It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

A certain time of year is upon us and excitement is building in school! Festive music can regularly be heard, P1-3 are busy preparing for the Nativity next week, Christmas trees are popping up all over the place and there is a general air of merrirment (even more so than usual!) around Abbeyhill!

This week, the Nursery were the first to go on a festive trip and enjoyed a performance of ‘You Choose’ at the Spiegeltent in Festival Square. Thank you to all the families who volunteered to help and make this such a memorable day out. There were a lot of tired but happy faces in the Nursery yesterday, but that was just the staff!

Our Parent Council have coordinated a beautiful 2019 calendar which is sponsored by local businesses and features artwork from every class. At just £6, this would make the perfect stocking filler and all proceeds go towards supporting the school by enabling the Parent Council to help us improve our playground. You can order your calendar directly from the Parent Council who will be taking orders in the playground every day next week, at the school office or online by clicking here. All orders will be filled before we break up on the 21st December.

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P7 spent the day at Drummond on Wednesday at a volleyball festval organised by Active Schools. This was a great addition to the preparations to move onto high school and another good opportunity to mix with P7s from our other cluster primaries, many of whom will be going to Drummond too next year.

Yesterday, P1-3 families were invited to another ‘Sharing Our Learning’ event and it was lovely that so many were able to juggle other commitments to come along. There was lots going on in each class for families to get involved with and our Food Champions also ran sneak peak tours of our brand new Cooking Classroom; the teachers are testing it out next week to make sure that we have all the equipment that we need and if all goes well, there will be some treats to sell at the Nativity!

Finally, if you saw this blog last week or follow us on Twitter, you’ll know that we’ve already made a difference with our request to have large cartons of milk, as we all buy at the supermarket, instead of small individual ones. This morning, our Pupil Council reviewed the engagement with our tweet about it and we are now in touch with Changeworks to see what we can do next. We’re hoping that they will support us to form a partnershop with another nearby school who are campaigning for re-useable bottles…watch this space!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Drowning in plastic!

Drowning in plastic

(Yes, we did have lots of fun creating this photo!)

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we were inspired as a school to start challenging the amount of plastic straws that we were getting through on a daily basis following our ‘Make a Difference’ assembly topic back in September. You may remember that it all started when P4 brought a small pot of straws to our sharing assembly and told everyone that the way that they had decided to make a difference  was for the 6 children who took milk each day to pour it out into a cup, rather than use the cartons and straws. They then collected the straws in the pot (below). Those 6 straws per day added up surprisingly quickly and we were all shocked by how many they had collected in such a small space of time, from so few children.

milk straws

This is what 6 straws per day over just a few weeks looks like

We did some calculations and worked out that we could save arund 1,600 straws by the end of October (5 weeks) if we all followed P4’s example. So, each child who took milk was provided with a cup, cup washeruppers* were duly appointed in each class and we all began the challenge enthusiasically. By the end of the 5 weeks, we had in fact collected 2,312 straws (as we had forgotten to factor lunchtime milk into the original calculation) and we vowed not to go back to our old ways. It took a few weeks after that but I am delighted to announce that Abbeyhill is MAKING A DIFFERENCE to the environment as we have now got an agreement with the dairy who supply our milk (Muller) that they will give us large 6 pint jugs of milk, exactly as you would buy at the supermarket, instead of the little cartons. In the time it took to make that arrangement, the straws kept piling up and we had over 4,000 which helped us create our ‘Drowning in Plastic’ photo at the top of the page. Don’t worry, they are certainly not going to landfill as one of our artists-in-residence has grand plans for them. Come and see them as part of the Colony of Artists festival in September 2019!

We only have 70 children across the school who take milk every day and look how much plastic we’re stopping getting to landfill.  If you’re an Edinburgh school being supplied by Muller, why don’t you take up the Abbeyhill challenge and see if you can make a difference too?

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

*Mrs Ketchin’s made up word of the day

Imagination is the key

What a treat we’ve had today! We all went to the nearby Meadowbank Parish Church for a special concert with Fischy Music and heard the debut performance of ‘Imagination’ which P4 wrote from scratch and recorded with Margaret and Christy from Fischy. P4 (or ‘Baby Alien’ which is their official band name) gave a fantastic performance and managed not to be distracted by the fact that they were being beamed up onto big screens for everyone to see. We all had a brilliant time, dancing and singing along – including the staff and parents who managed to join us!

Of course, some of us had our Pudsey ears on as it is BBC Children in Need today. Mrs Brotherston and Mrs Pender got into the spirit of it as always and have had a bit of extra attention from the traffic as they have carried out their lollipop duties! Thanks also to Miss Macdonald, Mrs Lyall and Mrs Macdougall for organising our Children in Need toy sale yesterday; we raised £135 and all leftover toys will go to a local charity as suggested by Luca as part of our ‘Make a Difference’ assembly block.

Yesterday, I was delighted to welcome a small group of parents for our first ‘Parents Lunch’. It was lovely to have a sociable lunch together whilst giving them a chance to experience what their children do each today, including lining up and being reminded what they had ordered! They gave good feedback on the food and the experience and next time I plan to run it at the same time as the school lunchtime to give families a rare opportuntity to enjoy a weekday lunch together!

On Wednesday, we had our Parent Council Annual General Meeting (AGM) and there will be an opportunity to vote for new post holders at the next meeting in January. Thank you to Vlad who has stepped down after doing a sterling job as treasurer for several years, as well as to all the parents who have joined us and are doing such an amazing job of supporting the school.

Also on Wednesday, I spent the day at a National Improvement Framework conference for all Edinburgh Head Teachers where the new ‘Edinburgh Learns’ policy was launched and discussed at length. Edinburgh Learns encourages a renewed focus on learning and teaching which is the core business of all schools. Although we all felt the pressure that being out of school for the day brings (not least in the mounting pile of unanswered emails!), we all agreed that it was a valuable professional experience. As a staff, we shall explore Edinburgh Learns over the coming weeks and months.

Next week I am going to Buckstone Primary for a reciprocal visit following my hosting a group other Head Teachers a few weeks ago and I’m looking forward to seeing further good practice and having follow up professional dialogue. Back in school, it’s Book Week Scotland and Mr Martin will be launching an exciting week of activities in assembly on Monday. Check back next week to see what we get up to!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

P1 Registration Week

We’ve had lots of parents registering their child for our 2019 P1 class this week as this is P1 Registration Week. Please make sure your child is registered to start school in August 2019 if they are due to turn 5 before the end of February 2020. As long as you register in time, you are guaranteed a place at your catchment school, whether that is Abbeyhill or somewhere else. At the point of registration, you can also choose to apply for an out of catchment school place if you wish to do so.

This week has also seen the launch of our brand new storytelling clubs and they’ve got off to a great start! ‘Chit Chat Clubs’ run on Mondays and Thursdays with Russell McLarty and Marie-Louise Cochrane, aka Mrs Mash the storytelling cook. I spent some time in the P1-3 session on Monday and they were making apple pancakes to go with their story. No wonder the club is proving popular! I look forward to seeing Chit Chat Club develop and culminate in a ‘story slam’ at the Colony of Artists festival next year.

Gary from The Mindful Enterprise spent time giving P5,6,7 mindfulness refresher sessions and began training P4 in the art of Mindfulness. This is the third year that we have worked with The Mindful Enterprise and children are now routinely using the techniques to help them in all types of situations; to calm nerves before a competition or test, to help them sleep and even to avoid conflict with their peers. This is a valued part of our curriculum and it is good to see another year group benefit from it.

On Monday, we announced the number of straws that we have collected over a 5 week period and it came to a staggering 2,312. We were all shocked as we hadn’t expected it to be this high a number but I had forgotten to factor lunchtime milk into my calculations back in September! We’re busy deciding what to do next but expect to see some publicity around this in the next week or so. Needless to say, now that we are in the habit of collecting our straws and using cups each day instead (which we wash up), we aren’t going to revert to our old ways.

Next week we have our Parent Council AGM, a Fischy Music concert (and the song that P4 wrote will get its premiere!), Children in Need toy sale, Parent Lunch and P4 will be cooking with Chef Stuart from Aizle – check back in and find out how it all goes!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Halloween-tastic

Last week went extremely quickly as we had so much going on at Abbeyhill. A packed week culminated in the Halloween parties that were organised and put on by our Parent Council; thank you to them for all their hard work and the fantastic decorations. Never have so many toilet rolls been put to such great use…!

On Monday, a group of Head Teachers visited me as part of our Leading Learning Partnership programme and we toured the school with a focus on ‘How Good Is Our School?’ quality indicator 3.2 (with a theme of attainment and equity). You can download a copy of the HGIOS document here . My colleagues commented favourably on how engaged each pupil was in their learning and the fact that they all knew what they were working towards. I look forward to my reciprocal visit to Buckstone Primary School later in the month.

On Wednesday, our doors were open as part of the city-wide catchment schools Open Day which gives parents of children who will be going into P1 in August 2019 to come and see our school and ask any questions. Thank you to our House and Vice House Captains who did a super job of giving tours, even though the temptation to show off every room, down to the last storage cupboard, proved too much for some!

On Wednesday and Thursday, Margaret and Christy from Fischy Music came in to work with our P4 class as part of the Year of Young People 2018. Our P4s wrote and recorded a song with Margaret and Christy and it was a fascinating process to watch. I sat in with the class for an hour and had the privilege of pitching a few of my ideas in too! The song will be formally launched at a concert with the rest of the school later this month.

On Thursday, P6 and P7 spent the day at Drummond High School and took part in a STEM event (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Engaging with Drummond is part of transition process for P6 and P7 as they approach high school age and allays some nerves for the P7s who have realised just how close they are to leaving primary school!

On Friday, the Pupil Council counted all the straws that we’ve collected so far and the result will be announced on Monday at assembly so please keep an eye on Twitter for the final total. All I will say for now is that we had underestimated how many there would be and the result shocked us all…