March 2017

Published: 31 March 2017

I had the privilege of attending a meal organised by QMU students on Monday night. It was held in the New Cookery School in Edinburgh and the students had designed, organised, cooked and served a three-course meal for about fifty people. The reason I was there, was Iona Croally, who was in S6 last year, and it was great to see how she is progressing through her degree. She took part in the Academies programme, run by Queen Margaret University and feels that that experience is one of the factors in how successful she is being.  I would also like to congratulate Calum Baillie on signing a 2 year contract with the BBC to learn how to be a Broadcast Operator.  He beat off stiff competition to get this opportunity.  I wish him well as he goes further in broadcasting.

Congratulations to Aidan Ballantyne, who, as part of the East Lothian, 4x100m Freestyle Relay (11-13yrs) Team, competing at Scottish National Age Group Swimming Competition, picked up a bronze medal. Apparently the team smashed their entry time and were extremely impressive.

On Monday night we had a staff versus pupils football match – Mr MacDonald writes: “Yesterday was a successful day for the staff in the football match against the S6 team with a comfortable 5-1 victory. Mr Gilholm slotted a penalty away, Mr Wands scored a screamer into the top corner from the edge of the box and Mr Crawford completed a perfect hat-trick. The S6's got a late consolation goal before the referee blew the final whistle. Thanks to all staff and pupils for taking part and to those who came down to support the game.”

Our two Young Enterprise teams went along to the Young Enterprise Awards’ Evening on Tuesday as they round off their experience. They performed well, and Clinks Mugs were rewarded with a 3rd place in the “Best HR Manager” category for the work of James Crow. It’s a great opportunity for our senior pupils, but is hard work. It’s good to see that it’s paying off for them.

The Spring Concert on Wednesday evening was a triumph. The numbers were upbeat, catchy and well performed. I would like to thank the parents for their support, the pupils for their performance and the Music Staff and Instructors for their perseverance and attention to detail. I couldn’t have been prouder of the pupils given their commitment and hard work.

Three letters have gone out via Pupil post this week. One to explain the rationale and practicalities of us moving back to a House Head system following our trialling of a Year Head system. The next is to let parents in S1 and S2 know that we have set up some cooking experiences for their youngsters next term. The third is to notify all parents and carers of a change to the Post-Inspection meeting that was set up for the 19 April. Unfortunately, Fiona Robertson found that she couldn’t, after all, make that meeting as she had once thought, so we have changed it to the next week of the 26 April. There is a Parent Council Meeting scheduled for that night, and I think we’ll move into that meeting once the first one has finished.

The school shuts for the Easter Holidays at 12.05pm today. We will be open for S4-S6 pupils on the Monday 10 April to Thursday 13 April (inclusive) for Easter Revision.

The school will reopen for the start of term at the usual time on Tuesday 18 April.

Have a great fortnight.

S Ingham

Published: 24 March 2017

Kudos to Findlay Wallace for his dedication to his music both inside and outwith school. He is the youngest member of Dalkeith and Monktonhall Brass Band and, last week, he went to the Scottish Brass Band Association Championships at Perth with the band where they pulled out a fantastic performance to win second place in their section, securing a place at the British Championships in Cheltenham in September. Findlay's Band recently played a concert at St Mary's, Haddington in support of East Lothian Talking Books and soon hopes to be performing in the town again - although that might need to be a fundraising concert to offset costs of attending the Cheltenham finals!

Hearty congratulations go to Abbi Robertson in S6, who has secured this year’s Aubigny Twinning Scholarship. This means that Abbi will get the chance to spend an extended period in Aubigny, working in the town and getting to know that area of France a bit better. I know that this is often a life-changing experience for our youngsters and I would like to thank the Twinning Association for all their hard work in bringing this to fruition.

Last Friday a number of our young people attended the East Lothian Saltire Awards Evening at the Corn Exchange. It’s a great night and a fantastic opportunity to recognise the volunteering contribution that our youngsters make to the community. Unfortunately the Volunteering Hours Competition was won by Musselburgh Grammar, but we are working hard to make sure that the shield comes back to Knox Academy next year.

Last Saturday, two of our pupils took part in the Preston Lodge Drumming Solo Competition. Clara Wilberforce (snare drum) placed 2nd and Olivia Pryde (tenor drum) came 3rd. Their tutor writes, “I’m so happy to see Knox Academy represented so well and in the prizes. I'm very proud of both of them.” Thanks also to Colin Pryde who piped for them.

On Wednesday evening I had the privilege of attending our first Dance Showcase event. Pupils from Knox and our associated primary schools took part in an evening that demonstrated real talent, grit and ability. I could not have been prouder of the performers and of all those who helped organise this successful event.

I was delighted to hear about the success if the S1 Boys’ Football on their victory in the quarter finals of the East and Midlothian U13’s cup scoring five goals to Beeslack High School’s one. Knox will face Ross High in the semi-final.

Congratulations to the BBC School Report team of Eilidh Graham, Louise Allan, Marilyn Briggs, Hugo Elder, Kyle Sutherland, Carrie Evans, Mr Dempster, Mr Plain, and Ms Prime. They have produced another fabulous report on Haddington and its growth, and it can be seen on the school website.

Today is Red Nose Day and the S6 have organised a number of events (pie the teacher and wax the teacher being two of them!) to raise money. The pupils have dressed down and the staff have dressed up as pupils – a most confusing, and slightly scary state of affairs. Thanks to everyone who donated.

Next Wednesday we have the Spring Concert and school closes at 12.05pm for the Easter Holidays.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 17 March 2017

There has been a lot going on this week, so I’ll get right on with it:

Our S3 Girls’ Hockey squad attended the St Georges S3 Hockey Tournament at Peffermill on Friday. The St Georges Hockey Tournament is a fiercely contested event. The hockey is played to an excellent standard with most teams training at least twice a week. I am very pleased and proud of how our S3 girls represented themselves and the school. They worked hard, and ‘played fair’. We even had one player who was prepared to play in goals, even thought she had never done it before! This in itself was a reflection of the individual and team’s characters. The event organiser even made special tribute to how well our girls conducted themselves. Thanks to the staff, coaches and pupils for their hard work and dedication.

Last weekend we held our, now annual, Higher Maths Camp at Whithaugh in the Scottish Borders. Staff said that it was great to get to know the pupils more in a relaxed environment and pupil feedback suggests that it was well worth it! It's hard to find the right balance between studying and 'taking a break' but they had a number of activities on offer including an extremely fun zip-wire and kayaking experience. Mixed in with the productive tutorial style sessions they had some competitive Maths too - an unseen envelope question, Maths Relay and a tense and well-fought Padlock Challenge. Mr Tait was particularly delighted as his team triumphed - though I did hear of some allegations of cheating (sour grapes, perhaps?)! All the Maths Department (and Mr Dempster!) were delighted with the effort and motivation that the pupils showed and are keeping our fingers crossed that it pays off.

On Sunday the school’s Pipe Band took part in the Scottish Schools’ Pipe Band Championships that were held at James Gillespie’s High School. The band competed in a class among 20 other school/cluster bands in the Novice Juvenile B Marches Class. Despite being on early in the morning the pupils acquitted themselves very well and came 7th overall. They then had a long wait until the afternoon Freestyle Class. The Freestyle competition was a free-for-all with bands, singers, dancers and even a bubble-making machine! We were only told of the first three placings in that class (12 bands competing) and unfortunately we weren’t placed, however, one of the judges did comment that if this was Knox Academy’s first foray into Freestyle, they couldn’t wait to hear what we came up with next year. So the challenge is on! I would like to thank the intrepid parents who stayed for the proceedings, the pupils for their hard work and musicality and the staff: Davy Barnes, Dave Henry and Liz Woodsend for all their hard work with the pupils. At this point, I would also like to commend the senior pupils at Gillespie’s for their stewarding skills – they were a credit to themselves and the school.

Following on from a very positive and productive S2 Parents’ Night on Wednesday, I was able to attend the East Lothian Showcase Concert at the Brunton Theatre. It was a fabulous evening with a good many Knox Academy pupils playing in the different ensembles and orchestras. I could not have been prouder. Congratulations go to the pupils and Musical Instructors who pulled together a fantastic evening.

Lastly, Knox Academy S1 to S3 pupils swam out of their skins to place second overall at the East Lothian Swimming Gala this week. The S1 team were particularly strong and dominated their events, coming away with some silverware. Everyone commented on how well-mannered the pupils were, how they supported each other, and helped out where required. They could have been a better advert for the school. I would like to thank Mr Wands (Sport and Physical Activity Coordinator) and Gwen Watt (stalwart of Haddington Swimming Club and parent) for organising and supervising our youngsters.

S1 and S2 pupils should have come home with some Merit Letters over the last couple of days. Normally we would post them out, but there were, frankly, too many, so we’ve had to rely on pupil-post. The pupils should be congratulated on their hard work and, as I said to the pupils when I was giving out the letters – I look forward to giving out lots more in the future.

A reminder that we’re dressing down for Red Nose Day on Friday – details can be accessed in the bulletin. It would be great if we could raise as much money as possible, so remind youngsters to bring in their spare change.

Have a great week.

S Ingham


Published: 10 March 2017

This week pupils from our Eco Committee have been leading assemblies encouraging pupils to look after the environment by making small changes to their day-to-day lives. It’s simple things like getting multi-use cups instead of using the plastic-coated ones that are available, not having a plastic straw with your drink, and bringing a refillable water bottle to school. I would like to commend them for their hard work, and thank the staff who have been supporting them. Pupils were given the option of dressing down today and wearing items of green clothing and I’m delighted to see so many youngsters supporting that today.

We have also been voting this week for our representatives on the Scottish Youth Parliament. We have two people who have put themselves forward – Adam Fairgrieve and Angus Langlands. Pupils over the age of 14 are entitled to vote and just need their Young Scot number to do it via the following link: Voting is open for a while yet, so please encourage your youngsters to participate.

Various pupils have been rehearsing hard for the East Lothian Showcase Concert that takes place next Wednesday. As ever, I am sure that this will be a fantastic event where Knox is very well represented. I would like to thank all the instructors and pupils for their hard work in the run-up to the evening. Our Pipe Band is also working hard to prepare for the Scottish Schools’ Pipe Band Championships that take place this weekend at James Gillespie’s High School. We are competing in two classes this year (Marches and Freestyle – with the help of some of the Jazz Band), and although the competition looks tough, if it all goes well on the day we could be in with a shout.

Next week we have a Parents’ Consultation Evening for S2s. Pupil should be signing up for appointments as I type. Please check school bags for the forms. Doors open at 5pm and appointments should be finished by 7pm. If you don’t manage to get an appointment with a particular teacher, please get in contact with your child’s Guidance Teacher who will be happy to arrange feedback for you.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 03 March 2017

I had the pleasure of representing the school, along with Mr Flood and Jack Scott in S6, at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Awards Evening. We weren’t up for any awards, but had been invited because of the work we have been doing with them on helping to Develop Scotland’s Young Workforce. Jack has had a particular role in that through starring in a short film to highlight the partnership working between employers and schools. It was very interesting, with opportunities to network and hear about the fantastic work that companies are doing. One of the keynote speakers was Josh Littlejohn, the co-founder of the “Social Bite”, and I would recommend hearing him speak. His vision, tenacity and compassion shone through everything he had to say. So all-in-all it was a great evening.

On Wednesday we welcomed staff from the Office of Electoral Registration. They were in to try and get as many as possible of our eligible pupils registered to vote. We’re hoping to have 90% or more of youngsters signed up by the end of the month, so please encourage pupils to get signed up.

On Wednesday evening the Parent Council met, and followed up the usual meeting with their AGM. At the AGM, Louise Elder stepped down as Chair as did the Vice-Chair Caroline McKinnel. I would like to thank both Louise and Caroline for their hard work and support during their tenure, but I know that they will continue to support the school and the Parent Council in the years to come. I would like to congratulate John Wrinn on his election as the new Chair and welcome Kim White and Andy McBain who are going to share the Vice Chair responsibilities.

Earlier on this week I heard that Isaac Smith in S6 had gained his microlight pilot’s license. This is the result of several years of training, sitting theory exams and completing unaccompanied training flights. This is a massive achievement and testament to Isaac’s determination and the strong nerves of his parents!

We are having an issue with our Group Call system at the moment, which we are looking into, but is not fixed as of now. If you get a second text (that is identical to the first) after you have ‘phoned in, please ignore it. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Have a great week.

S Ingham