HMIe Inspection of Musselburgh Grammar School 5th December 2005
All pupils have been issued with a letter or parental questionnaire from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of education. The school is to be inspected in the week beginning 5th December 2005, with four departmental inspections of English, Mathematics, Computing and Music, though the inspectors will also be in the school the previous week.
25% of parents receive a questionnaire and I would urge all parents who receive a questionnaire to complete it and return it.
We feel that we are an improving school. There are many positive features of the school, many of which I have spoken about in my newsletters, and which have been shared with the local community. The inspection gives us a chance to share those positive features with a wider audience through the inspection process and in the inspection report. The school will be graded using the new 6-point scale for inspections.
School Board Elections
East Lothian Council has notified us of our new School Board members who were elected unopposed. My thanks to Mr Shaffer, Mrs Loggie, Mrs Dalglish and Mrs Simpson for their decision to stand and I look forward to working with them. Mr Knox continues as Chair of the School Board. Mrs Mackie stands down as a Staff Member to be replaced by Mrs Park, our PT Partnership with Pupils and Parents.
Parental Consultation Bill
The Scottish Executive has distributed a small number of parental leaflets outlining the details of the new Bill which can be collected from the school office. Comments on the draft bill can be made via the Parentzone website with a closing date of 18th November. No dates have yet been released of the various stages of the parliamentary process for the Bill.
S1 Cognitive Ability Tests
The results of the tests have now been returned to the school. Individual parental letters will follow very shortly, showing a pupil’s overall score plus details of their performance in each of the three tests. These scores should be regarded as broad indicators of a pupil’s ability.
S1 Tree of Knowledge
As in previous years, we received very positive feedback from the Tree of Knowledge representative about the response of our S1 pupils to the various activities. Mrs Mackie also arranged an S1 Tree of Knowledge Parents’ Evening on Tuesday 25th October which was attended by 50 parents.
European Award in Languages
Claire McBride (S5) and Jamie Ward (S6) have returned from Graz in Austria as the school’s representatives along with Mr McIntosh and Miss Leroux. Their week-long trip involved them in meeting representatives from all over Europe and was a super experience for them. Mr McIntosh has made a DVD of their joint presentation to 200 adults and there will be an opportunity to share their experience further via podcasts on the website.
School trip to Berlin October 2005
Mrs Bovill took a group of pupils and other staff to Berlin on Thursday 13th October for a week as the final part of their citizenship project, having visited Auschwitz last year. The group visited Checkpoint Charlie and met a former political prisoner who had been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for assisting citizens from the East to escape to the west; visited the memorial to German Resistance, and sat at the actual table where there was a bomb plot on Adolf Hitler’s life. Other cultural activities and visits – including a visit to Sony’s European headquarters - also took place. A collection of photographs from the visit is on view in the English corridor.
The book “Reflections from Auschwitz”, a collection of essays written by the pupils last year, is about to be printed. It is a very mature and moving set of essays.
I am very pleased to report on the improved attendance for the school from our return in August until the October holiday: there was a 3% rise on the same period last month – from 89% to 92%. It is very clear to us that the combined efforts of the Guidance staff, the Integration Team and the electronic absence call system are having an effect in bringing us up to the national average. 3% is a significant improvement – but it is important that this figure is sustained through the rest of the year.
One major factor in the rate of absence is the number of families taking holidays during term time and I seek parental co-operation in keeping pupils at school unless it is unavoidably due to your employer’s holiday requirements. No matter what age, your child’s education suffers by absence from school.
Determined to Succeed - Enterprise Showcase
East Lothian has organised an Enterprise Showcase in the Brunton Hall in Musselburgh from 10.15 to 12.45 on Tuesday 22nd November. We will be represented at this event, which is designed to illustrate by exhibitions, workshops and awards how the enterprise aspect of education is being developed across the authority. All parents are welcome to attend free of charge.
Three members of staff have recently been successful at interviews for promoted posts. Miss McAvoy of the PE Department is our new PT Health Education. We are also losing Mr Whyte in Computing, who will become PT Information Technolody at Beeslack High School in December, and Mrs Georgeson who will become PT Modern Studies at Boroughmuir High School also in December.
Mrs Thomson of Home Economics leaves us at the end of this month for a similar post at Ross High School. Mrs Jackson and Miss Cakal continue with us in English and Modern Languages respectively.
Mrs Craigie has gone on maternity leave and Miss Hyslop will be in charge of the English Department, assisted by Miss Moore.
October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Mrs Lyall of the Mathematicss Department was instrumental in galvanizing the school into “wearing it pink” on Friday 28th October after a series of house assemblies. Pupils and staff wore pink on the day – but pride of place has to go to Kyle Lancashire of S6 who offered to dye his hair pink if people would sponsor him and raised over £300. We raised over £1200 for the Breast Cancer charity – many thanks to all contributors and to Mrs Lyall for her hard work assisted by others.
Parents may wish to know that the new cafeteria system continues to be innovative in encouraging pupils to eat healthily with the opening of the Deli Bar last week which is proving to be popular with pupils. It offers a range of healthy fillings and milkshakes.
Joyce Marlow of Elite Catering recently spoke to the School Board about the aims of Hungry for Success and the effect of cashless catering in East Lothian schools.
For the last few years, the school has sought to support our S5 pupils taking 3 or more Highers, recognising that the jump from Standard Grade to Higher Grade is a large one, and that pupils often struggle to cope with the pace of learning and the quantity and quality of work demanded.
I am pleased to stay that 30 staff have offered to mentor our 65 pupils in this position this year. Mentoring involves meeting the pupils on a regular basis throughout the year and discussing their progress and offering suggestions and strategies on how to cope with the pressures of the year.
I briefed the pupils concerned on Friday last week and I am grateful to 8 S6 pupils who spoke with the S5 pupils in groups, talking about their own experiences of S5 last year. Their advice can be summed up quite readily as “Listen to your teachers, work hard and try not to make the same mistakes as I did!” Mentoring should be starting by the end of this coming week.
My thanks to the staff concerned who have volunteered to give up their own time to do this.
History Home Front Project
On Tuesday 1st November, a group of WW2 veterans met our S4 pupils in the Training Room to talk about their wartime experiences – an appropriate time with the approach of Armistice Day on 11th November. The pupils were intrigued by the variety of photographs and other memorabilia they displayed. Perhaps the most interesting item was the actual watch belonging to Heinrich Himmler, Head of the SS. How it came to be in the Honest Toun is a long story……
The disco on Thursday 27th October was attended by 280 pupils and 20 staff. My thanks to the S6 pupils who made a big effort to come in fancy dress and gave us so much help on the evening.
Visitors to the school will note that the car park has recently been whitelined for parking spaces and that there is a one way system in operation – enter by the bottom gate and exit by the top gate.