In-service day:

Parents and pupils possibly wonder what staff do on in-service days.  On Monday we brought together all of the staff from the Academy and its 4 associated Primary schools.  We spent time together looking at feedback from some surveys into Health and discussing how we could support staff, pupils and families who have concerns over health and well being.  We also looked at highly acclaimed work which had been undertaken at Hanover Street.  It was agreed the approach which was working at Hanover Street was one all schools should be using and we discussed how this can be taken forward.  Teachers then returned to their own schools to address their own priorities.  In the academy this included a staff session on behaviour management/restorative approaches and one on Literacy before spending the rest of the day in subject areas.

Terrorist concerns:

I am aware parents and staff will be concerned by terrorist attacks – most recently in Paris but also in Beruit and over Egypt.  Each year we run a range of overseas excursions, one to Paris and Belgium, so we need to pay close attention to unfolding events.  I will be writing to parents of all pupils who have paid deposits and we will keep monitoring the situation.  We will continue to assess the risks and will do all we can to ensure the safety of our staff and pupils on school visits.

Parent Council meeting, ACC Parental evening and PTA event

The parent Council met on Wednesday evening and the minutes of this meeting should be on the web site soon. I am really keen to ensure we do all we can to help parents feel connected to the school as a whole and to the education of their child in particular.  As well as the twitter feeds and the blog we are planning to issue some short and informative leaflets about the school.  If any parent has a suggestion on a topic for such a leaflet please let me know.  I shall also keep trying to get a monthly newsletter to parents and make myself available on parent evenings and other parental events.

One such event was a Senior Phase information evening organised by Aberdeen City council.  Harlaw was the venue used for the event and we tried to ensure we had good representation fro Harlaw parents.  Over 60 people turned up on the evening and most seemed to find it a helpful and informative event.  As with our own events there is a great deal of emphasis placed on the importance of meaningful parental involvement.  We need to move beyond the school simply telling parents what we do and reach a point where parents are active participants in the learning process and actively engaged in school improvement.

Another aspect of parental involvement is as members of the school community.  In a diverse and multicultural community such as ours we have a key role in helping new families to integrate into our community.  PTA events such as the Fright night a few weeks back and the Quiz on Friday 20th are great ways for people to mix.  At each event we welcomed some new families and some P6 and P7 parents/pupils along.  I hope more will join us for the next event – a Ceilidh on 29 January.  thanks to all staff, pupils and parents who helped organise the Quiz and the Fright Night.

P7 Health Morning:

It was fantastic to welcome our P7s through for a visit for the Health Morning.  This is the first of several transition visits to help pupils to get to know each other, get to know some secondary school staff and find their way around the building.  The pupils were fantastic and it was really good to involve S3 sports leaders as ‘buddies’ for the day.  we look forward to your next visit – numeracy in December.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC):

We are doing a great deal to seek to promote UNCRC with pupils and this week I have also put a copy of the Convention up on the information page of the website for parents to refer to.  There is a framework, called the Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA), for helping us teach about children’s rights and global citizenship.  Last session we audited our work and were awarded a recognition of commitment from UICEF UK (see logo below).  We are now working towards achieving level 1 of the award by summer.  Crucial to this work is an increased emphasis on pupil voice and participation in all aspects of school life. I have noted in previous blogs the extent to which we are increasing opportunities for pupil participation.  This is an area we will keep trying to increase when we can – for example pupils have been asking for a parkor (freestyle running) group and one started this week.  We are also now starting to involve pupils in meaningful consultation on the school and wider community.  This week Mr O’Neill met a group who will be at the heart of working with parents and staff to bring about improvements to the school grounds.  Early in the new year Harlaw Learning Partnership will consult with pupils about the area covered by Kaimhill, Broomhill, Ferryhill and Hanover Street.  We want to work together and work with young people to help improve local services for youngsters and families.

Winter festival

I have been asked to help promote the winter festival taking place in Aberdeen City Centre 26 November – 3 January.  For further details of all the events and venues go to