Monday, 9 March 2015

Gracemount Parent Bulletin Monday 9th March 2015

Dear Parent/Carer

As you can imagine it is a very busy time at Gracemount High School. As you read on you will get a flavour of what is currently happening or planned at Gracemount High School.

Preparation for SQA Courses and Examinations
All our senior pupils (S4-6) are preparing for the forthcoming SQA exam diet. Information about progress has been shared via our most recent Tracking & Monitoring reports which were sent home on Thursday 12 February as well as the most recent parent consultation which took place on Thursday 26 February. You should be doing as much as you can to encourage your youngsters to attend school as regularly as possible and study at home in preparation for the forthcoming examinations and finalisation of course work. You will find a very useful link below which will provide information on revision tips and links to past papers. We would encourage you to look at this with your youngster to help them prepare and you should not hesitate to contact the school should you wish any further advice on exam preparation.

This is a crucial time for all pupils in the senior phase and the work they do now in school and at home will be central to their success. Our study support programme (GASS) remains in full flow and all students in the senior phase should be utilising this resource to enhance their skills and knowledge in preparation for completing course work and external examinations.

Easter Revision Programme
This will take place during the school holidays and will be on offer to all pupils in the senior phase from Tuesday 7 April. More details will follow about this programme.

Meaningful May – 4 to 29 May
Students who are being presented for less than three National 5 qualifications will be granted two days exam leave for each examination. These students will also participate in a “Meaningful May” programme which is being devised by staff in conjunction with Liberton High School. This programme is designed to ensure all students continue to receive a high quality educational programme during the month of May and is linked to developing skills for life, learning and work. More details will follow and you will be advised if your youngster is expected to participate in this programme.

Pupils in this programme should attend school from Tuesday 28 April to Friday 1 May. They will attend timetabled classes as normal before they begin the Meaningful May programme.

Exam Leave
Pupils sitting three or more National 5 or higher qualifications will start exam leave on Tuesday 28 April. Students will return to school on the Monday 1 June when the new timetable begins.

Vision of Excellence
We have been working very hard behind the scenes to look at our vision and values for the school as well as considering our core improvement priorities. Work is well underway in all areas.

Vision and Values
I believe that a clear vision and a clear set of defined values is crucial for the success of all students at Gracemount High School. Our vision statement will set out our ambition for all members of the Gracemount High School community and it is designed to be a force in our hearts; something we will go to the wall for. Our core values are what we stand for and what we want to encourage in our young people every day. It will lead us into conversations about what character traits we feel are important to develop in our young people and will be a key part of our Journey to Excellence as a school.

We would encourage you to engage in this process.  You can do so by casting your vote on our Vision and Values for Gracemount High School. Your views on this are integral and will go a long way to shaping the future of the school.

Better Relationships, Better Learning and Better Behaviour -
After considerable feedback from staff and pupils there was a need to reconsider our behaviour policy within the school. We are well underway with this process and hope to launch a new policy from the start of the new session in August. Our plan is to use the month of June to engage students and parents in the detail of the policy and where necessary make refinements to it. It is imperative that students, parent and staff have a say in what they feel would be a consistent, fair and appropriate policy for the school. Our focus will be very much on recognising and rewarding positive behaviour and a number of staff have been visiting other schools across the city to look at good practice. Further information on developments will follow in due course.

Staffing Update
We are delighted to welcome Mrs Paula Hamilton and Mrs Jacquelyn McDonald to our Pupil Support team. Mrs Hamilton has been in the school for some time and we are delighted to welcome her on a permanent basis. Mrs McDonald will begin on Monday 9 March and I am in no doubt will be a fantastic addition to the team.

Regrettably Mr MacDonald in the English Department is continuing absent. Contingency plans have been put in place to support Mr MacDonald’s classes. However, I would urge any parent/carer who is concerned about their child's education due to his absence to contact their youngster’s Guidance Teacher in the first instance.

Both Mrs Semple and Miss Muir have left their posts in Support for Learning to assume posts in other local authorities. We have however made two temporary appointments. Mrs Shona Valentine, a current member of staff in the Technologies faculty, has been appointed together with Mr Alistair McLeod, a newly appointed member of staff. Until both start in post, internal arrangements are in place to continue to support our young people who require access to our Support for Learning Team. Again, please do not hesitate to contact us at school if you wish to discuss this further.

School Trips

The 2015 Ogwini trip was a great success. 12 pupils and two members of staff travelled to Durban during the February break to experience the education and culture of South Africa. As a school we are very proud of our young people and staff who embarked on this trip. A number of them have returned to school describing the trip as a life changing event. It is obvious that they have been very moved by the experiences they encountered and work is ongoing in the school to ensure they share their experiences with as many pupils as possible.  More details and pictures will be included in the Easter Newsletter. 

With only 12 weeks to go, excitement is rising among pupils going to Spain for the Watersports Trip in the summer term.  On Wednesday pupils will be taking part in a sponsored swim at Gracemount Leisure Centre and they have 2 fundraising bag packing sessions on Saturday 2 and Saturday 9 May at Morrisons Supermarket.  

Final payments were due on the Friday 27 February.  If you have any outstanding payments, please hand them into the school for the attention of Mr Gregor as soon as possible.  Passports and European Health Insurance cards should be submitted for photocopying by Friday 27 March.  Please let us know if you are applying for a new passport.  European Health Insurance Cards are free and applications can be made at the following address
Ryan Ferguson, Head Boy – The Big Bang National Science and Engineering Competition – 10-12 March NEC Birmingham

Congratulations to Ryan who has successfully made it through to the final of this event. This has been a culmination of over a year’s hard work and we wish Ryan all the very best with regards to this. We will keep you informed of his progress.

School Immunisation Programme
Immunisation helps protect our communities from a wide range of illnesses.

The teenage booster ensures protection from tetanus, diphtheria and polio and will be offered to students in S3 by the NHS Lothian School Nursing team on Tuesday 24 March 2015. Students will also be offered the MenC booster at the same time to protect against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by meningococcal group C bacteria.

Pupils in S4-S6 who missed the opportunity in previous years will be invited again.

Please ensure that completed consent forms are returned promptly to school.

Increase for School Meals Prices (From August 2015)

As part of the council budget earlier this month an increase to the school meal price was agreed at the following rates:

Current fee 2014/15

1 August 2015

Secondary Schools



And finally……………I have now been Head Teacher at Gracemount for approximately 100 days. It has been a pleasure to work in the school community and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time getting to know the young people, staff and many of the parents and carers. I very much look forward to continuing the work I have started and working alongside all members of the community. It remains an exciting time for the school as we embark on our Vision 2020 and I have no doubt that we will improve the life chances and outcomes for all our young people – something all staff at Gracemount High School are passionate about.

Should you wish to meet with me at any point, please do not hesitate to contact Yvonne Jardine in the School Office to make a suitable appointment.

Kind regards,

Ross Hunter