Olympic Torch Relay
I imagine nearly all parents will be aware that the Olympic Torch passes through Musselburgh on Thursday 14th June. We have chosen not to be involved in the various choirs on the course, but Mr MacKinnon and Ms Ramsay have been making arrangements for a group of our Sports Leaders and elite athletes to be present at the route with a large banner identifying the school and wishing the Olympics well. Ms Ramsay has also been involved with the primary schools in having our own torch passing from school to school in the cluster.
I am well aware that this event may cause significant congestion along the route and might make it difficult for our pupils to be able to watch the torch relay and get to school on time safely. I have thus notified the pupils via registration (and parents via a groupcall message) that pupils can watch the relay if they wish and then come up to school and sign in at the foyer, and that we will suspend late detentions for that day. The school will open at the usual time for others.
Several members of staff are about to retire after long service to education.
Mrs Booker retires as Depute Head Teacher after a long association with the school as pupil (and former Dux) and teacher. She has been a reliable loyal and wise member of the Senior Management Team in my time here and I have always valued her willingness to go the extra mile for pupils when she ran Seton House, her organisational ability as SQA co-ordinator, her technological expertise in IT systems and our management systems, and not least, her sense of humour and perspective when problems arose. I wish her a long and happy retirement with her husband.
Four other staff are retiring at this point also. Mr Barclay PT in Support for Learning has taken a keen interest in ensuring our less able pupils settle quickly into school and has worked closely with many pupils on the Successmaker programme to help them develop their basic literacy and numeracy skills. He has also been a huge supporter of schools football and will be missed in that capacity also. Dr Strain has headed up the Computing Department for many years, although he originally trained as a Physics teacher. That subject has become more and more important to many pupils over the years and many staff have reason to thank him for his willingness and patience in resolving problems which arose with hardware and software around the school. Mr Clark has been PT Physical Education for many years and has kept a very firm hand on the complexities of running PE across 3 sites in this school – our own facilities, Musselburgh Sports Centre and Pinkie Playing Fields. His legacy is to leave behind a group of highly committed staff attuned to his belief that sport and exercise should play an important part in young people’s lives. Mrs Ford, teacher of English, also retires at this point, having been teaching a reduced timetable in the last 3 years and sharing her classes with Mrs Neill. A teacher here since 1984, her contributions to the English department will be missed by colleagues and staff alike. To all four, my sincere wishes for a happy retirement.
Ms Bovill PT English will also leave us at the end of term to take up a position at Moray House Initial Teaching Centre, part of Edinburgh University. She will be working now as a trainer of student teachers. She has been part of the school since 1996 and we will miss her expertise, particularly her wide knowledge of literature. Interviews for her replacement will take place before the end of this month.
A number of teachers joined us in August for their one year stay as newly qualified teachers. As a group of staff, they have been excellent this year and we are sorry to say goodbye to Mr Jarvie (Chemistry), Ms Donaldson (Biology), Ms Miller(Geography), Mr Johnston (CDT) and Ms McBrierty (PE). Ms Cargill will remain with us to fill a vacancy in Physics. Ms Halliday has been covering a vacancy in Music and also leaves at the end of this session. We wish all these staff well in finding a permanent post elsewhere.
Several interviews have taken place in the last month for vacancies in the school. Mr Duncan will join the History Department and Ms Edes will join the Music Department on a permanent basis. Mrs Jardine, PT Guidance in Grange House, leaves on maternity leave at the end of June and Mrs Taylor, teacher of Home Economics in the school, will be Acting PT Guidance until she returns.
Ms Forster will join the English Department to cover Mrs Ford’s timetable and that of Mrs Neill who is going off on maternity leave. Ms Storrie will join us to cover Mr Barclay’s timetable in Support for Learning. Mrs Marshall of Business Education is also going on maternity leave and her classes will be covered by another person.
A group of new teachers will join us in August and I will provide details of this later.
Changed session dates
The Cabinet Secretary has given East Lothian Council permission to allow secondary schools (but not primary schools) two further in-service days next session for work on Curriculum for Excellence. Thus the school will have three in-service days at the beginning of the term (adding one on Wednesday 15th August) with pupils returning on Thursday 16th August; and a further day on Tuesday 18th September after the holiday date of Monday 17th September.
Mobile phones and responsible use of social media
This has been the focus of discussion both at the Parent Council, Senior Management Team meetings and at the meeting I have had with the cluster primary schools. There is concern that pupils are being distracted in school by mobile phones and more seriously, that pupils do not seem to understand the dangers of revealing personal information and being in contact with strangers through social websites such as Twitter and Facebook. There are advantages to technology too and we need to help pupils use such technology responsibly. Mr MacKinnon is going to lead a working group of staff and parents on this with a view to looking at a common approach to the use of mobile phones in all cluster schools; revisiting when pupils can use phones during the day; sanctions when pupils do not follow the school policy which was devised with pupils some years ago; and building in more and more effective advice on the internet and social media sites.
This year’s examinations are now complete and S4 and S5 pupils returned to school on 6th June to start the new timetable. As I am sure you appreciate, the organisation of the examinations is a huge affair for Mrs Booker – invigilators to arrange, seating and rooms to arrange, special arrangements for some pupils, digital examinations for others, displacement of S1-S3 classes when special facilities in rooms are needed. There were very few hitches this year and those that occurred were swiftly resolved. I would remind parents that there are no resits for SQA examinations and that you should not be taking your child on holiday from mid-April until the end of the first week in June.
Pupils will receive their results by posted certificate or by electronic communication on 7th August. Mr Burns will be in school from 10 a.m. on 9th/10th August if pupils need to change their subjects.
S1 Health Day
Mr Fruish organised this in late May just before the new timetable started. Pupils were allocated to various sessions across the day, including trampolining, drugs awareness, judo, relaxation, zumba, Red Cross, cooking, smoking etc. In this Olympic year, it is important that we all stress to children the importance of a healthy active lifestyle. Good habits in childhood set the pattern for good habits in adult life.
I am grateful to Mr Sean Elliot one of our parents who has made a donation from his company to the school to allow us to purchase a number of the new Raspberry Pi devices to help children develop their programming skills. It is my intention to find some funds to increase the number of these to a class set of 20 now that our IT department have given us the go-ahead to use them.
There is no change to the school uniform since the last notification in the mailshot in September. Can I clarify that when it says “black footwear” it means just that – plain black shoes or trainers with no coloured flashes or white edges and with plain black laces. Pupils need to bring a change of kit, including shoes for PE. Ties should be worn if you wear a shirt and all pupils in S3 upwards should be in a plain white or blue shirt and school tie. Ties can be bought from the school office.
Three Musselburgh Grammar School S3 pupils have just received notification of their success in a national design competition run by BT Openreach. Pupils from all over the UK were set the task to design the graphics that would cover the new BT Openreach Control Hubs, which are currently being installed in all our local town streets. There were only eight winners in the whole of the UK with Hamzah Arif being the only Scottish winner. Katie Ferguson and Abbie Thomson were both given runners up awards with the rest of the class being praised for the very high standard of work entered by the school. All three pupils and their parents have been invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the awards ceremony, which takes place in the BT Tower London on Saturday 23 June. Hamzah’s winning design will be showcased upon the new Hub, situated outside the Brunton Theatre, in the near future. Very well done all three for some exceptional work.
Stuart Blair of S5, a member of Royal Musselburgh, reached the last stage of the prestigious and highly competitive Lothian Boys’ Golf on Friday, losing narrowly in the final to Callum Cochrane of Marriott Dalmahoy. This is a step beyond his performance last year in the same tournament – congratulations on getting so far and commiserations on falling at the final hurdle.
Our Summer Concert takes place on Thursday 21st June at 7.30 pm – come along to hear our outstanding musicians at a cost of only £1.
This will be my final newsletter of the year – it has passed by very quickly as ever. I wish everyone connected with the school an enjoyable summer break in good weather.