September 2016

Published: 30 September 2016

Congratulations to Maria Millar (who works in the Food Court) on becoming “The Scottish Schools Cook of the Year 2016” at a competition earlier this month. She had to prepare a two-course meal for £1.60 – she did a marvellous job and she wowed the judges with a menu of chicken enchilada with coleslaw, followed by strawberry cheesecake made with a wide variety of locally-sourced ingredients. More importantly, we had the privilege of taste-testing some of her practice-runs and I can vouch that they were delicious, so I am not surprised that she won.

Last weekend saw the traditional Staff/S6 weekend to Dalguise. Despite some fairly damp weather conditions everyone seemed to have fun, as Mr. Edwards reported, “Battered, bruised but bolder than when they left, a triumphant S6 returned to Knox Academy last night around 8.30pm. The previous 48 hours had seen some of the finest displays of cheering, persevering and creative use of fruity language ever to grace rural Perthshire. Although the rain on the Saturday made everything wet and muddy (not that those on Raft Building would have noticed), this fine year group did not become forlorn or daunted but rose to meet the challenge and the weather had been swept up in their sunny spirit by Sunday morning. The PGL Staff were most complimentary (as was the tea and coffee) and the students themselves comported themselves in an impeccable manner. Many thanks to Mr Redford for organising the trip and Mr Illingworth, Mr Dempster, Ms Doig, Ms Campbell, Ms Laudi, Ms McBride and Ms Brannigan for providing sound support, good company and those wee Dinky Decker chocolate bites.”

We recently welcomed Ms. Robb to our Biology and Science Department and Mrs Reynolds (who has been in an acting position for a while), permanently to the English Department. I look forward to working with both of them and think that they will bring much to the school.

If you follow us on Twitter, you will have seen the work that Modern Languages have been doing to celebrate the Week of Modern Languages. We have had quizzes, morning greetings, and other activities to raise pupils’ awareness of other languages. Certainly the classes that I visited were having fun, as were the staff – thanks to Mrs Cochrane, Ms Laudi and Ms McBride. Also, excitingly, we had a visit from Google Expeditions yesterday. S2 pupils were involved in virtual explorations of places a diverse as Mexico and the sea bed. It was a real opportunity for youngsters to interface with technology and see its educational benefit. Thanks to Mr McSwan for organising it all.

Next week we have a Parent Council Meeting (Wednesday, 6.15pm in the Library), which is open to all parents. I look forward to seeing you there.

Have a good week.

S Ingham

Published: 23 September 2016

After a thoroughly pleasant four-day-weekend, everyone returned bright-eyed and ready to work.

In assemblies this week, I have been sharing the story of Alistair and Jonny Brownlee that occurred in the finals of the World Triathlon Championships. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please follow this link to watch a short clip (http://bbc.in/2cL7mSS) I spoke about the strength of character that it took to help someone to the finish line, and how we, as a school, and as individuals, might be able to mirror that.

I have been asked to bring to your attention a consultation that East Lothian Council are doing as part of their rewriting of our Anti-Bullying Strategy. It’s a short, online questionnaire and can be found at: knox.is/anti-bullying There are different survey for staff, pupils and parents, so, please have your say.

The Staff and S6 are off to Dalguise this weekend for their annual team-building trip. I hope that the weather is good and that they have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Next week we have a lot going on: Senior pupils who are LEAPS eligible will be having their interviews; we have a Higher Geography Fieldtrip going out and about in Edinburgh; and very excitingly, we have have the Google Expeditions Pioneer Programme taking place on Thursday.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 15 September 2016

 

This week we have run the gamut from UCAS forms, to interview panels all by way of County Sports and much more besides!

At the weekend I was delighted to hear that the show that the school contributes on East Coast FM, The School Bell, won gold in the British Community Radio Awards held in Birmingham. They were awarded “Best Community Show”, which is an amazing achievement. Ian, the Station Manager wrote, “We would like to add that The School Bell is doing fantastic work with your youngsters and without question giving them confidence and communication skills, a unique combination for life at, as well as outside, school, and for their future in the work place. We have had four students go to university to study media, which is another bonus.” I would like to congratulate all at East Coast FM for their hard work and dedication, and to the “School Bell-ers” in particular. Well done!

On Monday we opened our doors to parents of pupils going through the UCAS process. This followed on from the UCAS morning that we had for pupils earlier on in the session. It really focused on applying for funding and writing the all-important Personal Statement. I remember that being one of the hardest things I had to write when I was at school. Getting it “just right” seemed so important and was, frankly, terrifying. Needless to say that the evening isn’t the only support that we have in place for our university applicants – so if in youngsters are in any doubt they should pop in and see their Guidance Teacher, or Mrs Falconer (Year Head), or me, even, for advice. I know that the blank page can seem daunting, but just give it a go, as the writer David Mitchell said, “A blank page is also a door — it contains infinity, like a night sky with a supermoon really close to the Earth, with all the stars and the galaxies, where you can see very, very clearly… You know how that makes your heart beat faster?”

On Tuesday we took a number of our pupils to compete in the County Sports. I am told that everyone acquitted themselves well, playing hard and fairly. Thanks to the pupils for making us proud.

On Wednesday we started the whole cycle of P7 transition off with our P7 Open Evening. It was lovely to see so many new faces, and hopefully we’ve ensured that the P7s are looking forward to becoming part of the Knox family.

Earlier in the week I had the pleasure of interviewing for our Guidance vacancy. We now have a preferred candidate and we are undertaking the pre-employment checks. The candidates undertook a round of interviews, a discussion with senior staff and a discussion with a pupil panel. I think that the pupils were the most challenging part – but they gave a real depth to the process and I was very proud of them.

This morning I took assembly for S4. I spoke to them about the oft-heard phrase “I don’t have any homework”. I explained to them that that is rarely true – they could be reading texts, learning new vocabulary, practising musical instruments and, importantly reading over their notes. It has been proved that a pupil has a 30% better chance of remembering work if they read over their notes within 24 hours of taking them. So, if you are faced with the assertion that your son/daughter has no homework, please remind them of my assembly!

Today we said our final farewell to Ms McIntyre who leaves us to take on the next stage in her life. Ms McIntyre has been at Knox for twenty-two years and has been responsible for some smashing results in the Chemistry department. We wish her all the best.

School is shut on Friday 16 September and Monday 19 September. We re-open on Tuesday 20 September at the usual time.

Have a great week.

S Ingham

Published: 09 September 2016

The volunteering fair last Friday seems to have been a great success, with numerous pupils signing up to offer their time and talents to various organisations. If there are any other opportunities out there, where people are looking for young, enthusiastic helpers, they should just contact the school.

I have just spent a very enjoyable time with our Paired Reading volunteers who have been in this afternoon. These very kind people give up time out of their day to come and read with some of our young people. This helps to build the pupils’ confidence and not only helps them with their reading, but also with their listening and talking.

Some of our senior pupils went to Heriot-Watt this week to participate in the 'Design Smash Challenge'. Miss Stobie noted that the pupils seemed to really engage in the urban planning task and got a lot of out of the experience. The judges were really impressed with our team but unfortunately we didn't win (but it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part). The pupils also got to look around the acoustic engineering lab and had a go with the thermal heating cameras. Thanks to all the pupils and Miss Stobie for their time and effort.

I have had some great news about three of our former pupils. Aaron Duke has recently become Senior European Trail Champion at the recent competition in Austria. He was always an ardent trial biker and it looks like he’s going from strength to strength. Similarly on two wheels, Lewis Rollo recently won the Scottish Superstock 600 Championship at Knockhill. He has also been riding in the British Superstock 600 for the first time this year and is extremely well regarded by the top riders. He's had some bad luck with accidents over the last month or so, but next year he will certainly be in contention for the top spot in the National Championship. We wish both Lewis and Aaron all the best over the coming seasons and will look out for further news. Finally, Gregor McMillan has graduated from St John’s College Cambridge and has been awarded one of the Larmor Prizes for his academic achievements, moral conduct and practical activities. I am delighted for Gregor and wish him every success as he moves on to work with The Hut Group in China.

Next week we are holding a UCAS information evening for parents and pupils in S6. This will be held on Monday 12 September and we look forward to seeing you there. On the 14 September we are holding our P7 Open Evening. Any prospective pupils and their parents are welcome to join us from 7pm to have a look round the school and get a feel for the place.

Next Friday and the following Monday are holidays and the school will be closed. I look forward to seeing everyone again on Tuesday 20 September.

Have a great week. S Ingham

 

Published: 02 September 2016

Last week I heard some great news about one of our young sportsmen. Dean Riva has been selected to represent Scotland in the U25 Bowling team. This is quite an achievement for a 17 year old. The next match for the team is against the North of England at Sighthill on the 18th September and we wish Dean all the best for that.

Talking of sport, I would just like to remind everyone that lunchtime sporting clubs started back this week: Monday - Table, Tennis Tues - Badminton and Dance, Weds - Yoga and Cricket, Thursday – Dodgeball.

We had a very well attended Parent Council Meeting on Wednesday evening (despite the lure of the Great British Bake Off). Thanks to everyone who turned up. I was able to update parents on how the seniors had done in the exams, and discussions ranged from how we can support extra-curricular sport to reading. It’s always an interesting a lively meeting, so look out for the next one on 5 October.

The Senior Phase Information evening was quite a success last night. We had presentations from Mike Falconer (representing SCHOLAR), Mrs Falconer, Mr Illingworth, Mr Taylor (Science and how it’s assessed), and finally from Georgia Herriott and Rebecca Keegan, two of our S6, who spoke about their experience of the exams. The feedback that we’ve had so far is that parents found it really useful and informative, so we’ll definitely be making it a regular fixture on our calendar.

As I type we have pupils experiencing our Volunteering Fair. It’s part of our work to engage young people in activities that will add to their employability. Pupils got input from various people from the community and organisations – thanks to everyone for giving up their time to do this. Last year the event inspired so many of our pupils that the school won the inaugural East Lothian Saltire Awards: Inter-School Volunteering shield. I have high hopes for this session!

In terms of school-based events next week, it’s looking pretty clear, but I have been asked to flag that the Knox Academy PTA fundraising group will be meeting on Tuesday 13th September at 18:30 in Learning Support. They are always looking for new members, and if you are interested, you would be most welcome to attend.

Have a great week.

S Ingham