February 2019

Published: 28 February 2019

In readiness for my recent assemblies to S4/5/6 pupils on our school value of ‘ambition’ prior to them going on exam leave, I decided to do some research about Knox Academy and our notable former pupils.  As with all research I became a little side tracked but came across some facts I would like to share as I think you will also find them interesting.  Knox Academy is one of the oldest schools in the world and is the descendant of a medieval grammar school.  It was established in 1379, meaning we are now 640 years old and the 19th Century building was dedicated to John Knox.   Unfortunately I don’t think I will still be around for the 700th anniversary but I am sure many of you will be, along with our current and future pupils.  One of our former pupils was a signatory to the United States Declaration of Independence and another was Lord Mayor of London.  I am sure you will also know many more ‘famous’ former pupils and if you do, please do let me know.

I feel very privileged to be the Head Teacher of a school steeped in history.


Gavin Boyle, Biology, started with us on Monday 18th February.

Mrs Caroline Falconer (DHT) is embarking on a 23 month secondment as a Quality Improvement Officer with the South East Improvement.  It is hoped her replacement, Alice Clubb, will start with us in March.

Bill Plain, our Librarian will also be moving on to another post at the end of March and I would like to thank Bill for all his sterling work here over the years.  He will be missed.  We will be recruiting for a new Librarian over the coming weeks.

Interviews took place for English last week and I am pleased to say we have a preferred candidate who will start with us at the end of May.  Interviews also took place for the Guidance job share (Traprain House) with Mrs Wendy Doig. I delighted to say that Hannah McBride was successful and starts this Thursday in this role.

I have also advertised for full time positions in Modern Studies and PE and these are being interviewed this week.

We are re-advertising for a part-time Home Economics teacher.


The Art and Design Department is delighted to announce that Liam Golecki's artwork was Highly Commended in the recent RSA Schools Art Award. His study (a composition from his National 5 Folio) will be exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy Academicians' Gallery, Edinburgh from 9th March until 3rd April. The exhibition will showcase winning entries and highly commended pupils’ art work from across Scotland.


Over the weekend of Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th February several Knox Academy pupils took part in the final round of the East District Age Group Championships. This was held at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, and for some was the first long course (50m) event of the season. Knox Academy pupils put on stellar performances with many personal best swims. Notable performances across the weekend were Aidan Ballantyne (1st 200 IM, 1st 100 FREE 3rd 100 BREAST); Louisa Stoddart (1st 100 FLY) and Owen Williamson (3rd 100 BACK). Congratulations to all swimmers on some outstanding personal achievements, and in particular to Lauren Clark in S2 who has achieved a consideration time for Scottish National Age Groups in the 100 FLY and a massive 11 second personal best in the 200 IM (by Lana Borwick, PE) 


You will remember my recent posts about our S2 pupil, Dylan Pearman, who is doing exceptionally well in the sport of Squash. Due to his successes this season, Dylan has been selected to represent Scotland at under 15 in this year’s Five Nations in Galway, Ireland - the U15 team consists of 4 boys & 3 girls. Dylan will head off to this on 5th April and we wish him all the best in his performance and look forward to hearing how this goes following the Easter holidays. 


The Parents/Carers of National 4/5, Higher and Advanced Higher Drama students are invited to support performers at the open dress rehearsal of their performance exam pieces on Thursday 14th March, from 5pm in the Drama Studio.

SQA examiners shall be in to mark exam pieces for National 5 and Higher on Thursday 21st March and Advanced Higher on Wednesday 27th March. To all our performers in exams this year, Break a Leg!   (by Emma Whitfield, Drama)

Music – Spring Concert

Spring Concert - please note the change of date to 28th March 2019 – dress rehearsal/performance to P7s in the afternoon with the evening performance at 7pm. Tickets available soon and there is no reserved seating at our concerts (tickets may be numbered but this is just to allow us to keep note of numbers sold).

Exam Leave for S4/5/6 and Common School Day

All parents/carers should have received letters on the Common School Day and parents of S4/5/6 should have received letters in relation to Exam Leave.  Copies of these letters are also on the school website for reference.

Model United Nations Conference

Last Saturday, Knox Academy again made a significant impression with their magnificent performance at the weekend long Model United Nations Conference hosted by Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow. 

As the only public school in attendance, our pupils proudly championed the state school sector, outshining many, if not all, of the 33 independent fee-paying schools in attendance.

Ten Knox Academy pupils – two delegations of five – represented the views of Poland and the Netherlands, held over two days of inspirational, and at times, deeply passionate debate and discussion.

Over a prior preparation period, our delegates diligently researched predetermined current world issues which come under the remit of the UN, prepared resolution papers and, over the weekend, lobbied for support from other UN members - climaxing in a debate of both the chosen papers and relevant amendments.

The Knox Academy group debated magnificently, outwitting many of their committee counterparts and showed the necessary diplomacy when building coalitions with others. Teaching staff across the conference and the event organisers remarked on how admirably involved in the programme, and how well that Knox Academy pupils had conducted themselves for the entirety of the weekend - a truly exemplary display of diplomacy, manners, nous and intellect.

During the award ceremony on Sunday afternoon, one of our pupils collected an award for the best overall delegate in the Economic and Social Committee, while other pupils had amendments to papers successfully voted on. During the conference closing speech, both of our delegations were given honourable mentions for their performance - a truly proud moment for the pupils and teacher alike.

The commitment, discipline and spirit shown by the ten delegates from Knox Academy was impeccable and every single pupil should be rightly proud of their performance and contribution – you are a credit to Knox Academy and yourselves. (by Adam Miller, Modern Studies)

Staff News

Ten Marathons in Ten Days!!

Vicky Lyon, our PT Support for Learning has one of the school values in spades – that of ambition (and a bigger spade of tenacity I am sure).  Vicky is running these marathons in aid of Simpson’s Special Care Baby Unit, Edinburgh; a cause very close to her heart.  Here’s her story:

I've known Scott's parents for years. Craig was an NQT when I taught at Lasswade and his wife Charlotte is also a teacher. They also have a fabulous fur baby Freya, a madcap Jack Russell.

Scott was born in November 2018 with transposition of the main arteries, a hole in his heart and an obstruction. He needed emergency surgery just after birth and in February this year his surgeon confirmed he will also need the following procedures to be carried out as soon as he is strong enough:

1. His heart is missing significant muscle tissue which needs to be replaced

2. The arteries leading to his heart need switched about

3. There is a muscle obstruction in his heart that must be removed.

It was their story and that of other friends who have experienced baby loss that prompted me to embark on my 2019 mad-cap challenge to complete 10 marathons in 10 days and raise awareness and hopefully a few quid for the Special Care Baby Unit in Edinburgh so they can carry on supporting Special Care Babies and their families

 So here is the plan:

Saturday 13th April      Phoenix: Day 1 of 10 in 10 (Top Run 3) Walton on Thames (Surrey)

Sunday 14th April        Phoenix: Day 2 of 10 in 10 (Groovy Baby Marathon) Walton on Thames (Surrey)

Monday 15th April        Phoenix: Day 3 of 10 in 10 (Movies Day Marathon) Walton on Thames (Surrey)

Tuesday 16th April       Phoenix: Day 4 of 10 in 10 (PJs on the Path) Walton on Thames (Surrey)

Wednesday 17th April  Phoenix: Day 5 of 10 in 10 (Di-PLOD-ocus BONES ) Walton on Thames (Surrey)

Thursday 18th April     Phoenix Day 6 of 10 in 10 (Tricera-TROT BONES ) Walton on Thames (Surrey)

Friday 19th April 2019 Enigma: Day 7 of 10 in 10 (Good Friday 50k) Milton Keynes

Sat 20th April 2019      SVN:  Day 8 of 10 in 10 (Northampton Cakeathon)     

Sun 21st April 2019     SVN:  Day 9 of 10 in 10 (Northampton Chocothon)    

Monday 22nd April       Enigma: Day 10 of 10 in 10 (Easter Monday)   Milton Keynes

Tuesday 23rd April     Back to school!

All the Knox Academy community wish you all the best in this wonderful act of compassion.

Finally, please can I encourage parents/carers and friends of the school to follow us on Twitter and . This allows you to keep up-to-date with our day to day news as it happens.  The school calendar, on our website, is also kept up-to-date with all of our events and parents/carers should continue to refer to this regularly so you know of any events that are coming up for your child(ren).

Sue Cook

Published: 08 February 2019

Good afternoon

We have now reached half term and it has been a very busy one indeed, as you will know from my previous updates.  Staff and pupils have worked exceptionally hard this term especially with the addition of prelims for senior pupils and prelim marking for staff. Hopefully the holiday next week will allow everyone to recharge their batteries and return full of zest. 


Nick Tait, the new Faculty Head of Technologies, started with us on Monday.

Gavin Boyle, Biology, will start on Monday 18th February.

Mrs Caroline Falconer (DHT) is embarking on a 23 month secondment as a Quality Improvement Officer with the South East Improvement.  Alice Clubb, Curriculum Leader of Maths was the successful candidate and we are currently agreeing a start date for her.

Interviews will take place for English on Tuesday 19th February. The interviews for part-time temporary guidance teacher will also take place on Tuesday 19th February.   This will be a job share with Mrs Wendy Doig, who returned this week part-time Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

I have also advertised for full time positions in Modern Studies and PE.  These have gone out internally first (within East Lothian Council) and then externally thereafter if we do not appoint.

We are re-advertising for a part-time Home Economics teacher.


Dylan Pearman, S2, was playing at the Scottish Junior National Championships last weekend.  He had a bye in the first round but played 4 matches between Saturday and Sunday in the boys under 15 competition.  Dylan came 5th overall, which is fantastic considering he is 13 and only moved into this age category at the beginning of the season.  Well done Dylan!


Two S2 pupils, Oakleigh Robertson and Amy Reid,  won the Scottish Gymnastics Team Gym Championships at Meadowmill on Sunday (Level 3 Youth – the highest possible youth level). A brilliant achievement!

PE Performance

PE staff have been taking up their weekends going to see various pupils playing their sports in league and cup fixtures as part of the certificated course the pupils are doing (one off performance assessment).  PE staff have been very impressed with all the talented sports performers we have in our midst!


I was lucky enough to attend the Basketball Scottish Cup finals at the weekend to assess Lucy Lemmon in the Girls U18 cup.  It was a bit of a nail biting finish with seconds left on the clock and the score was tied – Lucy’s team stole the ball and drove up the court for a buzzer beater final 2 points.  Game finished West Lothian Wolves victorious 51-49!  Captain of the team is another of our pupils Molly McHugh who won MVP for the game.  Congratulations to the team but in particular to our Knox pupils Molly and Lucy! (Lana Borwick, PE)

Award Nomination

Angus Langlands, S5, has been nominated for the Skills and Learning/Community Champion for the forthcoming Scottish Disability Awards.  Nominations closed on Monday and we should hear the result in March.  Whether or not he wins the award his achievements are phenomenal.

For the past 18 months Angus has represented East Lothian in the Scottish Youth Parliament as well as speaking at government supported events promoting inclusion.

Angus has also volunteered in the local community and has been gardening as part of his Rural Skills course.  He has also been volunteering in the local charity shop.  Angus loves photography and takes many pictures just for fun and it is hoped over time these will form part of a Photography portfolio.  From what I hear, going into Haddington with Angus is like being with a celebrity!  He is known and liked wherever he goes.   We are very proud of Angus’ achievements at Knox Academy – a great ambassador for the school and a winner in his own right – award or not.

Museum of Flight - Engaging with Experience Project

Ross Combe, Education Officer, has written to us to say has been an absolute pleasure to work with all of the young people on this project.  It has been a great privilege to see how much each individual has developed in terms of their skill level and confidence.  They’ve all shown exemplary team working abilities too.  They are a real credit to you and to their school. 

It is great to get such positive feedback.

Dates for your diary:

February holiday – 11th–18th (Inclusive) for pupils (staff in-service Monday 18th February)

S2 Parents’ Evening – Tuesday 12th March – 5-7pm

Parent Council and AGM – Tuesday 19th March – 6.15-8pm (Library)

Easter holidays (staff and pupils the same) - Break up on Friday 5th April at 12.05pm and all resume at 8.44am on Tuesday 23rd April.

Have a good holiday week

Sue Cook

Published: 01 February 2019

It is hard to believe it is February already – where does the time go?  Most of our young people in S4/5/6 have been receiving their prelim results back this week and a few more results will be issued next week as staff finishing marking these. I hope your child has performed as well as they had hoped and if not, please encourage them that there is still time to build on their knowledge and performance between now and their final exams.  Studying often is the key and using the techniques that best suit is very much an individual preference.  Please refer your child to the SLT PowerPoints on study skills on the Knox Academy website and if they do need help with a revision plan, please ask them to see their Guidance Teacher or any of the Senior Leadership Team as we are all happy to provide individual support with this.


Nick Tait, the new Faculty Head of Technologies, will start with us on Monday.

Rebecca Graham, PE, started with us this week and seems to have settled in really well and getting to know all her new classes.

Gavin Boyle, Biology, will start on Monday 18th February.

Mrs Caroline Falconer (DHT) is embarking on a 23 month secondment as a Quality Improvement Officer with the South East Improvement.  Interviews took place today for her post and I am pleased to say we have a preferred candidate for this.  I will let you all know who this is in the very near future.

Interviews will take place for English over the next week or two. Unfortunately we did not get any applications for our HE post so we will be re-advertising this.  The post for a part-time Guidance teacher closes this Sunday.

In order to plan for next session I will be advertising for full time positions in Modern Studies and PE.  These will go out internally first (within East Lothian Council) and then externally thereafter if we do not appoint.

Finally, a huge thank you to Nicola Stobie who has been the Guidance teacher for Traprain for the last year and now returns to her substantive post in Geography. I think I speak for all staff, pupils and parents/carers in saying she has done a sterling job.  We will welcome Wendy Doig back next week to this role.

Green Flag

Way back in November Ms Laudi submitted an application to Eco-Schools for a Green Flag based on the work she had been leading with the Eco-Committee over the last year and a half.   Word finally arrived this week to say that Knox Academy has been awarded its first ever Green Flag.  This recognition is testament to all the hard work Miss Laudi and the Eco-Committee have done at the school and beyond.  Their ability to consistently and persistently convey to us all the importance of changing our approaches and to be eco-friendlier is vital in protecting our planet and future generations.  Well done to all involved – a very proud moment for the school.

Eco-Committee and Green Team

On Wednesday this week, the Eco-Committee and Green Team invited children from Pear Tree Nursery to make a sea creature display. Our goal was to create an underwater scene made exclusively from re-used/saved materials in order to raise awareness about the problem of plastic and rubbish in our oceans. We wanted make use of donated and leftover materials to prevent them from going to landfill. For example, we collected shimmery Christmas wrapping paper from staff because this is not recyclable. We also didn't buy new materials in order to avoid generating unnecessary waste. We made cut outs of sea creatures using leftover cardboard and we decorated them with materials like candy wrappers, leftover tissue paper, coloured jotter covers, and leftover Christmas wrapping paper.

The children from Pear Tree had a fun time gluing materials on to their sea creatures and Knox students did an amazing job of ensuring that the event ran smoothly. Our Knox students were excellent role models as they supported the children to cut out materials and glue them on to their sea creatures. It was fantastic to see the two groups get together to do something positive! Pear Tree staff have taken the artwork to create an eco-display in the nursery and we can't wait to see the result! Thanks to all the staff who donated materials to help with our project and thanks to the Eco-Committee and Green Team for representing Knox with great respect and enthusiasm. Pictures of this event are already up on the Eco-Committee Twitter account (). Check them out! (by Miss Laudi)

Cross Country

On Wednesday 30th January, Miss Borwick took a group of 18 pupils to Foxlake to participate in the annual East Lothian Cross Country Championships. For those that previously attended this event, this was a change of venue and a new experience for all. S1-S3 categories completed a 3km loop, with seniors completing a slightly longer 3.7km. Knox took a mix of experienced and non-experienced runners who all contributed to the team's success massively. All produced outstanding personal results, but notably the senior boys, made up of Daniel Hall (S4), Harvey Thomson (S5) and Campbell Walker (S5) finished 3rd in their category. Rudie Shearer (S1), also completed a successful run, finishing 3rd in the S1 category. Thank you to all the runners who gave their all to represent the school, and thank you to the parents/carers who came along to support and cheer our runners on. (by Miss Borwick)


Owen Williamson (S2) swam at Brodies Scottish Schools Championships on Saturday 26th January at Tollcross in Glasgow, where the 2014 Commonwealth Games were held. Owen swam in the 100 and 200 metre backstroke event. This was the first long course meet of the year, where swimmers perform in 50m pools. Owen swam massive PBs in both events, where he took over 5 seconds off his 100m time - resulting in a 5th place finish, and 9 seconds off his 200m time - resulting in a 6th place finish.  Many of the swimmers from Knox will be completing final competition preparation to try to advance their times to ensure they meet consideration and qualification times for the Scottish National Age Groups in April.


This week I ran a series of assemblies based on one of our school values ‘Respect’, which has been our focus this session.  I touched on the Scottish humour/banter and then spoke about how we relate to one another in the Knox Academy Community and ‘how it takes a village to raise a child’ - the idea that we all need to buy into this value and bring it to life in the work of the school (classrooms, corridors and our community).  I then showed our pupils the new poster on our school value of RESPECT, which was designed by them and the Parent Council.  This is now displayed widely around the school in classrooms and corridors. Thank you to all who contributed to this and raising the profile of this value and its importance in the ethos and culture of our school and our wider community.


As winter hits the wearing of uniform seems to have declined.  If young people are wearing cosy tops/jackets to keep warm (which is great), please can parents/carers support them wearing the official school uniform underneath these as these tops/jackets must be removed in class.  The school uniform comprises of – shirt, tie, black trousers/skirt, black jumper/Knox Academy or plain black hooded top, black shoes/boots and, of course, blazers for those in S5/6.  The uniform gives the school a proud identity and I am keen to keep this to the fore as part of our school ethos.

We are currently reviewing our school uniform and the Parent Council and Pupil Voice are being consulted on this.  I will be writing home to parents/carers soon to inform them of any changes for next session to give everyone time to plan ahead. 

S3 Parents’ Evening

Thanks to staff who gave positive advice in regard to next steps for learning.  Parents /carers I spoke to were all very positive about the information they had been given about their child’s progress and next steps in their child’s subjects. Thank you to all who came along.

Request for Parents/Carers to support School Improvement

We are keen to work with parents/carers and pupils to help improve Knox Academy.  To this end I would like to invite parents/carers to join in two working groups to help direct change and improvement here.  The first improvement group, which will be on Recognising Wider Achievement, will be held on Thursday 7th of March from 9-10.30am.  I am keen to have at least 6 parents/carers on this group so we can get your opinions, along with those of staff and pupils. The other group, which will meet soon (date TBA), is on Monitoring, Tracking and Reporting. 

School Improvement

It is important also to have pupil voice when looking at school improvement, so our Pupil Leadership Team is holding year group focus groups this Monday (pupils have been randomly selected). These focus groups will look at aspects such as learning and teaching and creating a positive ethos in the school.  Pupils will get the opportunity to join the Achievement and Reporting, Monitoring and Tracking groups too. 

Wider Achievement

Thank you to a number of parents/carers who regularly contact me about their child’s achievements out of school.  It is great to hear about these and share them with the wider Knox Academy community.  If your child has done something special out of school, please do let me know.  Thanks.

Maths Department

Mr Blair, Mrs Gourley and Mr Wren attended the fifth Mixed Attainment Maths Conference in London last weekend. This is a conference for primary and secondary school teachers of mathematics who are keen to develop ways of working with mixed-attainment groups. 

Workshops were led by colleagues in schools and universities who are currently teaching, or who have taught mathematics in mixed-attainment classrooms. Workshops included ‘Teaching for mastery in a mixed-attainment setting’, ‘Practising in mixed-attainment classes’, ‘Ensuring support and challenge for all students in mixed attainment classes’ and ‘Using manipulatives with mixed attainment classes’. The latter was particularly useful as we are currently teaching topics and using a new resource – Algebra Tiles – as we strive to ‘make maths visible’ and encourage less rote-learned concepts.

We must thank the London Mathematics Society for awarding a grant to the sum of £350 to allow this excellent professional development to happen (by Mr Blair)

Dates for your diary:

February holiday – 11th – 18th (Inclusive)

S2 Parents’ Evening – Tuesday 12th March – 5-7pm

Parent Council and AGM – Tuesday 19th March – 6.15-8pm (Library)

Easter holidays (staff and pupils the same) - Break up on Friday 5th April at 12.05pm and all resume at 8.44am on Tuesday 23rd April.

Have a good weekend

Sue Cook