May 2018

Published: 21 May 2018

SQA Examinations
The SQA exams are well underway and, so far, are going very smoothly. I am delighted to hear from the invigilators how well our pupils are conducting themselves. Speaking to a few pupils around the exam hall, it is clear that they have worked hard, they are well-prepared and that they are even – at times - enjoying the opportunity to show the depth of their learning. I am very pleased, too, that junior pupils are being respectful as they go around the building during exams, keeping very quiet.

Pupil Achievements
S1 pupil, Dylan Pearman, is undoubtedly a rising star in the world of squash. He recently represented Scotland at the Under 13 Five Nations squash tournament in France. What a tournament it was, for players and spectators alike, with lots of very close, exciting matches. Though Scotland lost overall in their match against Wales, Dylan was awarded player of the match for his effort. Scotland beat Ireland 5-0, though Dylan sustained a black eye in his game – despite squash supposedly being a non-contact sport! Overall, the Scotland team came fourth. The team really tried hard and it was an amazing experience for them all.

Another sports star playing for his country is David Hayman, S1, who was a member of the Scotland  Under 14 table tennis team, playing in the home internationals over Easter.

Knox Academy produces stars in the world of music, too. Clara Wilberforce, S4, has recently been invited to join the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland as a drummer, following a rigorous audition process. Anyone seeing Clara perform here at Knox will know that she is a natural percussionist, and we’re delighted for her.

Primary 7 Transition Events
Now that they are in their final term of primary school, the P7 pupils in our cluster primaries are becoming increasingly excited about their move to Knox Academy after the summer holiday. In preparation for that move, we have a number of transition events taking place this term. Recently, they joined us for health & wellbeing and literacy events. Throughout the day, the P7s were supported by our S3 pupils. Mrs Rankine, who organised the literacy event, described our S3s as “supportive, kind, professional, positive, engaged!  They knew exactly what they were doing and really made the day for the P7 pupils.  They were a real credit to the school and demonstrated pupil leadership in action.”

Mr Wands, who organised the health & wellbeing activities, said of the helpers: “I felt in 'safe hands' with our S3 and S1 leadership groups. Our Young Leaders really did us proud in terms of their role modelling of the Knox values and they led activities with both authority and enthusiasm.”

The P7s will be back at Knox Academy next week for a Numeracy event and I’m sure it will be every bit as successful.

Primary Liaison Activities
Meanwhile, our pupils are also going out to the primary schools to help with their events.

Four of our pupils - Findlay, Josh, Drew and Leo – led a very enjoyable rugby skills coaching session for P3 pupils at Haddington Infant School. Class teacher Mrs Linton said, “The four young men all displayed excellent leadership skills and kept 30 energetic primary threes active and engaged for the whole time. Well done to them all for their positive encouragement and very pleasant manner and for a very enjoyable rugby session.”

Meanwhile, Knox School of Hockey leaders came to the rescue when the Haddington P6 Hockey Festival (with 100 plus pupils) was in danger of being cancelled due to a shortage of coaches and umpires. According to one of the organisers, Knox pupils were “outstanding”.

The S3 Knox Sports Leadership group led the King’s Meadow Sports Day for P6 and P7 pupils. This was a great opportunity for liaison between the two schools and our Knox pupils proved to be a great help, coaching and encouraging the younger pupils in every event.

Youth Games
It was the turn of our pupils to be the competitors at the Youth Games, held at Meadowmill. Around 450 S1 and S2 pupils from across East Lothian competed in a variety of sports, including rugby, football, basketball, hockey and badminton. The weather was very kind to the competitors and it was lovely to see parents on the sidelines supporting our young people. Mr Wands, our Active Sports Co-ordinator tweeted, “The day saw many top quality performances and some equally great moments of true sportsmanship and fair play!”

School Library Events
Author John Young visited Knox Academy recently to speak to S3 pupils about his work as a writer and, in particular, his book Farewell Tour of a Terminal Optimist. John was a fascinating speaker and may well have encouraged some of our young people to consider a career in creative writing. We are very grateful to Floris Books and East Lothian Library Service for enabling the event to happen.

A group of S1 pupils also had an intriguing time in the Library recently when they had the chance to attend a Metaphrog workshop, led by graphic novel creators. There’s no doubt that the Knox Academy School Library is often a creative and exciting place to be!

An intrepid group of S3 pupils have been training for their Hill Skills Award over the last couple of months.  This culminated in a recent overnight expedition, where the pupils excelled themselves, according to trip leader Phil Gilholm.

Members of the school’s Yoga Club recently had the opportunity to practise their yoga at Lululemon in Edinburgh, where they were taken through a challenging - but fun! - flow practice. The group were then treated to a delicious healthy lunch at Urban Angel.

Our Junior Adventure Leaders are soon to complete a programme of activities at Foxlake. They have had a ball, at the same time as developing their leadership skills. You may have seen some of the tweets from Scott Marnoch over the weeks. It has been a delight to see our young leaders increasing in confidence as the weeks have gone on.

Junior pupils in business classes have recently been working in collaboration with the food technology department, producing some wonderful soups, sandwiches and smoothies. All who tasted them agreed they were delicious, made by some entrepreneurs of the future!

Poppy Scotland
Though Remembrance Sunday is some time away yet, plans are already afoot for this year. Knox Academy is the local area organiser for PoppyScotland and recently Mr Flood and S5 pupils Dylan Brotherston and Karina Serdtseva-McKinnon attended the annual PoppyScotland Volunteer Gathering.  They heard presentations about the Scottish Poppy Appeal 2018 and a veteran shared his story about the difference PoppyScotland had made to his life, which was humbling and inspiring at the same time.  They attended workshops on Making the Most of 2018 and Inspiring the Future of Volunteering and came away brimming with ideas for this year and aiming to beat last year’s total of £4,900. If anyone would like to support this year’s appeal, please contact Mr Flood at the school.

Family Learning
Last week, we ran a family learning session in Haddington Rugby Club for some S2 and S3 parents who were sent invitations to attend. This was based on the very successful Family Learning course held in the autumn for S1 parents. I have to say we were disappointed with the turnout of parents, but we feel these family learning sessions are very valuable so we aim to offer them again in the autumn, this time for parents of the new S1 pupils. I am very grateful to Mrs Falconer, DHT, and her team of staff who have worked very hard to ensure that the sessions are of great value to parents.

Parent Council Meeting
The next Parent Council meeting takes place on Wednesday 30 May at 6.15 pm in the School Library. All parents and carers are welcome to attend.

New Head Teacher Appointment
I was delighted to hear that Susan Cook, currently acting head teacher at Trinity Academy in Edinburgh, is the preferred candidate for the post of permanent head teacher here at Knox Academy. I look forward to working with Ms Cook over the coming weeks as she prepares to take up the role following the summer break. I am certainly going to miss Knox Academy – but more of that in a future head teacher’s update. 

Lauren Rodger
Head Teacher