May 2016

Published: 27 May 2016

It was a pleasure to welcome UNICEF’s Rights respecting School Award assessor into the building on Monday. He stayed for about three hours, talking to staff, pupils and parents about the work that we have done towards our Level One accreditation. I am delighted to announce that at the end of that he granted us our RRSA Level One status. “Level 1 is the second step of the Rights Respecting Schools Award. At this stage, the school implements an action plan and makes good progress towards embedding the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into its ethos and curriculum following the four RRSA standards. The school also plans how they will fully embed the Convention as they work towards Level 2. The Level 1 Award is valid for three years, after which time schools must be re-assessed.” (UNICEF UK) At this point I would like to thank everyone who took the time to be part of the assessment. However, the real heroes of the hour are Ms Brannigan and the RRSA Group who have worked tirelessly to promote the RRSA agenda in school. It has been a lot of hard work over the past couple of years to get to the point of being ready for assessment, and I feel that we are now in a really strong place to take our work forward, focusing on values, human rights and taking responsibility.

Congratulations to Craig Jackson, a former pupil, who will be graduating this summer from Edinburgh University with an Honours degree in Architecture. It’s great to hear about our ex-pupils and their success, so please drop me a line at school if you have any news in that vein.

Yesterday a large proportion of our S1 pupils visited the Museum of Flight. They were visiting the Sky Lab, the main focus of which “is to enable young people realise and understand their potential in future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) based careers in the aviation and related sectors. In doing so, they develop self-confidence, social skills and self-awareness, helping them to become better contributors to their communities.” This morning our second set of S1s set off to Edinburgh College to get an experience of working in their catering kitchens. The pupils really enjoy these opportunities to learn off-site and to get experiences that they wouldn’t normally get.

Speaking of experiences, we have already waved off a couple of the Activities’ Week trips: PGL Water sports and Italy. The Iceland group departs on Sunday, and the other excursions leave on Monday. The in-school packages are all organised, and as I have said before, keep an eye on the weather so pupils are properly prepared – waterproofs, water, and sunscreen could all be needed – along with some spending money and food and snacks. It will be a great week and could not happen without the hard work of all the staff, in particular Mr Taylor and Mrs Weir. I look forward to hearing how everything goes.

I am particularly looking forward to attending the opening service of the Haddington Festival this weekend. It is a lovely occasion with a real sense of community spirit, and what’s more we hear about who has won the Haddington Young Achiever Award. All in all, there’s a lot be looking forward to in the next few weeks.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 20 May 2016

Last Friday pupils dressed down in aid of UNICEF’s Day of change and managed to raise over £300 for this worthwhile organisation. I am constantly surprised and heartened by the generosity of our pupils and I would like to thank them for this. The school has consistently supported UNICEF and, next Tuesday, we are having a visit from an assessor to see how we’re getting on with our work as a Rights Respecting School. Ms Brannigan and the RRSA pupil group have been working really hard to develop this project – speaking to pupils, having assemblies and talking to parents, and fingers crossed that we are told we are going in the right direction.

This week, as part of the S1 Business Education course, pupils have been using their business skills and knowledge to set up their own Deli Cafe selling a variety of soups, sandwiches and smoothies. Throughout the week all the S1 pupils have been in the Food and Health Department making their products. The standard has been very high and the pupils have enjoyed presenting about their businesses. Thanks to all the parents and guests who have been in to hear the presentations and to taste the produce on offer. Huge thanks to Mrs Jackson for assisting with the organisation down in Food and Health and well done to all concerned.

S3 Business Management pupils have been pitching their products to judges as part of their Dragons' Den marketing project. The groups came up with some innovative products and each group also produced a 30-second advert for their product. I know the Dragons were very impressed by the quality of the products and had great difficulty in deciding which teams they would support. Again, thanks to everyone who gave up their time to support the pupils.

The exams continue on apace and pupils still remain pretty upbeat. I know that there was some consternation about the National 5 paper 1 in Mathematics; however it has been looked into by both East Lothian and the Scottish Mathematical Council. The statement on the SMC website says: “The Scottish Mathematical Council is aware that the 2016 National 5 Mathematics examination has caused some consternation. Having reviewed the papers, the Council believes that whilst a small number of the questions are relatively demanding, the applications are routine, so that it is never difficult to determine an appropriate method of solution. Moreover, the questions relating to the content previously assessed at Higher Grade are straightforward. Overall, the papers are closer in style and standard to Credit papers of the past, rather than Intermediate 2. The SMC concludes that the papers are demanding but fair, and suitable as a staging post on the road towards Higher Mathematics.”

We have been trialling an extra-curricular surfing club this session. Miss Kirkwood writes, “The seven pupils that have attended regularly have had a great time and been fantastic fun despite not always having perfect conditions - battling strong winds with a 7 foot piece of foam is challenging on the best of days! Unfortunately, we've been able to attract the numbers due to the financial commitments pupils have made elsewhere for trips during activities week so we have had to cancel the sessions leading up to the end of term.” Both Ms Kirkwood and Mr Easton are keen to find a more affordable way of running this club next session, so watch this space!

Next week staff have an in-service day on Monday – senior pupils are reminded that there will be limited space for study that day owing to the Library being used for presentations. It’s business as usual for everyone as of Tuesday morning.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 13 May 2016

This week, I feel like I have been mostly interviewing (with some excellent results), whilst the school has gone whirring on of its own accord.

The Maths exams seemed to go ok yesterday (although the National 5, Paper One seems to have been quite testing), and, as I said last week, it’s heartening to see so many senior pupils in the building, revising. When I speak to them, they are reassuring me that revision timetables are working and that they are feeling reasonably confident.

It was a real pleasure to attend the School of Rugby Dinner last Friday at Haddington Rugby Club. There was a brilliant turn out of parents, pupils, coaches and sponsors. The coaches spoke affectionately (and honestly) about how their teams had progressed this session, and the team captains spoke with humour and humility, congratulating their teams and thanking all those who have supported them through the season. Whilst this season has been successful, I get the impression that the next one is going to require a lot of hard work and commitment from everyone. I wish them all the very best of luck and look forward to hearing of their successes.

The F1 Team were guests of Haddington Rotary Club on Tuesday evening. They went to present on their Silverstone adventure. As one Rotarian wrote in his email to us: “they were brimming with enthusiasm - something which I am sure we Rotations can copy.  Obviously a lot of work had gone into the project both from you (the staff) and the team. I hope they and the new team are as successful next year.”

We had an excellent P7 Transition event run by the Health and Wellbeing Faculty on Wednesday.  It saw our prospective S1 running, jumping, and working together.  They got to know each other a bit better and we are getting to know them before they come up for "real" in August.  That was the second transition event that we have run and I would like to thank the Numeracy and Technology and Health and Wellbeing faculties (along with their S1 and S3 helpers) for running great events.

As I type this, I am listening to the S1s getting ready to visit Edinburgh College for some Home Economics input. In the absence of a Food and Health teacher, we have been working hard to give the pupils as good an experience of the subject as we can. This has involved a lot of hard work from Mr Simpson, Ms Duff, Mr Mackinnon, Mr Elms and our visiting chefs.

We are now getting set up for our Activities’ Week (30th May to 3rd of June). We have a number of foreign trips: waters ports in France; Paris; Iceland; Italy; and London. We also have the S1s going away to Wales to experience the outdoor life and, hopefully, gain their John Muir Award. There is a great in-school package consisting of things like mountain biking, yoga, film club, and model making. It’s a great week that pupils and staff alike get a lot out of. Please make sure that your youngster is prepared – especially for the vagaries of the Scottish weather (so pack sunscreen as well as waterproofs for days out).

Next week, on the 18th, is the final Parent Council meeting of the session. The meeting will be held in the Library from 6.15pm, and any parent is welcome to attend. I look forward to seeing you there.

Have a good week.

Sarah Ingham

Published: 06 May 2016

So far the exams seem to have gone off pretty well, with pupils arriving on time and managing to curb their nerves. We’ve had a lot of pupils in school to revise (which is very heartening) – can I remind pupils that they should be in Dress Code when they come in, as it identifies them as members of the school community.

Congratulations to Molly McHugh in S3 who was part of the U15 Scotland National Basketball Development Squad’s tour to Dublin last weekend. I believe that it was tiring but enjoyable couple of days and we are really proud of Molly and her achievements.

I am off to the School of Rugby Dinner tonight that is being held at Haddington Rugby Club. It’s usually a great event, where I hear really positive things about the pupils who play rugby and the value that they add to Knox Academy. The School of Rugby pupils helped out at Haddington Rugby Club’s Minis Festival last weekend and were a great help running the scores and working out the age group winners. I would like to thank everyone involved in the School of Rugby for their continued support and encouragement of the pupils – we couldn’t do it without you.

Charlie Gates continues to go from strength to strength is his hockey - he has been selected for the East District Under 14 Boys’ Hockey Squad. We wish him all the best in future fixtures.

I had the real pleasure of being part of the interview process to appoint a new member of the Art and Design Department this week. We had a very strong leet and have a preferred candidate. We await references and PVG checks, but I look forward to introducing a new member of the department to you in August. We are interviewing next week for Modern Languages and PE vacancies and I’ll keep you posted.

Have a great week.

S Ingham