It may have been a short week but we certainly packed in a few highlights as the notes below indicate:
The week started with the first of the Quality Assurance visits from the Authority. The focus of these visits was two quality indicators 2.1 Safeguarding and Child Protection and 3.1 Improving wellbeing, equality and inclusion. We believe we are good or very good in respect of these two indicators and over the course of 90 minutes we were required to present evidence on which we based this judgement. Mrs Rennie (DHT) leads our work in these areas and I have to congratulate her for all the work she has done to ensure not only do we comply with our legal obligations but we also go well beyond this to safeguard our youngsters. Over recent years we have emphasised the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which highlights SURVIVAL, PROTECTION, PARTICIPATION and DEVELOPMENT for all children. Our visitors were very encouraged by what we were able to share with them.
Insight, a national resource which draws together attainment information, was updated on Tuesday. Schools use Insight to look at their attainment over time we also use it to draw comparisons with a cluster of schools similar to ourselves (our virtual comparitor) and local/national figures. We have been working very hard over the last two years to effect some improvements in our attainment and were cautiously optimistic this would be reflected in the Insight data. On Tuesday Mrs Lawrence (DHT) who leads on this area of our work was able to confirm to me that across a number of key measures our attainment was indeed showing signs of improvement. Indeed in several measures we are showing up very well. We will need time to go through all of the data and need to draw it together for our next Quality Assurance visit which will focus on quality indicator 3.2 Raising attainment and achievement. But the early indication is that the data is showing an improvement in our attainment and this is something all staff, pupils and parents should be very pleased about.
Tuesday also saw two employers visit the school to work with some of out pupils. The first were from the Aberdeen City Council Early Learning and Childcare team who were in to work with youngsters who had indicated an interest in this as a career option. It was a very interactive session and I am sure many of those who attended will take their interest forward. It is a sector which will need a lot of good staff over the next few years and we were delighted to ensure our pupils got the chance to learn more about the opportunities available to them. The second visitor was from Balfour Beatty the construction and civil engineering company who last week began the project to re-develop Union Terrace Gardens. Over the next few weeks our pupils will be involved in work with Balfour Beatty to ensure their ideas are part of the project gong forward. It seems very appropriate that pupils from Harlaw have a voice in the re-development of the historic gardens at the heart of Aberdeen, in some small way they will be part of shaping a legacy we will all benefit from in the future. Miss Douglas (DHT) plays a crucial role in ensuring we have productive links with local companies as part of our efforts to Develop the Young Workforce (DYW). Part of this work is to track where pupils move on to when leaving school and ensuring most leave to a positive and sustained destination. In recent years we have had just under 90% of our pupils leaving to something positive and sustained (employment, apprenticeship, training, further education or higher education) and are optimistic that the number will be over 90% this year. Strong links with businesses help provide pupils with a clearer idea of what is out there and the range of different pathways into employment and careers.
Tuesday also saw Mr Whyte take a group of our pupils to the Aberdeen City Council Children and Young People Service Awards where we were short listed for 6 awards. Our pupil reps who had dome so much to bring new water fountains and playground equipment to the school won the transformation award and Laszlo Hajdu who left for University on summer won the Inspirational Leader award. I am proud of all of those who were nominated, I was really pleased that 6 of our nominations were short listed and absolutely delighted that we won two of the overall awards. It reflects the incredible depth and breadth of talented and committed people we have at Harlaw Academy.
Almost 200 people visited the open evening which had been organised jointly by the parent council and school. I want to thank all who took time out to come along and also thank Catriona Allan Chair of the Parent Council for her support. There were a number of school staff on hand to provide our visitors with information on some of what we do. In addition there were around 30 senior pupils on hand to offer visitors a tour of the school. Feedback from parents who visited has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly in respect of the pride the senior pupils took in their school. I want to thank Mrs Lawrence (DHT) and Mrs Rennie (DHT) and all staff who helped run sessions on the evening these included:
- Ambition and Excellence (Mrs Kermath)
- Education Social Worker (Lynsey Still)
- Youth and community work (Naiomi Leckie)
- ASICS youth counsellor (Angela Park)
- School Nurse (Maggie Scott)
- Harlaw defenders (Mr Whyte)
- LGBT+ group (Naiomi Leckie)
- Barnardos (Alice Digby)
- Parent Council fundraising (Angie Nicol)
- Uniform recycling (Parent Council)
- School meals and sampling sessions (Moira Garden)
- On-line safety (Mr Ahmad)
- Young leaders of learning (Mrs Munro and pupils Toby Reid and Leila Adair)
- Playground equipment (Jo Bell, active schools)
- Shelf Help/Library (Mrs Ustun)
This is a snapshot of 3 days in the life of Harlaw Academy where our successes have been to the fore. These successes come about as a result of a huge amount of hard work and goodwill from a great many people over an extended period of time. I felt it was important to take a moment to share these mid term highlights as they are something the whole school community should be very proud of.
Having taken that moment we need to come back from the mid term break determined to build on these successes in the year ahead. This will only come about if we keep putting in the hard work which led to the successes outlined above.