Monday, 16 January 2017

Headteacher Update 11 - Monday 16th January 2017

January 2017

Dear Parent/Carer,

I very much hope that you managed to have an enjoyable and relaxing festive break. We are delighted to be back for what will no doubt be a very busy term.

You will recall from my last blog that I would update you regarding a significant number of national changes. Please feel free to make contact with me if you wish to discuss any of these changes and how they may impact on the school and/or your child.

Key Dates: -

       Wednesday 18 January – Course Choice Options Evening for S2-S5 pupils
·         Thursday 19 January – Ogwini Trip Parent Information Evening
·         Monday 23 – Senior Reports issued for S4-6 pupils
·         Thursday 26 January – S3 Parent Consultation Evening
·         Monday 6 February – S3 reports issued
·         Thursday 9 February – Senior Phase Parent Consultation Evening
·         Friday 10 February - S3 Option Choice forms to be returned
·         Monday 13 February – Mid-term break
·         Monday 20 February – pupils return to school
·         Monday 27 February – Formal Assessments – Senior School

Staffing Update

A letter has been emailed to all parents regarding the staffing situation in the Maths Department. A copy is also available on the school website under the updates section. Please contact the school with any queries regarding this matter.

School of Football
Mr Phil Kidd who runs our School of Football will be leaving us on Friday 3 February to take up a full-time Active Sports Co-ordinator post. As a result we are advertising for a full time teacher of Physical Education who will also lead and co-ordinate the School of Football. Until we appoint a replacement, we are holding discussions with the School of Football at the SFA regarding a replacement coach for Mr Kidd.

Ms Kirsty Hirst will leave us shortly to begin her maternity leave. We are currently in the process of recruiting for this post with interviews scheduled for Tuesday 17 January.

Mrs Emma Whyte will leave us shortly to begin her maternity leave. We are currently in the process of recruiting for this post.

Social Subjects
Mrs Stephanie Fogarty will shortly take up a 1 day a week post in Social Subjects to replace Ms Ashleigh Kennedy who left to take up a post at James Gillespie’s High School.

Support for Learning
Ms Morven Boyd who currently works as a PSA in the school has successfully been appointed as Teacher for Learning, Inclusion and Achievement for 2 days per week.

Course Choice Options Evening
We very much hope you will be able to join us on the evening of Wednesday 18 January at our annual options evening event. Details regarding changes to our curriculum and changes to the course choice procedure for next session will be provided. The evening is aimed at pupils in S2-S5 who will be making choices for next session.

The format of the evening is planned as follows: -

Doors open
Welcome and introduction - Mr Hunter, Head Teacher
Presentation on course choice process - Mr Hutchison, Depute Head Teacher
Opportunity to browse the coursing marketplace
End of evening

A large part of the evening will be given over to an opportunity to browse the coursing marketplace. This will be staffed by subject specialists, allowing parents to ask detailed questions on courses being offered and potential progression pathways in the subjects.

We will be joined by representatives from Skills Development Scotland, Edinburgh College, LEAPS and other business partners who will be available to answer any questions in their specialist areas.

Course choice is a very important time for all pupils and I do hope that you can join us for this evening. Working together we can provide the maximum support for all pupils in choosing the most appropriate pathways towards their future.

Pupil Equity Funding
Pupil Equity Funding will be issued to schools from the 2017/18 financial year.  This is additional funding which will be allocated to schools and targeted at closing the poverty related attainment gap.  The Scottish Government has committed to this funding as part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge programme for five years from 2017-18. The Pupil Equity Funding forms part of the £750m Attainment Scotland Fund.  Funding must be used to support children and young people affected by poverty to achieve their full potential.

Publicly funded primary, secondary and special schools will receive £1,200 for each pupil in Primary 1 to S3, or equivalent, who is eligible and registered for free school meals. The Scottish Government will clearly indicate the amounts that should be allocated to each individual school, along with the terms and conditions for its use.
It is very important that families who are entitled to receive free school meals register to receive their entitlement. Although eligibility criteria are subject to change, you can check your eligibility status by contacting the School Office. Free School Meals application forms are available from the School Office and we are able to offer assistance to parents/carers who may need help completing the forms. 

SQA Update
You can keep up to date with proposed changes to SQA matters by visiting

What are the changes to National courses?
SQA was asked to remove units and unit assessments from National courses by the Scottish Government. The current course assessment approach requires candidates to complete internally assessed National units and a course assessment, which is normally an examination question paper and/or coursework.

The changes to course assessment will result in one or more of the following: -
  • extension of the existing question paper
  • extension of the existing item of coursework
  • a new question paper
  • a new item of coursework
Please note that there will be no change to the aims, rationale or content of the courses. Only the assessment arrangements will change along with clarification on content.

When will the changes take effect?
Units and unit assessments will be removed from National courses as follows: -
  • National 5 from 2017-18
  • Higher from 2018-2019
  • Advanced Higher from 2019-20

Can Recognising Positive Achievement or ‘fallback’ still be used?
Recognising Positive Achievement (RPA) currently supports candidates who have been unsuccessful at National 5 by enabling them to achieve National 4 retrospectively. This arrangement will no longer operate from session 2017-18 onwards as the removal of units from National 5 courses means that the unitised model - on which RPA is based - will no longer exist.

The units that are being removed from National 5 courses will still be available as free-standing units for schools to use as appropriate.

The Assessment and National Qualifications (ANQ) Group is discussing the possibility of extending the current grade scale below grade C in order to recognise a broader range of learner achievements. We will communicate more information once the change has been finalised.

There has been recent press coverage about extension of the grade scale and its impact on standards. Please be reassured that the standard required to pass a National 5 at Grades A to C will not change. SQA will still calculate pass rates based on those candidates who achieve Grades A to C.

Are National 4 courses changing?
There are currently no planned changes to National 4 courses.  However, discussions continue at the ANQ group. Courses will remain internally assessed on a pass or fail basis and be subject to our published external verification arrangements. This information is very important for young people and parents/carers as they consider their subject choices for next session and more information/discussion can take place through the course choice process.

Panmure St Ann’s Special School
The City of Edinburgh Council is consulting on proposals to close Panmure St Ann’s Special School at the end of June 2017. Any remaining pupils on the school roll will be given places at other schools in Edinburgh.

Visit for details of the proposals and to complete the online consultation survey. 

You can also email comments to or write to Alistair Gaw, Acting Executive Director of Communities and Families, The City of Edinburgh Council, 2/6 Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh EH8 8BG
Copies of the consultation paper are also available by calling Children’s Services Business Support on 0131 469 6123.

A public meeting will be held at the Council’s administrative headquarters at Waverley Court (Room C.47), 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh EH8 8BG on Monday 6 February from 6.00pm to 8.00pm. 

The closing date for the survey and comments is 27 February 2017