HEAD TEACHER'S UPDATE 18 DECEMBER 2020

With only a few days left of this term we are focusing on keeping lessons stimulating and engaging to ensure we all work as normal until the afternoon of Tuesday 22 December. We have a whole school quiz planned for this afternoon and an opportunity for all of our pupils to watch our online Christmas concert, which showcases some of our amazing talent at Knox Academy and a must watch.  

Our Food Court team put on a scrumptious Christmas lunch on Wednesday and many staff and young people were able to savour the wonderful flavours of it.  On Tuesday (our last day of term) we would like to encourage our young people to wear their Christmas jumpers to school (or anything festive) to help celebrate the end of term.

I would like to openly thank our young people for being absolutely amazing this session in adapting to all the health and safety protocols across the school and also for their hard work and commitment in their learning. You’ve been great!  A huge thank you to parents/carers in entrusting us to do the best for your young people by sending them to school, on a daily basis, during this pandemic. It really has been a community coming together, showing incredible kindness and supporting one another. I would also like to say ‘thank you,’ to all the amazing staff at Knox Academy who have worked tirelessly across this term (and year) to provide high quality learning and teaching, study sessions, and some extra-curricular clubs, and approached each day with positivity. One final ‘thank you’ to all our support staff; janitors, Food Court Team and our cleaners who have made this building welcoming and functional on a day to day basis.  I hope you all manage a well-earned rest over the festive season.

COVID-19

As you will be aware from the First Minister’s Statement on Tuesday, we move back to Tier 3 w.e.f Friday 18 December. This means that we will be asking all of our senior phase pupils in S4-S6, and staff teaching senior phase classes, to wear face coverings again in all classes, as well as in social areas and corridors. Thank you for supporting this measure to reduce the transmission in school.

Positive Cases: While we continue to ask you to report any positive COVID cases to admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk, there is now a mailbox that should be used by parents/carers to alert us to a positive case out of school hours/weekends/over the Christmas period. The address is covidinschools@eastlothian.gov.uk or if you odn't have email please telephone East Lothian Council on: 01875 613921

Staffing

Congratulations to Dr Agata Gorka who been appointed to a permanent position in the English department at Firrhill High School.

Congratulations to Thomas Salkeld, who has been appointed as Active Schools Coordinator at Knox Another candidate had been appointed but has subsequently withdrawn from the post. We are truly delighted to be able to keep Thomas on our staff team as he has been doing an amazing job!

A warm welcome to Karen McGalliard, Senior Business Support Assistant, who has started in the school office on Monday

Alice Clubb, acting DHT, who has been an amazing addition to Knox Academy, will return to her substantive post as Curriculum Leader Maths at North Berwick High School on 15 February 2021. Caroline Falconer, who has been Quality Improvement Manager at the SEIC, will return on that date to her substantive DHT post here.

SQA Information and Assessments

We had intended sharing a calendar with parents/pupils of N5 assessments for the period from January-However now that the Higher and Advanced Higher exam diet has been removed for session 2020-21, we are now awaiting Guidelines about the assessment gathering for Higher/Advanced Higher, being issued soon by the SQA, which will help us decide how best to proceed.  In the meantime, some subjects will be asking young people to complete assessments between January and March (prior warning will be given to allow preparation for this).  These will be used for both formative purposes (to advise pupils on progress and next steps) and as evidence for a pupil’s estimate grade. Decisions have still to be agreed across the authority, in conjunction with our other five secondary schools, if there will be a formal assessment period at a later stage as further evidence of a pupil’s progress. Once we have more detail we will let you know as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding as we navigate our way through these changes to ensure the best outcomes for our young people.  If you wish to read all the latest updates from SQA these are available at www.sqa.org.uk/NQ2021.

Diligence Awards  

Pupils were issued with their Diligence Award certificates on Thursday/Friday morning at registration. These are to recognise sustained effort and commitment - which links in directly with Knox Academy’s value of Ambition. Each pupil’s certificate will have a list of the subjects where their teachers feel they really applied themselves. Please use this as an opportunity to discuss with your young people what they could do to be nominated in any subject that is missing from the list (Mr Alex Dickie, Diligence Awards Coordinator)

S1 Maths: Parent/Carer Opportunity

In the Mathematics Department we have worked very hard over the last two years to develop our teaching methods to support genuine understanding of Maths. To that end I'd like to offer you the chance to be part of a series of virtual meetings where we will go through some of the methods we use in S1 (and build on in S2, S3, etc.) and how we try to put it across to our classes. Hopefully this insight will help de-mystify what we do in the Maths Department and open up a positive dialogue at Home about the Maths being learned - no more arguments because "it wasn't taught like that in my day!"

Sessions will run on 3 dates as follows:

Monday 11 January 2021, 6 - 7pm: we will look at how we use two-colour counters to teach 'negative numbers'

Monday 1 February 2021, 6 - 7pm: we will look at solving equations

Monday 1 March 2021, 6 - 7pm: we will look at the 'grid method' and why it is so useful for multiplication, division and algebra!

To sign up please click here and fill the Google Form in at the bottom of the page. It would be great to see as many parents/carers here attending as possible (Mr Calum Blair. Curriculum Leader, Numeracy and Computing)

Parental Engagement request – Radical Redesign

We would like to gauge your interest for an exciting new pilot project East Lothian Council has recently procured. The Inclusion & Wellbeing Service has been working with a third sector group, Animate to enable this new project entitled Radical Redesign: Parents as Partners in Effective Collaboration for Better Support for Learning for Children and Young People with Additional Support Needs’.

The aim of the project is to consider and take forward recommendations from the national Additional Support for Learning implementation review and is part-funded by East Lothian Council. Further details of the project can be found in the attachments but I would like to highlight one element of the model which is the establishment of an action inquiry group, made up of key stakeholders and facilitated by Animate in order to support solution-focused, effective, collaborative working between parents and the professionals involved where a child/young person has Additional Support Needs.

We are currently looking for representation from parents/carers (along with education and other relevant services) to be a part of the action inquiry group and we are keen to hear from anyone who might be interested. There are up to four places available on the group for parental representation and we would like to ensure we have a broad range of experiences represented within the group. This model is a key piece of work in improving our approach to support for learning and inclusion in East Lothian.

Animate would like to lead the first action inquiry group session in February 2021 (date to be confirmed) therefore Liz Hardy from the Animate team would be happy to answer any questions in the meantime and discuss the project with you in more detail if you are interested. Please contact Liz directly to forward any notes of interest or highlight any queries/concerns.

Liz Hardy - lizziehardy@gmail.com

NHS Lothian Children’s Services website

NHS Lothian is working to create a new website for Children’s Services and all child health information for families living in the Lothian area.  The site will focus on information for children, young people, parents, carers and families about our hospitals, clinics, treatments and conditions, etc. helping empower them with information about their health care, and reduce anxiety by giving young people a place to understand about coming to hospital for an admission, tests, or for a clinic appointment.  The site will launch in 2021 and will also include information about the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh.

An online survey is open for children, young people and their parents and carers to help shape the design of the site by sharing feedback on some of the styles the website might take.  The survey is anonymous and will only take 5-6 minutes to complete.  Thank you

Christmas Cake Competition

Each year as the festive period begins the Food and Health department get ready to be covered in icing sugar and have multi-coloured hands as the cake making begins. Over the past two weeks the 3rd year practical cookery classes have been working extremely hard on designing and making Christmas cakes. Each one of them put their creativity and skills to the test and there was some amazing results. At the end of the two weeks, there was a competition and teachers from across the school visited the Food and Health department to glance at the wonderful cakes that were on display and chose their top three favourites. This year’s winners were: 

1st Place - Tess Henderson 

2nd Place - Annabelle Murray 

3rd Place - Jasmine Quinn 

You can get a peek at the spectacular work done by all the 3rd years in the department on twitter

RAPUNZEL

National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland present Rapunzel.

This digital version of Rapunzel has been offered free to Scottish schools and is also available to access from home. You can watch it as many times as you like between 23 December 10am until 4 January midnight.

Full information can be seen here

Tickets are available on a scale of £0 to £25 to make Rapunzel accessible to everyone during this Christmas period. Whatever contribution you make will be much appreciated and will go towards covering the production and technical costs for this festive online show. Also available will be a free, fun, festive activity pack for families to enjoy over the holiday period.

Support during the festive period

We realise that the holidays can be a difficult time for some people.  If you feel you or someone you know needs support there are organisations who can help.  Please see some of the numbers below.

East Lothian Social Work – 01875 824 309 or 0800 731 6969.

Samaritans - 116 123

Papyrus (Mental Health Support for young people in a crisis) 0800 068 41 41

National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247 

Childline 0800 1111

(By Steven Illingworth)

Dates for your diary

22 December – End of term

6 January – Term Starts

From all in the Knox Academy community, we would like to wish our Knox families a Merry Christmas and a happy and heathy 2021. Stay safe and well and we will look forward to seeing all our young people again at 8.25am on Wednesday 6 January.

Sue Cook

Please also remember to follow us at: www.ka-net.org.uk