It has been a very busy term and I know the teachers and pupils will be looking forward to a well deserved Easter break. Please remember we will not be back on Easter Monday and we return on Tuesday 18th April. Many of our non-teaching staff will be working over the Easter break getting things in order for when the teachers and pupils return.
There is a perception that things ease off in the summer term. Nothing could be further from the truth – particularly this year. At the end of last week new National benchmarks were published and staff are expected to begin using these in planning their S1-S3 courses. In addition, the SQA published significant changes to National 5 courses to come into effect next session. New advice came out on the very last day of term and staff will return in April needing to adapt their National 5 courses (next year we are anticipating changes to Higher and the year after to Advance Higher). Given that the new courses start in June it will be an extremely busy return for teachers throughout Scotland.
On the last day of term I was also made aware of an article which was appearing in the local press which made reference to Harlaw Academy. I will not go into the detail of the article itself but the reference to the school was in connection with our decision last year to replace the gender based role of Head Boy and Head Girl with a role of Senior Prefect. We took the decision because those on the selection panel were of a view that it was difficult to justify selecting someone for a role purely on the basis of their gender (eg if only one boy or one girl applied for the post they would get it regardless of how good their application or interview was). We took the view that it was better to appoint the best people regardless of their gender. The pupils tell their story, better than I can, in a short video they made for the school website which you can view here:
During the holidays our 3 senior prefects and I shall attend the Former Pupils Annual Dinner. As many of you will know Harlaw Academy came about in the 1970s from a merger of Ruthrieston School and Aberdeen High School for Girls. Many of those at the FPs event attended the High School for Girls and grew up during times when it was really difficult for girls to break through a ‘glass ceiling’. They can relate to the message given in the pupil video and are supportive of the change which we have made. Our parent council also recognise the significance of the change and support the new position. The video our pupils made was shown to other city schools and has also been picked up further afield. It has certainly started a series of discussions and debates. What others decide to do is up to them – what I know is that appointing the best applicants for the senior prefect roles, regardless of their gender, is an easier position to defend than by-passing better applicants in order to appoint one of each gender. This position sits well with; the values we promote, the historical context of our school and the world we want our youngsters to experience when they leave Harlaw Academy.