October 2018

Published: 26 October 2018

It was nice to see our pupils and staff returning to school after the October break looking energised.  Our first day back, Monday, involved all ELC staff gathering together to look at the Common School Day (further details below for parents/carers) and also to look at the Digital Learning Strategy for ELC schools.  In the afternoon I delivered a session on Moral Purpose and Values and Caroline Falconer (DHT) and Kate Bulloch (Social Subjects) delivered a session on Learning and Teaching.  Feedback from staff was very positive and they enjoyed reflecting on their own and the school’s values and how they align with their classroom practice.

Attainment Reviews

During this week it has been really fruitful for me to meet with each Faculty Head, members of their faculty and the DHT link to review the SQA attainment for 2017-18.  This in-depth analysis has allowed us to create individualised action plans for each faculty which will allow them to continue to drive forward attainment in each of their subject areas.  Various approaches will be used across different faculties but the use of such tools as Senior Phase Tracking booklets and Flip Learning (where pupils perhaps watch a video or revise aspects of the course before it is formally taught) will support pupils and staff in raising attainment.


There is no update on staffing from my previous HT update

Common School Day Feasibility Study

On 12 June 2018 a paper was presented to Cabinet seeking approval to undertake a feasibility study and consultation on the introduction of a Common Secondary School Day and potential resultant benefits for Primary education. A feasibility consultation document has now been prepared and a feasibility consultation has commenced.

East Lothian Council Education Service would like to hear your views on the feasibility consultation, which will run until Sunday 11 November 2018. The link to the online survey can be found on our school website.

East Coast FM

We are very lucky to have our own radio stars at Knox Academy who do a sterling role in running some of the programmes you may listen to on East Coast FM at the weekend.  They also broadcast worldwide on the internet!   Paul Vernon, in S4, has been volunteering at the radio station for four years now as part of the Knox Academy School Bell team.  The ‘School Bell’ is a programme produced and run by the Knox Academy team (11 members) and they are on air every Wednesday and Friday from 6-8pm (please listen in if you haven’t already).  When Paul initially started he was on the Wednesday show but now leads the Friday evening show, taking requests from locals as well as running the technical side of the programme.  Paul enjoyed it so much he now gets up super early (5am) to run the Saturday morning breakfast programme from 6-8am.  Paul also helps at community events and gala days in and around Haddington and is a regular at East Coast FM gigs at the Corn Exchange.  He has also gained a Saltire Award for over 1000 hours of volunteering and has been nominated for the Young Volunteer of the Year at the forthcoming Inspiring Volunteers Awards.  We wish him luck with this nomination. 

East Lothian Schools Macmillan Concert

What a breath taking evening of music our young musicians put on at St Mary's Kirk this week.  The venue was full of local support for our young talented performers raising money for such a worthy cause.  The night was filled with exceptionally talented musicians led by our team of skilled music instructors.  Dillon Ball's Cello solo was simply beautiful followed by Oscar Pirie’s toe tapping rendition of Baker Street on the Saxophone.  The evening finished with a stand out performance by the Knox Academy Jazz Band playing ‘You've got to Wing it’ and ‘Berg Africa’. The whole evening was fantastic and inspiring!  Well done to all involved!  (by Gill Pereira – Head of Technologies)

Knox Academy U18s Rugby

Knox Academy has got through to the Scottish Cup Plate and the match will take place in Kingussie on Wednesday 31st October.  All in the Knox Community would like to wish the team the best of luck in this match.  Hopefully the long coach journey will provide time for some motivational team talk so when they arrive on the pitch they lead from the word go! We look forward to hearing the result. 

I am off to the East Lothian Sports Awards tonight at the Brunton Theatre and look forward to celebrating the successes of all in the East Lothian Community.

Have a good weekend

Sue Cook


Published: 12 October 2018

It was great welcoming our prospective S1 pupils at our Information Evening on Wednesday of this week. The hall was packed full and there was a real buzz of excitement around the school as pupils and their parents/carers visited departments and tried their hand at various tasks and challenges.  We really enjoyed their visit to the school and look forward to continuing our links throughout the year to keep the transition between primary and secondary as seamless as possible.  A huge thanks to all who attended and made the evening a great success.


We are currently recruiting for two Biology teachers (one full time temporary and one part time temporary). 

Also advertised is a full time English post.

New staff started/about to start:

Alicia Coyle started in Maths this week

Andy Johnstone (Physics) and Trish McLeod (Biology) both start after the October break

Leaving – Manus McGeehan – we wish him all the best in his retirement and thank him for all his years of service at Knox Academy.

Dress Down Day

We had a dress down day today to raise funds for UNICEF. This is one of our selected charities as we work towards our Rights Respecting School Gold Award and we hope that our work with them will help our young people understand a bit more about citizenship.  The amount raised has not yet been totalled but I would like to thank pupils, staff and parents/carers for their support of this charity.

Macmillan Coffee Morning 

This was held at the school on Thursday.  Staff were treated to an amazing array of cakes and goodies and all in aid of a fantastic cause. The total raised was £152.49.  Well done to all those who baked for the occasion and helped us raise so much.

Drama Pupils

Congratulations to our talented N4/5, Higher and Advanced Higher pupils who presented their Drama Skills pieces to an invited audience on Thursday 11th October. Excellent effort and commitment to create interesting work that gave the audience lots to think about. We look forward to inviting them back for our Production Skills presentations in November.


Eco-Committee Logo Competition

The deadline for the Eco-Committee logo competition was Monday 8 October.  This week the group met to agree on which logo would represent us.  The Eco Committee received an amazing variety of logos (which can be viewed on Twitter) and loved the range of ideas and the level of creativity in all of them.  The winning logo was designed by Niamh Brotherston in S4 and she received a reusable coffee cup and reusable bamboo straws as her prize. Thanks to all students who participated in the competition! (by Miss Laudi)

Young Enterprise

We have one Young Enterprise Company running in the Lothian competition this year consisting of nine S6 girls.  Their product idea is to sell tote bags which they will personalise with a range of designs. The team name is 9Designs. The team was represented by one member of the team, and their Business Advisor, at the Young Enterprise Training day last Saturday.  The event was hosted at the RBS offices at  Gogar and the participants were involved in workshops and talks which gave them an insight into what would be required to run a successful YE company and proved to be very informative.

Last night, Thursday 11 October, they held a quiz night in the Food Court which was very well attended by around 60 people including staff, parents and S5 and S6 pupils.   The only S5 pupil team did really well by beating the 3 adult and 3 S6 teams involved.

The whole event was extremely well organised by the YE team with questions well suited to the audience.  Lots of delicious home baking and refreshments were available and there was a range of great raffle prizes.  There was a lovely atmosphere in the food court, good natured competition of course, and ultimately everyone commented on how much they enjoyed the evening.  

The young people involved in the organisation and running of this event and those who participated on the night are a credit to our school and I was proud to be part of it.  The final amount raised to help them on the Young Enterprise journey is around £380! (by Dot Ferguson)


I would like to wish the Knox Academy staff, pupils, parents/carers a fun and relaxing October break and time to recharge your batteries for what will be a very busy term when we resume.  Pupils return on Tuesday 23rd October.

Best wishes

Sue Cook


Published: 05 October 2018

Good afternoon

Every week seems to just get busier and busier.  This week and next the Senior Leadership Team is involved in Faculty Reviews of Science and Health and Wellbeing. This involves us in classroom observations of all teachers in these faculties and seeing what the learning experiences are like for our young people in these classes.  As part of the review process we also hold pupil focus groups.  These allow us to hear from pupils about their learning and progress in these faculties and what they feel we are doing well and what else they would like to see happening to maximise their learning.

Through these reviews, and the professional dialogue with teachers and pupils, we are able to identify areas of effective practice and areas we to need to further develop.  This allows us to then focus on our professional learning and development to ensure that our learners get the best experiences we can offer when they visit our classrooms.

Extra- curricular

Many of young people are involved in extra-curricular events after school and this week has seen a new opportunity for S1/2 pupils to become involved in work with the National Theatre.  I will speak a little more about that later in my update.   I would advocate for all of our young people to try to do at least one, if not two, extra-curricular activities, as they offer the opportunity to further develop skills such as working with pupils across year groups which builds relationships across the school,. These activities also develop skills such as problem solving, team work, confidence, creativity – and many more! 


This week I would also like to ask parents/carers to support their young person in coming to school on a regular basis.  All pupils should be aiming for a 100% attendance rate at school as this gives them the maximum opportunity to achieve their potential.  If a pupil is only at school 80% of the year this is equivalent to them missing two days in every fortnight and will have a direct impact on both their attainment and achievement.  For every 10% missed there is evidence that this equates with pupils attaining a whole grade lower e.g. getting a C in a National 5 exam when they could have attained a B had they been in class all the time.  This becomes even more pronounced the less they attend school.  Pupils need to be in class to learn as this is where they get the specialist support that will help them progress.  

We would be grateful if all parents/carers could support us in ensuring your young person gets to school on time and aims for 100% attendance to maximise their opportunities.  We do however acknowledge that specific medical conditions/illness can impact on attendance and the school will do our best to support pupils/parents/carers at these times.


We have preferred candidates for our part-time Geography and Physics posts

We are currently recruiting for English and Biology

Mr Peter Luke, our new Business Manager will start with us on Monday.

Mrs Lisa Braid will start with us in Home Economics as our new auxiliary

Mrs Jenny Wright will join as a Support for Learning teacher

Mr Manus McGeehan will leave us next Friday and we wish him well for his retirement.

Pupil News


Eight of our S4-S6 pupils attended Sports Leadership courses this week - Organising Competitions, Learning to Coach, Learning to Coach Gymnastics, Rugby Referee Level 1 and Football SFA Development Skills.  The knowledge and practical skills they gain from attendance at these courses also support the extra –curricular clubs we run at the school.  As a number of these courses are accredited those attending also gained a qualification.

P4 Rugby Festival

Thank you to a group of S2/S5 and S6 boys who went along, with Scott Marnoch, to support the running of the P4 Rugby Festival.  A superb way to build links with our cluster primaries.

Rory Morrison S3

Last Saturday, Rory completed a gruelling charity ride for Poppy Scotland. The cycle was over 100km long with over 4500ft of ascent.  His route started in Prestonpans and then followed the coast to North Berwick, over to Garvald, up to Whiteadder reservoir in to the Lammermuirs before routing back to Prestonpans via Gifford, Humbie and Musselburgh.  Phew!  Of the 850 riders taking part Rory and his friend were the youngest to complete the course.  This was an amazing effort made all the harder with winds gusting at 35mph! This ride was a culmination of intense training and hard work.

Rory has also competed at a national level in mountain bike racing achieving 6th place in both the British Enduro Championships and Scottish Downhill Championships.

Congratulations Rory – Knox Academy is very proud of all your achievements!

National Theatre Connections

On Wednesday the Drama Department held auditions for S1/2 pupils for their National Theatre Connections Project.  They were overwhelmed by the turnout, with 40 pupils turning up to audition.  The Faculty will be announcing the cast next Friday, 12th October, and can’t wait to start the rehearsals after the October break for their production at the Traverse Theatre next year!  Exciting times and a great opportunity for all involved.

Staff News

Scottish 10k

Congratulations to Karen Malone, Business Education, who completed the Scottish 10k on Sunday 23rd September and to Vicky Lyon who also ran in the Great Scottish Half Marathon in Glasgow last weekend (which followed on from her running two marathons the previous weekend).  Great to see staff looking after their health and wellbeing too. 

MacMillan Coffee Morning

Although a little later than most, Knox Academy will hold our MacMillan Coffee Morning next Thursday (11th October). Thank you to Mae Ball and other staff for organising this special fundraiser.

Dates for your diary:

Wednesday 10th October – P7 Information Evening – Main Hall – 7pm

Thursday 11th October – 9 Designs Quiz Evening – 6.45-9pm – Library (tickets also available on the night - £5 adults, £3 pupils)

Saturday 13th - Monday 22nd October (inclusive) – October holiday for pupils

Tuesday 23rd October – Parent Council Meeting – School Library – 6.15pm

Wednesday 7th November – S5/6 Parent Consultation – 5-7pm

The sun is shining outside as I finish my update and hope it continues to shine for all in the Knox Academy community over the weekend.

Have a good one!

Sue Cook