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