27 April 2005
Newsletter April 2005
The school opened as planned on Monday 18 April after the Easter holiday. As ever, there was a great deal of work carried out during the holiday and I am very pleased to report that the major works in the Music Department and on C Floor were completed on time. The school’s major refurbishment and new build is now virtually complete, although some work will take place in the Library over the summer holidays. The final stage of the building works, called “snagging”, now occurs, where the work is assessed for quality, match to the job specification, and fitness for purpose.
Consultation on Draft Bill “Making the Difference – improving parents’ involvement in schools”
A leaflet was given to all pupils on Friday 15 April alerting parents to the consultation. The School Board wishes to hold an Open Evening to discuss the draft bill on Monday 16 May – a separate letter will follow in due course.
PTA Quiz Night
This event will take place at Musselburgh Rugby Club (for over 18s only) on Friday 27 May at 7.30 with tickets priced £6. Tickets can be bought from Mrs Slight on 665-4070 or money can be sent in to Mrs Campbell in Business Studies.
Easter Revision classes and national examinations
Thanks to the pupils and staff who gave up time during the Easter holidays to work together in preparing for the national examinations which are now imminent, with the first examination in Standard Grade Art and Design taking place on Thursday 28 April.
Miss McIntosh has issued individual timetables to S4-6 along with the SQA booklet of examination guidance. Pupils should check their timetable carefully and approach Miss McIntosh if they think there are any errors or omissions in it. We advise that pupils make sure parents are aware of the days they have examinations so that they are up and ready to leave for school in good time – the examination time is set and the invigilator does not wait for latecomers.
Please note that the SQA regulations are very strict and quite absolute regarding electronic devices – none must be present in the examination room, even if switched off – so mobile phones and electronic music players or PDAs must not be brought to school on examination days. Two of our candidates disregarded this warning last year, were caught by the invigilator, and the examination grade for that subject was cancelled for that candidate. The SQA reserve the right to cancel all examinations for a candidate, moreover.
The school wishes all candidates well in the forthcoming examinations.
Family holidays during term-time
We have received the following information from East Lothian Council clarifying the procedure for recording family holidays during term-time:
All family holidays taken during term-time should be categorised as unauthorised absence unless a request is accompanied by sufficient evidence to merit authorisation.
A family holiday classified as “unauthorised absence” includes such reasons as:
· the availability of cheap flights or the availability of desired accommodation,
· poor weather during school holidays,
· holidays which overlap the beginning or end of term,
· parental difficulty obtaining leave where evidence has not been provided by the employer that leave taken during school holidays would have serious consequences.
Exceptional circumstances may merit authorisation of a term-time family holiday :
· A family holiday judged to be important to the well-being and cohesion of the family following serious or terminal illness, bereavement or other traumatic event.
· Parental difficulty obtaining leave where the employer has provided written evidence that it cannot accommodate leave during school holidays without serious consequences to the service provided.
It is the responsibility of the school to make the decision on authorisation of family holidays during term-time. Parents are required to submit their requests for authorisation, in writing, to the Head Teacher in advance of the absence, along with the supporting evidence. The Head Teacher will then consider the information presented and write to the parents with his or her decision. If a parent does not submit their request in writing with supporting evidence from the employer, it should automatically be categorised as unauthorised and the parent informed of this. Schools should ensure that parents are fully aware of the rules.
I would simply add two further points – it should be very unusual for any parent of a child in S4-6 to take their child on holiday during term-time during these years at school, and it should be inconceivable for a parent to take a child on holiday during the SQA examination period so that a child misses the national examination in May and June and throws away one or two year’s work at a stroke.
The Dining Hall has recently been redecorated and refitted with new tables and chairs to coincide with the launch of cashless catering. Pupils find it straightforward to load money and cheques into the 4 machines available in the Transit Area and the Dining Hall to get credit on their Smartcard. Elite Catering are implementing the national initiative “Hungry for Success” which encourages healthier eating. The new graphics in the Dining Hall complement that initiative, linking sporting activities to healthy food. We also have a new logo for the Hall, chosen by the pupil body, which is “Olympic Mussels” – a neat pun. Pupils on free school meals have their cards automatically updated each day.
R I Summers