Restructuring PT posts
In my February newsletter, I indicated that a restructuring of PT posts was taking place in all secondary schools in the authority. I have completed my interviews and have matched staff to all posts available. The vast majority of staff were matched in to similar posts to their current ones, but there are some changes which will take effect from 6th June 2012. Mrs Walker, who was PT Art and Design, becomes PT Expressive Arts covering Art and Design and Music. Mrs Campbell, who was PT Business Education, becomes PT Office and Information Technology covering Business Education and Computing. Mrs Howarth, who was PT Home Economics, becomes PT Health and Wellbeing covering Home Economics and PE. Mrs Shaw, who was PT Chemistry, becomes PT Chemistry and Physics. Mrs Goodbrand, who was PT Science but also shared the PT Biology post with Mrs Souness, now becomes PT Biology and Science. As I am combining posts together, a number of staff have been unmatched to a promoted post. They have given sterling and consistent service to the school in running their departments over a long period of time and we are fortunate that they will continue with their classroom duties here. Dr Strain, Mr Clark, Mr Sneddon, Mrs Souness and Mr Dewar will thus provide our pupils with their customary and conscientious classroom teaching.
Session dates 2012/13
I was rather surprised to receive a letter from a parent who had booked a holiday for October 2012 in term time saying that they did not know the session dates for next year. This was issued to all parents some time ago but I enclosed it again for reference in the paper copy of this newsletter given to pupils.
As we approach the end of a long term, pupils and staff will breathe a sigh of relief as various coursework items like the S4 English Folio are completed, signed for, and dispatched to the SQA. However, the national examinations loom ever closer and I always remind parents and pupils at this time of year that no S4-S6 pupil, no matter how gifted, can afford to take 2 weeks off. Pupils should have study plans in place and should be sticking to them – they have a lot of revision to do. Individual examination timetables from Mrs Booker have now been issued, and parents can see the running order of examinations by going on to the SQA website – http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/41288.html – is the exact reference and there is loads of support material there – past papers, study guides and lots more – for pupils in S4-S6. Mrs Mackie has also distributed details of the Easter revision programme – pupils must sign up for classes and spaces are limited. I am, as ever, grateful to staff for giving up part of their holidays to do this. The programme is on the website for reference. This is a time, as Mr MacKinnon says, where pupils need to be hard on themselves – be determined, be committed, work hard and conscientiously for their examinations.
School structures for CFE and enhancement column
As you are aware, I’ve used the Parent Council as a sounding board as we have been planning for Curriculum for Excellence and we have often had very productive dialogues about aspects of the programme. One of these occurred last week about the number of subjects pupils will be taking in S3 and will be taking to qualification in S4. It was suggested that it would be useful to cover aspects of that dialogue in this newsletter, which I am very happy to do.
A number of parents were unaware that schools would offer different structures in S3 and pupils might be presented for a different number of examinations in S4 or indeed could bypass presentation in S4 altogether. In our own planning, we all felt that pupils benefitted from a wide range of qualifications in S4: this gave pupils who left at the end of S4 a broad range of qualifications to show employers and colleges; and gave those who stayed on into S5 a broad range of qualifications to choose from to pick 5 subjects for S5. In deciding this, you need to have more specialism in S3 rather than asking pupils to continue with every subject from S1/ S2, so you make a choice from each curriculum area. We expanded our information to parents in the Personalisation and Choice booklet to explain this in as much detail as we could. Other schools will make perfectly valid decisions for the needs of their pupils and I am perfectly comfortable as a Head Teacher with that variety of approach. Each Head teacher should be able to justify the school’s arrangements to parents and pupils.
One of the choices in S3 – the enhancement column – is for 2 periods rather than 3 and finishes at the end of S3. It is designed to help pupils keep their choices wide in the final year of a broad general education. Some parents queried the validity of the course if it is not leading to a qualification. I am very clear that schools are not only about amassing qualifications. The enhancement courses are being designed with as much care as any other CFE course and we do intend to evaluate them all at the end of the year. The 2 periods in S4 will then be given over to English and Mathematics for work around literacy and numeracy which are part of the English and Mathematics qualifications, so that a class will have their same teacher for 4 periods rather than 3.
The Cabinet Secretary Mike Russell announced last week that he intended to put more resources into schools to help them deliver the new curriculum. He also indicated that there might be some schools or departments that will not be ready to deliver the new National Qualifications. My position on this remains unchanged: I am very clear that I do not think it is in the interest of the current S2 to have a delay. The new National Qualifications, not Intermediate examinations, are designed to mesh with the broad general education. The final documents from SQA are due out at the end of April and our staff will have a full year to prepare for starting qualification work from Easter 2013 leading to certification in May 2014. It is a challenging deadline but a deliverable one.
We have been asked by Musselburgh Museum if any parents if they have any photographs or other memorabilia with a Royal connection in this Diamond Jubilee Year. Anything should be handed in to the museum on loan on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Mr Parker has informed me of our successes in the recent UK Intermediate Mathematical Challenge. The following pupils were awarded certificates:
Gold: Andrew Gibson 4G1, Rachel Foley 4G1 (This puts them within the top 6% in the UK. Andrew’s performance put him within the top 2%: he was invited to take part in a European wide challenge involving 46 European countries and we await his result.)
Silver: Craig Flynn 4M1, Kieran McLister 3C3
Bronze; Rory Cotter 4C2, Katherine Heller 4G1, Greig McLay 4G1, John Archer 4C1,
Rachel Sharples 4C3, Lydia Macleod 3C1, Nathan Lang 3C1
In golf, Lewis Bain S4 has been selected for Year 1 of the Scottish Golf Union Junior Squad. Stuart Blair S5 and Connor Good S5 have been selected for the Lothians Junior Coaching Squad.
Health and Safety
Please, can I remind parents of the procedures for the safe use in schools of prescription drugs, paracetamol etc. If your child is required to take such medicines in school, the box of tablets should be put in an envelope providing directions for our nurse to administer the tablets. The tablets should then be handed in to the nurse on arrival at school. The nurse is not able to provide any tablets or medicines not sent in by this method. Pupils are not allowed to carry such medicines in their bag to classes nor distribute such tablets to fellow pupils.
End of term
We say farewell to two long-standing colleagues at the end of this month. Mrs McPhillips has been a member of the Modern Languages Department since 2004 and her knowledge of her subject has undoubtedly enriched the experience of all pupils who have passed through her hands over the years. A popular colleague, she will be missed and we wish her well in retirement. Mrs Cranston who deals with all the reprographics in the school has also chosen to retire. A Musselburgh resident of long-standing, she will be a familiar face to many because of her work in the Honest Toun Association and her work with the Honest Lad and Lass. She will be sorely missed – her ready smile and flexible approach were the salvation for many staff chasing deadlines for preparing work for classes. Like so many of our ancillary staff in the school, nothing was too much bother for her. We benefitted enormously from her business background in publications. Similarly, best wishes for a long retirement.
School closes for pupils and staff at 12.10 on Friday 30th March. We reopen to both pupils and staff on Tuesday 17th April. However, many pupils and staff will be in the building over the Easter holiday for the Easter revision programme. I wish everyone an enjoyable holiday.