If last week was about ‘getting started’ this week was very much about ‘settling in’. In that respect I want to start this blog with a massive thank you to parents and pupils for their response to our requests to get to school; dressed in school uniform, on time and ready to work.

The number of pupils, parents, staff and members of the public who have commented on how smart our pupils are looking has been fantastic. The youngsters not only look smarter but they are also bringing that smartness to their movement around the school and approach to their work. It might seem very little but it can make a massive cumulative difference over the time a child is at school – as the following basic maths will show:
if a pupil is a minute earlier to each class they will get 6 minutes more learning every day – this equates to 30 extra minutes learning a week. Each term is roughly 8 weeks long and there are 4 x 8 week terms – so that is 30 minutes x 8 weeks x 4 terms = 16 hours a year more learning! That is getting on for 3 extra school days of learning a year, 12 extra school days of over 4 years and 18 extra school days over 6 years. Even with my rushed/rough maths it shows where we are starting to make marginal but significant gains.

Another big thank you goes to our staff and in particular our Guidance staff and DHTs. They do a fantastic job early in a school session ensuring that new pupils have their timetables so they are able to get underway and also manage a fair number of course change requests which come in. We have a clear set of priorities which are applied – new pupils, pupils who have to make a change following results issues and then some who want to change. there was a time this could take us until the September long weekend. However, we have worked hard to ‘smarten up’ our approach and by the end of August I was contacting the parents of the last few so things are mostly settled as we enter September. This has given pupils affected a good two weeks more in their chosen courses.

I have impressed on pupils and staff that we needed to spend time at the start of term re-educating folk about school routines. In that respect we have tended to have a quiet word rather than leap straight to sanctions. As we enter weeks 3 and 4 we expect the routines to be established and we move from an ‘education’ to an ‘enforcement’ frame of mind when it comes to rules. Most pupils know we have only the 3 ‘rules’- respect people, respect learning and respect community. The vast majority of our pupils have shown themselves to be fantastic ambassadors of Harlaw Academy and young people. We will continue to work together to identify those individuals who are not ‘settling in’ as we would want and work with them and their families to improve things. Harlaw Academy is a great school and these first two weeks have shown that we can work together to improve things still further.