The countdown is on!

Everything suddenly seems a little more sparkly at Abbeyhill! The lights are up, festive music is playing, Jack has his Santa hat on, Nativity rehearsals are at fever pitch, Mr Woodhouse and P7 are sawing something….what?! It turned out to be a sustainable Christmas tree made out of reclaimed wood – phew.* Mr McNeil and P5 were also working hard turning single use cups into something that could be enjoyed for a little longer and their homemade decorations will be adorning the P5 tree once they’re dry. There’s still lots of hard work going on as well, P4 have been working on probability this week and P5 created a function machine challenge!

*Yes, there was a risk assessment in place!

Head Teacher Recruitment

I’m pleased to say that the recruitment process for our new Head Teacher is moving forward with final interviews being held on the 14th December. As the notice period of the successful candidate could be up to 12 weeks, I have agreed to stay at Abbeyhill until the new Head Teacher is able to start. I’m absolutely delighted to be able to relax and enjoy Christmas at Abbeyhill now without worrying about packing my office up! Thank you once again to the parents who are supporting the recruitment process.

Coming up…Christmas!

Next week we will be celebrating Christmas Jumper Day in aid of Save the Children and, inspired by South Morningside Primary, we are having a ‘Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle Christmas Jumper Day Boutique’ where any Christmas jumpers from years gone by which don’t fit anyone in the family any more have been donated and will be gifted to smaller children who will be able to get some more wear out of them. Younger siblings are being encouraged to wear an older one’s jumper that might now just fit them, or just to wear it big and silly and borrow a grown up’s! We can’t wait to see what everyone wears and no doubt there will be an extra special Christmas Disco Daily Mile where we can all show off our Christmas Jumpers. A donation will be made by the school to Save the Children so there is no cost to Abbeyhill pupils for this event and we hope the focus on sustainability will encourage everyone to think twice about the true cost of ‘fast fashion’.

Christmas parties will also be starting up and, as we can’t have them in the large groups we used to, there will be a party almost every day from Tuesday right through to the end of term! Extra coffee will be required by the staff I think!

Thank you to everyone, staff, pupils and parents who have been so understanding while we have worked extra hard this week due to staff absence. We wish all our absent staff well and look forward to welcoming some of them back next week. Special congratulations to Ms Gordon who becomes Mrs Gordon tomorrow and will be back on Tuesday to show off her wedding photos!

Best wishes,

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Big Books lead to Big Ideas!

Today marks the end of Book Week Scotland (not to mention Children in Need and Road Safety Week) and the Breakfast Club were hard at work early this morning setting out all the books for our Big Book Giveaway which was looking very exciting by the time they had finished! Thank you to Mr A Hamilton for organising this (as well as the Big Book Scavenger hunt in the playground yesterday) and to everyone who donated books. Everyone who has visited so far this morning has been very excited to choose books and quickly become engrossed in them!

The Parent Council Fundraising calendar for 2022 went on sale today and it’s absolutely fantastic! Just when we think they can’t possibly get any better, they do! Staff, children, Parent Council and the Colony of Artists all have a month and the cover has been done by Mr Pratt, (O and L’s dad!), turning Mr Woodhouse into an overnight celebrity. He’s already been accused of diva-like behaviour this morning and it will only get worse as more copies are sold! You can order your copy through the Parent Council website for £6 – it’s the perfect stocking filler!

On BBC News this morning, I heard that in England, it will become legally binding from next year that schools must allow families to buy uniform from high street retailers and that second hand options must also be available. It amazed me that this has to be made into a legal obligation as this must mean that a significant amount of schools don’t have this approach already (although plenty do). In Edinburgh, and in Scotland as a whole, we have a much more progressive view and at Abbeyhill we have never insisted on branded uniform, with local high street retailers being named on our uniform policy as cheaper alternatives for as long as I have been at Abbeyhill. Thank you to the Parent Council who have been running regular second-hand uniform sales for several years now; this not only makes uniform more affordable but more environmentally sustainable. Thank you to all the families who donate school clothes that their kids have grown out of, as well as outdoor and winter wear.

I’m a big fan of second hand shopping and buy a lot of my own children’s clothes from Kidclo as well as eBay. Both of them have a ‘Pass It On’ buddy who gets anything that hasn’t been through the mill too much at Nursery and we benefit from my husband’s cousin who has 4 children of both genders – a nice bag of clothes comes our way quite regularly! For myself, I’ve recently discovered Thrift+ and Vinted (although I’m a bit late to the party with that one I think). It saves a fortune as well as the environment so what’s not to like?

Next week the countdown clock to the end of term will be about to start so parents should check next week’s email update for information on what we can and can’t do due to current restrictions and how we’ll be celebrating the festive season in school. I also hope to have more information on recruitment for a new Head Teacher from January.

Have a lovely weekend,

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Many hands make light work!

Thank you to Mr Hamilton, Mr Woodhouse and Ms Graham (H’s mum!) for all the incredible work they have done to transform the Library (which had suffered terribly over the last 18 months) into a wonderful inviting and inspiring space, just in time for Book Week Scotland next week.

We’ll be quarantining books ready for the Big Book Giveaway on Friday next week and copies of ‘Celebration’ will be available for all adults. ‘Celebration’ is the Scottish Book Trust’s adult giveaway and features poems, essays and short stories – all true, or based true events – which have been written by people all across Scotland reflecting on the theme of celebrations as part of the SBT’s annual ‘Your Stories’ project.

Despite the disappointing news that some planned trips won’t be able to go ahead as planned next week, P6 and P7 still managed to get out and about this week and visited the Scottish Parliament and Calton Hill. Excitement was high as Sarah Boyack took a photo with P6 and P7 witnessed a marriage proposal on Calton Hill! Sadly Mr Woodhouse didn’t catch it on camera but many congratulations from everyone at Abbeyhill to the newly engaged couple.

We are now busy working out what we can and can’t do in the run up to Christmas. Multi-class parties are still off this year but individual classes can still celebrate. We can still do the Nativity, but without an indoor audience. Thank you to Ms Gordon who has miraculously turned it into a screenplay in the last 36 hours! We’re also working on a Covid-safe version of a house event so watch this space for more details.

Oscars, here we come!

It is Road Safety Week next week so it is a good time for an update on what’s happening at the back of the school. The school and Parent Council are engaging with councillors and road safety teams about the busy road at the back of the school. Some of the dangers are created by parents parking illegally while either dropping off or collecting their children. This can create a bottleneck which means that passing drivers get frustrated and go faster than they should when they can finally get past, which of course increases the danger. Please consider parking elsewhere and walking, scooting or cycling the last part of the journey to make a healthier and safer environment. Councillors, parking attendants and community police will all be working with us on this issue in the coming weeks and months until the situation is naturally brought under control with the extension of the city centre controlled parking zone.

Best wishes,

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Remember remember…to stay safe on 5th November!

Be like P7 and stay safe with sustainable, non-fire fireworks!

It’s the 5th November so enjoy those Covid safe fireworks displays with (hopefully) plenty of hot chocolate and dazzling displays. But as always, take care and make sure that the organiser of the event knows what they are doing as not treating fireworks with care can be extremely dangerous.

Abbeyhill Ambassadors met yesterday to pull together all the information that has been gathered from classes on what matters most to us at school, which we’re using to create our own version of the School Improvement Plan (SIP). Lots of learners had given their opinions on what they like and what they’d like to change at school. The Ambassadors and I had a further conversation about this with a few final suggestions being made and then they voted on the issues that they would like to focus on. Clear themes of emotional wellbeing and our outside environment emerged which gives a clear focus for our work this year. The learner version of the SIP (catchier name to be decided at the next meeting!) will be shared with the whole school community and will also include references to the main SIP so that everyone understands what we’re working towards. Make sure you follow the Abbeyhill Ambassadors on twitter @AbbeyhillPupilC to keep up with what they’re doing throughout the year.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to the world premiere of P7’s Imaginary Cityscape film which they created with Aga Miekiewicz as part of our Polski Artist in Residence. Thank you to Robert Motyka of Wee Dog Media who put the film together in his studio. It was lovely to watch the reactions of the P7s as they recognised their own and each other’s artwork and their amazement when they saw how Robert had been able to take a still image and animate different parts of it. It led to an interesting discussion on what kind of skills and attributes artists and film makers need, as part of P7s focus on the world of work. Who knows, we could have inspired a future documentary maker or Oscar winner! The film will be shared at some point online and entered into various film competitions so, sadly, it has to remain a secret for now.

Thank you to the parents who were able to log into the Parent Council AGM on Tuesday evening. The discussion was as lively as ever with lots of ideas and achievements being showcased. Thank you so much to Ann Pratt who chaired the evening and thank you to Ann, Charlene and Ali who are stepping down as office bearers but will support anyone else who would like to take more of a lead role in Parent Council. Parent Council is an important bridge between the school and parent body and we couldn’t do what we do without them so any new members are always welcome. The next meeting is on 18th January 2022 so I have sadly attended my Abbeyhill Parent Council session but I have to thank all the members, past and present, who have supported me and the school so well over the years and will continue to do so into the future.

Next week I’ll be talking about Book Week Scotland and Road Safety Week which both start on Monday 15th November so please check back for more!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Happy Halloween!

It’s been a spook-tacular week at Abbeyhill with lots of scary decorations appearing round the school, hot chocolate, marshmallows and scary stories around the firepit and of course it was all topped off by the Halloween Disco Daily Mile this morning! Well done to everyone who dressed up – I think some of you must have been up very early with the face paints! Apologies to any of our neighbours who were treated to the theme of Ghostbusters thumping out at 9am…and thank you to the Parent Council who donated prizes for the best spooky dance and best scary face in each class!

Thank you to one of our parents, Jennifer, who is working tirelessly to refresh and tidy our library which after lockdown and building work in the school had become a bit of a sorry state. Keep up with Jennifer’s progress on Twitter @jennifertamu

Adventures in Abbeyhill Library with @jennifertamu

I was lucky enough to spend time in P2 and P4 this week and did some research on behalf of the Abbeyhill Ambassadors who will meet next week to work on their own version of the School Improvement Plan. Common consensus across the classes was they they liked learning (most curricular areas came up in this conversation which was encouraging), school dinners (pizza and veggie hotdogs are the favourites), playing outside and being with their friends. Top dislikes were anyone who is unkind and litter in the playground. Suggestions for improvements ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous (a candy floss bouncy castle is unlikely to feature in the playground any time soon) and a clear focus for both the Ambassadors and Parent Council is emerging. Watch this space and follow @AbbeyhillPupilC on Twitter to find out what happens next!

Our weekly email update went out to families today which featured safety information from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service over bonfires and fireworks, details of the Covid bus location for next week and a fantastic offer from the Collective on Calton Hill who are starting Collective Play on Friday afternoons from 5th November. Donations are welcome but there is no charge and there will be hot drinks, water and snacks provided. Sessions will be outdoor and child-led with a focus on weather systems and biodiversity. Sounds great!

Have a lovely weekend and please stay safe (and dry) if you are out trick or treating.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher