October 2017

Published: 28 October 2017

The school had a somewhat spooky feel to it as the pupils returned from the October break on Tuesday – the reception area and School Hall have been transformed with a Hallowe’en theme, thanks to our creative team in the art department. Our assemblies this week have focused on one of Knox Academy’s core values: respect. Mr Illingworth outlined the key points in the new East Lothian Anti-Bullying Policy, emphasising the importance of Respect For All. It is important that all members of the school community have a say in what our shared values should be. To that end, we will shortly be carrying out a consultation on our values and we will be asking what really matters to us here at Knox Academy. I do hope many of you will take the opportunity to share your views. This week was an important one for us in terms of the way forward for the school. On Wednesday and Thursday, we had a review visit from members of East Lothian’s Quality Improvement team. The team met with groups of pupils and staff and also observed classes across every faculty. I am delighted to say that we’ve had positive feedback about the direction of travel for the school, testament to the hard work, enthusiasm and commitment of staff and pupils. In the feedback session, my proudest moment was hearing how impressed the review team was with our pupils: the quality of dialogue with our Pupil Learning Team and our S6 Senior Team was excellent. We are certainly privileged to work with such wonderful young people here at Knox Academy. Next week is an unusual week for me as I will be out of school for most of the week. I have been given the opportunity to take part in the Columba 1400 Head Teachers’ Leadership Academy on Skye. The focus of the course is values-based leadership and I am sure what I learn throughout the week will be of great benefit as we begin to explore the Knox Academy values with the school community. I look forward to having time to reflect on my own values, and on my leadership, in the beautiful setting of Staffin in the north of Skye. I will be thinking of everyone back at Knox, though!

Lauren Rodger
Head Teacher

Published: 13 October 2017

Events and Activities
Early October has seen a wide variety of activities taking place in school. A highlight for me was undoubtedly the premiere of the Green Team’s short film. The S1, S2 and S3 pupils on the team conveyed a powerful message on the topic of ‘Reuse and Recycle’, as well as making clear the difference between the two. It was a very professional production, with a witty script and impressive performances. There was more creativity and teamwork on show in the Hall as our S2 pupils took on the Design & Technology Enterprise Challenge. The teams had to use their ingenuity and problem-solving skills to produce a projectile launcher. Some of the designs were so effective that an additional measuring tape was required to measure the distance travelled! We certainly have a number of budding engineers here at Knox Academy. Our Advanced Higher modern studies pupils had an interesting day at the Sheriff Court, putting their studies into a real-life context.

In assemblies, pupils heard from the S5 Youth Philanthropy Initiative team promoting the work of East Lothian Foodbank. Pupils in all year groups were encouraged to donate items and this morning the team gathered everything together, ready for delivery to the Foodbank. It was an impressive display, and the team are very grateful to everyone who contributed. This is yet another example of what a wonderfully caring school community we have here at Knox Academy. At the S1 assembly this week, we had a presentation from Eilidh Towler, telling us about her role as a Young Scot Youth Ambassador. Speaking in front of your peers is a daunting thing to do, but Eilidh was articulate, engaging and enthusiastic. It’s easy to see why she was chosen as an Ambassador. Eilidh will be playing a part in the Year of Young People 2018, and we look forward to hearing more from her on how we can all be involved in this initiative.

School Improvement Plan – 4 Key Priorities
The SIP is an important working document for the school. It includes actions to be taken following the June visit by the Head of Education and her team and we continue to address these action points. The full SIP is a lengthy document; I think we need to have a small number of clear priorities which are easily remembered by everyone in our school community and which we can all work towards together. The senior management team, in conjunction with our Quality Improvement Officer at East Lothian Council, have been looking at this and we have identified four main priorities for the school over the coming year:

  • deliver high quality teaching and learning; 
  • support the needs of all learners; 
  • foster an ethos of ambition for all;
  • provide leadership opportunities for all.

You will see that in these 4 Key Priorities there is an emphasis on the word ‘all’. I am proud that Knox Academy is an inclusive, comprehensive school and we will continue to do all that we can to ensure everyone feels a valued part of our school community. We will be sharing these 4 Key Priorities with pupils following the October break, and a list of actions will be appearing on the website shortly. We will be constantly returning to the SIP 4 Key Priorities and actions throughout the session and I look forward to working with all members of the school community as we continue on our journey of school improvement here at Knox Academy.

Pupil Learning Team
Since arriving at Knox Academy, I have been impressed with the commitment of many of our S6s to lead initiatives in the school. One example of this is the Pupil Learning Team. The S6 pupils leading the PLT gave an excellent presentation to all year groups in assemblies, and followed this up by visiting all register classes and encouraging pupils to join the team. Already, the full team – with representatives from all year groups - has been involved in sharing their thoughts on teaching and learning in the faculty reviews which are currently taking place, and they have proved to be insightful and perceptive in their feedback. The PLT are also looking at the 4 Key Priorities on the School Improvement Plan and considering how their actions can help to take these forward. The PLT is certainly a great example of the pupil voice being heard loudly at Knox Academy.

Extra-curricular Programme
There is a huge amount on offer at Knox Academy outwith the classroom in terms of extra-curricular activities. We don’t want anyone to miss out, so information has been gathered in a booklet, which you can find at knox.is/extra. I am very grateful to all the staff and members of the community who give up their own time to run these activities, for the benefit of all our young people.

Asbestos – East Fortune Hospital
I have been asked by PC Johnston, Youth Community Officer, to pass on the following message to parents: Further to articles seen on the news and in the Courier last week, could I please highlight the dangers of derelict buildings, specifically in our area, the old East Fortune Hospital. There have been recent reports of local youths hanging around the hospital grounds. This gives cause for concern due to the risk of being injured, but also that the property contains asbestos and, as such, could cause serious health issues. When out and about please read and adhere to any warning signs that you see. They are there for your safety.

I wish all our pupils and staff a very happy, relaxing October break.

Lauren Rodger
Interim Head Teacher
13 October 2017