We often think of school in terms of the interaction of pupils and teachers within classrooms. If I reflect on the past week it is clear school is about much more than this.
I want to start with a diagram of a jigsaw. At the centre are the two pieces – student and teacher. The way in which they interact each day is at the core of any school. but they do not interact in isolation and in the notes below I want to say a little about each of the outside pieces – using real examples from this week.
Student: On Friday I met with the pupil representatives from S1-S3. There are 6 form classes in each year group and each form class has 4 reps – class, rights, charity and sports. So that was so that was just over 70 of our S1-S3 pupils. The purpose of the meetings was to get the pupil views on what we were doing well and what we needed to improve. Class reps looked at learning, Rights reps looked at relationships, Charity reps looked at community and sports reps looked at Health and Wellbeing. Involving students in this type of activity offers them meaningful involvement in school improvement. It places their voice front and centre of things and should ensure they are fully committed to their school and their learning.
Teacher: On Tuesday last week we had a staff meeting after school. Similar to the pupil meeting later in the week we used this to ask staff how we could improve the learning and teaching experience for pupils. Once again the idea is that the more involved staff are in agreeing how this is improved the more support and committment there is to moving it forward.
Parents: Over recent weeks parents have been receiving reports about their children. These reports not only outline the progress a pupil has made they also highlight next steps for the pupil and how parents can help. We have also places a set of guides and information up on the website for parents to reference and I am regularly updating the school twitter feed with ideas for parents. We also met with Catriona Allen who is chair of the Parent Council to plan the next Parent Council meeting which takes place next week. Strong links with parents is a key to pupil success and that is why we invest a lot of time listening to parents and building bridges between home and school.
Community: Families have lives away from school and so we also seek to build bridges to our community. These sometimes take the form of links with businesses and 3rd sector organisations to find work placements for pupils. On Wednesday it took the form of a meeting with our 4 local Primary Schools. We have developed very positive relationships with our Associate Schools Group (ASG) and this is certainly helping support pupils as they move to Harlaw Academy and also in ensuring what they learn and how they learn is joined up. As well as this we have really good support from community and youth workers in the school and this helps pupils to build confidence to make a contribution beyond school. This was demonstrated on Friday eventing when the Youth Club re-opened at Inchgarth Community Centre. It was fantastic to see not only the younger children getting the opportunity but also to see the activity was supported by volunteers from Harlaw Academy.
I have started and finished this blog with diagrams. The initial diagram shows how we should work in theory, the blog and the final picture take a snapshot of a typical week to show how we take the theory and put it into practice.