Monday, 18 September 2017

Headteacher Update 14 - Monday 18th September 2017



September 2017

Dear Parent/Carer

It has been a pleasure to welcome our students back to school after the summer break. The significant majority are smartly dressed, punctual and working hard in class. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support in these matters.

Staffing Update
I wanted to update you on our staffing, as we have had a number of new staff who have joined us since the start of term. Details are as follows: -

       Moira Wilson (Support for Learning Leader)
       Rachel Patterson (Support for Learning Teacher)
       Beata Kilkiewicz (Maths)
       Rachel Jones (Modern Studies)
       Mazhar Yusaf (Maths)
       Iain Nugent (Physics)
       Alan Wilkins (Drama on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday)
       Daniel Davis (Music)
       Rory Wallis (Equity in STEM)
       Angela Verity (Equity in literacy and assistive technology)
       Anne Young (Education Welfare Officer)

Due to staff absence in the Art Department, some classes may be taken by different teachers since we allocate our experienced staff to senior classes. We have been able to source a subject specialist supply teacher so classes will always be taught by an Art teacher during this time. 

We are still seeking to recruit a Drama teacher for Mondays and Tuesdays to support Mr Wilkins. 

We are still actively seeking a suitable supply teacher with subject specialism in English and Media to cover staff absence in the English Department. In the meantime, and with effect Tuesday 5 September: -

      S1 classes have moved from 5 to 4 sets. Class sizes will be approximately at 27.
·       S2 classes will access the library for personal reading development. These classes will continue. Please note that classes on Monday P5 and Friday P2 will be allocated non-subject specialists but will however be supported by the School Librarian for personal reading.
·      S3 classes will move from 5 to 4 classes. Class sizes will be approximately 28.
·      S4 – Miss Flannigan will assume an additional N5 class and Mr MacDonald will assume an additional N4 class.
·      S/6 (Higher) – Mrs Gordon will assume full responsibility for this class.
·      S3 Media – Mr Foley will take 2 periods of the allocated 4. The other periods will be allocated to cover teachers.

Please be assured that we are doing all we can to address these staffing issues. Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s Pupil Support Leader (Guidance Teacher) if you have any concerns.

SQA Examination Results
We continue to review our performance in SQA examinations.
·   
    Our S4 performance was strong with 19% of our cohort achieving a minimum of 5 qualifications at level 5 or above. This was a 9% improvement on last year.
·     Our S5 results showed a slight dip in the number of pupils achieving 1, 3 and 5 Highers by the end of S5.
·     Our S6 results showed improvements in the number of pupils achieving 1 and 5 Highers by the end of S6. We maintained the number of pupils achieving 3 Highers by the end of S6.
·    Our Advanced Higher results also improved with 11% of the cohort achieving at least 1 Advanced Higher, the highest since 2013.

SQA Update – Changes to National Qualifications
We are continuing to liaise with colleagues in the SQA over changes to national qualifications. We have finalised our SQA policy which is now available to all parents via the school website.

You can keep up to date with the proposed SQA changes to by visiting www.sqa.org.uk/nqchanges

iPads
We continue to invest heavily in our 1:1 approach to give all our pupils in S3-S6 equal opportunity of access to technology. We continue to ask for your support in ensuring that the device including the cable and charger are looked after. It is only with your support that we will be able to continue to implement this policy which includes the safe return of the device and its accessories when a pupil leaves school.

Please note that all pupils intending to leave school should ensure that they return their iPad, cable and charger, otherwise they will incur a charge.

School Funding Success
I am delighted to announce that we have made a bid for and successfully received funding in the following areas: -

Food for Thought Programme - The Food for Thought Education Fund gives financial support to develop Food and Health as a context for learning. The fund aims to improve practitioner confidence in providing progressive, high quality learning experiences which help to embed food education into the ethos of the establishment. Ms Bird successfully bid and received over £1000 to take forward initiatives relating to Food and Health in school.

Cycle Scotland On the back of our very successful first year in delivering Bike Maintenance, Mr King made a bid to Cycle Scotland to enable us to continue to develop this cycle friendly award. We have received £2,285 funding which will be used to purchase bikes and secure access to this equipment for pupils across the school.

Trips Policy
We intend to devise a policy which will make the funding process transparent and clarify how the school will support fundraising for trips to support young people who may experience financial hardship. Further details will follow.

Gracemount High School and Primary School Parents Big Night Out
You may be aware that our parents are organising a fundraising event for both the primary and secondary school. The event is to be help on Friday 15 September at Gilmerton Miners Club. Tickets can be purchased from the school reception at a cost of £7.50 each.

We really hope you can make it along and support both our schools.
Key Dates for this term
·         Monday 11 September – Parent Council Meeting – 6.30pm in the School Library.
·         Friday 15 September – Parents Big Night Out – Gilmerton Miners Club - 7.00pm
·         Monday 18 September – school closed (Holiday)
·         Wednesday 20 September - S1 Settling in Parents Evening from 4.30 6.30pm
·         Friday 6 October – Senior tracking issued
·         Friday 6 October – whole school sponsored walk.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Headteacher Update 13 - Thursday 14th June 2017



June 2017

Dear Parent/Carer


Curriculum Structure

Our new curriculum together with our new school week started on Monday 29 May. It is progressing very well and feedback from pupils has so far been very positive. Pupils particularly like the 50 minute periods and the earlier break at 10.20am has also been received well.



We are all still adapting to the 7 period day and our focus in the forthcoming session will be to embed our structure across all year groups. We are also mindful that the new S4 will be the first year group to be sitting up to 7 national examinations.



Registration

We are in the process of consulting pupils over changes to registration which may take place in August. As you might be aware, pupils overwhelmingly voted to keep registration as part of the school day and for it to remain at the start of the school day. We are now considering a move to an “horizontal” system where pupils will register in their own year groups. We would envisage placing S6 with S1 in order to retain and further develop our approach to mentoring/buddying. Year groups 2-5 would remain separate. Consultations are taking place this month.



SQA Exams

I am delighted to note that the SQA examination process went very smoothly. Results will be sent to pupils on Tuesday 8 August. Pupils who have signed up to https://www.mysqa.org.uk/ will get their results at 8am on that day.





SQA Update – Changes to National Qualifications

We are continuing to liaise with colleagues in the SQA over proposed changes to national qualifications. On Monday 5 June our leadership team met with an SQA Liaison Officer to discuss the implications of the pending changes and we are currently finalising our SQA policy which we will make available to all parents.


You can keep up to date with the proposed SQA changes to by visiting www.sqa.org.uk/nqchanges



Post Results Process

Where a candidate’s grade is significantly different from that expected, based on the evidence the school holds about the candidate’s performance throughout the course, a school may request a clerical check and/or an SQA marking review. The candidate must, however, give permission for this in writing.



·   A clerical check is a check that all questions have been marked and all marks totalled correctly

·   A marking review is where an SQA senior examiner will review the marks awarded to each question to ensure that the original marking was in line with national standards: the work will not be re-marked. The decision to ask for a marking review rests solely with the school, and no alternative evidence will be sent to the SQA.  The only evidence checked is the candidate’s 2017 examination script.



Please note:


      PRS (marking review) requests must come from the school itself.

·    Any requests made must be based on a change in letter grade and not only a change in band.

·    The school can only consider making a PRS request where there is evidence of consistent performance throughout the year and over a full range of assessable elements.

·    The school will always consider a PRS request where strong evidence exists to support it.

·    By agreeing to a PRS request, pupils and parents acknowledge that the grade may go down as well as up.



S3 iPad Launch

We have now issued our new S3 cohort with iPads. We plan to support parents in the use of the iPad at home to encourage engagement with your son/daughter in their learning. As a result a family learning event will take place on Thursday 15 June and we very much look forward to seeing you there.



Staffing Update

Support for Learning

Dr Lyon will be leaving us at the end of term and the vacancy has been advertised. We hope to appoint in mid-June to secure an August start date.



We have also advertised for a 1-year temporary post in Support for Learning combined with Modern Languages. This is to address staff shortages in both these areas and we will be interviewing at the start of June for this post.



Science

Mr Iain Nugent, currently at Balerno High School, will be joining us as a Physics/Science teacher in August.



Mr Robert McKenzie, Biology and Science, will be returning in August from a 2-year teaching post in Egypt.



Social Subjects

Mr Andrew Reid will be leaving us to take up a post at Queensferry High School and will be replaced by Ms Rachel Sheehy, currently at Holy Rood High School, who will be joining us in August.



Senior Leadership Team

Mrs Dee Scott will be on maternity leave from Monday 16 October and is likely to return in August 2018. A temporary post has been advertised and we hope to make an appointment before the summer break.



Annual Awards Ceremony

Our annual awards ceremony takes place on the evening of Thursday 29 June. The venue may not be as glamorous as last year but we are delighted to be hosting the event back in school. Plans are well underway and we look forward to seeing many of you at the event to celebrate the success of our amazing young people.



Pupil Achievements Section



Dance

On Wednesday 7 June our junior dancers attended the Edinburgh Schools Dance Competition at Broughton High School. Three groups performed, one in level 1, one in level 3 and one in the Pupil Choreography Section. Both group pieces were based on books, with the girls choosing ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ themes. The pupils’ choreography was based on Drug Abuse and its effects on close family members.



Achievements


Category: Pupil Choreography

Gracemount placed 3rd with a piece about Drug Abuse and its effects on close family members.



Category: Group Level 3

Gracemount placed 2nd with a piece about the fight between good and evil in the form of Jekyll and Hyde.



Gracemount also won ‘Best Costume’ within level 3 for Jekyll and Hyde.



Music

Well done to the following pupils who took part in the City of Edinburgh Council’s Resonate Concert series on Friday 31 March in the Queens Hall.



·         Maia Robinson

·         Esme Page

·         Sneha Joseph

·         Abbi McBeath

·         Connor Inglis

·         Michelle Bahat



The following pupils were also involved in the Edinburgh Schools Wind Ensemble

·         Thomas Jamieson

·         Esme Page

·         Maia Robinson



The Virgin Atlantic Scholarship Trip

Congratulations to Richard Nye who has been selected for the Virgin Atlantic Scholarship trip to India. Richard will travel with 30 young people aged 12-18 to a village community in Rajasthan, India where he will get his hands dirty working on a volunteer project. Experiencing life alongside community members, and engaging in vibrant discussions of complex social issues which affect the country will help him to come to understand how it can connect to his life at home.



Duke of Edinburgh

We have 9 pupils completing their Silver or Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Awards this session as follows: -



Bronze Awards

Julia Sanderson, Gregor McRae, Esme Page, Iliana Ortiz and Lauryn Anderson have successfully completed their qualifying expedition and Ellie Tollet has completed her practice expedition.



Silver Awards

Lucy Hunter, Jessica Simpson and Miriam Castano Viera have successfully completed their practice expedition which involved canoeing along the Union Canal and they will be taking part in their qualifying expedition on Tuesday 13 to Thursday 15 June.
Good luck to all involved.


S3 German Success – Scottish National Galleries

On Thursday 18 May the S3 German pupils showcased their presentations on how to encourage young foreign visitors to engage with artwork on display at the National Galleries. Despite some nerves, the pupils did a sterling job and the Galleries and Council were both delighted and moved by the work of our pupils. Their suggestions on engagement with the art work included edible chocolate artwork, making food at night in the Gallery CafĂ© for the homeless and sophisticated Virtual Reality displays!   Well done to all of them!



Ramadan

Ramadan has begun and many pupils in the school are fasting. In line with the philosophy of Islam all pupils are encouraged to continue to work hard and give of their best efforts.

Muslim pupils are able to access Ms Fleming’s room at lunchtime and an adjacent room has been set aside for prayer. There is a strict no food and no water rule in these rooms at this time.

Key Dates

·         Monday 12 June – Senior Phase Induction Day

·         Thursday 15 June – Family Learning – iPad event

·         Tuesday 20 June – P7 Visit/School Sport Awards Ceremony

·         Wednesday 21 June – P7 Visit

·         Thursday 22 June P7 Visit

·         Friday 23 June – Sports Day

·         Thursday 29 June – Awards Ceremony

·         Friday 30 June – last day of term (school finishes at 12 noon)