, following our Under 14 Badminton Team's success in the regional finals before Christmas, we have been invited to take 10 players - 5 boys and 5 girls to the Scottish Schools’ Badminton, Secondary Tournament on Tuesday 1st March 2016. As you can imagine, we are very excited about this, and I look forward to hearing how the team does. Whilst I am talking about sport, can I commend to you a quiz night being held at Haddington Rugby Club on the 5th February. It’s to raise funds for the Under 16 Team’s tour to Wales. The doors open at 7.30pm and tickets cost £5 per person, with a maximum of six people to a team.

Adam Linton-Main, one of our historians, will be talking about his experience of visiting Auschwitz with a talk and a mini-exhibition at the John Gray Centre on Wednesday 27th January from 4pm until 5.30pm. Free refreshments will be provided. ‘On the 27th of September I took part in a trip to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. This trip was co-ordinated by the Holocaust Education Trust and was a truly compelling experience. I feel more awareness about Holocaust is needed and by sharing my experience with the local community, I would like to reflect on this dark period in history in hope that such atrocities may be prevented in the future.’

There are a few events coming up and they will be upon us before we know it. Next week, on Wednesday, we have the S4 Parents’ Consultation Evening. It starts at 5pm and goes on until 7pm. If any parent can’t get an appointment with a teacher (for whatever reason), please give the school a call and we will try to arrange an opportunity for you to get the feedback that you need on your youngster's progress. The week after, we have the S3-5 Course Choice Evening (Wednesday) and on Thursday it is the school’s Burns’ Supper. Tickets are on sale through the school (just ask for Mrs Ball). It is £10 for adults and £5 for pupils and pupils in S1 to S4 need to be accompanied by an adult. It’s a great evening with good entertainment. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Have a good week.

S Ingham

Published: 08 January 2016

“Happy New Year” to one and all. I wish you everything that you wish for yourselves in 2016.

We have already got off to a flying start, which augurs well for the rest of the session. On Wednesday night the S6 revived their end-of-term spirit to put on their panto for the parents. Thanks to all who attended (I think that the S6 got a shock at the size of the audience!). I cannot adequately express how proud I am of the S6 and their organisation of the panto. They did it entirely on their own (apart from a bit of help from the Art Department, and using Ms Whitfield as a sounding board) – writing the script, casting the parts, organising the music and the rehearsals. They should all be extremely proud. Special thanks should go to Chloe Craig as overall director of the show.

School of Rugby pupils are already turning up for early morning training sessions and it’s great to hear what a positive experience it’s being for all. “It’s halfway through the season and the Knox Academy’s partnership with Haddington RFC has seen the numbers playing rugby increase to over 70 in the school this season. This is in line with the 25% increase in players and games across Scotland as a result of this SRU initiative. Every team has won games and those pupils that have just started to play are building their skills, fitness and strength week on week through the sessions being run by Scott, Tom and the volunteer coaches from the rugby club. Boys and girls are also actively getting involved in coaching primary school pupils and they are looking to run a UKCC level 1 coaching course in the summer specifically for 5th and 6th years. It’s worth noting that this course will count towards UCAS points for those wanting to head on to university. Training resumed on Wednesday 6th January for all teams and there is a full schedule of fixtures up until the Easter holidays at which point the U16s will be heading off for a few days to play in a tournament in Cardiff. A limited number of spaces are still available so why not come along and give rugby a try or come back and give it another go if you have drifted away. There are more exciting developments to come as we are currently in discussions with two French rugby clubs about establishing a rugby exchange in future years. All in all, it’s a great success for the school, the rugby club and the community, and something that all young people, parents and teachers can be proud of.”

I would like to take this opportunity to flag up the work of a group called “Steps to Inclusion”. Steps to Inclusion is a social enterprise, based in Scotland, who are passionate about raising awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Condition and Dyslexia. They are running some workshops for parents of autistic children, in Musselburgh, starting on the 13th January and you can find out more about them by clicking on the following link (http://www.stepstoinclusion.com/parentcarers.html) .

Next Wednesday the Parent School Partnership (Parent Council) is meeting at 6.15pm in the Library. Any parent is welcome to attend these meetings – it would be great to see you there. And, just to help with diary planning, I would like to flag up the school Burns’ Supper that is being held on Thursday 28th January. Tickets will be available through the school and I’ll let you know when they are available.

Have a good week.

S Ingham