May 2020

Published: 29 May 2020

Since the start of the new timetable pupil engagement with remote learning has been very high.  There have been some virtual (live lessons) and scheduled Google Meets to support all of our learners. Again, I would like to thank staff and pupils for working so well together in classes and also to parents/carers for promoting engagement in learning with their young person. If anyone still requires access to a Chromebook to support working online, please email the school at admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk so we can make this happen for you. It’s no fun working on a small screen such as a phone, so please do take advantage of our offer if your young person is in this situation. As we have moved to remote learning it is important that we look after everyone’s health and wellbeing and the lines of this can sometimes become a bit blurred as to what day it as they all seem very much the same. However everyone needs their weekends for some rest and recovery so please can I ask parents/carers to remind their young people to also relax over the weekend and to ensure that they only email staff during the working week with questions to protect their health and wellbeing too. They will, of course, be happy to answer questions/emails during the week. Thank you.

Re-opening of Schools

East Lothian Council is busy working with schools on the arrangements for the re-opening and re-connecting with pupils and parent/careers for 11 August.  The guidance for schools and local authorities, to help us plan for this, was published by the Scottish Government yesterday afternoon. As soon as I have any more information about how this may look at Knox Academy I will communicate this with you. Thank you for your support and patience with this – it is much appreciated as I know this is an anxious time for you all and your young people.

Staffing

Hannah McBride has been appointed as acting Curriculum Leader for Communications, following interviews on Wednesday. This post will start in August and continue until Zara Machen returns to her substantive post.

SQA

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the staff who have been working tirelessly on creating the estimates, for our SQA examination candidates, which will be submitted on Friday 29th May.  Also a huge thank you to all our young people who have worked very hard throughout the year towards these qualifications.  As advised, we are unable to share estimates with parents/carers or pupils as SQA will have the final decision as to the overall outcome/grade. Results will be issued as originally planned on Tuesday 4 August (pupils can sign up to MySQA for results by text or email rather than waiting for the Royal Mail).  For further information from SQA please visit the Coronavirus support for parents and carers.

S4/5/6 Leavers

This Sunday, 31 May, marks the official leaving date for all our young people in S6, and also those who have chosen to leave school in S4 and S5. It was very sad that we were unable to celebrate your leaving in the way we have become accustomed to and to recognise your contributions to the school across the years. On behalf of all staff at Knox Academy, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our leavers the very best for their future. Please do keep in touch with us and let us know how you are doing. It would be wonderful to have you back at the school at a later stage to talk to our young people about your courses at college/university and hear about the various careers you have all followed, as it is great for our pupils to be inspired by stories from our former pupils. Please take our school values of ambition, respect and community into the next phase of this exciting stage in your life and know that we have every confidence in what you can all achieve.

P7 Transition

The transition for P7s in to S1 has been like no other year.  We understand that the current circumstances might be making some a little more worried than normal about the move to secondary school.  However, everyone is working very hard to make it as positive as possible.  Mrs Wright from Support for Learning has joined all the P7 Google Classrooms as is posting a series of videos introducing the pupils to each of our school’s faculties and the subjects within them. 

In the coming days we will be releasing a virtual information video where families and pupils will hear from various members of staff about the values and ethos of Knox Academy, the curriculum and lots more.  We are also producing a virtual tour of the school building, along with our senior pupils answering some of the questions P7s raised through their Google Classrooms.

Pupils will soon be getting invites to join their new S1 register class, and this will allow them to meet their register teacher and new classmates.  Each class will also have some S6 buddies in it who are looking forward to getting to know all of our new pupils and will be happy to answer their questions.

Our colleagues at all of our primary schools have made sure we have all the information we need on the pupils, and this will be shared with Knox Academy staff over the course of June.

Some elements of what the next school year will look like remain to be finalised, but rest assured that settling the new S1s in to the school is a priority. We are really looking forward to welcoming all our new S1s in August.  (Steven Illingworth, DHT)

Drama

The Traverse theatre in Edinburgh, is producing a series of free, online playwriting workshops led by industry professionals to support aspiring writers to unleash their creativity. Although not specifically aimed at schools, the Traverse think pupils will still learn a lot from the sessions. The videos will be available for free until September 2021. You can read more about the project on the Traverse theatre website. (Miss Whitfield)

Knox Academy’s Remote Sport’s Day for Pupils

Knox Academy Sports Day takes on a whole new look for summer term 2020.  With physical and fun challenges to perform - pupils AND staff have been invited to take part and gain house points for Garleton, Lammerlaw or Traprain.  The event launches on Monday 1st June at 9am with tasks and challenges coming out daily from Monday - Wednesday.  Participants have until Friday 5th June to complete as many as possible. All physical tasks have instructional videos alongside them, and any questions should be directed to the PE staff via the pupil’s email tab on Virtual Sports Day (Google Classroom). There will be individual prizes awarded for overall year group winners and some special prizes for ‘spirit of the competition’.   Thanks go to: Leisure Time Sports and Crossfit Haddington for supporting this event and providing our prizes. Please can parents/carers encourage their young person to take part in what should be a very exciting week of sport.  We wish everyone the best of luck, and look forward to seeing you challenge yourself, and each other!  (by Jenny Leighton, CL Health and Wellbeing)

Have a lovely weekend and for those of you seeing best friends and/or relatives for the first time for months, I hope you have a great time.  It also looks like the weather has been set sunny to make these outside visits perfect too. Stay safe, well and socially distanced and please remember, if we can support you with anything, please email admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk and we will pass this on to the most appropriate person to support you.

Sue Cook

Published: 22 May 2020

There has been a really high level of engagement in our new remote timetable this week and the move to it starting two weeks earlier than scheduled has been the right decision as both engagement and motivation levels appear to have risen and it is great to see both junior and senior pupils participating in their new courses. If for any reason your young person has not been added to a Google Classroom they are expecting to be in, all they need to do is email a teacher from that department and they will be added. Now that the new timetable has started, no further course changes should be requested by our new S5/6 pupils before the results come out in August, and even at this point we may not be able to honour all requests as many courses are already full. Please can I remind anyone who requires a Chromebook for remote learning to contact admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk and we will provide your young person with one so they can gain full access to remote learning. We have also laid out expectations for remote learning and it would be good it you could read these and discuss them with your young person.

Re-opening of Schools

Please find an update from Lesley Brown, Chief Operating Officer (Education) concerning schools reopening following the First Minister’s announcement on Thursday.

The main message in the First Minister’s announcement was that the Scottish Government is aiming to restart school education for almost all children and young people in Scotland in August. The start date of the new term will be standardised across Scotland as 11 August 2020 (a week earlier than expected in East Lothian). Subject to review next Thursday at the FM’s update, teachers and other school staff should be returning to schools at some point in June, to plan and prepare for the new blended model of learning to be implemented from August. This blended model will be a mixture of in-school and in-home learning. Our Council will be preparing a Local Phased Delivery Plan in the weeks ahead and all stakeholders will be consulted. Physical distancing and hygiene will be critically important elements. In the meantime I will continue to update you accordingly. We all want to get back to school very soon, but doing so in a safe and measured way is vital.

Staffing

Mr Redford, Modern Studies, will leave at the end of this term to take up the position of Curriculum Leader of Social Subjects at Ross High School.

Mr McFadden, who has been a probationer with us this session has also been appointed as a Chemistry teacher at Ross High School and will start there after the holidays too.

Ms Fruish, our acting Curriculum Leader (CL) of Communications will return to North Berwick High School after the holidays and there will be an acting CL position in Communications until the end of October, when Ms Machen returns.  This has been advertised last week and interviews take place for this next week.

Charlotte Todd (Librarian) leaves us to take up a post in Hanoi. We have a replacement for Charlotte and I will give more information soon about the exact start date of our new Librarian.

Sarah MacDonald and Howard Barnhurst (probationers in Drama and History (respectively) also leave us at the end of this session.

Next session we will welcome three new probationers in English, Biology and Home Economics.

Hopefully we will get an opportunity soon to meet as a staff team to wish these staff all the best for their future before the end of term but just in case we don’t all manage to get together, on behalf of all the Knox Academy community I would like to thank them all for their hard work and commitment to the school in their time here and say what an asset they have all been to Knox Academy. The very best to you all for your future and please keep in touch with us to let us know how you are getting on.

Pupil Leadership Elections

Next week we will begin the process of electing our pupil leadership team for the 2020/21 session. Our pupil leadership teams have always been great ambassadors for Knox Academy and provided incredible support to fellow pupils, staff, parents and the wider community. When we return, the role of our pupil leaders will be more important than ever in helping our school community adjust to the circumstances and the challenges we will face. As in previous years, we will be electing two Head Pupils and 3 Deputes to lead the pupils of Knox Academy into next session. Information about the role of Head Pupil, the election process and how to apply will be distributed via the school website and Google Classroom at the beginning of next week. We are very much looking forward to seeing what this year's candidates will have to offer! (Mr Redford)

Knox Academy’s Remote Sport’s Day for Pupils

This will be our first virtual Sports Day for all pupils to be involved in! In an effort to bring the Knox Academy community together, our virtual Sports Day will provide a series of physical and engaging challenges for pupils and staff which can be completed with minimal equipment, at home!

The challenges will launch on Monday 1st June at 9.00am via the school website and also on each year group’s Google Classroom. Pupils and staff will have until Friday 5th June at 12 noon to submit their results, via Google Forms. Three challenges, alongside instructional videos, will launch on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with bonus points allocated to those that submit their challenge results on the day of the challenge launch! Pupils and staff will have the opportunity to contribute to House points during the challenges where they can engage in competitiveness and also represent their House! Please can I ask parents/carers to encourage your young person to get involved and as well as having some fun, contribute to House points too.  Many thanks (Lana Borwick)

Mental Health Awareness Week 

Our current assembly is on kindness and it would be great if pupils and parents/carers could watch this together. This links directly with the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week which is also on kindness, and focuses on the importance of showing kindness towards ourselves and others. It can be difficult to take the time to be kind to ourselves, but something as simple as listening to our favourite songs can boost our mood. Below is a list of ways to show yourself some kindness: reading, calling a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, having a nap, drawing or painting, have a long soak in a bath, going for a walk, dancing, catching up on your favourite TV show or film, meditating, eating your favourite meal for dinner, yoga or pilates, keeping a journal and also take a break from social media.

Have a lovely weekend and in the spirit of Knox Academy’s assembly, our vision statement and mental health week, always choose kindness (including being kind to yourself). Stay home and stay safe and if you need us for anything, please email admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk and we will pass this on to the most appropriate person to support you (usually your young person’s Pupil Support Leader (Guidance Teacher) who is the first point of contact at the school).

Sue Cook

Published: 15 May 2020

I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend last week to commemorate VE Day.  This week at school sees the last week on this session’s timetable and staff are busy preparing for the move to the new timetable on Tuesday 19 May (Monday is a holiday for pupils and an in-service day for staff).  All pupils in the new S3-S6 should have received an email with their new option choices and all pupils in the new S2-S6 should follow the Remote Timetable for their year group.  Each day is now split up in to 45 minute periods and there are five lessons in a day.  I would like to stress at this point, that this timetable can be followed flexibly and although the ideal engagement is five lessons a day, this may vary from household to household for a variety of reasons. The most important factor at this time is everyone’s health and wellbeing. The timetable should also allow for regular breaks, lunch and some outside exercise (if fit and well to do so). If your young person is in S1-S3, and you do not have ICT access at home, a hard copy of work can be picked up from the Haddington Hub (Haddington Primary School) or Tesco’s in Haddington. Please help yourself to some stationery too which will be left alongside these.  We are really keen to support all our pupils getting online and happy to arrange a loan of a school Chromebook for them if they do not have access to IT at home. Please email admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk to request this so we can arrange this for you.

New Timetable

With the closure of the school organising a new timetable has been very challenging trying to course/re-course pupils remotely. Our teaching staff have collaborated and supported each other to achieve the best outcomes for all of our young people

There is one phrase associated with timetabling and that is, ‘Anything is possible, but not everything is.’  To give you all a bit more information on timetabling it is like trying to fit a square peg into a round whole or do a 10,000 piece jigsaw with only a basic picture. Timetables are based on the number of staff we have available and the days they work.  It is also based on how many pupils can be in each class; non-practical classes such as English and Maths can have up to 33 in them in S1/S2 and in S3-S6, only 30 pupils. In practical subjects such as Art and Science, the maximum number of pupils in a class is 20 (all year groups). Across the schools there are over 200 classes a day to timetable. With nearly eight hundred pupils at our school, we have to ensure that S1 and S2 get all of their broad general education subjects and, as best as possible, aim to give everyone in S3-S6 their first choice in their course choice options. Inevitably there will be situations where we have to move to second choices for some of our young people but this is only after every variation has been exhausted to try to make first choices work for the highest percentage of pupils possible. This is why, when we asked young people to select their choices, we spent time highlighting the need for them to give their second choice some deep thought as this may become one of their options. Therefore if this has been the case for your young person, please know that every avenue was exhausted prior to this decision being taken.  We appreciate that this will come as a disappointment to you and your young person but we did try our best to make it work and only moved to a reserve choice as no other options were available.

For those in S3, S4 and S5, it is hoped that if they were unable to get any of their first choices this session that they can pick these back up in a later year e.g. if they were unable to be coursed in to Geography N5 in S4, that they can opt for this in S5 and still progress to Higher in S6 should they wish to follow this pathway through. It is important that S4-S6 is seen as a senior phase, and that qualifications are gained across three years and not just one or two.  This is why our ‘ambition’ at Knox Academy is that as many of our young people stay on to S6 as possible to maximise their range of qualifications and options. I would also like to highlight that during learner pathway reviews (or course choice) we also ask pupils what their intended career pathway is so if they are intending going to University to study e.g. Medicine/Vet Med/Law, which require  them to attain five highers in S5 (usually at all A passes (or As and Bs)) we will ensure that their learner pathways are such that they can be coursed in to five highers in S5. 

Free School Meals/Clothing Grants

We are aware that some parents/carers circumstances may have changed as a result of Covid-19 and this may mean you are now eligible for Free School Meals and/or a Clothing Grant.  If you think this may apply to you, please visit the Free School Meals and Clothing Grants area of the East Lothian Council website for further information and the relevant forms. If you need help completing these forms there is support available on the website or alternatively please contact your young person’s Pupil Support Leader (Guidance teacher) who should also be able to help you via a telephone call/email.

School Uniform for session 2020-21

Knox Academy has a long and proud tradition of wearing school uniform and not only does it look smart and professional for our learning environment, it also builds a common purpose, that of ‘Community’ – one of our school values. Please see our School Uniform letter for more details and to allow you to forward plan with purchasing this.  Please note: hooded tops are not part of our uniform and should not be worn school.  More details about the reasons for this are in the uniform letter. Thank you for your support with your young person wearing uniform and in our approaches to inclusion.

Edinburgh College

Chris Trotter, our Skills Development Scotland link, has been in touch to say there are lots of courses at Edinburgh College with spaces still available on them. Application forms can be found online at SCP Course information and application or parents/pupils can contact Chris Trotter for support with this and to talk through options. This can be done by emailing him at chris.trotter@sds.co.uk . If you would like to speak to a Careers Adviser please phone 0131 665 3120. Details of all SDS centres can be found on My World of Work

School Improvement Planning 2020-22

We normally do a yearly improvement plan but due to the unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in, we were unable to complete some of the tasks in our improvement journey this year and therefore have agreement from the Authority to put in place a two year plan.  This allows us to carry these tasks into next session at the same time as devising aspirational targets and tasks going forward over the next two years – some of which have been informed by our visit from Education Scotland in December 2019 and from the questionnaires filled out by pupils, parents/carers, staff and our community partners as part of this visit.

We are highly aware that when we do resume, the school will be in a very different place from when we finished up. The first few months (and possibly a lot longer) will be focusing very much on ensuring the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff.  We will continue our focus on building positive relationships and our use of nurturing approaches to support our young people’s health and wellbeing and resilience. Further to this we will be focusing on ensuring high quality learning and teaching and establishing a good work ethic from all of our young people.  Our aim is to ensure that our young people have an inclusive and supportive environment, which allows them to thrive, and ensures they achieve and attain their potential. A Parental Overview of our School Improvement Plan Priorities for Sessions 2020-22, and the detailed School Improvement Plan for Session 2020-22 can be viewed within the School Improvement section of the website.  If you would like to comment on any of our targets, or feel we have missed any which could better support our young people, please email llambert@knox.elcschool.org.uk , with the email heading, ‘School Improvement Plan,’ so we can consider your comments/additions.  Thank you.

 

In terms of the 2019-20 School Improvement Plan, the progress made in the four key priorities can also be found on our website. We made a lot of progress in our Learning, Teaching and Assessment, as commented on by Education Scotland.  They highlighted the real sense of our school values of Ambition, Respect and Community informing the life and work of the school. This was an area we had focused greatly on with our young people over the last year and a half so it was good that this was evident during their visit. Many parents/carers and guests visiting the school have also commented on the positive ethos of Knox Academy in both the corridors and classrooms. We have also worked collaborative with pupils, parents/carers, staff and our community partners to develop a new school vision, which articulates with our school values. After months of consultation, our new vision statement was agreed in November 2019, and is ‘Always to choose kindness and create a respectful environment where staff and pupils can inspire each other to achieve their goals and become life-long learners.’  This coming session we will continue to embed this vision in all we do at the school to enable our young people to achieve their potential.

Our own Faculty Reviews, involve Senior Leaders, visiting Head Teachers, Quality Improvement Officers, Associate Assessors from Education Scotland and our Curriculum Leaders visiting classes to review the quality of learning and teaching and our young people’s learning experiences. These visits showed that there is an increasing consistency of approach in learning and teaching across classes and subjects and that there is a calm and purposeful approach evident, by our pupils, in their learning and engagement. Education Scotland noted significant improvements, from previous visits, in behaviour/positive relationships in classrooms which have resulted in an improved learning and teaching environment for all of our young people. This will continue to be a focus over coming years.  Our focus on improving relationships across the school, both between young people and their peers and between staff and pupils, has ensured that we place a high value on respectful and restorative relationships when learning and teaching becomes challenging. High expectations from both staff and pupils ensures a much better environment for learning across the school and in helping to raise both achievement and attainment.

In our school improvement priority of promoting and ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion, we worked collaboratively with staff, pupils and parents/carers to devise our new Equality and Diversity Policy, which incorporates our new Inclusion Statement. The school’s Pupil Support Base was also reviewed and modified to create three separate support areas with a defined focus (1) Learning Zone (2) Outdoor Learning (3) Bespoke individual and group work provision. We will continue to develop the use of these spaces to further enhance these provisions.  We will use the principles of nurture to reconnect pupils with their school community and address issues arising from Covid-19.

In terms of raising attainment and achievement, we introduced termly Diligence Awards (although due to the Coronavirus we only managed to award these to pupils for their first term’s work). These were well received by pupils and staff and whilst only a small number of pupils got a diligence award in all of their subjects, they act as a catalyst to encourage all of our young people to attain awards in all subject areas which further embeds our value of raising ‘ambition.’ We encourage our young people to give of their best every day, be aspirational and inspired to achieve.  At Knox Academy, we also introduced Achievement Ties. We awarded thirteen pupils with these for wider achievement and commitment in a variety of areas such as sport, enterprise and the arts; these achievements were at a school, local and national level. Although we were due to award more Achievement Ties this term, we will ensure that this forms part of our return to school celebrations.

Over and above the Achievement Ties and Diligence awards we also devised a new whole school spreadsheet to monitor and track pupils’ attainment and this allowed us to ensure a whole school overview which allows us to provide support or interventions as needed to promote individual achievement. East Lothian Council has been devising a new tracking, monitoring and reporting system and this will launch in August, with all schools across the South East of Scotland using it.  This will ensure a standardised approach of tracking attainment across all schools and will have lots of detailed information about a pupils’ individual support needs to allow staff to best support them in their learning. More detail about this new system will follow once we return to school and features as part of our School Improvement Plan for this coming session and embedded over 2020-22.

Stay safe, stay home and enjoy as much daily exercise as you are able to.  Best wishes to you and your young people from all the staff at Knox Academy. 

Sue Cook

 

Published: 07 May 2020

It is remarkable how well our pupils have coped with remote learning.  Almost seven weeks in to lockdown, most are still engaging very well in our online Google Classrooms. I would like to say a huge thank you to all staff for ensuring relevant tasks and activities are provided, on a weekly basis, to keep our pupils motivated and progressing in their learning. Thank you also to parents/carers for supporting your young person to access work on a regular basis, and also for trying to maintain some sort of routine during this long period of remote schooling (not an easy task when most of you are balancing this with your own working from home too).  Finally, thank you to all our pupils for being part of our Google Classrooms, submitting work and getting feedback, and keeping the links going with your teachers and our school. You’ve all been great and true to our school values of Ambition, Respect and Community (ARC).

Remote Learning

Knox Academy staff have been working hard to ensure that learning can take place while the school is closed whether you have ICT access or not.  For many young people this will be through accessing Google Classroom online but for those young people without ICT access or poor connectivity, hard copy booklets of work will be available for those in S1-S3, at the Hub at Haddington Primary School or Haddington Tesco’s, from the start of next week. There will also be a supply of stationery available in both areas should you require this to complete this work (jotters/pens/pencils).

Our timetable will change on 19 May, and Mr Russell will be in touch shortly regarding new Google Classrooms and course/option choices for those moving up year groups.  However, this hard copy booklet of work is designed to support learning through a variety of activities in the coming weeks, right up until the school summer holidays.  For those going to be working on ICT, a copy of the Remote Learning Timetable is available for your young person to have a look at in advance. For pupils in S3-S6, Mr Russell’s email will provide them with the information needed to complete all their Option Choices as seen in this remote timetable.

We will still be uploading work onto Google Classroom and would encourage all learners to log in as regularly as possible, and ensure that they are in communication with their Pupil Support Leader at least weekly.  Register teachers are also in the process of creating Google Classrooms so look out for these new codes too.

If you are a household accessing the hard copy booklets at present we would be really keen to support you with getting online by arranging a loan of a school Chromebook for your young person. Please email admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk so we can arrange this for you. Thank you. (Mrs Clubb, DHT)

Knox Academy’s Remote Sport’s Day for Pupils

To kick off the final month of term in style, we have opted to change the location and date of Sports Day! This will be our first virtual Sports Day for you all pupils to be involved in! In an effort to bring the Knox Academy community together, virtual Sports Day will provide a series of physical and engaging challenges for pupils and staff which can be completed with minimal equipment, at home!

The challenges will launch on Monday 1 June at 9.00am via the school website and also on each year group’s Google Classroom. Pupils and staff will have until Friday 5 June at 12 noon to submit their results, via Google Forms. Three challenges, alongside instructional videos, will launch on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with bonus points allocated to those that submit their challenge results on the day of the challenge launch! Pupils and staff will have the opportunity to contribute to House points during the challenges where they can engage in competitiveness and also represent their House! Please can I ask parents/carers to encourage your young person to get involved and as well as having some fun, contribute to House points too.  Many thanks (Lana Borwick)

VE Day (holiday)

Tomorrow is an additional holiday for the VE Day Commemorations and therefore there will be no online learning taking place. If your young person is looking for a task to do it would be a great history lesson for them to do some research around VE Day and understand its importance.

Stay home, stay safe and stay well and true to Knox Academy’s vision, always be kind. If we can help you in any way then please email us at admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk and we will direct your email to the relevant member of staff who will be best able to support you. Our building may be closed but the school is very much open and our staff are very happy to engage with all of our community and support you as best as we can.

Sue Cook