Dress Down Day
Friday 14th October will be a Dress Down Day to benefit one of our own pupils. Alex Muir in S3 has been seriously ill over the last year and is currently in a wheelchair and attending school. He and his family are involved in various fundraising activities to get money to buy a special exercise bike, walking frame and other mobility aids. These will help him walk again. His determination to be part of school and get on with life is a real credit to him and he deserves our support. All funds we raise on the day will go to support Alex and we are asking pupils to donate at least £1 at registration on Friday…
Over the past two weeks, the school has been focussing on the national initiative Show Racism the Red Card. To emphasise this, we want pupils to show their awareness and support for the initiative by wearing at least one item of red clothing on the Dress Down Day.
School closes for pupils and staff at 12.10pm on Friday 14th October. Staff return on Monday 24th October and pupils return at 8.45 on Tuesday 25th October. I wish everyone a pleasant holiday.
S4 Work Experience and preliminary examinations
Our S4 pupils are out on work experience either week beginning 3rd October or week beginning 10th October. We expect full attendance during these weeks and staff will be working with pupils as normal. I’d like to thank Mr Dewar for all his work in arranging placements from the authority database and for assisting pupils where they have self-found placements as these have to be suitable, not least on the grounds of health and safety. Work experience remains a very valuable experience for pupils, not least because it opens their eyes to the challenges of the workplace and the demands placed on you as an adult. If nothing else, it helps them understand why we get annoyed as parents when simple chores are not done at home while we are away at work!
S4 preliminary examinations begin on 17th November and last until 2nd December. I would expect pupils to be revising for these examinations from week beginning 24th October, to give themselves plenty of time for revision. It was very clear in the S3 examinations that pupils had underachieved because they had not put in this revision time and were not prepared for long examination papers which tested all of the course. They should be looking over work done right from the beginning of S3, not just since August. Staff are also starting to run revision classes. I’m planning to talk to S4 in the week after the holidays about what they need to be doing. It is far easier to prepare for the May examinations if you have prepared thoroughly for the preliminary ones. I’ll probably post some further details about what revision involves on the school website after the holiday as I know parents want to support their children in this area.
Head Teacher Presentations
In September 2010, I spoke to parents of pupils just entering S1 about A Curriculum for Excellence and what it meant for their children. I followed that up in June with a talk about what S2 would hold for pupils. I have just repeated the S1 talk to the new S1 parents. The two presentations will soon be posted on the head Teachers Letter section of the school website for the benefit of parents who were unable to attend.
(a) I thought I’d share a conversation I had with one of my staff. Noticing that a significant number of pupils in one class were particularly tired and unable to work properly in class, she quietly started asking when pupils had got to sleep. Answers varied from 1.30 a.m. to 4 a.m. – the reason being pupils playing computer games on PCs or various consoles. I’m sure all parents are as startled by this as we were. If your child is having real difficulty getting up in the morning despite going up to their bedroom at a reasonable hour, maybe you might want to check up on this and take the temptation away downstairs. (Just for reference, the recommended amount seems to be from 8-10 hours. If they really sleep on at the weekend, it is maybe a sign of sleep deprivation from the week so they need more sleep during the week. As adults, we know we don’t perform at our best when we are tired and children need to be alert and active during classes.
(b) You are probably aware that we do not sell cans of fizzy drinks in the school and emphasise that pupils should be drinking water. We have become aware recently that a lot of pupils are now purchasing large cans of high energy drinks like Rockstar or Emerge at lunchtime. These contain extremely high levels of caffeine and staff are telling us that pupils’ behaviour and concentration is much poorer after lunch than before.
(c) S1 Internet Safety
Pupils in S1 Business Education were asked to carry out a questionnaire to allow us to try to find out how pupils were using the internet at home. Many of our S1 pupils already use Facebook for Social Networking, even although the minimum age is set at 13. Many pupils are using the internet on a daily basis – often for good reasons – but some are claiming to be on for 4 hours or more a day. We have addressed this issue in class and have reinforced the need to be safe whilst on the internet by not giving out personal details. We monitor pupils on the internet and can block inappropriate sites – this is much more difficult at home. Pupils who spend lots of time on the internet late into the night do come to school tired and do not perform to the best of their ability.
Successful events and successful people
We had a hugely successful Fashion Show and Performance on the theme of Japan last month with pupils modelling clothes of their own design on that theme and pupil performances. You can see a trailer for this on the website and we hope to post a video of the event on the website quite soon. My congratulations to everyone involved behind the scenes and on the stage.
One of our pupils Amy Strachan has hit both local and national press recently – she performed CPR on one of her friends after she had collided with a lamppost and stopped breathing. She learned CPR as a member of the Army Cadets and was quick-minded and skilled enough to put it to good use. She is on the final nomination list for the British Red Cross Humanitarian Citizens Award and we are keeping our fingers crossed for her.
Rachel Sharples performed superbly at the Commonwealth Youth Games winning a bronze medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay team and she also made the 200 butterfly final. She enjoyed the whole experience and she has made friends with people from all over the commonwealth.
The school golf team has made an encouraging start to the East Lothian Secondary Schools League (2011/12) with a 4-2 win over Knox and a 4.5 -1.5 win over North Berwick. The match against Dunbar was called off. The players who have been involved are Murray Whyte, Jamie Wright, Connor Good, Stuart Blair, Lewis Bain, Jack Valentine.
Thanks also to Blair Naples, Sophie Bain, Lauren Lee, Morgan Naples and Declan Henderson who have been picked to play but didn’t have the chance to compete due to opposition call offs.
Morgan Naples won the East Lothian Girls (Handicap) Championship with a net score of 63 – well done Morgan. Stuart Blair, who earlier in the season reached the quarter finals of the Men’s Lothian Championship, recently won the Lothians Junior Champion of Champions, in which he beat all the other junior champions in the Lothians.
We hosted the East Lothian Modern Studies Conference on Friday 7th October. Susan Deacon spoke to senior students from across the county, then BBC broadcaster Brian Taylor took a session on politics and broadcasting and then we hosted his Big Debate live on Radio Scotland. This was a splendid experience for pupils to be in the audience and have the chance to see and hear national figures. My thanks to Mr Nicolson for the time he has spent organising this.
Finally, the school has been given a flyer from the Musselburgh Museum and Heritage Group. If you are interested in this, you can contact them on email@example.com. The flyer has been scanned in overleaf – though not in the online version of this parental newsletter!