Sunday, 20 January 2019

Headteacher Update 21 - Monday 21st January 2019

January 19

Dear Parent/Carer

Welcome to the first Head Teacher blog of 2019. I hope you find the information below useful and as always I would welcome any feedback on matters below or in general. Please use the email address provided to make contact or alternatively contact the school on 0131 664 7440.

For those that may be new to the Head Teacher blog, we highlight key areas using five key headings that link directly to the school improvement priorities.

1.       Learning and Teaching
  This session our focus on Learning and teaching involves the following:

·         Highly effective differentiation – ensuring learning and teaching is adapted to meet  
        the needs of individual pupils.
·        The social environment of our classroom – with a focus on /support/relationships      
       and key pupil information.
·        We will continue to enhance the skills of our teachers in using digital technologies.
·        Ensuring we make the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy explicit across   
        the school in year groups 1-3.

As indicated in the last blog, our L&T policy is in draft form and we have placed this on the school website. I will be consulting with the Parent Council on this at the next meeting on Wednesday 23rd January, 6.30pm in the school library. All parents/carers are invited to attend and any feedback can be provided through the admin account email address provided above.

2.       Ethos
Our school ethos continues to be a strength and our work in ensuring pupils feel safe, secure and happy in school will always be a priority. Becoming the first Local Authority School in the City of Edinburgh to achieve the Gold Rights Respecting School Award has supported us in ensuring we create the best ethos we can in our school community.

For the reminder of the session we are focussing on the use of Rights Respecting language. This includes how we speak to each other and we are asking our school community to be more aware of the language we use and the impact of this.

We are continuing to focusing on:-
1.   Efforts to celebrate success in and out of school and the introduction our Ambition pledge awards for S1 pupils. This was launched with S1 pupils on Monday 14th January and we look forward to seeing this develop across the school.
2.  Introducing awards for behaviour, effort and attendance based on information from tracking reports for all pupils. Many of our pupils will have received these awards and I am delighted that we are celebrating the success of more pupils across the school.
3.    Introduce profiling for pupils in S1 pupils to recognise and celebrate achievements within and out with the school. Profiling lessons are beginning in January with S1. Profiles will be in digital format and our pupils will be able to share these with parents/carers. Watch this space for more information.
4.    Continue to celebrate success in the classroom with our values postcards.
5.    Further enhance pupil confidence and pride in school by creating our Pupil Leadership 
     Team structure. This is progressing well and many more pupils are involving themselves in the life of the school. We are making progress towards embedding this approach and will continue to make this a priority.  
6.    A trial system of positive texts home received positive feedback and we are looking at how we can further establish this across the school. More news will follow on this approach in due course.

3.       Pupil Support
A very warm welcome to Mr Alan Doak who has taken over from Mrs O’Connell as Head of Tiree House.  As most of you are aware Mrs O’Connell is currently on Maternity leave and is now the proud mum of a beautiful baby daughter.

Our Relationships for Learning (Behaviour) policy is under review due to staffing changes and all parents/carers were updated in December when I wrote home. We are currently working with staff and taking feedback regarding the interim measures and this will help us to shape any changes we make in due course.

Our new structure for our Depute Head Teachers, who have assumed the responsibility for a Year Group for the whole time they are at school, is in place and well established. This means that a young person’s Year Head and Guidance Teacher will not change throughout the time they are in school. This will facilitate a new and much more focused approach to house team meetings where we discuss supports for our young people.

The structure is as follows:

Miss Gordon – Year Head for S1, S3 and S5.
Mrs Scott – Year Head for S2. S4 and S6.

Mrs Julie Wilson (PSL and Dance teacher) is our family learning engagement officer and will be in touch throughout the session to support and advise families on how they can support learning at home and get access to the information they need. Dates to follow in due course.

4.       Curriculum
We recently held out Options Evening event for all pupils, parents and carers of S2-5 pupils. Important information was shared regarding course choice for next session and key documents can be found on the front page of the school website.

All parents/carers are asked to work with their young person on this important process and liaise with school should they need any advice. All pupils will be given a 1:1 interview with their guidance teacher to discuss the choices they make.

We have also recently launched a consultation on the S1 and S2 curriculum with a view of giving more time towards English and Maths and reducing class sizes in these areas. This is in line with our priority to improve attainment in literacy and numeracy. I will be directly consulting with the parent council on this matter and all parents/carers will be asked to submit their views. A letter will come home via school bag mail outlining the proposal.

5.       Self-Evaluation
In October 2018 the school was visited by a team of staff from the local authority looking at key areas of school and national improvement. The team met with staff, pupils and parents/carers to gather a wide range of views.

The school received some very positive feedback as well as some areas to consider for improvement. We will share this document in due course will all parents/carers.

Staffing Update

Congratulations to Mr Foley who was appointed to replace Ms Gordon and Curriculum Leader of English. As a result, we are in the process of recruiting a teacher of English. At this time, Mr McGarvey is working on a supply basis in the school to fill this vacancy.

The school currently has 3 which we have been unable to fill:
Business Education (1 FTE)
Home Economics (0.8 FTE)
Drama (0.2 FTE)

Work is on-going with regards to these vacancies.

Interviews for the post of Administration Officer will take place on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th January.

Mrs Hurd, our behaviour Support Officer left us in December to take up a new post in another school. We wish Mrs Hurd all the very best.

Mrs Hamilton, PSA left us in December to take up another job. We wish Mrs Hamilton all the very best.

Both roles were closely associated to the schools Relationships for Learning policy and no decision, as yet, has been taken to replace these posts. Further information will follow.

Important Dates – January and February

23 January – Parent Council Meeting – 6.30pm, School Library.
28 January – Formal assessment weeks 2 and 3 (Higher and National 5 students)
1 February – S2 tracking report (2) issued
11 February – School Holiday
18 February – Pupils return to school
19 February – Expressive Arts Show

And finally…… we are looking for a parent/carer to join Mr Hunter and Mr Whyte on a visit to Rugby school in later February, early March with a view to supporting identified pupils to access the Arnold Foundation, see the link below. This is an outstanding opportunity and we would appreciate the input from an interested parent/carer. It would involve an overnight stay at the Rugby school, all expenses paid with a view of presenting to the parent council and other interested parents.

If you would like to be considered for this opportunity, please contact the school by Friday 25th January.

Kind Regards

Ross Hunter
Head Teacher