Assemblies – the school chaplains deliver periodic assemblies and this week they were exploring the idea of ‘passion’.  Some time ago when we had been looking at the theme we had planned to speak of the need to work hard at things you are passionate about.  However with recent events around the world we adapted the focus to also include the idea of strong passions becoming destructive.  We are fortunate to have a group of chaplains who can communicate with youngsters in a way which helps them gain insight into the wider world.

Events in Paris – I have also been giving consideration to recent events as we are due to have a school trip going to Paris and Belgium in late May.  I have written to parents of all 3 excursions (Paris, London and Argeles Sur Mer) as there are deposits to be paid and decisions to be made.  Once I have heard back from parents and pupils we will reach decisions on how to proceed.

S1 Parents’ meetings – It was fantastic to welcome parents of S1 pupils to the school to meet with teachers.  We have been very pleased with how the S1s have settled into the school and I was really encouraged to see so many parents taking an active interest in how things are going.  On the evening we also took the opportunity to ask around 50 parents to give us some feedback on school improvement.

Parent Council and PTA – It was also really good to meet Carol Eddie (Chair of the Parent Council) and Carol Bremner (Chair of the PTA) this week.  These meetings are a way for us to keep challenging each other to find new ways to involve and inform parents.  Parents should have a very strong voice in improving your school and we will keep trying to help make this possible.  It was also great to hear that the recent PTA quiz night had raised just over £560 – thanks to all involved.

Pupil voice and participation – Pupils should also have a very strong voice in shaping school improvement and with this in mind we have been working with a group on a wider consultation on improving the school grounds.  Work is at an early stage but we want pupils to see that their views can lead to positive and meaningful improvements.  .  Over recent years pupils have reviewed the vision, values and behaviours of the school, they have also redesigned the school uniform.  I know many of the current extra curricular activities have arisen from pupil suggestions and some (eg Rock challenge, Harlaw Defenders) are being led by pupils.  We are also working with Skills Development Scotland to train a group of S5 pupils as ambassadors for “My World of Work” – this will allow them to train pupils, staff and parents in this powerful careers programme.  In many schools pupils can be passive recipients of what is dished out – I want Harlaw Academy pupils to be active participants in the life and work of their school.

Successes and events:  This week saw the S1 football team move into the next round of the Scottish cup with a big win away at Auchmuty.  The S3 team moved up to second in their league (with a game in hand).  Two of our senior players were at the trials for the International Squad – Seyon Kosheodo S5 and Lewis Liversedge S6 will hear soon how they got on.  On Friday a group of around 40 senior languages students visited the Belmont cinema for a screening of a French film.  Through the week we had activities running as part of ‘Book Week Scotland’.  We also had 5 pupils taking part in the Scottish Schools Swimming time Trials – Hannah Fenwick S4, Zoe Walker S4, Amy Allan S3, Rebecca Reid S2 and Hannah Holland s1.  We are hopeful a few will qualify for the nationals later in the school session. We also had 3 pupils taking part in a Scottish Schools Indoor Rowing event.  Daniel Lynch S3 was 1st, Christos Bardas S2 was 3rd and Jacub Zbikowski S2 was 5th.