Thursday, 30 October 2014

Gracemount Parent Bulletin Friday 31 October 2014


We look forward to welcoming our new Head Teacher, Mr Ross Hunter, who joins us on Monday 3 November.  Assemblies have been arranged for him to meet all the young people in school. 

As a result of his arrival there are a number of staffing changes to be made with staff returning to substantive posts.  I will resume my role as Depute Head Teacher and would like to thank you all for your support during my time as Acting Head Teacher.  Ms Pretswell will resume her role as Pupil Support Leader for Skye pupils and Mr Knight will return to the Science faculty but will retain some input with the Support for Pupils team. They have both done a tremendous job in supporting your youngsters and their efforts are very much appreciated.  These moves have a knock on effect in Science with Dr Fiona Scott leaving us and I thank her for all her work to date.

Our congratulations go to Ms Barker who has secured an English teaching post at Denny High School.  We are in negotiation with her new school to agree her start date and are currently advertising her post.

We will be interviewing next week to fill vacancies in our Social Subjects Department and in the meantime supply staff are covering these posts.  We also have supply staff covering in English for Mr Patterson’s absence.

This week we welcomed 25 ESOL student teachers on a visit from Edinburgh University
Moray House.   They were very impressed with the good classroom practice they observed throughout the school.

The Parent Council

The next Parent Council meeting will be held in the library on Monday 03 November at 7pm. Please note that any parent/carer can come along to these meetings and will be made very welcome.  It is a great forum to hear what is happening and make a contribution.

Dance for Mr Drain

Well done and thank you to Kirsty Farmer and the Charities Committee for organising this fundraising event on Friday 24 October.  Staff and pupils danced the afternoon away and raised £144 for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of Mr Drain.  A great time was had by all.

Applications for Outward Bound 2015 Trip - Closes Monday!

I am pleased to report that we have yet again had a good response from pupils wanting to go on the Outward Bound trip next May.  Just to let you know however there are still a few places available, so it is not yet too late to sign up.  Pupils who are still interested should see Mr Wyllie or Mrs Towers for further information and an application letter. To secure a place return the tear off slip from the letter plus a £28 deposit to the School Office. The deadline for this has been extended very slightly to the end of school on Monday 03 November.  Thanks to a generous donation the cost of the trip will be highly discounted for all participants and costs £158 for the week or less for any of our pupils eligible for free school meals.  

GRACIE Focus Fortnight

The current Focus Fortnight has been ‘C’ – Calm, Considerate and Co-operative.

I am pleased to tell you that lots of our pupils were awarded raffle tickets as a result of their good efforts and the lucky winners are:-

Bradley Bryce 2L3, Chris McKellar 6L2, Jay Watson 2L2 and Richard Nye 3S9

October WOW class IS Mr Gregor’s Wednesday period 6 S4 core PE class.
Well done to all and keep up the good work.

The next FOCUS FORTNIGHT is from Thursday 30/10/14 to Wed 12/11/14
‘I’Instructions – “follow them first time, without argument, to enable learning and teaching”.  

We will be focusing on rewarding those who do.

L Sinclair
Acting Head Teacher

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Gracemount Parent Bulletin Friday 24 October 2014


Our new Head teacher, Mr Ross Hunter, twill take up his appointment on Monday 3 November. 
We are currently advertising to fill vacancies in our Social Subjects department and in the meantime have supply staff covering the posts.

We have welcomed 2 student teachers on a 6 week placement in the English department. We are also very pleased to welcome Clare Marshall, an Art Therapy student from QMCU, who will be working with our some of our young people 2 days a week over the next few months. 

Dance for Mr Drain

One of our senior pupils, Kirsty Farmer, aided by the charities committee, has organised a fundraising event which takes place this afternoon the 24 October.  Staff and Pupils have been invited to dance the afternoon away to raise funds for the Marie Curie Hospice in memory of Mr Drain.  Mr Drain’s Daughter Caitlin has been invited to join in the fun and will also be joined by some former pupils I am sure it will be a great success.

Career Academies

This morning (Friday 24th October) we are launching Careers Academies, with parents and mentors of our pupils attending the School.  The mentors are from a variety of businesses across Edinburgh and we are looking forward to building close links with them.  Mr Gregor is our link teacher for this initiative and has organised the event.  Part of the morning will involve our pupils taking their visitors on a tour of the school.  This is the start of a very exciting initiative which should lead to positive outcomes for all involved.

Outward Bound Trip 2015 

One week to go for Outward Bound applications !!!

Just a reminder that the deadline for returning applications and the £28 deposit for the Outward Bound trip is one week from now - Friday 31st October. Dates for trip are the week 18th-22nd May 2015, cost is either £158 (or £48 if you qualify for free school meals). Further details and application slips are available from Mr Wyllie in Social Subjects or Mrs Towers in Modern Languages.  This trip comes highly recommended.

Senior Pupil Geography Field Trip

Despite high winds forecast the weather was kind and the second group of senior students completed their trip on Tuesday 21 October. Armed with their iPads, clipboards, questionnaires and survey sheets Mr Wyllie led our National 4 & 5 Geography students out on a full day of Geography fieldwork collecting a wide range of data to help them in their assignments. 


On Monday 27 October all S2 pupils will experience a drama production and workshop entitled TOAST.  This has been delivered to pupils in previous years and is always well received.  It is aimed to raise awareness of the risks associated with fireworks and improve our young people’s personal safety.  Very relevant at this time of year and I would encourage you to discuss this topic with your child.

Health promoting school 

One of our Partner Agencies the Health Opportunities Team who work in the Liberton/Gilmerton area has asked us to promote their new project to support young people (age 12-25 years) affected by their own or another person’s Substance Misuse.  For more information contact them on 0131 468 4600 or email A copy of their poster can be viewed on our website.

L Sinclair 
Acting Head Teacher

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Gracemount Parental Bulletin Friday 10th October

Congratulations to Mrs J Wilson- Martin our dance teacher whose baby girl arrived safely on 7.10.14.  Katie June Wilson–Martin weighed in at 7lbs.  Our best wishes go to the happy family.

Ms A Kennedy has been appointed as Support for Learning Leader for the next year. This is to fill the vacant post as Ms M Dickie leaves us on Friday taking a career break.  A replacement teacher for History will be advertised after the holiday.  We are pleased to see Ms Muir return.

In memory
The House assemblies led by Mr Rodger and some S3 pupils were a very fitting tribute to Robbie McDonald who died earlier this term.

Today, Friday 10 October, is our dress down day and assembly to pay tribute to Mr Drain.  It would have been Mr Drain’s birthday last Sunday and we all fondly remember him wearing his shorts so the theme of the dress down day is of course shorts and T shirts! My thanks to all the staff and pupils who have worked hard to make this event happen.

Open Evening Thursday 9th October 
There was a fabulous buzz about the school as we showcased the great work that goes on in and around the school.   Staff had made a tremendous effort to display the work and involve pupils in demonstrations, performances etc. A large number of pupils volunteered to help and welcome the visitors to the school.  We were particularly pleased to welcome the parents of our neighbouring primary pupils and look forward to welcoming them when they join us in S1.  

Outward Bound Trip 2015 
A quick reminder that our school camp trip to Loch Eil, near Fort William is taking place from 18th-22nd May. This trip is open to all S1-S3 pupils as well as senior pupils not sitting exams during that week of May. Cost is just £158 for 5 days, 4 nights and includes transport, meals and full instruction. Additional funding is available for up to 12 pupils who are on the free school meals register. If interested you need to act quickly. First see the office staff or Mr Wyllie in Social Subjects for a letter. Then complete the tear off slip on the second page of the letter and return a £28 deposit to the school office no later than Friday 31st October. This is a fantastic opportunity for youngsters to develop new skills and build their confidence 

Inter House Cake Competition
Not only did this week see the final of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ but our own budding bakers took part in a close run competition.  The senior phase Cake Decorating class produced a cake for each house and I was invited to choose the winning cake.  The pupils have developed their skills to a very professional level so I called in support from our Librarian Mrs Brown and Business Manager Mr Mackenzie to help decide.  The winning cake was made by pupils in Tiree house in the shape of a bee hive complete with handcrafted busy bees! Well done to all who took part. One day soon we may see some of our pupils take part in the TV series!

Senior Pupil Geography Field Trip

Armed with their iPads, clipboards, questionnaires and survey sheets Mr Wyllie led our National 4 & 5 Geography students out on a full day of Geography fieldwork on Tuesday this week. Luckily the sun was shining and school provided students with bus tokens to save everyone from too much walking! The trip involved students visiting 7 survey sites starting from Gilmerton village in the morning and ending up at Princes Street by mid-afternoon. The field work has allowed students to collect a wide range of data which will help them in their added value assignments, an important part of their coursework. 

This year students have chosen a wide range of assignment topics such as shopping quality, crime, environmental quality and how land use/residential value change as you move from the city centre out to the city suburbs. A second group of senior students are scheduled to go out on Tuesday 21 October. Fingers crossed they get such good weather!

iPad Damages
Mr Whyte our Curricular Leader of Technologies wanted to add this note about our iPad project:
Over the last few weeks, three iPad mini’s have been seriously damaged.  The screens have either been smashed or cracked.  It is quite clear that these iPads have been out of their full body protective cases even though students were told to never to take them out.
It costs the school £75 to fix an iPad.  Students are reminded that it is very important that their iPads are kept in the case at all times.  If more iPads become damaged, it could be that we have to take all the iPads in and stop the project altogether. 

Parental support for the success of this initiative is strongly encouraged and appreciated. 

Gracemount Great Whites Basketball played a friendly match against Newbattle High school on Wednesday 8 October.  The game generated great excitement from the audience and was a close match.  Sadly this time the girls did not win but it was very valuable experience and they are well supported by their coaches, senior pupil Sean Adams and former pupil Kirsty Young.

Health promoting school 
The final Workshops “Raising Teens with Confidence” took place this week 
Feedback from parents who have attended has been very positive with comments such as

“I found the course great. I loved the inventive ideas which have really worked for me. The clips were great too and a good resource - I've used it to look into strategies to deal with homework.”

“Really enjoyed the course. I found it very helpful and have gained lots from it. Would highly recommend to other parents to attend.” 

“This has helped me to stop and think about how I handle a situation. Stopped me from trying to solve problems and allow my child to make their own decisions”. 

“Having a better understanding of where my children are coming from e.g. Door slamming may just be their way of needing attention”

We hope that we can offer the course again later in the session so if you didn’t manage to go this time look out for future courses.

Finally may I remind you that school resumes for pupils after the autumn break on Tuesday 21 October at 8.30 am.  I hope everyone has a well-earned and relaxing holiday.

L Sinclair 
Acting Head Teacher

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Gracemount Parental Bulletin Friday 3 October 2014

Although Mr Hunter our new head teacher to be will not be officially in post next week he  hopes to attend our Open Evening on Thursday 9 October so please come along and welcome him to our community.

Ms Muir Teacher of behaviour and pupil support continues to be absent and as we have still not been able to source appropriate supply staff there has been reduced provision in our Inspire support base. We are hopeful she will return next week.

Donna Lawrie our Youth support worker from Caledonia Youth starts her maternity leave from 10 October. I would like to thank her for her support to our young people here at Gracemount and wish her all the best in the coming months. Carol Traynor will be covering Donna’s responsibilities at Gracemount High School and has already been in to meet with staff and pupils.

Pupils are invited to nominate a teacher as teacher of the month and this month Miss Barker from the English department is our star.

In memory
Next week our House assemblies will be led by Mr Rodger and some S3 pupils as we pay  tribute to Robbie McDonald who died earlier this term. We will welcome back his sister Caitlin who will also take part in the event.

On Friday 10 October we will have a dress down day and assembly to pay tribute to Mr Drain. It would have been Mr Drain’s birthday during the week and we all fondly remember him wearing his shorts so the theme of the dress down day is of course shorts and T shirts!

The assembly will be joined by some of Mr Drain’s family and is being led by pupils and staff. Any parent or friend who remembers Mr Drain and is able to join us will be very welcome. We hope to start the assembly shortly before noon on Friday.

S1 Settling-in parents evening
It was great to welcome so many S1 parents to the parents’ evening last night. Parents/carers are the single biggest influence in a young person’s life and by working together we will be able to help all our young people fulfil their potential. Those parents who were unable to attend will receive their youngster’s tracking report early next week.  

Open Evening Thursday 9th October
Doors will open at 6pm to allow parents into the Dining hall to look around a marketplace.

The evening will then begin with a brief welcome and introduction in the drama studio at 6.30pm, tours starting at 6.40.

As the evening draws to a close at 8.30pm there will be an opportunity to ask questions which the Senior Leadership Team, including Mr Hunter, will be happy to answer.

This year we would like to open this event to all parents and carers and hope that you will save the date and come along. The evening will be a great opportunity for us to showcase the life of the school and for you to see some of your child’s work.

Focus Fortnight
Pupils have been rewarded and entered into a prize draw for the second GRACIE Focus Fortnight with the focus on R - The 3 Rs: 
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Reflection

I was delighted so many pupils were nominated by staff and the lucky winners were Amy Darling, Jamie Goldie, Leanne Selkirk and Hafsah Hussain.

The WOW class was 1LY in Science with Dr Burt. Congratulations to all winners the next focus is A - Actions: be prepared, have full uniform, participate in class so please encourage your youngster to be prepared for school.

Pupil News
Tutor group L9 had the opportunity to go on an excursion on Tuesday afternoon. Mrs Gillan took her group out as a team building exercise and a great time was had by all.

Teen Titles
Teen Titles is a magazine published to promote Reading and Literacy and improve reading within Edinburgh and beyond. The most recent issue has articles from four Gracemount pupils. Well done to Jane Collins, Millie Lawrie, Morrigan Millar and Lauryn Whyte. This could be the start of their literary career.

Career Academy
Our 11 pupils involved in the programme will attend the launch event for this at RBS Gogarburn today (Friday).

They will meet with their mentors and take part in workshops, as well as getting a chance to hear from previous pupils about their experiences of the course.

Friday 3rd October is Active Girls Day. To mark this occasion, the PE department are inviting all S1 – 3 girls to come down to the PE department and take part in a fun fitness session in the Games Hall.

As part of the core PE programme they are offering our S4/5 pupils ‘taster’ activities. The first activity is American Football and will run on Friday 3rd Oct.

Macmillan Coffee Morning
Mrs Gillan and members of the Charities Committee made some wonderful goodies for the staff at break last Friday. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the total raised of over £130 (not to mention the few centimetres which were added to waistlines including my own!)

Bin It
Concerns have been raised on a number of occasions recently about the amount of litter in our neighbourhood. This is the responsibility of all and in an effort to raise awareness Mr King our ECO warrior has arranged for a presentation in school.  Wrigley’s Bin It team will be coming into school on Thursday the 9th of October to give a one hour presentation to all first year pupils.

The Wrigley team aim to influence and change students' attitude and behaviour towards gum litter and make a long-term positive

Further information can be obtained from:

A wee reminder
Aerosol cans should not be brought into school by pupils. This ban was put in place some time ago as they have proved to be a fire hazard in the past. Pupils are advised to bring roll-on or stick deodorants for their personal use. I would ask for your support with this.

Health promoting school
Workshops “Raising Teens with Confidence” continue to take place each week and are well received. Attendance at every session is not compulsory and if the topic is of interest to you then please feel free to come along. Next week’s session is the last for the time being at Gracemount High School and is on Wednesday 8 October 2014, at 6.30pm – 8.30pm and is: Looking After Your Own Wellbeing: Coping with the Changes.

Feedback from parents who have attended has been very positive and we would be pleased to welcome you along as I am sure this will be an interesting and useful topic.

L Sinclair
Acting Head Teacher