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16 January 2017 – All through

Dear Parents and Carers

It’s week 2 of the new term already and we are settling back into our work routines across the nursery and school. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your children and celebrated the beginning of 2017 together.

Already we have enjoyed a soft start in the primary and a family learning opportunity with our nursery mums and dads.  P6 had a special assembly and have an opportunity to volunteer to be playground buddies, with training for those chosen to follow.  In our secondary Mr McAninch, Dr Staines and myself have been talking with our S5 and S6 pupils individually as they prepare for the upcoming assessments.   Over half of our S6 pupils gave blood for the first time when the Blood Donation Unit visited our school.  Mr Taylor (Principal Teacher of Physical Education and Health and Wellbeing) organised this event for the second year in conjunction with the PE department of Perth Grammar School.  We hope that this opportunity will inspire our young people to continue giving blood throughout their lives.

You may be aware from the news that all schools in Scotland are focusing on ‘Closing the Gap’. In Scotland there is a very clear link between poverty and attainment.  Children’s vocabulary from as young as 5 from disadvantaged homes can already be well behind those children from more advantaged homes.  This gap grows over time and can be clearly shown by the time young people take their qualifications at school.  In some other countries this gap is much smaller or does not exist at all, so it is possible to overcome the disadvantages of poverty. In other words, children from advantaged backgrounds in Scotland are not cleverer than other children – but they are (on average) more successful.  As schools we have been asked to focus on this gap and ensure that while we raise attainment for all children, we also close the gap between those from the most and least deprived homes.  You can find out more about the research into this here.

This gap exists in St John’s RC Academy too and we have been working to close it.  There is a great deal of encouraging data which suggests we are already on our way to closing our attainment gap.  We are focused on improving literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing and ensuring that our pupils leave school and enter positive destinations like employment, college and university.  You can find our plan here.  Our plan reflects the National Improvement Framework which sets out what schools need to do to ensure we get it right for every child in Scotland.

From April, the Scottish Government will also be issuing schools with special funding based on how many of our pupils from P1-S3 receive free school meals. This is an extra resource which we will use to support all our children in raising attainment and to target some of our young people who may require extra support.  Over the next couple of months we will be talking to parents, pupils and staff on how we can best use this extra funding to make a difference in our children’s learning.  I will be updating the Parents’ Council regularly on our progress.  If you are in receipt of certain benefits, your child could be entitled to free school meals and a modest uniform grant – please click here for more information.  In future years, this will also help us receive this special funding.

Finally, we have begun issuing a ‘weekly sheet’ to our secondary parents/carers.  This is a summary of what is in our daily bulletin for pupils.  We hope it will help you to support your child by giving you access to information which we would normally only make available to pupils on a daily basis.  We are issuing this in response to comments from your Parent Council which has asked us to improve our regular communications with you.  Please let us know your thoughts on this new way of communicating with you.  You can email us at st-johnsacademy@pkc.gov.uk

With every good wish,

Seán P Hagney

Headteacher and Campus Leader