HEAD TEACHER'S UPDATE 27 APRIL 2020

I hope this update finds you and your family safe and well. I am immensely proud of the way that our pupils, parents/carers and staff have responded to these unprecedented times over the last month and risen to the challenge of remote working. Engagement has been high on our Google Classrooms and there has been a real sense of teamwork from all our community to make this work. Beyond the work of the school some of our staff have been working full time in the Children’s Hubs (and also trying to juggle this with putting learning online for our young people); staff and pupils have also been involved in making visors for the NHS and other frontline workers, and just this week, we have another two members of staff making scrubs.  We also have staff and some senior pupils supporting the delivery of lunches being made by the East Lothian Community Kitchen. As a school community, we should be so proud of what we are doing to support one another both in our local and wider community. Thank you!

Home Learning / Remote Timetable

We have learned a great deal during the first few weeks of home learning and have used the recent ‘Remote Learning’ survey, where we gathered your views and have added in to that feedback from staff, to look at the best way of supporting everyone during this time.  As a result of feedback, we have now arranged that Subject teachers will post work for the week on a Monday to allow pupils to work through this at their own pace. Submission deadlines will also no longer exist to remove the pressure on young people trying to balance their work /IT access, as this is variable for many of our young people.  However, even though there may be no set submission dates for work, please encourage your young person to submit work regularly to the teacher for feedback as this will be important in helping them progress in their learning. Pupils can ask teachers questions in Google Classroom so please also remind them, if they are struggling with a piece of work, they can get support either through this classroom or by emailing their teacher direct using their EduBuzz email.  Feedback from our learners and parents showed that most young people were able to access 3-4 hours a day and therefore it would be great, where possible, if pupils aimed for this. However we understand that this may differ between households. For those without ICT, we are preparing booklets again and we aim to have these available from a week on Monday to be picked up from the Haddington Hub.

Timetable Change

Our calendar date for timetable change was previously 1 June. However, given that there are no longer examinations for students to complete, it makes sense to move our pupils forward a year group in mid-May (19th) - please note May 18th is a holiday for pupils.  This decision has been made after consultation at school level via the questionnaire sent out during the Easter break, which gave parents/carers and pupils the opportunity to comment on this move.  In all year groups, from parents/carers and pupils, between 64% (S1) and 92% (S5) agreed with this proposal.  After further discussion with the other secondary schools in East Lothian, all our schools will start their new timetables on this date. I have sent an email to all pupils, via their EduBuzz accounts to also let them know about the start of the new timetable so please can you ask them to read this. Thank you.

Almost all students in S2-S5 have now made their subject choices for next year, but anyone who has not yet done so should contact Mr Russell at drussell@knox.elcschool.org.uk, who is currently finalising classes ready for this timetable change. It is, of course, difficult to finalise the fine detail of individual learner pathway choices without the possibility of face-to-face conversations with pupils. However, where necessary we will find online ways around this to ensure that all students have satisfactory outcomes.  The virtual timetable year groups will follow will not be exactly the same as if they we in school and will be outlined as an overview for each year group.

S1 progressing from S2 will stay in exactly the same classes, with many of the same teachers where possible, and therefore very little change for them and work will continue seamlessly and as a continuation of what they are already doing. A virtual timetable is being prepared for them based on 3-4 hours of learning a day and will be shared with both parents and pupils in a week or so.

The new S3-S6, will also follow a virtual timetable based on their learner pathway choices and may have some new teachers in their ‘google classrooms’. The school will be in touch with all learners in S3-S6 to remind them of their subject choices in readiness for their new timetable so they are sure of the subjects they should be studying.  The timetable each day has been based around 3hrs 45 minutes of study, or 5 blocks of 45 minutes, as in the feedback from pupils and parents/carers this was highlighted as the optimum amount of remote learning most young people were able to access in a day and commit to on a regular basis, and for those sharing IT resources, allowed a school day to be ‘shared’. If young people wish to do more than this they can, and there will be extension tasks and research projects they can undertake and they should discuss this with their teachers to ensure it is pertinent to them.

Finally, we would like to stress that all our young people’s health and wellbeing is our top priority and this is the number one consideration in all remote learning.  Please encourage your child to do what they can and not to worry about ‘falling behind’ as this is not a time for comparing who is able to do what but to acknowledge that any learning is advancing knowledge and that often quality of learning is more important that quantity. As every pupil will be accessing a flexible programme of learning, there is also no one to ‘fall behind.’ Please be assured that when learning resumes face to face at the school we acknowledge that pupils will be at different stages and will take account of this as we move learning and teaching forward in all of our classes.

SQA

You will remember last week that I sent you the latest update from SQA regarding the estimate process. Lesley Brown, Chief Operating Officer at East Lothian Council wrote a response to this and it would be good for parents/carers to read this if you have a young person in S4/5/6.

Scholar UK- “Emergency Access” to Courses

A reminder that all S3-S6 pupils registered with SCHOLAR are now able to access all of their courses by logging in using their normal account details. There may be a small number of pupils who have not yet been registered on our system and who still require access. If this applies to your young person, please ask them to contact any teacher through Google Classroom and they will be able to help them with this. Mrs Clubb is also able to help support pupils with this if they contact her through their EduBuzz accounts.

S6

It was extremely sad that we were unable to say a proper goodbye to our S6 in the fashion we would have wished with the closure of schools happening so quickly.  We are also aware, that for many of them going off to University, college or employment this period of time and with no exams, they may feel that they have nothing to focus their minds on and keep their motivation up.  Although this may not be of interest to all, Harvard University is offering a lot of free courses over the next 10-12 weeks that I feel may be of interest and would be worth encouraging your young person to have a look at and may link to their future courses or employment or just be a course they may wish to follow as it is an area of interest. Many of the courses sound very exciting, who wouldn’t want to say they are a ‘graduate’ of Harvard or add this to their CV as learning they did during the lockdown.  Parents/carers may also see course of interest to them as I know a few staff have identified some they may do to further their learning.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

Chris Trotter, our SDS link, has been in touch today to say there are lots of courses at Edinburgh College with spaces still available on them. Application forms can be found online at Edinburgh College 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

Children’s Hubs / Provision of food

Families entitled to Free School Meals should now be receiving a weekly food box delivery. If there are any issues, or any families who have not yet taken up their free school meal allocation, but wish to do so, then please contact admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk.

A small number of our pupils are being supported within the Haddington cluster’s children’s hub at St Mary’s Primary School. As of this week the operating hours of the provision have been extended from 8am until 6pm. This will be a welcome development for some of our families.

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.

Psychological Services

East Lothian’s Educational Psychology Service has provided some useful advice for parents and carers which can be found on our school website (here, here and here).  

Musical Medley

Please take time to watch the wonderful musical medley our young people have put together during lockdown.  The array of talent is phenomenal and it is so nice to connect with our young people visually at this moment in time. Please share this link with family and friends to make their day too and spread the word of our wonderfully talented pupils far and wide.

Finally, our school community will continue to illustrate resilience in the months ahead as we support each other. If there is anything we can do to help you in the months ahead please contact the school via email on admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk and we will direct it to the member of staff most able to support you.

Stay safe, stay home and be kind to one another.

Sue Cook

Please follow us on Twitter  ( )