Friday, 20 June 2008

Townies go to see the cows

'Dear All, it is that time of year again when we take the townies out to look at the cows and feed them all for nothing in the Food Hall.'(Extract from an email from Norah Watson, PT of HE, to all staff earlier this week.)

Today, I had the pleasure of accompanying 45 of our pupils and four of my colleagues to the Royal Highland show at Ingliston in the outskirts of Edinburgh. The weather was very kind and the whole experience was just wonderful.

Highlights of the day for me included:

  • Positive feedback from all pupils
  • Seeing all the livestock – reminiscences of my crofting upbringing!
  • Wonderful food samples available in food hall
  • Meeting former pupils who had pursued a career in farming.

Thanks to Mrs Watson for organising a wonderful educational experience for all of us. I am tempted to go back on Sunday with my girls so that they can experience the magic of the Highland Show as we all did today.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

School praised in Scottish Parliament!

Last week's prizegiving ceremony, with guest speaker/presenter Matthew MacIver (CBE), Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, was a roaring success. Over 100 pupils received prizes for achievements ranging from sporting prowess to academic excellence. I must say I was really proud to see so many youngsters receive their awards with such big grins on their faces.

Our local MSP, Mike Pringle was one of several special guests at last weeks prizegiving. I was so pleased to hear today that Mike had spoken so positively of his experience at our prizegiving and our school's achievements during parliamentary discussion on Youth Justice. Onwards and upwards for Liberton High! Click on the following link (Liberton High progress) to read Mike Pringle's contribution to the debate.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

HMIe report

Our follow through report was published today. I am delighted with the progress we have made as a school. All those associated with the school, including staff, parents and pupils deserve enormous praise for having rolled up the sleeves and getting on with the job of taking our school forward. Of course, progress in recent years is just a beginning. We must now ensure that we continue to go from strength to strength. WE will do this if we continue to work together as a community.

''It takes a village to raise a child'' (African proverb)

As we begin our celebrations to mark our 50 anniversary, the timing of such a positive report could not have been better!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Pupil attendance 3

In a recent conversation with a friend who works in the 'real world', as he often reminds me, I was shocked to learn that the reason that 80% of under 18s lose their employment is because of poor timekeeping and/or attendance. Can we as schools do something about this so that our young people are better prepared for life beyond school?

At tonight's parent council meeting we had opportunity to further explore how we will tackle absenteeism in the coming session. There is a view that we should apply employment -type standards to our expectations of pupils in regard to attendance; particularly those in the senior school. To that end, I propose, for next session, that we should set attendance targets for all pupils. Throughout the session pupils will be reminded about their attendance targets so that areas of concern are quickly brought to each pupil's attention. Parents will also need to be alerted where concerns arise.

What do we do with pupils whose attendance falls below expected standards? Do we allocate additional resources from an already overstretched budget to try and further support youngsters and families? Should pupils be asked to repeat a year if their attendance is very poor? Should pupils with very poor attendance be presented for exams?

In addition to target setting for attendance and punctuality, we are also proposing to move to vertical tutor groups. I.e. tutor groups comprised of pupils from S1 to S6. From our discussions so far it strikes me that there are many advantages to arranging registration classes in this way. For example, this will allow us to approach peer mentoring in a different way to previous attempts. Additionally, new S1 pupils will have 'buddies' that will continue with them well beyond the first few days at High School.

I look forward to consulting and listening to pupils and parents in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Pupil attendance 2

Throughout the past session a working group, chaired by Iain Stewart (PT Guidance), has been looking at what we can do at Liberton High to improve pupil attendance. In addition to reflecting on our current practices, members of the group have also visited other schools. Based on one such visit we are considering changing the structure of tutor groups. In the past, we have had groups of 25-30 pupils all the same age. What we are proposing to change to is groups of between 20 and 25 of pupils ranging from S1 through to S6 within house groups. There are pros and cons to doing this but some of the advantages include:

  • Breaking up peer groups who have developed bad timekeeping habits and have security in their groups
  • Giving senior pupils the responsibility of looking after and supporting younger pupils
  • Further developing buddying opportunities

In the past few weeks staff and pupils have had the opportunity to comment on the proposals; on Tuesday night those who are at the Parent Council meeting will have the opportunity to air their views.