Thursday, 14 December 2017

Headteacher Update 16 - Thursday 14h December 2017

Dear Parent/Carer

It has been another incredibly busy and rewarding term. It is almost impossible to keep track of all the activities/events in school. If you can, please keep up to date with all our school events via our school website

I would like to draw your attention to two very important matters which I believe really matter:-

1. Dress Code – our school dress code is well established and something which I am very proud of. Visitors to the school always compliment us on our school ethos. The positivity that surrounds our school does not happen by accident and we all work incredibly hard to develop an ethos in line with our school vision – placing young people at the heart of all we do and ensuring the school is a safe, happy and Rights Respecting environment. A significant contributor to this is our dress code.

I ask you to continue to support our dress code by purchasing the correct clothing, especially footwear. We expect all young people to be suitably dressed for school and I have attached our dress code leaflet as well as a letter from our Parent Council who very much support our approach. We will revisit our expectations with young people in the new year. Your support in making this happen is crucial and I thank you for your continued efforts.  Our uniform leaflet can be downloaded and viewed here.

Should you need any advice on where to purchase school clothing or where to access school clothing grants, please contact your child’s Guidance Teacher in the first instance.

2. Attendance – young people must attend school regularly in order to achieve and attain. A key part of our job is to support young people and their families to access education, especially those who, for various reasons, find access to education more demanding. We are absolutely committed to ensuring the best outcomes for every young person and the more they engage with the school the better the outcomes are likely to be. Please play your part by ensuring your son/daughter comes to school punctually and as prepared as possible. Liaise with us if you feel you or your son/daughter need support and be assured we will work together with you.

We have set a school target of 95% attendance this year and to date the percentage attendance is 89% which is well below the average for Edinburgh schools. It is an area we must improve on and we can only do this by making attendance a priority and working in partnership with you and our partner services.

Formal Assessments
Senior pupils who are sitting Highers have completed their first set of formal assessments and teachers are using these to ensure that pupils are receiving high quality feedback to support their learning. Our next set of formal assessments for all senior pupils in S4-6 begins on Monday 29 January and we aim to support them in ensuring they are ready for the final set of examinations next April/May 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 18 December – Dance Show
· Tuesday 19 December - Dance Show
· Friday 22 December – last day of term (finish 12 noon)
· Monday January 8 – Inset day training for staff
· Tuesday 9 January - pupils return to school
· Wednesday 10 January – Options Evening and Careers Event
· Tuesday 16 – Thursday 18 January – S3 Personal Development Week
· Tuesday 23 January – Senior Phase Parent Consultation Evening
· Monday 29 January – Formal assessments begin

Option Evening and Careers Event for S2-5 Pupils and Parents
After a very successful evening last year, our options evening will be held on Wednesday 10 January. This is an excellent opportunity to meet with teachers and partners of the school to discuss next steps for your son/daughter. We have secured representation from over 30 local employers who will be present at the evening and will be on hand to discuss relevant career pathways for your child. We are thoroughly looking forward to this event and hope it will be very beneficial for everyone involved.

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 farewell to Dr Burt who is retiring from teaching. Dr Burt has worked at Gracemount for over 5 years and during this time has taken the Science faculty from strength to strength. She will be very much missed by colleagues and pupils and we wish her well in this new phase of her life.

We have appointed Mr Robert Mackenzie to the post of Curriculum Leader for Science. Mr Mackenzie is well known to many and has just returned to Gracemount having worked during a career break at an International school in Egypt for two years. We are now subsequently looking to appoint a teacher of Biology.

Social Subjects
Ms Diana Barry will leave us at the end of term to take up a post at Ross High School. We wish her all the very best and she will be missed by many in our school community.
We are currently in the process of recruiting her replacement in the History Department.

We are in the process of recruiting for a vacancy in Maths and hope to fill the post before the end of term.

We continue to seek a replacement for Ms Flannigan

Pupil Support Officer
I am delighted to confirm that Mrs Hurd, a well established member of staff, has been appointed to our new role of Pupil Support Officer. Mrs Hurd will continue with many of her current duties, however, this role recognises the considerable input that Mrs Hurd makes to the school in supporting our staff and young people.

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

Finally…...since taking up post 3 years ago I have always felt very privileged to work in your community and support your children. Gracemount High School is a wonderful school full of talented and ambitious young people and very committed staff. The overwhelming support we receive from our parents and carers makes a huge difference to what we do each day in the school.

I want to thank you for your continued support and may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, safe and peaceful holiday.

Kind Regards,

Ross Hunter
Head Teacher