Thursday, 3 October 2019

Headteacher Update 23 - Thursday 3rd October 2019

October 19

Dear Parent/Carer

We are now well settled into the new school term and now is a good opportunity to update you on the schools work so far this session.

School Vision – A Statement of our Intent

“Gracemount High School creates a Responsible, Respectful and Safe community that values learning, success and confidence.”

Developing our vision for our school was a key part of our work last session. I’ve stressed to all staff that it’s our responsibility to bring this to life. It is more than just a sentence or two, it defines our purpose and what we work towards achieving every day. We will do this to be very best of our ability.

School Values – what we stand for

Our school values are what we want to promote in every person who is part of our school community. It is my ambition that every pupil knows and understands our values and that we are able to see these values come to life in our school. They link directly to our school rules and are a fundamental part of what is means to be part of Gracemount High School.

1.    Responsible - We are responsible for coming to school ready to learn, participate and contribute to the success of our school.

2.    Respectful - We respect ourselves, our environment and the rights of others.
      Safe - We all work to ensure our school community is safe and understand that everyone matters.

We take the behaviour of pupils very seriously in and out of school. There are a minority who continue to cause concern in the following areas and these are not areas we can address without the full support of our parents and carers.

1.    Community concerns – at times groups of pupils can congregate outside of the school and this can cause fear and alarm for residents. Ellen’s Glen is an area of concern and we ask that parents encourage their children not to attend this area.
2.    Use of social media is a 21st century reality for us all. Unfortunately, if used irresponsibly, it can be damaging and is linked to bullying behaviour and the increase of mental issues for our young people. We encourage all members of our community, and especially our young people, to use this responsibly. Should we have concerns then we will be in contact with home and in the most extreme cases we will prevent young people from bringing their phones to school.
3.    Looking after our community is a key part of being a successful school. Regrettably we often get complaints about litter in the community, especially at Gilmerton shops and near Tesco. It is damaging to the environment and the school’s reputation. We may have to take steps to prevent access to these areas for certain individuals if concerns continue. We want all our young people to respect their school, their community and their environment and not dropping litter is an important part of this.

School Priorities
Our School Improvement Plan is available on our website along with our Standards and Quality report from last session. Our focus is very much on the national priorities as outlined below:
1.       Improving attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy.
2.       Closing the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged children.
3.       Improvement in children’s health and wellbeing (focus on supporting mental health).
4.       Improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school-leaver destinations for all.
I am in the process of completing the school’s annual attainment report and this will be available to view in due course via our school website.
Our new staff have settled into the school very well. Last week we welcomed Gillian Styles, our Pupil Support Officer, who will work as part of our Support for Learning Team and be involved in supporting the emotional wellbeing and development of our pupils.
We are currently recruiting a Curriculum Leader in Maths and Science. We are interviewing next week.

Important Dates
·         4 October – Senior tracking issued
·         4 October – Gracemount High School and Gracemount Primary School fund raising event. Held at Gilmerton Miners Club. Please save the date if you can. Tickets can be purchased from the school office.
·         14 October – October Holidays begin
·         21 and 22 October – School In-service days
·         24 October – P7 Open Evening
·         23 October – pupils return

Mobile Phone Policy
All S1 parents have been made aware that S1 pupils are not permitted to use their phone in school and should not bring this to school with them. Should they do so, then it should remain in their bag at all times. Teachers have reported that classrooms have been very settled and our S1 pupils have been very respectful when asked to ensure their phones are not used in lessons. So far, this policy has been very well received and I would like to thank the parents/carers who are supporting us with this implementation.

All other pupils in S2-6 are reminded that phones can only be used in class with the explicit permission of the teacher. Despite the best efforts of our staff this is an on-going area of concern and our approach to the use of phones in school will be reviewed this session. Our focus is on ensuring a positive and focussed learning environment and the misuse of phones can significantly compromise this. Parents are requested not to directly call or message their child during the class times. Should they require to make contact then this should be done out with class times or via the school office.

Access to school toilets
We will be changing when pupils can access the school toilets and I will be sending a separate communication with regards to this matter. All pupils who have a toilet card will continue to have access to a toilet throughout the school day.

Sponsored Walk
A huge thank you to all that took part and supported their young person to participate. It was a great day. All sponsor money should be handed into the school office and every penny raised will go directly to our young people via our opportunities fund which is used to support equity of access to education for all.

Stay Informed
Last session we launched our Facebook page. This is a great way to keep in touch with all that is happening in our school, so we’d encourage you to follow us on Facebook if you can. Our school website is also a great way to keep informed.

We have so much to be proud of and to celebrate. Our young people continue to amaze and inspire us all and I’ve never been prouder of our school. If you haven’t already, then keep in touch through our social media and you’ll see how amazing our young people are.

I look forward to continuing our progress and working alongside you all. Should you have any queries please contact the school office on 0131 664 7440 or email GRA-Admin Account

Kind Regards
Ross Hunter
Head Teacher