November 2017

Published: 27 November 2017

Last Friday, the timetable looked a bit different for all our S1 and S2 pupils. As part of Get Active Day, they had the opportunity to try out a variety of activities, including: walking, golf, yoga, Pilates, basketball, netball, trampolining and boxing. The day was facilitated by our Sports Leaders and proved to be a great success, with very positive feedback from pupils. Our hope is that the sense of purpose, community and fun that pupils experienced on the day will spur them on to take up a new activity and ‘get active’. We are indebted to Mr Wands, our Sports Co-ordinator, and his team of helpers for making the event such a success.

Knox Academy played host to a web design masterclass this week, attended by pupils from other schools in the authority as well as our own computing science senior pupils. The focus was on audience and purpose of websites, and the pupils have come up with some excellent ideas on how we can improve our own school website. S4 history pupils studying Mary, Queen of Scots and the Reformation enhanced their knowledge at a workshop at Holyrood Palace on Tuesday. Despite the rain, the intrepid group then walked up the Royal Mile to visit Edinburgh Castle. A very topical issue, both in Scotland and worldwide, is renewable energy. S1 pupils had the chance to learn much more about this on a trip to the National Museum in Edinburgh, run by the science department. This may just be the catalyst for some our pupils to think about a career in the renewable industries of the future. This Sunday, a group of senior art pupils has spent the whole day at Haddington Golf Club creating a mural for the practice room. This is a great opportunity for our pupils to be involved in creating public art and we look forward to seeing pictures of the finished piece. If you are playing golf at Haddington, be sure to have a look at the Knox Academy artwork. I would like to say a huge thank you to pupils and art department staff for giving up their Sunday to do this for the community.

S1 pupil Dylan Pearman had a very successful weekend at championships in Aberdeen run by Scottish Squash. Dylan was runner-up in the Boys Under-13 event, losing in the final to the current Scottish champion at this age group. Dylan played amazingly well and his success is very well-deserved. Well done, Dylan, from the Knox Academy school community. If your child has achieved something outwith school, please do let us know. It is always great to hear of our pupils’ wider achievements.

The Haddington community is rightly very proud of the town’s success in Britain in Bloom over the years and Knox Academy junior pupils are doing their bit to make sure the town looks its best. Once a week for eight weeks, a group is working in partnership with Blooming Haddington to clear litter, going out around the town in all weathers. We are very grateful for the commitment, hard work and enthusiasm shown by the pupils. They really are responsible citizens! We also have a group of S1 and S2 girls taking part in the Green Angels programme run by the Green Team, a charity which provides opportunities for young people to engage in conservation projects. Over seven weeks, our girls spend every Thursday carrying out various environmental activities, supported by a local Ranger and Green Team staff. As well as learning about the natural world, developing teamwork skills and building their resilience, the pupils are working towards their John Muir Discovery Award.

I’m delighted to share the total amount raised by Knox Academy for Children in Need through last Friday’s events: a wonderful £886.87 will be sent to the appeal, including £28.24 raised by Amber Washington-Mackay who was sponsored to remain silent for the day. Well done to everyone involved.

Lauren Rodger
Head Teacher

Published: 19 November 2017

Last Sunday, many Knox Academy pupils participated in Haddington’s Remembrance parade and service at St Mary’s Church. Cole Dean, Head Pupil, laid a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of the school community. I was certainly very proud of all our young people, who conducted themselves with dignity and respect on the day. Recently, the Hall seemed more like a crime scene for our S3 pupils, who were attending a forensic science event run by the science faculty. Activities included a CSI whodunit, with white-suited S3s in full kit playing the part of Scene of Crime Officers. The pupils took on the task with enthusiasm, and this may just be the first career step for forensic investigators of the future. You may have seen on Twitter that a team of Knox pupils have done a great job supporting Haddington in Bloom, doing their bit to keep our town looking attractive. The pupils were praised for their hard work, their willingness to take on any task, and their good humour. Yet another reason for us to feel proud of Knox pupils! Our Community Development Officer, Doug Haig, is full of awe for another group of Knox young people: S2s have been taking part in a Decipher Assist programme in the community and Doug describes them as “a pleasure to work with.” The week ended on a fun note, with a dress down day and bake sale in aid of Children in Need. As I drove into school in the morning, it felt a bit surreal to see Batman at the gate reading a newspaper, but that was just a hint of the sights to come: instead of dressing down on the day, the S6s showed their creative side by dressing up. Amidst all the fun, I am sure that our school community will have raised a significant sum for the Children in Need appeal.

This week, I would like to single out an individual pupil for outstanding achievement: Andrew McKnight has been awarded the highly-prized Active East Lothian Award in the Volunteer Spotlight Awards. There is no doubt that Andrew is an inspiring volunteer - as a swim coach, a Young Ambassador, a Community Sports Leader, and an East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme helper. In the supporting statement for his nomination, Andrew is described as: “a committed and passionate individual...clearly focused on making the best for all the individuals he works with.” Andrew was presented with his Award at assembly this week and, judging by the prolonged applause he received, there is no doubt his peers hold him in high esteem. Andrew is a wonderful role model for our younger pupils, and we are all extremely proud that his achievement had been acknowledged in this way.

In recent weeks, we have said goodbye to four staff who are moving on from Knox: Ms Brannigan in RME, Ms Kirkwood in biology, and Mrs Freeman in Pupil Support. We wish them well and thank them for all that they have done for pupils of Knox Academy. We will shortly be interviewing for an RME teacher. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to recruit a biology teacher, despite re-advertising the post. Classes are being taught by a subject specialist as much as possible, either a supply teacher or other members of the department. We are currently reviewing the structure of Pupil Support and hope to advertise a post shortly. Another staff change has occurred in the maths department. Mr Blair is teaching four periods on a Tuesday at North Berwick High School, helping out the maths department which has been unable to recruit. This has resulted in a change of maths teacher for a small number of classes here at Knox.

Family Learning
This week saw the last session of our Family Learning Programme, held over four consecutive Thursday evenings and open to parents of S1 pupils. The sessions were run by a team of teachers, led by DHT Mrs Falconer. Topics included: the meaning of education, social learning, resilience, target setting and reporting, and study skills. Feedback from the parents who attended has been very positive and we intend to offer the programme again, to targeted year groups. I am very grateful to all the staff who worked so hard to ensure the programme was such a success.

4 Key Priorities
In this week’s assemblies, I have been sharing the school’s 4 Key Priorities with pupils. Every school in Scotland has to produce a School Improvement Plan which details actions the school will take as part of the on-going improvement process. At Knox Academy, we have streamlined our SIP into 4 Key Priorities, together with the actions which we believe will ensure these priorities are addressed. Our 4 Key Priorities are:

  • Deliver high quality teaching and learning
  • Support the needs of all learners
  • Foster an ethos of ambition
  • Provide leadership opportunities for all.

Our aim is for every member of the school community to be aware of these 4 Key Priorities, and to play their part in helping us achieve them. They can be found on the school website and we will keep everyone updated of progress, including through a display on the noticeboard at reception. I am excited about the way ahead for Knox Academy and I do believe our 4 Key Priorities will help us to be the best school that we can be!

Home Learning
One of our Key Priorities is to deliver high quality teaching and learning, and an action within that is to implement a home learning policy. We have now consulted with pupils, parents and staff and we are currently analysing the responses to questionnaires sent out to all these groups. The responses will inform the creation of our Home Learning Policy. In the policy, there will be a particular focus on home learning in the Broad General Education, especially in S3. We will also be aiming for consistency of experience across subjects. Thank you to all parents who responded to the survey.

Meadowpark, our communication provision, has produced a 4 Key Priorities document which complements that of Knox Academy. DHT Ms Prime, who leads Meadowpark, is working with her staff on an action plan to take forward these priorities. We have appreciated the support of local authority education staff in the development of this plan. This week, we also welcomed Liz Angus from Education Scotland, on a support visit to the provision.

Targeted Interventions
Following the recent tracking reports sent home to parents of pupils in the Senior Phase, we are carrying out targeted interventions with some pupils. These interventions are based on the original target grade agreed by pupil and teacher in September. If a pupil’s current working grade is three bands below the target grade in three or more subjects, then the pupil met with their guidance teacher or DHT Head of House to discuss their overall progress and to look at strategies for improvement. We hope that pupils find these interventions helpful and supportive. A minute of the meeting is sent home to parents/carers; this may be helpful with providing appropriate support at home.

Lauren Rodger
Interim Head Teacher
17 November 2017

Published: 12 November 2017

The school has been a very busy place this week, with lots going on outwith classrooms as well as within. On Sunday, Knox Academy was the venue for the East Lothian Schools Orchestra rehearsals, culminating in a wonderful performance of the two pieces the musicians had been working on over the weekend. There will be another opportunity to hear the Orchestra perform the pieces at the East Lothian Showcase concert in the spring. On Wednesday, senior RMPS (religious, moral and philosophical studies) pupils visited Edinburgh, enhancing their knowledge of Islam with a tour of the Mosque. Everyone particularly enjoyed lunch at the Mosque kitchen! For some of our senior pupils, their thoughts were focused on life beyond school when they visited the Skills Scotland event at Ingliston. Back in school, our S6s hosted a group of local veterans in the home economics department, serving afternoon tea with delicious home baking. This was a lovely event, and the veterans particularly enjoyed the tour of the school afterwards. There were many comments on how different school is now from their day. Two of our S6 pupils, Fergus Dickson and Phoebe Hayman, were part of a very special event on Thursday: as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz project, they visited the former Nazi concentration and death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The aim of the project is to increase young people’s knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust and to highlight what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable. To that end, Fergus and Phoebe will be sharing something of their experience with their fellow pupils here at Knox.

This week assemblies have had a poppy theme, with Mr Flood explaining the significance of Remembrance Sunday. He also shared a very moving slide presentation, displaying facts and images from World War I, interspersed with the names of the local Haddington men who lost their lives in the Great War. S6 pupils from the Environment Committee then told us how we can help others, in our own small way, when they explained the work of the Rock Trust. This charity works with young people between the ages of 16 and 25 who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Pupils have been asked to donate items of clothing, particularly warm clothing, as well as toiletries and foodstuffs. Any donations can be handed in to Ms Laudi in modern languages.

Each month, Tesco in Haddington chooses local charities to support. Customers are given tokens to drop into the box for their nominated charity, and this is matched with funding from Tesco. This month, please consider placing your tokens in the box for East Lothian Playscheme, or for Knox Academy’s own Green Angels. Both initiatives are extremely worthy of funding.

Parent Events
This week, we held three evening events for parents. The S5/S6 parents’ consultation evening on Wednesday gave parents and carers an opportunity to speak to their child’s teachers about progress in learning. In the foyer outside the Hall, there was a stunning display of art work by our senior pupils. There is no doubt that we have some very creative young people here at Knox Academy. On Thursday evening there were two events: the third session of the Family Learning Programme for S1 parents, and the Parent Council meeting. We have received some very positive feedback from the parents who are attending the Family Learning Programme, and we hope to offer this course to more parents in the near future. At the Parent Council meeting, we discussed topics such as home learning, curriculum development, East Lothian’s Parental Engagement Strategy and the recent evaluation visit by local authority staff. We are very lucky here at Knox Academy to have such supportive parents, keen to foster partnership with the school for the benefit of all our young people.

Lauren Rodger,
Head Teacher

Published: 05 November 2017

A highlight of this week was undoubtedly the S1 modern studies visit to the Scottish Parliament. As well as seeing around the building, pupils were given the opportunity to put questions to Iain Gray, our local MSP. Mr Gray was obviously very impressed with our pupils, tweeting: “Outstanding questions from S1 on their visit to this morning.” Our guest speaker in this week’s assemblies was Rev Martin Ritchie from St Mary’s Parish Church. He shared a story about two people in Nairobi, Kenya; they had been school friends but had lost touch and their lives took very different paths. The theme of the story was focused on kindness and treating others as you would want to be treated, which echoed the message of last week’s assemblies on respect and kindness towards others. These values are at the heart of our school community.

Just a reminder that our next Parent Council meeting will be held on Thursday 9 November, at 6.15 pm. All parents and carers are very welcome to attend.

Lauren Rodger
Head Teacher
3 November 2017