Apologies for the lack of blogs in December – I hope to be back to a weekly one in the New Year.  In this one I will quick run through what has been happening in December.

In the first week of December some of our pupils took part in the consultation on plans to re-develop Union Terrace Gardens.  As well as the Architects, Councillor Marie Bolton and David Ewan from the City Centre Directorate came and met a group of S2 pupils to hear their views.  It was really good to see those involved in the re-design of the city listening to young people and even better to hear the ideas being put forward by our pupils.

During the second week of December I ran a set of assemblies where we discussed raising expectations in all aspects of school life.  I attach a summary of the points raised and hope I have the support of parents in taking this forward Expectations Poster Decenber 2016.  We also raised the topic at the staff meeting that week and looked at ways ‘raised expectations’ relate to coursework and classwork.

During the third week of December we were presented with level 1 of the Rights Respecting Schools Award.  I have mentioned our work around the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child previously and this award is a formal recognition of this work.  I am delighted to say that Harlaw Academy is the first secondary school in Aberdeen City to gain the award.  We are now helping others to achieve the award and also looking at how we can work towards level 2.  My thanks and congratulations go to the pupils/staff involved in this achievement.

During the fourth week of December we were presented with the Northsound Schools Energy challenge trophy.  Each year Northsound along with OPITO and the Energy Institute run a quiz.  Sixteen schools from the City and Shire took part this year and Harlaw was successful through the various heats and won the event.  It is the third time Harlaw have won this award and indeed we are the first school in the 16 years of the event to win it 3 times.  Again my thanks and congratulations go to the pupils/staff involved in this success.

The fourth week of December also saw us; run a very enjoyable Christmas concert and Christmas assemblies which raised over £100 for Alzheimer Scotland, raise money for the Salvation Army through a Christmas jumper day, deliver 10 food parcels donated by a local church to local families in need, take 6 boxes of food to TLC foodbank @inchgarth.  These very real examples of Harlaw Academy working in and with its community are something which all our pupils and families should feel very proud about.

The emphasis here at Harlaw was to work hard through the last week.  I was disappointed that some families chose to take their children off early and even more at those who indicated they had done so because we would not be doing anything important during the last few days.  I was round the school a lot over the last week and was very encouraged by quality and quantity of work taking place.

All of our many achievements in 2016 have come about through hard work, ability and determination.  These are also the qualities which will be needed if we are to be successful in 2017.