Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Head Teacher Update 4 - April 2016

HT Update – Tuesday 26.04.16 

Dear parents/carers,

We all eagerly await news regarding the school building and look forward to having some certainty over the issues we currently face later this week.

We have continued to focus on supporting senior students at Liberton who are all nearing the end of their courses. Arrangements for exams are now confirmed and Mr Mackenzie (Business Manager and SQA coordinator) and Mr Hutchison (Senior Phase Depute Head Teacher) will lead an exam briefing on Wednesday afternoon with all seniors. 

From Tuesday 3rd May all senior pupils will be on exam leave. However, as previously indicated we will ensure pupils have access to teacher support at Liberton throughout the examination period. Pupils can access the school for revision purposes as well as to complete any outstanding unit assessments. 

From Monday 16th May a programme of activities will be on offer for pupils who have no external examinations. Pupils who do have exams will also be offered the opportunity to sign up for activities they are interested in. More information will follow from the staff co-ordinating this.

Friday 29th April is officially the last day for S6 pupils. This is normally an emotional time, even more so as the pupils are not in their own school. We hope to hold an event for the current S6 once we are back in Gracemount so they can officially say goodbye.  In the meantime, Liberton S6 pupils have kindly invited our own S6 to join them for a cooked breakfast in the canteen on Friday 29th at 11am. Pupils are aware and have been asked to sign up via the school office. 

As you may well be aware the local authority announced today that S1 to S3 students will continue to attend Wester Hailes Education Centre. This is to ensure there is no further disruption to either: 

  • senior students from Gracemount and Liberton High School during the exam time
  • younger pupils settling down at WHEC. 

Our S1-3 have generally settled in well. We continue to work on timetable arrangements and as of next week expect to deliver a much more comprehensive timetable for S1-3 pupils. More information on this will follow in due course. Please be assured this is a priority. 

Whilst we understand the extenuating circumstances for our young people, I know you will expect that we continue to insist on the highest of standards in order to ensure effective learning and teaching continues to take place. 

Assemblies were held this morning to reinforce this and to make clear to all pupils that the normal Gracemount standards apply, even though we may not be in the building. As always your support in this matter is very important and helps to promote a positive ethos in our school community.
Behaviour concerns will continue to be dealt with in the normal way until we return to Gracemount and look towards a full implementation of phase 3 of our behaviour policy. 

Bus times have finally been settled on and are as follows: 

  • 8.45am departure from Gracemount – arrival at WHEC is approximately 9.15am.
  • 3.00pm departure from WHEC – arrival at Gracemont is approximately 3.30pm.
  • Friday – departure 8.45am from Gracemount, leaving WHEC at 12 noon for a 12.30pm arrival at Gracemount.

As always, should you require further information or support please contact by telephone: 0131 664 7514 (Liberton High School), 0131 442 2201 (Wester Hailes Education Centre) or by email: admin@gracemount.edin.sch.uk.

Kind regards,

Ross Hunter

Friday, 22 April 2016

Head Teacher Update 3 - April 2016

HT Update – Friday 22.04.16 

Dear parents/carers,

Despite our challenges this week, I am very proud of what we have all achieved. I recognise our current situation remains challenging; however, our focus is on ensuring our young people are safe and receiving the highest standard of education.

There are a few key issues to highlight. 

Senior School – S4-6 

SQA Exams – yesterday the local authority announced that senior pupils would sit their SQA exams in their host school. Plans are at a highly advanced stage and all relevant personnel from Liberton and Gracemount have been working closely to ensure all arrangements are in place. Key information will be given to pupils early next week. 

Senior Assemblies - there will be a brief assembly first thing on Monday morning for all senior pupils led by Mr Hunter and Mr Hutchison which will take place in the assembly hall at Liberton High School. This will be followed up by an exam briefing on Wednesday afternoon, same location, led by Mr Mackenzie (Business Manager and SQA co-ordinator) and Mr Hutchison. It is very important all senior pupils attend

GASS – in most subject areas class teachers continue to offer lunchtime and after school study support. Senior students should continue to liaise with class teachers over times and dates. There has never been a more important time for seniors to utilise this opportunity and attend these sessions in preparation for forthcoming SQA exams. Please encourage them to do so where possible. 

Exam leave – as you’ll be aware, we had planned for a significantly reduced period of exam leave this session. This will now officially start on Tuesday 3rd May. Mr Hutchison is currently working on a timetable to ensure that throughout exam leave all senior pupils have access to a subject specialists. This will be issued to pupils next week and will enable senior students to access the school to revise and/or complete outstanding coursework. This will run throughout the period of exam leave to support senior students. 

New Timetable – it remains our intention to start our new Timetable on Monday 30th May. This is the date all senior pupils will return to school. I will keep you informed regarding progress on this.

Junior School S1-3 

Timetable – Mr Hutchison continues to work on the timetable for the junior school. He has managed to ensure that all pupils have accessed a range of subjects and plans are well in place for next week. We are currently working on a timetable for the week after next as more teachers will be available due to the start of exam leave. This will enable us to further enhance the experience of the junior school. 

Bus travel – I’m delighted to say that travel to and from WHEC this week has run very smoothly, traffic problems aside. All pupils are now aware of their bus number and we are able to organise them very quickly for departure at both Gracemount and WHEC. 

Please note that from Monday 25th April, in order to extend the school day and increase time for learning, departure times from WHEC will change. We will now depart at 3.15pm on Monday to Thursday and 12.15pm on Friday. 

Behaviour on the buses has generally been excellent. Where there are issues parents/carers will be contacted. 

Tree of Knowledge – we have successfully managed to secure input from the Tree of Knowledge for our S1-3 pupils. Next week all S1 and S2 pupils with have two sessions with staff from Tree of Knowledge. This will also take place for S3 pupils at a later date. 

Tree of Knowledge have recently visited Gracemount and we are developing a very successful relationship. They work with our young people to develop and enhance a range of skills related to life, learning, and the work place. We really look forward to their input. For more information please follow the link below. 


Finally – I cannot thank our community partners, parents/carers, staff, and host schools for all they have done to support us at this time. The offers of support have, at times, been overwhelming and I’ve never been prouder to be part of your community. 

When I arrived at Gracemount I was keen to establish a new set of values for the school. The purpose being that we turn to these values to support us as a community. As an educator, I will always stress the need to build character and intelligence in young people and to encourage our young people to make decisions based on their core values. For me, as Head Teacher, our school values are more important than ever and with your support they will help us to overcome the challenges we currently face. 

As always, should you require further information or support please contact by telephone: 

0131 664 7514 (Liberton High School)
0131 442 2201 (Wester Hailes Education Centre) 

By email: 


Kind regards,

Ross Hunter

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Head Teacher Update 2 - April 2016

HT Update – 21.04.16 

Dear parents/carers, 

We had a very positive day yesterday after Tuesday’s induction day at WHEC. Our buses all arrived on time and our last bus departed Gracemount at 9.03am. We all arrived at WHEC for 9.30am and pupils were in class by 9.35am. Our return journeys were also much smoother with all buses arriving back Gracemount for 3.30pm. 

A full timetable was in place for pupils and I can confirm that has also been arranged for today (Thursday). Mr Hutchison continues to work on a timetable to ensure a full spread of subject areas is taught to all our students. 

We have been able to revise the school day so pupils will now have a different interval and lunchtime to the pupils at WHEC. This will start today and will provide more space for pupils to socialise. 

I want to acknowledge all the support we have received to make what we are doing possible. The communities of Liberton and Wester Hailes have been very supportive and we have been made to feel very welcome. 

A number of our parents/carers have taken the time to get in touch and express their sincere thanks for all the efforts from the staff at all schools. We really appreciate this. Our commitment will always be to the children that attend Gracemount and we will continue to ensure that we put young people first and work towards providing the highest standard of education possible. 

We are all eagerly awaiting news on the school and as soon as I am informed I will work with the local authority to ensure we communicate our plans to you. In the meantime please do not hesitate to contact the school, via Liberton or WHEC, should you require further information or support. 

Thank you again. We look forward to another positive day. 

Kind regards,

Ross Hunter

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Head Teacher Update April 2016

HT Update – 19.04.16

Dear parents/carers,

I want to give you an update regarding today's events. I realise our current situation remains a very challenging one for all pupils, parents/carers and staff. However, despite the challenges we face, it is our responsibility as a staff to ensure we do everything we can to deliver the highest quality education possible to our young people and this very much remains our focus.

As you are aware, today was the first day our junior pupils travelled to WHEC. Bus arrangements were disrupted due to a serious accident that occurred on the city bypass. This resulted in a delay in buses arriving at Gracemount and substantially increased the travel time to WHEC.  I'm sure you can appreciate these circumstances were out with our control and we expect tomorrow to go as planned. Pupils should arrive at Gracemount in time for a 9.00am departure. 

Return journeys were much more straightforward although one bus for S3 pupils was considerably late. A member of staff was with the pupils at all times and we are working to rectify this issue in time for tomorrow. 

Once we arrived at WHEC the day went smoothly. Pupils were given a chance to see their classrooms and familiarise themselves with the school layout. The afternoon was spent in class with teachers and it was great to see learning and teaching taking place. 

At this stage we have taken the decision not to allow pupils out of the school grounds at lunchtime. This is simply a matter of health and safety as pupils are unfamiliar with the location and lunches are currently provided. Our leadership team will consider this carefully as pupils become more familiar with the school. No decision will be taken without informing parents/carers first. 

We continue to work on a suitable school timetable and details have been finalised for tomorrow, (Wednesday). I will continue to update you on a regular basis. Please be assured that significant progress has been made and key staff have been identified that will work from WHEC and accompany our pupils on school buses.

We are close to finalising arrangements for SQA examinations and I hope to make an announcement very soon regarding where pupils will sit their exams as well as updated arrangements for exam leave. 

Should you require further information then please continue to make initial contact with the relevant guidance teacher and or year head in the first instance and we will do all we can to answer your queries.

I will endeavour to keep you regularly updated via this blog. 

Kind regards,

Ross Hunter