I have had a few weeks off ‘blogging’ and do not want to fill this one to the extent where it is too long a long a read.  It has however been a busy time which I will sum up as an amazing week at Harlaw:

  • Exams – this is the last week of SQA exams and I want to pay tribute to the pupils and to our invigilators for ensuring that things have gone very smoothly this session.  I also wish to highlight the work done by Laura Murray our School Support Manager who puts all of the arrangements in place for the exams.
  • Timetable change – we are due to change timetable on Monday 4th June and over recent months we have been preparing for this date.  I say “we” but once again I have to thank others, particularly Fiona Lawrence one of our Depute Head Teachers (DHT), who ensures everything is in place for the new timetable.
  • S3 Work Experience – we also have 180 pupils from S3 out on Work Experience this week.  My gratitude in this case goes to 3 main groups/individuals; Anne Douglas who is the DHT who co-ordinates everything, staff at the work experience unit in Aberdeen City Council who support us finding placements and the employers who take the pupils for the week.  We learned that the model of S3 placements is likely to change next year which is really disappointing as we feel it helps pupils mature as they move from the junior to senior school.
  • S1/S2 forest walk – on Wednesday we took 360 pupils out to Durris for our annual forest walk.  Angela McLellan another of the DHTs and a group of staff have worked hard to put the arrangements in place for the walk and this year they once again managed to plan it for a dry and sunny day.  Our planning keeps costs down and in recent years we have also taken the sponsorship/fundraising element out of the walk.  This has seen us achieve very high levels of participation in the last two years.  For many of our youngsters it is the only time they will get to have a walk in the woods with their pals from school and the social benefits of doing this are worth highlighting.
  • P7 Transfer – Jennifer Rennie another DHT has been working with Primary Schools to get the P7 pupils identified and into classes for their visit days in June and for their timetable in August.  We work not only with our 4 local primaries but also with almost every other Primary in the City as we have new pupils joining us from all across the city.  It is not easy to please everyone but Jennifer tries her very best to do so.

Each of these activities not only represent considerable amounts of work.  If we get any of them wrong there would be big implications but because those leading the work do such a fantastic job things run smoothly and their efforts can go unnoticed and unacknowledged.  I wish to acknowledge not only the work carried out by my senior leadership team in respect of these activities but also the highly professional manner in which they carry out their work.

I wish to close this blog with two other significant achievements from the week;

Newly qualified staff:  I am pleased to report that three of our trainee teachers, Ruth Batchelor, Eamonn McCurdy and Ben Nelson, have successfully completed their initial teacher education (sometimes known as their probationary period) and will be formally welcomed into the profession as fully qualified teachers.  All 3 have done really well in their year with us and all have secured permanent jobs in August.

Rights Respecting Schools – Gold Award:  On Thursday we held a small event to formally unfurl our Gold Award banner and hand over the Gold Award certificate.  As reported elsewhere we are the first secondary school in UK to gain the Gold Award against the new assessment criteria.  You can see the full report from the Aberdeen City Council Website – https://news.aberdeencity.gov.uk/harlaw-academy-makes-it-a-historic-unicef-golden-double-for-aberdeen-schools/

31/05/18 Coucillor Douglas Lumsden, Aberdeen City Council Co Leader was invited to attend the award ceremony for the UNICEF Gold Award Banner and met Ashleigh Wilson ( Lead co ordinator in Rights Respective Initiative) and Paula Paulima, (16YO S4-Rights Respective Ambassador)