Friday, 21 March 2008

Poem to adopted chinese daughters

It's Easter holiday time and opportunity for me to spend lots of quality time with our two lovely daughters! I came across this very moving poem today whilst browsing a website for adopted kids with our own adopted daughters Jenny and Lucy.

Once there were two women
who never knew each other.
One you do not remember,
the other you call Mother.

Two different lives shaped to make you one.
One became your guiding star;
the other became your sun.

The first one gave you life,
the second taught you to live it.

The first gave you a need for love;
the second was there to give it.

One gave you a body
the other helped you to grow.

One gave you a talent,
the other taught you what you know.

One gave you emotions,
the other calmed your fears.

One saw your first sweet smile,
the other dried your tears.

One found a home for you
that she could not provide.

The other prayed for a child;
her hope was not denied.

nd now you ask me,
through your tears,
the age-old question
unanswered through the years.
This place or your birth place –
which are you a daughter of?
Both of them my darling –
and two different kinds of love. (Anon)


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

South Uist Tragedy

I'm sure that many who read today's media coverage of the tragic death of Kaylee McIntosh, the 14 year old girl cadet from Aberdeenshire, will have felt moved when they learned the detail of how this tragedy occurred. The incident has added poignancy for me as the tragedy happened a short distance from where I grew up. As a child, growing up in North Uist, I was acutely aware of the dangers associated with water, both in the numerous lochs that cover vast areas of the islands and the coastline that can be as treacherous as it is beautiful. As a native of the island of North Uist, I often witnessed 'incomers' taking unecessary and unplanned risks that could have all too easily had serious consequences. As a headteacher of a school in the city of Edinburgh I receive and approve many requests to take pupils on excursions. I hope that generations of youngsters are able to enjoy the richness of experiences that excursions in the outdoors have to offer. What happened to Kaylee was tragic; we now know that there were major failings in safety. The way ahead for us must be to learn from what happened here and to ensure that future excursions of this nature are properly conducted. We must guard against becoming too frightened to take risks.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Feeling good

Now that the 'excitement' of the HMIe visit is over it was back to business as usual this week. Each day this week we had assemblies for the various year groups to give them a flavour of what progress we have made in the past few years. It was great to be able to tell the pupils that we had made huge progress over the past two years. There is a real feel good factor and pride developing among pupils and staff and deservedly so.

With years 1-3 I took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of respect as one of our core values. A main point to emphasise from me was that respect is fundamental to all the relationships in our school community.

In the coming months we need to engage in discussion about what our 'next steps' as a school are going to be. What should we do in the next year(s) in order to ensure that we continue to improve?

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Parent Council

Tonight's Parent Council was positive as usual. It was great to be able to share the general feedback from the HMIe visit with all present. Apart from HMIe business, I updated the meeting on a number of other important issues in my Headteacher's report. This included:

  • Staffing
  • Roll projection for September 2008
  • Finance
Other areas raised in general discussion included a really good discussion on exam leave. Parents were supportive of not giving pupils exam leave for prelims. A query was raised about exam leave for S3 sitting exams this year. It was suggested that S3 pupils taking exams this summer (some are taking as many as 4) should not get exam leave as they would miss out on valuable teaching in other subjects. Instead, it was suggested, for the duration of the exam period,that S3 pupils taking exams this summer, should not be given homework for other subjects. This will be raised at our PTs' meeting tomorrow.

A main topic for discussion this evening was how we can increase levels of engagement between parents and school. I made the point that parents show high levels of loyalty to the school but a disappointing level of engagement. For example, the turnout at last week's S4 parents' night was around 40%. This is less than half the percentage attendance a similar meeting at Dunbar Grammar School (Thanks to Paul Rafaelli for sharing this figure with us through his blog!) At our next meeting on Tuesday 29 April it was agreed that we would spend a chunk of time looking at how we can make parents' evenings more attractive to parents. Any suggestions of good practice in this area will be gratefully received.