November 2015

Published: 27 November 2015

Last weekend saw our two Young Enterprise teams showing off their products and strategy at the Young Enterprise Christmas Fair. The teams: Tenacity and Team Fusion did themselves proud, showing off their products – candles for Tenacity and wine glass charms for Team Fusion. They pitched their ideas and business plans well, and when it came to the judging Team Fusion had pipped Tenacity. Team Fusion were awarded 3rd place in Stall and Product, 1st place in Sales and Marketing and received overall first place for the event. As ever, we are equally proud of both teams and there is opportunity for both to garner awards at the Young Enterprise Awards eveing later on in the session. Congratulations to all the pupils for taking part (giving up their Saturday) and representing the school so well. Big thanks also go to the staff who assisted them and the local business advisers.

We are in the process of organising the immunisations that take place in school every year. If your child is due for an immunisation you will receive notification and some paperwork to complete. Please return it as soon as you can so that we can make all the necessary arrangements. Immunisation helps protect our communities from a wide range of illnesses. Thanks to immunisation, diseases such as polio have disappeared in the UK. However, these diseases could come back as they are still seen in many countries throughout the world - which is why it’s so important to get your jabs. The NHS Lothian school nurse team carry out an annual immunisation programme. The vaccinations will be given in spring term 2016. Consent packs are being issued now. Please discuss the consent pack at home and return it to school as soon as you can. The teenage booster to ensure protection from tetanus, diphtheria and polio will be offered to pupils in S3. This completes the programme, begun in infancy, to give life-long protection. In addition this year all S3 – S6 pupils are recommended a meningitis vaccine (ACWY). This is to protect against the W strain of meningitis which is on the increase across the UK.

This week all the pupils have been having their annual “Christmas Box” assembly. Every year tutor groups decorate and fill a box with goodies for the local elderly. The theme for this year’s boxes is “Christmas Treats”. My apologies go out to parents and carers if children are coming home and raiding the food cupboards – they have been told to ask first. Could you just check that anything that is donated is within its “use by” date? Also if anyone bakes or makes anything to go in the box, could they make sure that they list the ingredients and indicate the date that it was made. It’s always a treat to see all the boxes arrayed in the last week of term (judging is 15th December), and I know that the local care homes and social services (who help us to deliver the boxes) are always impressed with the quality of what we send out. Here’s hoping for a bumper year!

One of our senior pupils, Mark Jackson, is starring in a video raising awareness of improving access to sports stadia for people with disabilities. The film was made by CAFÉ – Centre for Access to Football in Europe. It’s a short but powerful film and you can catch Mark at 2 minutes and 39 seconds (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2Tf7J7ANRM )

Last night I had a very productive meeting with one of partners – Haddington Pipe Band. They do an enormous amount to support the Knox Academy Pipe Band. They have given me a pile of calendars to sell on their behalf, so if you want one, they are £5 and can be obtained by contacting myself. We will also have them on sale at the S1 Parents’ Consultation Evening, next Tuesday. I suspect that the Young Enterprise teams will also be taking that opportunity to sell their wares, so if you are an S1 parent, you would be well advised to bring your wallet with you.

The S1 Parents’ Evening starts at 5pm and finishes at 7pm. Pupils should have been making appointments for parents and carers during this week. If you haven’t heard about this evening, have a dig in school bags, or call your child’s Guidance Teacher. On Wednesday the 2nd December we have the final Parent School Partnership meeting of 2015. It starts at 6.15pm in the Library and is always a lively affair with good discussion. Any parent is welcome to come along and hear what’s going on.

Have a good week.

S Ingham

Published: 20 November 2015

Thanks to all of those who helped the S6 run such a wonderful Children In Need Day last week. All told, we raised £1400, which is tremendous. I continue to marvel at the generosity of our school community and at pupils’ ability to harness the energy that it takes to come up with costume ideas etc. Long may it continue.

Speaking of money raised, the Knox Academy Support Group has kindly helped us out with some funding. They have given us £500 towards the new piano and £190 towards the cost of running the Land Yacht Challenge. Whilst we would always look to provide these things for the school from our budget, I am massively grateful to KASG for taking some of the burden – their support (financial and action) is much appreciated. (By the way, KASG are always looking for new members or people just willing to help out at different events, so get in touch with Mrs Ball if you think you spare them some time.)

Last week we had groups of pupils out representing the school in Scottish Rugby Cup games: The U16 team was narrowly beaten by Morrison’s Academy and the U18s were beaten by Perth Academy. Both teams performed admirably and represented the school well. It was also lovely to hear that Scott Thomson (Judo player) has recently picked up two more awards: the first was the Midlothian Council Young Sports Personality of the year award (Scott qualified as his main club is based there and they nominated him) and the 2nd was the British Judo Association Male Cadet Player of the year. These awards round off an amazing year for Scott, of whom we are justifiably proud.

I was also delighted this week to present Saltire Award certificates to four young people who helped out the Haddington and Lammermuir Area Partnership last session. They helped the group develop part of their strategy for meeting the needs of young people in the ward. Hamish Hastie, Lois, Finnie, Abbi Robertson and Emma De Costa were all credited with 25 hours of volunteering. Well done to all four of them, and big thanks for providing their much-needed perspective and advice.

All pupils have been attending assemblies this week to explain about our new Connected Learning Network. This means that pupils can use their own devices on the school-wide Wi-Fi. They should have brought home some letters explaining how to use the network and what our expectations are. We will be giving the senior (S4 to S6) pupils their passwords next week and the juniors theirs by the 7th December. Please bear with us as we are sure to encounter some teething problems. Also, I must make very clear that pupils bring their own devices to school at their own risk – so they should take every care with them (e.g. making sure that they are marked in some way that identifies their ownership of the device).

Can I point you in the direction of the consultation on East Lothian Children and Young People's Service Plan 2016-19? The East Lothian Council Community Planning Children's Strategic Partnership (including health and the voluntary sectors) wants as many people as possible to take part in the consultation on its draft plan for services for and about children, young people and families in East Lothian. The plan sets out proposals for improving outcomes for children and young people's health and wellbeing in East Lothian over the next three years. The consultation is open until 13th December and you can take part at: https://eastlothianconsultations.co.uk/childrens-wellbeing/children-and-... .

The first “Severe Weather Warning” from the Met Office pinged into my inbox yesterday – warning of snow this afternoon. So, on that note, can I ask that parents talk through their plans for what their children should do if we have to shut the school for any reason?

Have a great weekend.

S Ingham

Published: 13 November 2015

Congratulations to our hockey players who have been doing well over the last week or so. Last Saturday the S1, 2 and 3 pupils all won against Firhill and the seniors played hard, dominating the second half of their match.

This week the seniors have been working hard, getting UCAS statements finished, alongside the usual effort in classes. Two senior classes (History and Economics) were out to conferences that have been organised for pupils, covering topics that will help at exam time. The Historians seemed to have a particularly profitable day, as Ms McPhee writes: “As always, our pupils did themselves proud. They were a delight to spend the morning with and they were engaged in the lectures taking lots of valuable (I hope!) notes. They were given lots of historiography which is the distinguishing factor in the jump up to Advanced Higher level so it will be especially useful for their level of study. Bill Glennie gave a great lecture, and because he is such an experienced teacher he really knew how to grab the pupils’ attention and also as an Advanced Higher marker what to emphasise. He has offered to come in to speak to our pupils about their specific dissertation titles to ensure they are covering them effectively and give them advice on recent research. Fiona Watson gave a great lecture about William Wallace, which covered some really new ground so we got the most up to date information and dispelled a lot of what we thought we knew.” It sounds like a resounding success and thanks to Ms McPhee for organising it.

This morning the S6 are doing their bit for Children In Need and helping out at St Mary’s Church. So if you’ve seen young people dressed up and wandering about Haddington, you now know what that was all about. It’s great that the pupils are doing their bit to support children across the UK.

I’m wary of talking about Christmas when we’re only mid-November, but it’s the time of year when I give everyone the head’s up about the Christmas Dance. It’s being held on the evening of the 10th December. Any pupil wishing to buy a ticket must be above -15 points by the end of school on the 27th November. I will be reminding pupils of this over the coming weeks, but it might be worth parents reminding them, too. Can I also direct you to the “rules” for dances that are on this website and can be found by following this link: http://knox.is/dancing1

Have a good week.

S Ingham

Published: 06 November 2015

Last Friday I had the pleasure of reporting on our exam results and pupil destinations at our annual attainment meeting with the Head of Education. Whilst there are always areas in which we can improve, the results this year were pleasing. In last year’s S4 98% of pupils gained some form of National Qualification, with 80% of pupils achieving 5 or more National 4s (or better) and 58% achieving 5 or more National 5s. The old S5s did well with 63% of pupils achieving at least one Higher, 42% achieving 3 or more Highers, and 16% achieving 5 or more Highers. The S6 who left at the end of last session outdid themselves with 32% getting one or more Advanced Higher (the best result that we have had in that area for a long time). All the pupils are to be congratulated on their hard work and positive attitude – we just need to make sure that we keep these levels up.

On Saturday, the Modern Studies department had the pleasure of celebrating the success of one of last year's S6 at the Modern Studies Association Annual Conference. Caitlin Wright was presented with the award for the highest mark in the country in Advanced Higher Modern Studies. Caitlin achieved 87/90 in the exam in May, and an astounding “full marks” for her dissertation on the UK's Prison System. We are extremely proud of Caitlin who has been an outstanding pupil over the years and we wish her well in the next chapter in her life as a student of Law at Edinburgh University.

As well as pupils flexing their academic muscle, we have had news of further sporting success for one of our pupils –Scott Thomson. He was competing as part of the Scottish Judo team at the Flanders Judo Cup in Belgium. It was Scott’s last competition in the Cadet category and despite a field of 43 competitors, Scott managed to triumph and fight his way to a gold medal. All at the school are very proud of Scott and what he is achieving in his sport.

Last Friday some of our pupils competed in the East Lothian Badminton Competition. The Under 14 team won their part of the competition, doing the school proud. Congratulations to the team.

Pupils in the school have been raising money left, right and centre. “Wear it Pink” last week garnered £450 for Cancer Research, the Macmillan Cancer Support Concerts raised £1390 (that’s with pupils from all over East Lothian taking part), and we are looking forward to Children In Need in the next couple of weeks.

We had a good Parent School Partnership meeting on Wednesday night. We discussed numerous topics ranging from Pupil Council feedback to nutrition in school. The next meeting is on December 2nd at 6.15pm, and any parent is welcome to attend.

Carla Taylor, our chief Pupil Librarian, has developed a Library website that allows pupils to post book reviews and ask for advice on library services. The site includes educational apps to assist pupils with studying and there are also Poetry, Pupil Librarian and Events pages. You can view the site at www.knox.is/library Carla has worked tirelessly to get this site up and running, developing and building it single-handed, so please give it a look.

Have a very good weekend.

S Ingham