September 2015

Published: 25 September 2015

Whilst I was enjoying a quiet and lazy long weekend, some of our more adventurous staff and the S6 were away at Dalguise on the traditional Staff-S6 weekend. Mr Illingworth (Head of S6) reported: “Sixty intrepid souls climbed trees, made rafts, swung down mountainsides, solved problems, devised dance routines, crawled through tunnels, and got muddy. As ever we are very proud of the way our pupils, particularly the way they threw themselves (literally and metaphorically) in to every challenge.” I would like to thank all members of staff and the S6 for giving up their weekend in this very worthwhile endeavour.

Some of our young physicists went on a trip to Torness Power Station on Tuesday. Ms Dornan organised the visit and had this to say: “Our trip to Torness was a great success; the pupils were a credit to themselves and the school. We were taken on a tour of the EDF nuclear facility which included viewing the reactors (from a safe distance!), visiting the turbines and the control centre. Pupils learnt about the mining and preparation of uranium for use as a nuclear fuel and all about the safety procedures in place at the facility. We also met the civil nuclear constabulary who patrol the perimeter of Torness. The tour guides discussed with pupils the benefits and drawbacks of nuclear power and urged them to form their own opinions about the future of the U.K.'s energy production. Finally we went for a walk to view where sea water -used to cool the condensers- enters and leaves the plant. Here pupils learnt that water is on average 4 degrees warmer than the surrounding sea which has led to a change in ecosystem within the area- there is now a small barrier reef forming! All in all it was a very successful visit which the pupils got a lot out of.”

I have been visiting more classes this week. The S1s were having a grand time in their RMPS class. They were starting to look at Moral Issues and were getting stuck in during the group discussions. It was great to hear pupils holding very different views on situations, and being able to put their ideas forward in a calm and rational fashion. In Maths, I joined some S3 as they learned about scale and how to employ the Area Scale Factor. They worked well and were willing to risk getting answers wrong in the pursuit of their learning – the Growth Mindset work that we have been doing must be having an impact. Finally, I joined a senior Biology class for a heart dissection. It really helped the pupils put into context all that they had been learning about the cardiovascular system.

Yesterday evening saw (or possibly more accurately heard) the start of the East Lothian Orchestra intensive rehearsal “weekend”. The orchestra gathers at Knox for rehearsals on Thursday evening, Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday which culminates with a short concert at 4pm on Sunday. I look forward to hearing the pieces that they have practised and I know that all the pupils concerned get a huge amount out of the experience.

S1 parents should have received a letter inviting them to the S1 settling-in evening on Thursday 1st of October. It’s a brief get together (usually about an hour) where we are able to let parents know how their youngsters are settling in, talk a bit about our values and the curriculum, and for parents to raise any concerns that they might have. I look forward to seeing parents there.

Have a good week.

S Ingham

Published: 17 September 2015

We had a really great P7 Open Evening on Wednesday night. It was lovely to meet some of prospective pupils and to meet, or become reacquainted with, their parents. The groups of parents and P7s were shown around by some of our S6 who were an absolute credit to themselves and I lost count of the number of positive comments that I got about them. Everyone got to visit a selection of departments, see what goes on, have a look at resources and meet some staff. If anyone visited and didn’t get to see what they wanted to, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we will see what we can do. Equally, if you didn’t manage to come to the evening and would like a look around, get in touch. Parents who do not live in the school catchment, and who wish their child to come to Knox should go to the East Lothian Council Homepage (www.eastlothian.gov.uk) and should search for the section “Making a placement request”, where they will find out about the process that they need to undertake. The closing date for these applications is the 31st December.

One of the parents I spoke to at the P7 Evening is an “extant” parent who was telling me that her child (who is in S1) is very excited about our S1 residential that we are running during Activities’ Week (30th May to 3rd June 2016). The trip should cost in the region of £250 per pupil and is great value for money given the experience that they will have (follow this link for a look at what’s on offer and what the pupils get out of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbBzSMl3OGA ). If you are in receipt of benefits the school can provide some financial assistance – parents can contact me in complete confidence and I’ll get the ball rolling with any support that I can.

I’ve had the real pleasure of observing some classes over the last couple of weeks. It’s been great to take part in lessons and see that pupils are really getting to grips with what they are learning. I think that the Learning Conversations that have been taking place in the senior school are already bearing fruit – pupils are already asking for revision sessions and opportunities to consolidate their learning. We are really focusing on the S5/6 at the moment and looking at target setting as well as their attendance. I plan to meet up with all pupils in S5 or S6 whose attendance is looking a bit ropey – more in terms of looking at ways in which we can support these pupils. We intend to contact parents after these meetings to let them know what we are doing to help their youngster.

We are on holiday on Friday 18th and Monday 21st September, and we are all back (bright eyed etc.) on the 22nd! A lot of the S6 are spending the weekend at Dalguise for the annual Staff/S6 weekend – I hope they have a wonderful time and look forward to hearing all their tales on Tuesday.

Have a lovely weekend.

S Ingham

Published: 11 September 2015

Last Friday we bid a fond farewell to Laura Stevenson, who has worked at Knox as both a PE and Guidance Teacher for over twenty years. She will be greatly missed by pupils, staff and parents alike. We wish all the best in her retirement. On Monday we also said goodbye to Jackie McKenzie, a stalwart of our Support for Learning team. She has been assisting pupils in the learning here since 2002, and has made a difference in the lives of countless pupils. Again, we wish her all the best in her retirement.

Conversely, we welcomed a member of staff into a new post and a new member of staff. Mr Mackinnon (of PE) is stepping up into Ms Stevenson’s role on a temporary basis, so all Traprain pupils will see him for Guidance matters. We also welcomed Mr Trafford to Support for Learning. He will be working with pupils on a one-to-one basis, supporting them in classrooms. I hope both of them enjoy their new posts.

Scott Thomson, one of our new S5, has been exceptionally busy in his sporting life of late. Scott is an international judoka, representing Scotland and Great Britain all over the world. Most recently he took gold in his category in the UK School Games held in Manchester last weekend. In July he represented Team GB in the European Youth Olympics – possibly the first pupil from Knox Academy to hold that honour. Scott is a great role model for our younger pupils as he wears his talent very lightly and manages to balance his school and sporting life with the minimum of fuss. I suspect that he has another year of successes to come and we will be supporting him all the way.

Speaking of sport…City of Edinburgh Trampoline Club (CETC) that works in Partnership with Knox Academy to deliver the active schools programme had a successful weekend at the Edinburgh Coaching Awards 2015. The presentation was at Broughton High School on Sunday 6th September, with a drinks reception and guest Commonwealth athletes in attendance. CETC were runners up in the "Club of the Year (50+ Members)" category. Coach Greig Barnett was winner, with junior Coach Adam Corbett (also Spartans FC) in the "Community Coach of The Year" award. Kirsty Beaton (Knox A/S Programme Lead Coach) was runner up in the "Young Persons Coach of the Year" section. And our own Ms Jeffrey won the award for "Performance Coach of the Year 2015", which was a most welcome surprise given the very tough competition in that category. Congratulations to all involved.

On Wednesday some of our cyclists, accompanied by Mr Easton and Mr Marnoch, went up to Gifford and the surrounding area to cheer on cyclists in the Tour of Britain. The day was perfect for cycling: warm but with a breeze, and everyone involved had a great time. Thanks to the staff for organising it and I hope that the hills weren’t too steep!

There are a couple of things to put in the diary for next week: We have our annual P7 open evening on Wednesday 16th September. Anyone whose child would be eligible to join S1 in August 2016 is welcome to attend. We start at 6.30pm and following a brief information session in the Hall, tours of the school begin. Refreshments will be served in the Social Area from 7.40pm.              School is closed on Friday 18th September and Monday 21st September, and will reopen to pupils and staff on Tuesday 22nd September.

S Ingham

Published: 04 September 2015

There’s so much to tell you this week, so I’ll just get on with it. As you know, music plays a large part in the life of Knox Academy and I was delighted to hear of the following pupils’ success in cello over the last few months: Caitrin Aylward Grade 4 – 79% (merit); Jason Cowie Grade 2 - 85% (merit); Dillon Ball Grade 5 - 89% (distinction); Adam Wilson Grade 7 - 90% (distinction); Ronan Leslie Grade 8 - 87% (distinction). Congratulations to all of them for their hard work.

On Monday, I had the real pleasure of receiving a letter form the Modern Studies Association of Scotland, informing me that one of our pupils, Cailtin Wright, had garnered the highest mark in her Advance Higher Modern Studies paper in Scotland. This is no mean feat and it’s great when a pupil’s hard work is recognised.

Speaking of Advanced Higher, a group of Historians went on their customary trip to Stirling and its environs this week. Ms McPhee writes: “First stop was the Battle of Bannockburn centre where pupils were given the opportunity to study some contemporary accounts of the battle. This led to a discussion surrounding the problems with using these conflicting pieces of evidence to piece together the events of the battle. The group then got transported back into the battle itself and were given a chance to prepare themselves to lead their own armies in the fight. Despite the bravery shown by Lucy and her fellow Scots the English army did, in fact, win the 2015 battle by killing King Robert the Bruce. Having re written history, the group were then shown how the real battle played out before being taken outside to examine the surrounding landscape which had a pivotal role in the events of midsummer 1314. From there it was a whistle stop tour of Cambuskenneth Abbey, Stirling Bridge and Stirling Castle, and of course a stop at Frankie and Benny’s for lunch. The pupils had an enjoyable day and were a credit to Knox Academy.”

Sport continues to go from strength to strength with some great results on the rugby pitch last weekend. Well done to all the players.

The Active Schools Extra Curricular Timetable is now up. There is something for everyone. Activities run before school, at lunchtime and after school, so come along and try something new!

Knox Academy Sports will be using Team App this year to communicate training and match arrangements. Both parents and players should access this! Rugby, hockey and football will be the first sports using the free system. Please visit https://www.teamapp.com Simply select the activities you or your child participate in: a. Knox Academy Rugby b. Knox Academy Hockey c. Knox Academy Football You will then be able to see and receive up to date fixture info, cancellation updates, training and match arrangements etc.

We are delighted to say that Knox Academy and Haddington Rugby Club have united their efforts and created ‘Haddington Rugby’. The aim of this new entity is to develop a strong, fun and vibrant rugby environment within the Haddington community that we can all benefit from. It has been made possible with a massive amount of work from everyone involved. A big thanks must also go out to everyone that has contributed financially HRFC, sponsors and the SRU. ‘Conference’ fixtures start this weekend.

The Knox team sport affiliation fee of £10 is now due for this year (for hockey, football, and netball only). The fee contributes to the cost of kit, equipment and coaching resources. One payment covers multiple sports so no need to pay more for multi-sport involvement. Payments should be made in the usual way.

Speaking of paying for things in the normal way (I’m getting quite good at this segueing into topics), we have introduced an online payment system for the school. Information is on this website – go to “News”, then “General News” and we posted about it on the 31st August. It’s the same system that you might have used to load money onto your child’s smart card via the council website, and is simple and secure.

We had a really good meeting of the PSP on Wednesday night (seats were rapidly running out). Thanks to everyone who came and gave their support and ideas. The first Knox Academy Support Group meeting of the year will be on Tuesday 8th September at 6.30 at school, in the Learning Support Room (L3). New members will be made most welcome. The next venture will be a Blingo Evening – it was very successful last year - on Thursday 8th October.

If you are concerned about internet safety and how you can help your child be safer online, the council is running an information session on Tuesday 29th September, 6.30pm-8.30pm, at John Muir House. If you’d like to join us, please let them know by emailing dramsay@eastlothian.gov.uk or call 01620 827108.

Finally, our volunteering fayre is well under way. Pupils are finding out about all the ways that they can be involved. Thanks to all the speakers and stallholders who came in to make this a success, and particular thanks to Mr Flood and Ms McBride for coordinating the event.

Next week we have the UCAS Information Evening for S6 pupils ad parents. It’s on Thursday and runs from 7.00pm until 8.30pm.

Have a very good week.

S Ingham