Our staff:  Staff really appreciated the chance to have two in-service days to start the term and I think this ensured we got off to a very productive start with the pupils from the Wednesday.

When we had one day it tended to involve dumping a lot of information on staff at a whole staff meeting in the morning and leaving them little time in the afternoon to be ready for the pupils returning.  With the extra day we were able to have a very clear focus on learning and teaching on day 1 setting out our expectations clearly and briefly before giving staff time to work on this for the bulk of the day. On the second day we had a strong focus on the needs of individual learners and safeguarding again setting things out clearly at the start of the day and giving staff time to ensure learning was adapted to individual pupils.

As well as having time to prepare staff I also had time to send a letter out to parents intended to help them to play their part in preparing the pupils if you missed the letter it is accessible here:  Parent Letter Aug 2019

We welcomed several new members of staff to the school and I shall let parents know who and in which departments through group call.  The good news is that we we have almost all of our teaching and non teaching vacancies filled.

Our Parents:  Our parents working with pupils have done really well to provide finance to deliver on a pupil wish to have more equipment in the playgrounds and also different sorts of safe areas to play in,  As a result over summer all of our gates were upgraded, meaning pupils are now safer in their playgrounds, and almost £15,000 of equipment, markings, goals and benches were installed.  On Wednesday to Friday we had dry weather and it was fantastic to see the youngsters out making use of the new areas.  The photos also show all the pupils wearing their school uniforms and the importance of then showing their uniforms within the school and grounds.

Our pupils:  There was a real joy to welcoming pupils back from the summer break.  They are delighted to meet up with their classmates, they all seem more grown up than when we saw them in early July and they were most excited to see the improvements made to their school (in addition to the playgrounds and secure gates we had painted a few classes and changing areas).  Our new prefects and buddies were enthusiastically helping our new S1 pupils to settle into their new surroundings and everyone I met was excited to be back and to do well this session.  Over the course of Wednesday we held assemblies for every year group.  These assemblies had two elements to them and this is reflected in the presentation attached here: Assemblies August 2019.  The first 3 slides in the presentation allowed me to say a little bit about the school; its story going back over 140 years, its values, the meanings of the badge and the present day vision and values we have developed together.  the next 3 slides allowed Mr Blance and Mrs Lawrence to speak about each of our 3 respect statements (people, learning and community) and say a little about what we improved last year and what our ambitions were for this year.  the final slide let me speak a little about children’s’ rights and to link what we had been saying to particular rights which each child should enjoy in school and beyond.  I made the point that all too often it was other children who stopped them from enjoying their rights and we all had to think about how what we say and do can cause harm to others and their education and well being.

When I contact families with the names of new staff I will also share the assembly presentation and ask them to go over this at home.  I want the youngsters and their families to tell, share and feel part of the unique history of their school and adding their unique story to the overall successes of the diverse, inclusive and supportive community that makes up Harlaw Academy.