Monday, 19 December 2016

Headteacher Update 10 - Monday 19th December 2016

Dear Parent/Carer,

It’s been another incredibly busy and rewarding term at Gracemount High School. It is almost impossible to keep track of all the activities/events in school and our twitter account remains as active as ever. If you can, please keep up to date with all our school events via twitter @GracemountHigh or via our school website

Changes to Scottish Education are coming thick and fast and I will share key information with you in my first blog of the new year.

Formal Assessments
Our senior pupils completed their first set of formal assessments and teachers are using these to ensure that pupils are receiving high quality feedback to support learning. Our next set of formal assessments begin on the 22 February and will further support our senior pupils in ensuring they are ready for the final set of examinations in April/May of 2017.

Winter Weather
To date the winter weather has been very kind to us, however, we are well aware that Scotland can experience all seasons in one day and we do have procedures in place if the weather takes a turn for the worst. As always the safety of our staff and students is at the heart of all our decisions and we will keep parents and students fully informed about our ability to open during poor weather via Radio Forth, our website and text alerts. Please help us to keep in touch by ensuring we have up to date contact details, particularly mobile numbers and email addresses, so that we can contact you at all times.

Key Dates
·         Monday 19 December – S1 reports issued
·         Thursday 22 December – last day of term (finish 12 noon)
·         Monday January 9 – Inset day training for staff
·         Tuesday 10 January pupils return to school
·         Wednesday 18 January – Options Evening
·         Monday 23 January Senior reports issued
·         Thursday 26 January S3 Parent Consultation Evening

Option Evening – S2-5 Pupils and Parents
After a very successful evening last year, we have arranged to hold another one on Wednesday 18 January. This is an excellent opportunity to meet with teachers and partners of the school to discuss next steps for your son/daughter.

We very much look forward to welcoming you to the school and further details will follow after the Christmas break.

At the end of this term we will be saying goodbye to Mr Gribben and Ms Corrigan from the Maths department. We wish them every success in their new posts.

I am delighted to say that Mr Hamish Gordon, currently working at St Thomas of Aquins, has been appointed to one of the vacancies in the Maths Dept and will take up post on 9 January. I am also interviewing next week for a Maths Development Officer on Tuesday 20 December. I hope to have a successful candidate in place who will take up post very shortly after the start of the new term.

Miss Kennedy, a long serving member of staff, has successfully been appointed as Curriculum Leader in Social Subjects at James Gillespie’s High School and will take up post in January. We are currently advertising for a replacement for Miss Kennedy and hope to appoint very soon. We wish Miss Kennedy every success in her new role.

Miss Morven Boyd has been appointed as teacher of Learning, Inclusion and Achievement and will work 2 days per week in that role as well as continuing in her role as a Pupil Support Assistant.

Miss Lauren Flannigan, English Teacher,  has successfully been appointed as Pupil Support Leader for 1 day a week (Friday) at Forrester High School. Congratulations to Miss Flannigan. We are currently looking at how we fill this vacancy and more information will follow.

We are currently advertising for a temporary teacher of Music as Ms Kirsty Hirst will begin her maternity leave very shortly.

We are looking forward to welcoming Mrs Yvonne Gerrie who will join our school support assistant team. We are also currently looking for 2 additional Pupil Support Assistants to join the Support for Learning team.

Last Day of Term – Thursday 22 December
Please note pupils will be dismissed from school at 12 noon.

Finally…...since taking up post 2 years ago I have always felt very privileged to work in your community and serve your children. Gracemount High School is a wonderful school full of talented and ambitious young people and the overwhelming support we receive from our parents and carers makes a huge difference to what we do each day in the school.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, safe and peaceful holiday.

Kind Regards

Ross Hunter
Head Teacher

Monday, 21 November 2016

Headteacher Update 9 - Monday 21 November 2016

Dear Parent/Carer

I am delighted to be writing to you and updating you on the progress of the school this session.  I hope you find the information useful and as always I would be very keen to receive any feedback you may have about the school.

Rights Respecting Schools – Respect Week
This week is Respect Week in school.  Pupils and staff are looking closely at the United Nations Convention of Human Rights.

We are well on the way to achieving the Level 1 Rights Respecting School Award.  The award recognises achievement in putting the UN Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC) at the heart of a school’s practice to improve well-being and help all young people realise their potential.
The award is based on principles of equality, dignity, respect, non-discrimination and participation and we know that working towards this award is having a significant impact on improving the school ethos and the quality of relationships across the school.

Improving Learning and Teaching – Co-operative Learning Academy

All our teaching staff have just completed a 3-day Co-operative Learning Academy.  We have focused on this approach as we believe if we get this right, we can have a significant impact on the learning of all our pupils.

Co-operative learning can be defined as learning tasks or activities where students work together in a small enough group for everyone to participate on a collective task which has been clearly assigned. This can be either a joint task where group members do different aspects of the task but contribute to a common overall outcome, or a shared task where group members work together throughout the activity. 

The impact of collaborative approaches on learning is consistently positive.  Effective collaborative learning requires much more than just sitting pupils together and asking them to work together; structured approaches with well-designed tasks lead to the greatest learning gains and this will remain a focus for us throughout the forthcoming sessions.

Get Gracemount Going – Scottish Government Innovation Fund

After making a successful bid to the Scottish Government for funding through their innovation fund programme, our Get Gracemount Going Programme has been officially launched.  The main aim of the programme is to improve activity levels and healthy eating habits for an identified cohort of S1 pupils.

A targeted group of pupils will be extracted for additional health and well-being lessons.  These will take the form of both practical and theory sessions.  Pupils will:-

·         Focus on a variety of topics including nutrition and energy intake
·         Be inducted in to local leisure facilities using our close links with Edinburgh Leisure
·         Be provided with activity sessions in school
·         Develop coping strategies for the demands of school life
·         Be shown healthy cooking techniques and recipes

Pupils must attend at least one in school extra-curricular club per week and will also be expected to keep an accurate food diary. The pupils involved will be provided with a Fitbit to monitor their activity levels and enable them to set genuine targets relating to their personal results.  Activity levels will be recorded throughout the year. 

A large part of the programme is also based on parental involvement. Parents will be expected to sign and comment on diaries and will be invited into the additional Health and Well Being Lessons. Parents will have the opportunity to participate in PE activities and cook healthy dishes with their child.  Recipe books will be provided which can also be used at home.  The programme also offers the option of childcare on site for parents who may require it.

We are very excited by the launch of this programme and I will keep you updated on progress.

Staffing Update

Depute Head Teacher
Mrs Dee Scott took up her post on Monday 7 November. Mrs Scott is Year Head for S1,2 and S6 and will lead on Pupil Support across the school.

Mrs Ebru Ustan has taken up the temporary vacancy in the Maths Department and will be with us until the end of the session.

Support for Learning
Mrs Justine Haddow has joined us in Support for Learning.

Pupil Support
Mrs Sarah Ellis has joined us as Leader of Skye House.

Support Staff
Mr Stuart Riches has joined us as a Pupil Support Assistant.

Miss Gigha Lennox has joined us as a Classroom Assistant.

Curriculum Consultation
On Monday 12 September we held a curriculum consultation with parents/carers. We were very pleased with the turnout and parental feedback has helped us shape our curriculum proposal. An information evening will be held on Monday 28 November at 5.30pm in the school library where final details of the changes to the curricular structure will be presented. We look forward to seeing you there.

If you cannot make it along, details will be emailed out and posted on the school website.

School Calendar

Forthcoming Dates
21 November – Formal Assessments (S4-6)
14 and 15 December – School Dance Show
19 December – S1 Reports issued
22 December – School ends (further details regarding the last day of term to follow)
10 January – Pupils return

If you wish to keep regularly updated, please check the school website at: - or follow us on twitter via @GracemountHigh

Kind regards

Ross Hunter
Head Teacher