February 2018

Published: 11 February 2018

Write Times 2
Without a doubt, the highlight of this week has been the achievement of S5 pupil, Charlotte Birchall. Last session, Charlotte wrote a personal reflective essay as part of her National 5 English portfolio. The quality of writing was so high that Charlotte’s piece has been published in Write Times 2, a collection of outstanding writing submitted by young people as part of their SQA English qualifications. The publication was launched at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow this week. At the event, Charlotte met John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, who congratulated her on her wonderful writing. Copies of Write Times 2 are being sent to all school libraries across Scotland and we look forward to receiving ours very soon here at Knox Academy. A huge well done to Charlotte!

Pupil Learning Team
I was privileged to attend the latest Pupil Learning Team meeting this week and I am in awe of the work that this team is doing to further school improvement here at Knox Academy. The PLT, which has representatives from all year groups, has subdivided into four teams. Each team is planning how to develop one of our 4 Key Priorities:
•    Develop high quality teaching and learning
•    Support the needs of all learners
•    Foster an ethos of ambition
•    Provide leadership opportunities for all. 
Pupils are ambitious for our school, as well as being creative and committed. They will be sharing their action plans with all pupils and staff over the coming months. Hearing their plans, I know that the Pupil Learning Team is going to have a very positive impact on all that we do here at Knox Academy.

Fizz Free School
In assemblies this week, Ms Leighton explained to all year groups that we are having a Fizz Free initiative for the last two weeks in February. Outlining the benefits of going ‘fizz free’ in terms of health, cost and the environment, she encouraged all pupils to take part. We would welcome the support of parents and carers, too, in persuading our pupils of the benefits of avoiding sugary, fizzy drinks. 

School Day Timings
Thank you to all parents and carers who shared their opinions on our pilot of a shorter lunch break and an earlier finish. Taking all feedback into account from pupils, parents and staff, we have decided to continue with the new timings. You can see a brief summary of the feedback on the school website.

Happy Holiday
It just remains for me to wish all members of the Knox Academy school community a very happy, relaxing February break. We look forward to welcoming pupils back to school on Tuesday 20 February at 8.44 am sharp.

Lauren Rodger
Head Teacher


Published: 04 February 2018

In the last couple of weeks, we have held two events which show true partnership working in Knox Academy: the Burns Supper and the Careers Fair.

The Burns Supper, organised by the PTA, was a joyful event. I loved it! Our pupils shone in so many ways – delivering speeches, giving recitations, performing Burns’ songs and tunes, waiting on tables, piping in the haggis. Our young people were all wonderful, but I am going to single out one person: Kara Singh gave a very spirited reply to the Toast to the Lassies, in the form of a feminist poem. I’m not sure what Burns traditionalists would have made of it, but I thought it was witty, funny and bold.

Our first Careers Fair for many years was a great success, with well over 300 people attending. The event was a joint effort between the Parent Council, the Pupil Learning Team, school staff and the East Lothian DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) team. There was a real buzz in the Hall during the evening and feedback from parents and pupils who attended was hugely positive. I’m sure the event will have given many of our pupils some new ideas about what pathway they might follow beyond school.

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the parents who helped out with both events.

You may remember that in an earlier update I told you about two of our S6 pupils, Phoebe Hayman and Fergus Dickson, being given the opportunity to visit Auschwitz with the Holocaust Education Trust. Keen to share a sense of this experience with their fellow pupils, Phoebe and Fergus arranged for all S5 and S6 pupils to view a live webcast with a Holocaust survivor on Holocaust Memorial Day. This was a moving experience for everyone, and I have no doubt that the testament of Janine Webber will long remain in the hearts and minds of our pupils.

In S1, S2 and S3 assemblies this past week, pupils have been hearing about positive mental health and wellbeing from Head Pupil Cole Dean and his team. Next week, they will be running events and activities in school to foster positive mental health. The creativity, commitment, and sense of community of our senior pupils never ceases to amaze me, and I am delighted that they are running this initiative. Our prefect team are keen to leave a legacy as they move on from Knox Academy – watch out for more about that in future updates.

This week, we said goodbye to Mrs Moore in the CDT department as she retired from teaching. We are very grateful for all that Mrs Moore has done for the pupils of Knox Academy and, in particular, for the encouragement that she has given female pupils to pursue their studies in technical subjects. We wish her a very happy, fulfilling retirement. This coming week is the last week in school for Mrs Doig, Traprain guidance teacher, before she goes off on maternity leave. It’s an exciting time for Mrs Doig and her family. We will certainly miss her, but she knows that she leaves Traprain pupils in safe hands as Ms Stobie is taking over the guidance role in her absence. We will be advertising for a geography teacher to cover while Ms Stobie is in guidance.

School Day Timings
We are heading into the last week of our pilot of the shorter lunch break and the earlier finish to the school day. I would welcome comments from parents and carers as part of our evaluation of the pilot. Please email me at the address below if you wish to pass on your thoughts about the new timings. Staff and pupils are currently sharing their opinions and I would really welcome feedback from parents, too.

Year of Young People
You may have seen articles in the national press recently about 2018 being the Year of Young People in Scotland. We are privileged to have a YOYP Ambassador at Knox Academy: Eilidh Towler, in S1. Eilidh recently attended the launch of the YOYP, and she has ambitious plans for taking this forward in the Knox Academy cluster. Watch out for more information on what Eilidh and her team are doing throughout 2018.

Grace’s Sign
Thanks to a Parent Council initiative, some of our school toilets will soon have a ‘Grace’s Sign’ on the door. Grace is an East Lothian schoolgirl who was inspired to create signs for public toilets to remind people that not all disabilities are clearly visible. Grace had experienced negative reactions when she used disabled toilets and wanted to do something about it so that other people would not be subjected to the negativity. Grace’s campaign has been taken up by Crohn’s and Colitis UK, and by organisations around the world. I’m pleased that here at Knox Academy we are supporting Grace’s campaign and, hopefully, making life just a little bit easier for people in our school community.

Lauren Rodger
Head Teacher