November 2016

Published: 25 November 2016

This week has gone by in the usual haze of hard work, music practice, panto rehearsals, and inspection preparation. I cannot believe that we are dashing headlong into December.

Last Friday, the Active Girls’ Day was a major success, with just about everyone getting involved and giving things a try. The feedback that the organisers got was insightful and should hopefully lead to more activities being offered for girls. Thanks again to Rhys Dickson and Anya Wyllie (Sports’ Ambassadors) for leading the team who organised the day.

Wednesday’s trip to Preston Lodge to encourage “Girls into Physics” was a great success. Ms Dornan reported that, “The girls were a credit to themselves and the school. Each participant wrote a brief paragraph of their experiences today that I will share with you.” One of the pupils writes, “I really enjoyed the Girls into Physics event today, it was very inspirational. I learnt lots of interesting information about physics and engineering and about careers in them. The staff at the workshops were very nice and chatty. My favourite activity was when we made vanilla, raspberry and chocolate ice cream out of liquid nitrogen, I found this very enjoyable and fun, especially when we got to eat it!”

Ms McPhee received a lovely email from the organisers of the “Lessons from Auschwitz”: “ Dear Coordinating Teachers, Now that the first three parts of the Edinburgh Lessons from Auschwitz Project are over, and your students are well on their way with their Next Steps plans, I just wanted to pop you all a quick, and unusual email. We always get to work with great students on LFA, however, all the educators and myself agreed after this year's Edinburgh trip, that this was possibly one of the most engaged, polite, and committed group of students that we have had the opportunity to work with. I just wanted to say a big thank you to all of you for your support, and let you know how fantastically your students represented their individual schools, and Scottish students as a whole. I look forward to seeing what your students' decide to do for their Next Steps.” Again, well done to Amy Mackinnon and Ruby Smith.

I managed to pop down to the post-match hospitality put on by Haddington Rugby and our parents, last Saturday. It was great to see so many people there and to hear that our teams had done so well in their matches. I was also delighted to hear that both our girls’ netball teams did well against Ross High School this week. As usual my thanks go out to all the parents, volunteers and the Active School Team for ensuring that our extra-curricular sport gets the support it needs. We couldn’t do it without you.

Next week there are a number of things going on: a number of the Higher French class are off to Aubigny at the end of the week to practise their French and pupils from the Higher RMPS class are off to Samye Ling Buddhist Temple for the opportunity to experience life in a Buddhist community at first hand. Also the inspectors arrive at lunchtime on Monday – so there is much to be done before then.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 18 November 2016

Last Sunday I was beyond proud at how many Knox Academy pupils were involved in the Haddington Armistice Day parade. I spotted pupils in the Pipe Band, the uniformed organisations, and the general congregation, as well as walking alongside our pupil senior leadership team. Everyone comported themselves with the gravitas that was called for. I would also like to thank the senior pupils, some of whom were called upon at very short notice, for coming to help with serving the refreshments afterwards – you were very much appreciated. Thank you.

This week we welcomed Mr Meekison (Guidance) and Dr Rice (Science and Chemistry) to their new posts at Knox Academy. Mr Meekison will be Guidance teacher for Lammerlaw House. I wish them both well as they work out who’s who, and what’s what.

I received a lovely email from Haddington Rotary Club on Tuesday stating that “last Saturday the 12th November the Rotary Club and Blooming Haddington were planting crocus corms next to Lady Kitty's garden. I thought you would appreciate knowing that 4 of your first year young men were passing and offered to help. Their names are Rory Morrison, Jamie Elliot, Aidan Ballantyne and Jack McKinnel. We very much appreciated their hard work and enthusiasm and please pass on our thanks to them.” That’s a lovely example of Knox Academy youngsters taking the idea of “engagement” right into the community and I am delighted that they made such a great impression.

Yesterday I had the task of perusing the Trench Models that some of our S3 historians have been working on. The hard work that had gone into them was truly amazing – they must have taken hours to complete. A number of people have been asked to judge their top three and I have duly made my selection - it will be interesting to see how the results shake down. Congratulations to all pupils who put in a model.

Today is Children In Need Day, so apologies if you have been accosted by strangely-dressed S6 pupils and been asked for money. The school traditionally does well by Children in Need and I look forward to hearing how much money we have raised.

We also have an event on today to try and encourage as many S1 to S3 girls in to physical activity as possible. Thanks to the hard work of our Sports’ Ambassadors (Rhys Dickson and Anya Wylie), various sports groups in the school (CSLA class, Sky Sports Ambassadors, sports Council),and outside clubs, we are coming together to provide taster sessions in table tennis, golf, trampolining, football, rugby and dance.

This week, the assemblies have been about preparing the pupils for the Christmas Dance on the 15 December (less than a month away, now). I went through the information that you can find on the website under “School Dances. The what, how, and why”. The main message is that all pupils who want to attend this event must have a points total of -15 or better by the 9 December. Pupils are entirely responsible for this and it is up to them to monitor their points total. Hopefully, if everyone keeps their eye on the ball, we’ll have everyone at the dance who needs to be there and we’ll have a great time.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 13 November 2016

On Tuesday, Ms McPhee, Amy Mackinnon and Ruby Smith took part in the Lessons from Auschwitz Project. Ms McPhee wrote, “all three of us reacted to the trip in our own very different way but we all took so much from the experience. It was a very long, tiring and emotional day but it was also a day filled with hope. The girls were a credit to Knox, engaging fully in all activities and discussions.” On Sunday they will be attending the follow up seminar in Edinburgh where they will be looking at how they can now engage with the school/local community to share their learning. I believe the girls are hoping to organise an assembly in the New Year, which I am eager to hear.

Knox continues to be the organiser of the Poppy Scotland Appeal for Haddington. Thanks to all the pupils who have taken time to volunteer, taking poppies to various locations in the town and helping to sell them in Tesco. Two of our youngsters, in particular have been keen to give of their time: Angus Langlands and Leo Washington-Mackay (both in S3). The member of staff that accompanied them as they volunteered at Tesco said that they were a credit to the school, raising over £60 in the hour that they were there.

On Thursday over twenty of our seniors visited the National Museums of Scotland to participate in a Molecular Biology workshop. If the pictures posted to Twitter were anything to go by, they had a marvellous time and got to grips with some pretty fantastic machinery. Also on Thursday I had the pleasure of attending a fundraising evening at Colstoun House for the six of the school’s young entrepreneurs. The pupils are working with “Lead a Bright Future” to start their own businesses. The businesses vary from up-cycling, to selling, to providing services, all with the aims of gaining business experience and putting something back into the community. The groups are known as “Team Ignite” – so keep an eye out for them.

As you will know by now, the school is to be inspected during the week of the 28th November. Every parent should have received a letter about the inspection, and 250 parents should have received a survey form. If you did, could you please ensure that it is returned so that it arrives with the inspectors on, or before, Friday 18th November. 250 pupils should also be receiving questionnaires to complete, but this will be done during lesson time. Following the receipt of your responses the inspectors will then invite parents and carers to join them to discuss the school and any issues that arise. The inspectors will arrive in the school on the afternoon of the 28th November and will be in and around the school for the week. This is a real opportunity for the school to get an outside eye on what we do and help us formulate the best plans going forward. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or queries.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 04 November 2016

Many apologies for not updating the website last week – I’m afraid I succumbed to the “lurgy” and was not in school. Consequently, this one’s a bit of a bumper edition:

A group of 14 senior pupils gave up the first day of their holidays to attend a model United Nations Conference at Edinburgh University. The conference started with a passionate and interesting presentation on UNESCO and its role from Edinburgh University Professor JP Singh, the Director of the Centre for Cultural Relations. Following this pupils were briefly taken through the Model UN structure before being split into councils. It is fair to say the conference was a steep learning curve but the pupils performed excellently, some even contributing to debates and drafting their own motions for consideration. Pupils expressed a desire to return next year now that they know what they are doing. I have no doubt that they will prove to be a force to be reckoned with on future debating platforms.

The school’s Green Team entered a competition recently entitled “Making Things Last”, run through Community Resources Network Scotland. The feedback that they received was really encouraging: “Thank you for submitting an entry for the Schools Challenge 2016 Competition on behalf of Knox Academy. We have received an amazing response to this challenge, plus a very high calibre of entries, which were all assessed by a panel. I am writing to advise you though that unfortunately, on this occasion, your entry has not been selected as the winner. Can I just say how very impressed we all were by the effort that had gone into Knox Academy’s entry and your school came up very high in the scoring process. We all know how important it is to reduce the consumption of paper and the pupils had some great ideas for enforcing this within their own school. In addition the entry was well presented and laid out. “

Congratulations to Eilidh Graham in S2, who has achieved God Undergraduate Level in the Children’s University. She has been invited to a graduation ceremony at Queen Margaret University where she will receive her award for her 100 hours of activity.

Last Friday the school held a Hallowe’en Dress Down Day and managed to raise £650 for charity. This was a great effort and, as well as dressing down, pupils held a bake sale and a “Pie the Teacher” event. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Last Thursday and Friday saw the now, annual, Macmillan Concert. Knox Academy was well represented and I have had some lovely feedback from members of the audience. All our musicians are in full-swing, preparing for Christmas and I know that they will do us, and themselves, proud.

“Fantastic! Great! Engaged! What a wonderful Library and kids!” that’s the way David Almond described his visit today. David spoke passionately about his life as a writer and the inspiration behind his novels. He demonstrated through a workshop how a simple question can develop into the start of a story. Knox pupils proved that they do not lack imagination; from giant earthworms taking over our sewers, to puddles becoming cushions, David saw how our pupils engage with creative writing and appreciated their amazing input into what was a lively and informative session.

And finally…we had the official opening of Meadowpark today. Thanks to everyone who joined us - it was a lovely event and an opportunity for us to say thank you to everyone who has had a role in the project. Thanks to Ms Prime, her team and the pupils for organising a great welcome, and fantastic refreshments.

Have a great week.

S Ingham