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16 September 2016 – Focus All Through

Dear Parents and Carers

It’s an all through blog this week as I try to catch up with myself!

At the end of last week I attended a conference for all the Catholic Primary Headteachers in Scotland.  John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Skills, spoke passionately about leadership and about his commitment to Catholic, comprehensive education in our country.  Mr Swinney, who was recently the keynote speaker at our senior achievement ceremony, was also kind enough to publically praise our school (and our partner school, St Stephen’s), speaking positively of the ethos which is so obvious to our visitors.  From my point of view as Headteacher, I am delighted that the school is being recognised in this way as we work hard to build our community together.

We recently said a fond farewell to Mrs Carol Rigby who has retired after working in St John’s Primary and St John’s Academy for over 16 years. We will also be celebrating the retirement of Miss Susan Cassidy, Music and Guidance Teacher, who leaves us after nearly 30 years in both St Columba’s High School and St John’s Academy.  We wish Miss Cassidy and Mrs Rigby long and happy retirements and look forward to seeing them returning to us in different guises.

In other news, Mr David Bald is to be seconded to Our Lady’s Primary School after the October holidays.  Mr Bald will be Acting Headteacher of Our Lady’s to cover Mrs Howie’s maternity leave.  I can also confirm that Mr Paul McCluskey will take up a permanent classteacher post here and will take P5R from Monday 3 October.

P7 are making final preparations for their trip to Dalguise where they will spend the week with other children from St Stephen’s RC Primary and Our Lady’s RC Primary in a range of activities as they begin their transition to S1 in August.

Pupils from across the primary and secondary came together today to celebrate the Feast of St Ninian with mass in our oratory. Special thanks to Mgr Martin Drysdale for coming to celebrate this special day for the pupils in St Ninian House.

Next Tuesday, Primary 6 will be visiting St John the Baptist Church for their class mass. If you are able to help with walking the children to the church, please contact the school office.

For parents in P6 and P7, please see information on a Strengthening Families course here.

On Sunday 25 September we invite all pupils from Primary 3 & Primary 4 to join the community of St John the Baptist for 11.00am Mass. Children should come in their school uniform and arrive for 10.45am.

Later this month, pupils from Primary 7 will be visiting the Black Watch Castle and Museum – look out for more information on this.  The school will subsidise this excursion, so there will be reduced charge of only £2.50.

S1 pupils have been archaeologists this week (see picture).  Working with the Tay Landscape Partnership, our pupils have been on an archaeological dig discovering Iron Age artefacts on Moncrieffe Hill.

Many of our senior pupils will be thinking about destinations beyond school.  If they are considering university as the next stage, then University Open Days can help them make decisions.  A calendar of open days is available here.

On a different note, I need to report that earlier this week, a parent informed us that a child on a bike had dismounted the pavement without looking and had hit her rear passenger door. Fortunately, no one was injured on this occasion. I recently had a similar experience on my journey into school where a child was cycling on the pavement beside me and suddenly veered on to the road right in front of me. I had been aware of the child and had slowed down so that I was able to stop comfortably. However, these children may not have been so lucky if the people driving had been in a hurry or distracted.

If you come to the Campus to drop off or pick up your child, you will know how busy it is, particularly at the end of the day when school buses arrive to pick up our pupils to take them home. I have written to our primary parents this week and I know that I do use the blog regularly to remind you about traffic safety. Given these incidents, I am asking that you use the designated drop-off point within the car park area to allow pupils to exit cars safely and make their way into school. It is important to remember that we are an all-through school including a nursery therefore we have children as young as two years of age accessing the campus and the safety of all children is our first priority.  Therefore, please do not use the turning circle as a drop off point.  Please build time into your daily commute to ensure you are dropping off or parking in designated areas.  To add to our difficulties, one of our school crossing patrollers is currently absent and will not return to work until Thursday 22nd September. We ask that you be extra vigilant during this period.

We’ve also recently had a couple of incidents on school buses which have raised concerns.  We have spoken with the pupils involved and we expect behaviour on buses to be safe and respectful to others.  I would appreciate if you could have a conversation with your children about these expectations if they use the school/service buses.

Finally, we have adopted a new approach to mobile phones.  I would like us to be able to use technology positively, but at times mobiles can be misused and cause real issues in our school which affect our children’s learning.  Our rules in the secondary remain the same – and these were sent to you at the start of the year.  Our new approach asks all teachers to confiscate phones when misused and kept securely until the end of the day.  We will be sending letters home to parents of young people when this repeatedly happens.  Many parents that I talk to share my concerns regarding the misuse of phones, so I ask for and appreciate your support in this matter.

I hope you have a great family weekend.

With every good wish,

Seán P Hagney

Headteacher and Campus Leader