My last blog mentioned 3 events which were happening over the weekend:

  1. A league play off decider for our der 13 football team
  2. the NE heat of the Global Rock Challenge
  3. the first of the our Duke of Edinburgh awards expeditions for  for the year

I am delighted to report that the football team won the play off 3-1 adding the league title to two cup trophies won this session and an appearance in the semi final of the Scottish cup for this team.  Well done to them.

Our performers put on a fantastic show in the Rock challenge at AECC.  Their theme, based on children in conflict, was linked to work the school have been doing around the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Our group won 4 awards for; inclusion, concept, video editing and lighting.  It was a delight to see Harlaw pupils take centre stage at AECC and perform to such a high standard.

The Bronze D of E pupils (and staff) faced some of the coldest conditions of the winter/spring when they took to the hills at the weekend.  I am certain that the challenging conditions will have tested the resolve of those involved.  I am also sure it will help them prepare future challenges with greater belief in themselves.  I have huge respect for all who take part in D of E and know it provides participants with a real sense of challenge and achievement.

This was the last week of formal classes before the SQA exams start.  I know staff and pupils were working hard to complete coursework and prepare for exams.  Staff are offering additional revision sessions through study leave and we hope pupils will take advantage of all the help on offer.  The new qualifications are challenging and require pupils to complete a large number of on-going assessments as well as a final exam.  It places significant strain on children, families and staff.  We continue to argue for the burden of assessment to be addressed so that we can have time to provide a full/rounded education rather than feel we are simply jumping through assessment hoops.

It is no coincidence that we are seeing increasing rates of stress and mental health issues in young people.  Society places huge expectations on young people and they also place great expectations on themselves.  Over the last 12 months we have been working with the 4 local Primary schools, NHS, Social Work and other partners on a Mental Health project.  We have had 3 sessions with staff from all partners working together and are now running twilight training sessions for staff on issues such as self harm, eating disorders, internet safety, resilience etc.  Specific work is also taking place with the young people in their schools and we are also looking at sessions and information for parents.

I want to close this blog by wishing every youngster about to take their exams every success.  But at the same time I want them to know that education is about more than exams.  Passing them is always good but failing them is not the end of the world.  Education is about developing you as a person – your talents, your ability to work with others, to face challenges and overcome setbacks, to bounce back from setbacks and to show character and resilience.  I have seen these qualities in abundance in the senior pupils who are away to sit their exams and whatever the results say in August I am confident they have the qualities which will enable them to do well when the time comes to move on from school.