To All Parents and Carers
I am delighted to be writing my first blog as Head Teacher of Gracemount High School. It is a privilege and an honour to have been appointed and I very much look forward to building on existing best practice in the school so that we continue our own journey to becoming an excellent school. At the heart of this is ensuring that we continue to improve the education and life chances for all our young people and this is something I feel very passionately about. As an educator I am unashamedly child-centred and my key priorities will be to meet the needs of all our pupils, deliver a first class education and secure positive and sustained destinations for all young people.
On my first day I met with all year groups and I used this opportunity to highlight what I feel can make a difference to their learning and development – my presentation can be viewed here.
During the presentation I made reference to what I call the “GHS Factor” and used this to highlight the importance of:-
Growth Mindsets – based on the work of Carol Dweck, a prominent psychologist at Stanford University. A growth mindset is when people believe that their intelligence and ability can be developed through dedication, hard work and perseverance. Quite simply the harder a person works the more successful they become. People with a growth mindset believe that effort is important and they embrace challenge. They persist in the face of setbacks, learn from criticism and feedback and find inspiration in the successes of others. My aim is to ensure that all members of the Gracemount High School community are aware of and develop a growth mindset to facilitate their own development both as an individual and as a learner.
High Expectations – refers to the belief that all pupils can be successful regardless of background or personal circumstances. If, as educators, we truly have high expectations of ourselves and of the young people we teach, then we can have a significant and positive impact on their lives. Our expectations in relation to learning and teaching in and out of class, behaviour in school and in the wider community and dress code will need to be clearly established and reinforced. Some of our young people will need support in reaching these expectations and it is our job as teachers to ensure this support is in place and in collaboration with our young people, parents, carers and partners we will do all we can to get it right for every child.
Self-efficacy – is the belief in the ability of individuals to make positive things happen in their lives. This can play a critical role in how we think, feel and behave. In many ways this comes down to how confident our young people feel about facing challenges and performing tasks. I do believe that if we wish to develop high educational attainment and achievement among our young people, we must develop a spirit of strong self-efficacy.
I have spent the majority of my first two weeks getting to know the young people, visiting classes and meeting the staff. It has been a real pleasure to be able to spend my time doing this and I have been very encouraged by many aspects of the school. There are a number of features of a successful school and in many ways Gracemount High School is already a successful school. Nevertheless, our focus will remain on rigorous self-evaluation so we can be clear about our strengths and our priorities for improvement. I fully believe that parents and carers should play a pivotal role in the evaluation and development of the school and I look forward to meeting you over the days, months and years ahead. It is important that all parents and carers feel they belong to their school community and I am keen to hear your views and thoughts on the school. I intend to engage with the parent community in a number of ways and have already met with the Parent Council. To facilitate this process and to give you an opportunity to meet me, I will be available to meet parents every Tuesday after school from 4pm to 7pm starting on Tuesday 18 November. Should you wish to meet with me in person, please contact Yvonne Jardine in the School Office on 664 7440 to make an appointment. If Tuesday is not suitable, we will try to find an alternative time. (Please note I will not be available on Tuesday 25 November).
A few final thoughts……
As well as focusing on the academic progress of all our young people, I will not neglect the importance of building a positive ethos where respect and responsibility are key values in our school community. Martin Luther King once said that “Intelligence plus character – that is goal of true education” and I could not agree more and believe this is well reflected in our current school motto, “Committed to Care and Excellence”.
It is important to me that all young people know and understand that the type of person they are is equally as important as their academic success. To realise this all pupils must feel valued and respected and I fully intend to make Gracemount High School a “Rights Respecting School” within the next 3 years. I am delighted to say that work on this has already begun and Mr Rodger in the Support for Pupils Team is leading an initiative on this. I will keep you updated on our progress. More information on the Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA) can be found at http://www.unicef.org.uk/rrsa.
Finally, I am delighted to welcome two new members of staff who have been appointed into temporary posts in the Social Subjects faculty. Naviahsa McMillan will start with us on Monday 24 November as a full time member of staff and will be in post until October 2015. Adam McGaughland who is already with us as a supply teacher has been appointed as a 0.7 teacher of Social Subjects and will be with us until at least June 2015.
Please continue to keep up to date with all school matters via our excellent website and I very much look forward to meeting you over the weeks and months ahead.