Welcome back to the second school term of session 2019-2020.  This weekly blog is in two parts; the first contains some points about keeping safe as we move towards winter the second outlines some of the things happening in school between now and Christmas and urges our pupils to be ambitious in how they go about things.

Part 1 – Be  safe:

  • Falling leaves, darker days, rain/snow, frost/ice – we will see them all between now and the Christmas holidays.  We also have Halloween and Bonfire night as well as events in the run up to Christmas.
  • All of this leads to an increased risk and part of what we need to do as youngsters move through secondary school is to to help then recognise risks and take steps to reduce risk and stay safe.
  • So here are some initial thoughts about staying safe this term:
    • wear suitable clothes for the weather
    • have something brightly coloured so you can be seen eg by motorists
    • give yourself a little more time for your journey so you are not rushing
    • be particularly careful crossing busy roads – drivers often do not see you so well and even if they do it can take longer for them to stop
    • take particular care around fireworks, snowballs etc
    • think about others (animals can be very stressed with fireworks)
  • Our 3 ‘respect’ statements, particularly the first and third, are a very useful reference for youngsters both in school and in the wider community
    • Respect for People:  we consider the health, safety and well being of ourselves and others
    • Respect for Learning: we are on time, on task, trying our best and achieving success
    • Respect for Community: we have a positive impact in school, locally and in the wider world

Part 2 – Be ambitious:

Our vision for the school asks everyone to be ambitious, excellent and the best we can be.  Our aim is to respect the rights of young people and encourage them to participate, improve and enjoy success.

There are many reasons for us wanting to be ambitious but for some pupils this is particularly important:

  • There are a set of parents’ meetings taking place this term – S1 on 31st October, S5/6 on 13th November, S4 on 26th November.
  • There are also some reports going out – S2 will be getting reports on 10th December and S3 will get reports on 15th January
  • There are senior school prelim exams taking place each side of the Christmas break
  • There are course choice decisions to be taken soon after Christmas, and it is important to be doing well in class in order to get into the courses you want to study

In August we saw improvement in many of the core measures against which we measure our success – awards in national examinations, improved attendance figures, reduction in exclusions, increases in pupils moving into a positive post school destination.  By August 2020 we want to see further improvement in these core measures that will only happen if we all share that ambition and show a determination and an individual and collective commitment to be part of that success.

Many people speak about people needing to have ambition in order to be successful.  Whilst this is true it is not in itself sufficient – that ambition has to be backed up not only by a lot of hard work but also be a real focus to that work.  This is what some people call “deliberate practice” for example turning up every week to a lunchtime revision class where a teacher will focus work on particular areas.

I am looking forward to seeing parents when they are in visiting and to hearing how the pupils are translating their ambition into actions.  I am also looking forward to welcoming in a team of around 12 School Inspectors to Harlaw Academy on the week of 11th November.  I am very sure they will see some good work taking place at the school but am equally sure they will be able to help us focus on areas for improvement and in so doing help us to support young people to realise their ambitions.