We work very hard to try and help youngsters and families through times of transition in their schooling. three significant ‘transitions’ in relation to secondary school are;

  1. the move from Primary to secondary
  2. the times of subject choice during secondary school
  3. the move from school to a range of post school destinations

In this note I want to say a brief word about the work we do to support the ‘transition’.

Primary/Secondary:  This session we have significantly developed our work in this area.  We now have half day visits for almost all curricular areas and will also have a 3-day visit nearer the summer where P7s will follow their secondary timetable.  In addition, we have a number of secondary staff visiting the Primary schools to meet the pupils and find out more about them and the work they are doing in P7.  We invite parents of P7s into a meeting around the time of the 3-day visit and I am currently working with the Primary Head Teachers to identify the best way of  meeting parents of P6/P7s in their local Primary Schools.  I want to make the transition for our P7s and their parents as enjoyable and reassuring as possible.  I want to ensure you feel a strong connection to Harlaw Academy and are part of its future success.

Subject choice:  Throughout this term we do a lot of work around subject choice.  We are presently speaking with S2 pupils about ‘broad pathways’ they can select to study in S3.  Alongside this S2 parents will have received an updated interim report, many parents attended an information evening on the choice process and choice information is on the school website.  The process around the senior phase choice (for pupils in S3-S5) is also underway.  There have been extensive discussions between schools to ensure that there is a wide offer available for pupils.  Whilst many pupils like to continue to study courses in Harlaw it is increasingly the case that youngsters can blend their study at Harlaw with courses in other schools, colleges or with other providers.  This requires a lot of co-ordination and planning by schools prior to the offer being available to pupils.  We are now at the stage of finalising choice booklets and documentation for the website, a parent information is planned for 7th February and updated interim reports will be issued soon.  Preparing for the offer is a very big job as is sorting through the choices once they come in.  We are extremely fortunate to have a very good group of staff who work on this complex task and I am grateful to all, particularly our Depute Head Teacher Mrs Lawrence, for ensuring that almost all pupils get into the courses they require.  In response to questions which arose from parents in the past we have done a lot of work to heighten the awareness of youngsters and parents around job opportunities and skills for work (see below for further details)

3 Post school destinations:  We have always tried to help every pupil into a positive post school destination.  Whilst many go on to Further/Higher education there are some who go directly into the jobs market, some who go into other training and some who start their own business.  There are still a few who need a bit longer to get themselves sorted and leave us with no clear idea of what they want to do next.  We are taking steps to ensure we do all we can to give young people from Harlaw the best chance of success when they leave school.  Back in September 2016 we held a business engagement event for parents/pupils at which we signed a strategic partnership with Aberdeen City Council aimed at helping Harlaw youngsters into work.  This partnership has seen our pupils being involved in site visits to Marischal Square and in the consultation on Union Terrace Gardens.  In January it led to one of our youngsters starting on an apprenticeship with building services.  It will see the Council and other key business partners having an involvement in our parent information events and it will lead to some pupils having business mentors to help them prepare for interviews (for jobs and/or places at university).  Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) is a priority for Harlaw and a priority for the country as a whole.  We are determined not to allow any downturn in the energy sector to impact on our pupils.  We need to help them to develop their skills and alongside this position the school to be ready to take advantage of future opportunities or indeed to encourage our pupils to play an  active part in creating a successful future for our City.