February 2016

Published: 26 February 2016

I hope that everyone had a good February Week and that we’re all ready for the next 4 weeks’ of hard work. Tuesday morning saw me arriving at Edinburg Airport at 5am to meet up with our “Dragon’s Den” winners for their visit to Canon UK HQ at Woodhatch. Thankfully, Carla, Hannah, Gavin, Mark and Gordon were all on time (thanks to parents for ensuring that) and we were happily ensconced on the 6.20am flight down to Gatwick. The day was full-on and fascinating. We had meetings and presentations from some very busy people and I would like to thank them all for their input and enthusiasm:

Rob Ferris – Sales Director – BIG – Business Imaging Group

Lyn Holmes – Financial Director of Canon UK and Ireland

Hayley Price – Contracts Administrations Manager – Canon UK Ltd

Richard Wolfe – PR and Communications Manager

Matt Denchfield – Bid Team Manager – Canon UK Ltd

Jane Hicks – HR Manager – Canon UK Ltd

Rob Wilson – Sales Manager – S&E Team

Georgie Scott – Marketing Executive

They could not have been more helpful. The pupils were an absolute credit to themselves and the school, asking pertinent and interesting questions throughout the day.

The aim of the day was to give the young people an insight into the world of work, how a multi-national corporation functions, and to offer them support and mentoring as they take their next steps into the world. I can only say that I wish that I had had such an opportunity as a youngster. Our work with Canon continues, and we very much value their partnership with the school.  I look forward to the many more opportunities that will be afforded to our pupils as a result of our collaboration.

Exam preparation moves on apace with the senior historians taking things very seriously indeed. In the week before the February Break they invited had Bill Glennie (retired History teacher, former SQA marker and setter) in to school. He gave a lecture on the sources relevant to the Wars of Independence and then spoke to the pupils about their dissertations. He totally inspired the pupils and staff. When he left he said that he was extremely impressed with our pupils - they were polite, well-mannered and the hard work they are doing is shining through in their ability to discuss complex topics. We are really lucky to have Bill’s support and we would like to thank him for taking time out to spend with our pupils.

Earlier this month I received a letter from “Maggie’s” to compliment the hard work of Amy Winter (one of our S2 pupils). Amy has raised £861 for Maggie’s Edinburgh. All the services at Maggie’s Centres are free of charge and, as a result, they rely very heavily on fundraising. I am delighted that Amy has done so much to make a difference to others.

Please remember that we are hosting the “New Spirit” concert in conjunction with Haddington Pipe Band on Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5 and are great value for money. I look forward to seeing you there.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 12 February 2016

On Wednesday 3rd February the entire Second year was given the opportunity to attend the "Monitoring Volcanoes" workshop run by Geobus. Geobus is run by St Andrews University's Earth Science Department and tours schools across Scotland offering science and geography related workshops. The workshop that our pupils experienced saw pupils carry out experiments with weights and party poppers to simulate pressure build up in the magma chamber and the eruption. They had a seismograph sensor in class so as to learn about tremor detection (this involved synchronised class jumping!) and used an Infra-Red camera to detect heat spots. It was great fun, interactive, and a great way to learn about scientific prediction methods. We hope to arrange future activities with the Geobus team in future.

Various members of our community have had honourable mentions in the Courier recently: Dean Riva in S5 has been selected for the U17 Scotland Bowling Squad. He has been a prolific trophy winner and the place is well-deserved. I wish him well in the future. There was also a very positive article this week about the “New Spirit” concert that we are having in conjunction with Haddington Pipe Band. It promises to be an excellent evening’s entertainment on the 27th February. The concert is being held in the School Hall at 7.30pm and tickets are £5 each for adults and children under 12 years old get in free. I have some tickets at school, so get in touch if you’d like to come.

Thanks to everyone who come to the Parent School Partnership Meeting this week. It was well attended and we were treated to a presentation from Mr Redford who spoke about various changes that are going to be happening to the school website. We are looking to add a section to help parents better support their youngster’s learning. If you have any feedback or suggestions for Mr Redford, please get in touch via the school email address. The PSP AGM followed thereafter. The PSP will henceforth be known as the “Parent Council” – just to keep things a bit more recognisable for parents as they move from primary up to secondary.

I would like to remind all parents that we “go live” with Groupcall Messenger after the February break. You might be familiar with it from primary school but in case you are not:

“Messenger is an on-line system that allows schools to send personalised (SMS) text, voice or email messages…instantly to parents, staff, students or other contacts. The system has been proven to increase attendance and reduce unauthorised absence, providing an early alert if a child fails to arrive at school and offers rapid contact with groups of parents for general messages or in the event of an emergency. Messenger saves administration time, cuts telephone bills and drastically improves communication between schools and parents.”

So, if you child is not registered in school you will receive a text message to which we will ask you to respond. There are bound to be teething problems in the first instance, so please bear with us, but we believe that the new system will improve things for both school and parents.

School will close today at 12.05pm and will reopen for pupils on Tuesday 23rd February at the normal time. I look forward to seeing everyone after a restful and restorative week.

S Ingham

Published: 05 February 2016

As I had mentioned in a previous update, Fraser Samuel and Lucy Ballantyne were competing the in the finals of the Scottish Schools’ Swimming Championships last weekend. I am really pleased to announce that Fraser placed 12th overall in the 400m Freestyle, and Lucy got 20th place in the 100m Fly. These are fantastic results given the calibre of the athletes and the numbers of people competing, and give us an indication of great things to come from these two young people. I look forward to hearing about their future successes.

I am also delighted to announce that Stefan McGinley, who works principally in our Pupil Support Base, has been declared “Active East Lothian” inaugural “Volunteer of the Month”. As it says on their website: “The inaugural award was won by the amazing Stefan McGinley, who is a behaviour support worker at Knox Academy. Stefan has set up a hugely successful Self-Defence after school club, which has grown rapidly and is now regarded as one of the biggest clubs within Knox Academy. With around 20 participants every week, Stefan has managed to motivate and engage with a wide range of individuals and with his 8 years British Combat Association experience truly has succeeded. Over 50% of the regular participants are girls who began the class struggling in confidence and fitness levels. These girls have now grown into very fit, technically proficient and are increasingly confident in themselves and in leading others.” I would like to thank Stefan for all his hard work with the club, and would also like to acknowledge all the hard work that various volunteers do for us in the school – from coaching sport, to helping at events, to doing paired-reading, to being on committees like KASG and the Parent School Partnership. We could not manage without all of those people – staff, pupils, parents and friends who give up their time, and we probably don’t say “thank you” enough. Thank you!

The Guidance offices have been particularly busy this week with the commencement of the coursing process for our young people. It’s been great to hear them talking about what subjects they are going to take and what their hopes for the future are. I know that some parents have been concerned about a few subjects that we have chosen not to offer this year. Please rest assured that any decision that is taken about the curriculum is done after taking into account a number of factors, and done for very good reasons – any parent who is concerned should call to speak to their child’s head of house.

Next week, on Wednesday, we have the Parent School Partnership meeting – 6.15pm in the Library.

Also, please note that the school will shut for the February holiday on Friday, 12th February at 12.05pm. Staff will resume on the 22nd February for an In-Service Day, and pupils on the 23rd.

Have a good week.

S Ingham