This week I want to reflect on 4 ‘events’ from the week – the first is a concern the other 3 are all positive:

1) On Wednesday there was a big meeting between Government and the northern local authorities to discuss issues around recruiting and retaining teachers in areas such as Aberdeen.  With the high cost of housing and limited training opportunities in Aberdeen it can often prove difficult securing staff in NE Scotland.  We have tended to do well at Harlaw but in the last few weeks we have had particular difficulties in some subject areas.  Indeed in English at the present time we are trying to recruit two teachers and there are several other schools in the city who are also looking for teachers of English.  We are doing all we can to address this issue and to provide continuity for our pupils and to find suitably qualified staff – if you know of anyone please let me know.

2) Over this week we have had a groups of 3 staff over in Poland with a group of senior pupils.  This is an annual visit and includes time in Krakow as well as visits to Auswitch/Birkenau and opportunities to learn more about the holocaust and hear from survivors. It is always an emotional and significant visit but one which really does allow young people to develop a deep appreciation of such significant events.  The group, as ever, conducted themselves in a very mature way and gained a great deal from the visit.

3) On Thursday evening I attended the annual Children Services Young People Awards at the Beach Ballroom.  One of the main categories on the night is the schools award and Harlaw Academy was one of two schools short listed for the award (the other being a Primary school).  Our nomination was linked to the work undertaken by Harlaw Defenders – the group who are leading on anti-bullying activities in the school.  Although we did not win the award it was fantastic to see the work being recognised at such a high profile event.

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4) The week finished with the school forest walk on Friday.  We were unable to do the walk last year and the break allowed us to think about a different approach – we got rid of the ‘sponsor’ aspect and although we invited donations in advance we really wanted to promote this as an opportunity to get city pupils out into the country for a healthy activity which the school community could enjoy.  It is a major undertaking to get all those people out to Durris forest, round a 3-4 hour walk and back safely and I am grateful to the team of staff who planned the event.  The pupils and staff on the day were fantastic and the weather could not have been better.  I am sure all who went on the walk will have gone home delighted with the day.

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