22 May 2017 – Secondary
Dear Parents and Carers
Time has flown in since my last blog and I wanted to now get in touch and update you.
This year’s diet of SQA exams are going smoothly with many speaking after their exams with confidence! We know that our young people have been working hard and making the best use of their teachers, including coming in for study sessions over the Easter break and study leave. The exams themselves run for another two weeks and finish on the 2nd of June with Drama and Higher PE completing this year’s SQA diet. Please continue to keep our SQA candidates (as well as all our students) in your prayers.
Last week was Health Week in the secondary. Mr Taylor, our Health and Wellbeing Principal Teacher, led this and he drew in partners such as Active Schools, the British Army, Tayside Judo, St Johnstone FC and others to ensure the young people had a challenging and enjoyable week. Thanks to all.
As part of Health Week over 700 children from P1-S3 took part in a special Save a Life Scotland event. The children and young people were supported by the Scottish Ambulance and Fire Services and learned how to do compressions and how vital it is to keep the heart going in a critical situation. S1-3 pupils also deepened their understanding of life saving skills in tutor group and have gained a Heart Start Certificate which will be issued soon.
Today marked the change of timetable for our new S2-4s. We welcome S4 into the Senior Phase of school and with this comes added responsibilities and expectations, including around uniform. Our new S2s are having retreat days this week, organised by the RE department. This Thursday is also the Feast of the Ascension, with mass being held in our local church of St John the Baptist.
New S4 parents should be aware that there has been changes to the National 5 courses which will be taken from May 2018. The purposes of these changes are to reduce the over-assessment of young people and the workload of teachers. The Scottish Government has taken the decision to remove the unit assessments in N5 courses (thus reducing the amount of assessment) and SQA have responded by introducing/extending the exam and/or increasing the demands in the coursework element which is externally marked. They have also removed the fallback position in most cases, so pupils who fail National 5 will not receive a National 4 award as they do now. For most pupils (that is those pupils who are clearly National 5 candidates or National 4 candidates) this change will not matter. However, there will be a significant group of young people who may be ‘borderline’ candidates. They would have been encouraged to sit the National 5 in the past (knowing they would at least achieve the National 4), but who would now come out with nothing at all. This is not a good or acceptable outcome for our young people. I am currently talking with departments to ensure that we will respond to the needs of the young people on a case by case, subject by subject basis in the first year of these changes. Our priority will always be to do what best meets the needs of each learner. You can find out more from the SQA here.
On 2 February 2017 I wrote to you about the Pupil Equity Fund. The Scottish Government have since produced a leaflet for parents which is available here. We will be discussing how we use this fund with the Parent Council and update you on our agreed priorities soon. If you think your child may be entitled to free school meals click here for an application form or ask at the school office.
For those of you who drop your children off at school, I am sure you’ll have noticed the new entrance to the car park. This is the first stage of some major changes we are planning to combat drivers who are endangering the lives of the children of this school. I ask for your support by never entering the turning circle, dropping your children off at a safe distance and driving responsibly in Gowans Terrace and around our school and the Grammar. To improve the traffic situation at the start and end of our school day requires all of us to plan to behave differently so that all our children are safe. Thank you to everyone who already does what we ask – I am really grateful to you for this.
Finally, the ‘Pennies for the Playgrounds’ appeal is nearly complete (although the Totaliser doesn’t say so just yet). We have been raising money to improve our own primary playground and the playground at the Recuperare Clinic, Bucharest. We hope to have a couple of announcements soon! We are aiming to have the work completed over the summer.
For now, every good wish,
Seán P Hagney
Headteacher and Campus Leader