As the holidays came to an end I was more than a little concerned. A lot of our old windows had been removed and new frames were going in bu there was no sign of any glass and there was a fair bit of mess to get tidy for Monday. Somehow over the final weekend the contractors managed to have us ready to open for the new term. The work on the windows will continue for most of November and during this time we will have a shorter lunch and early finish to keep the project on track.
I have been pleased with the first week back as both staff and pupils seem to be working on the priorities which I had set out in the ‘big picture’ presentation sent out last week (copy can be accessed here – Big picture for stakeholders Oct 2018). For all year groups this is a very important term:
- S1-S3 – this is where you confirm for us the level you are working at. We need you to be working at level 4 by the end of S3 if you are to make a success of National 5 in S4 and Higher in S5. If you ‘muck about’ in S1-S3 you will not be at that level and could be looking at delaying National 5 until S5 or even S6.
- S4-S6 – we have a relatively clear run to Christmas. After this there are prelim exams and coursework to complete for many subjects. If you do not do the work this term there is no time to catch up after the holidays.
We will have a number of reports and parents nights to keep you updated but if you have any questions or concerns please get in contact. One concern we always encounter through the year is when we have staff changes. Over the term we will see some staff leave us and others arrive. There are times when we either cannot get a replacement or there is a gap between when someone leaves and when someone else starts. We do all we can to avoid this but where it does happen we tend to prioritise senior classes and look at how we can ensure junior classes get a high quality experience either in the course or in a different subject area. We try to keep parents informed of changes where we can but if this is not possible we inform the pupils so they can let you know. Again if anything you hear causes concern please get in contact – but remember not all you hear will be right so call to check if you like.
We were in contact at the end of the week to let you know we were asking pupils not to use aerosols in the building. This follows two unintended fire alarms caused by pupils using sprays in confined spaces. This had set off the sensors and led to us evacuating the building. The only way to reduce the risk of further unintended alarms is to restrict the use of aerosol products in the school.
I want to close this blog with a few bits of excellent news:
Congratulations to Laszlo in S6 who was ‘crowned’ UK lifesaver of the year at a ceremony in Worchester Cathedral during the holidays. Jane Tosh who works at the school is a coach at his club and accompanied him to the event
Congratulations also to two of our teams who finished 2nd and 3rd in the North East Kids Lit Quiz held at the school. Our librarian Alison Ustun does a massive amount to support this and other activities for pupils and we are fortunate to have someone like her in the school.
Congratulations also to our Northsound Quiz Team who have reached the semi-finals of the Northsound Energy Quiz. Mr Bell has been entering teams in this quiz for several years and his success rate is incredible. We are the only school to have retained the title and we are also the only school to have won it 3 times. Whatever the outcome it is a fantastic achievement to have reached the last 4 again this year.
My final congratulations are to all of our pupils. Over the course of the week 3 people have taken time to let me know how good our pupils are. Two of these are researchers who were conducting separate surveys. Each used very similar phrases to let me know that our pupils had been great at expressing themselves, they had great pride in their school and a real sense of involvement in the work of their school. This was not something they had seen in other schools they had been working in and which they had been very impressed by. The 3rd person was a senior member of Education Scotland inspection team. He has an office in the town centre and frequently meets our pupils when out and about. He took time at a meeting on Monday to seek me out to say how well they come over. I am more than delighted to share this positive feedback. Well done and keep up the excellent work.