Author Archives: S Ketchin

Keep your (social) distance please!

This morning guidance was sent to all families from the NHS about maintaining social distance at the school gates, speaking to your child about how they can keep themselves and others safe and what to do in the event of tests being required, including after travel. You can read the letter in full here: Parents and carers letter Aug 2020.

School & Nursery will now require proof of a negative test result for any children who have been tested before they are able to come back and from tomorrow (25th August) we request that only one adult accompanies a child/children to school. If your child is able to walk part of the way independently please encourage them to do so as this will further reduce congestion at our gates.

If any member of your household is tested for Covid-19, your whole household must self-isolate until results of the test are received. 

If you need to arrange a test, please visit NHS Inform or call them on 0800 028 2816.

Thank you,

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Thank you Abbeyhill!

I have emailed parents today to thank them for their support, patience and understanding over the last few weeks as we have turned best laid plans to reality, tweaking and making improvements as we go along.  The Abbeyhill community is fantastic at supporting each other and I’m grateful to be a part of it!

I’ve enjoyed seeing most of the children over the course of the week through supervising gates in the morning and afternoon, helping to staff our staggered lunches (even in the pouring rain!) and taking P4 for a morning as it was their turn to miss PE with Mrs Souness this week. The resilience of all our children is incredible and it’s heart warming to see their genuine delight to be back at school with their friends, whilst acknowledging some of the benefits of lockdown. I’ve heard about lots of new hobbies and interests that were discovered over the last few months and I enjoyed working with the P4s as they prepared presentations on their ‘new-normal’ resolutions.

Whilst there are lots of things that are different that I wish we could change, such as not being able to have parents in the playground, assembly and playing together, there are some new routines and arrangements that I hope we can keep! Not having bells ringing makes for a much calmer environment and having meetings and attending courses online feels much more efficient than having to travel somewhere. It’s positive for us to all view this time as a good opportunity for positive change and to have a clear out of old routines because when else would we have had the chance to have a clean sweep?!

As swimming pools are due to re-open soon and the Scottish Government have said that day trips may be possible from the Autumn, we wait to hear for confirmation of another few elements of our school day that might return to something resembling normality. In the meantime, we’ll carry on as we are and try to reap the benefits of a slightly slower pace of school life!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

(The New) Normal Service Has Been Resumed!

….and we’re all very glad about it! The rain is lashing down as I write this and it feels that the ‘summer’ holidays are a distant memory already! Nevertheless, it’s been fantastic to welcome all of our staff and families back to school over the last few days and we’re all excited to start our first full week back together. Some of our families are observing a quarantine period after arriving home from abroad and we thank them for this. We’ve seen from Aberdeen and other places in England just how fragile our newly restored freedoms are and we all have to play our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe and healthy as we journey back towards a ‘normal’ life. Our Frequently Asked Questions have been updated several times already and set out clear information on what to do in the case of suspected symptoms appearing as well as what course of action we will take in school. This is designed to reassure and not to alarm anyone.

As well as welcoming everyone back, we’re also thinking of those who have moved on who didn’t get the send off that they were expecting, although we did our best to make things special given the circumstances! Good luck to Ms Stamati who starts a new teaching job in Greece next week, Ms El Sarrag who has retired from Abbeyhill, Ms Howson who secured a permanent post at Rowanfield school and all our P7s and leavers from other year groups who have started S1 or moved away from the area for new adventures. We will miss you! Goodbyes were counter-balanced with plenty of ‘Hellos’ though as we welcomed our new P1s and new pupils in other classes across the school – it’s lovely to bring you into the Abbeyhill community. Our new Nursery pupils will begin to settle in next week and we’re so excited to meet them too!

We were all pleased, and relieved, at how smoothly things went in general last week. There were a few hiccups as is to be expected when we changed (or abandoned) longstanding routines and there were last minute crises to keep us on our toes – such as essential paperwork for poor Mr McNeil not arriving in time for him to start with his class – but by and large we’ve resolved everything and the whole Abbeyhill community is pulling together brilliantly as always as we move forward. Mr McNeil is enjoying his first day in P3 today – phew!

Normally at this time of year we are sending out ‘Save the Date’ lists for all our key events from Meet the Teacher to our festive celebrations. I’m sure you will bear with us this term as changing guidance means that we can’t be certain what we’ll be able to offer and when although you can rest assured that we will find alternative ways to deliver events such as Parents’ Evening and the Nativity. I had a chat with Iliyana Nedkova, our Curator in Residence and P7 parents, about what Abbeyhill’s involvement in this year’s Colony of Artists Festival (19th & 20th September) might look like so watch this space for news on some exciting online exhibitions. Our whole school Art project ‘Bee Kind’, in line with our key values as well as the theme of the festival, should fit in beautifully and P4 have already made a strong start!

Bee Kind P4

Have a good week and as always, keep an eye on Scottish Government updates, the City of Edinburgh Council‘s website and social media accounts as well as NHS Inform for all the up to date information. You can keep in touch with us by phone or email, as well as our website and Twitter account. 

Best wishes,

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

New beginnings

We are all so excited that it’s very nearly time to welcome everyone back to Abbeyhill! By now, parents should have received information about their child’s return to Nursery and/or school. Please email the admin@abbeyhill.edin.sch.uk if you have not.

On Monday and Tuesday next week staff will be busy discussing and familiarising themselves with the new procedures for keeping everyone healthy and safe, as well as enjoying catching up with each other, putting the finishing touches to their classrooms and workspaces and planning for the weeks ahead. We’ll be discussing how to support each other and the whole school community as we prepare to return from nearly 5 months away.

There will be lots of different feelings for everyone right now. Some people may be feeling anxious and worried about the return to school, others might be excited and raring to go! Over the coming weeks we’ll explore those feelings, all of which are completely valid, and we’ll support each other as we take a few steps forward together. Personally, I am looking forward to getting back into a normal routine, seeing different faces each day (much as I love my family!) and the challenges that come with a change to the way we work. But there are also things I’ll miss such as a slightly slower pace of life, time at home with my family and having time to go for a walk in the middle of the working day.

Whatever your experiences over the last 5 months, we are all here to support you at Abbeyhill and I very much look forward to seeing our returning school community next week.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Dancing bears and a Burns flashback!

The sun was shining this week as we handed out our final teaching packs of the term, and school session. It was lovely to see so many families, socially distanced of course, and it will be even better when we can have children back in the building in August. It seems very quiet when we are in there at the moment. Preparations are well underway for having everyone back with the number one priority being Health and Safety. Details will come out on Wednesday next week so that everyone knows which days their child will be attending as we begin to move back towards something resembling normality.

If you follow @CreateLearnEdin you may have seen the official Burns and Beyond videos which were posted this week. As you may remember, Ms Stamati and P6 worked incredibly hard and had a lot of fun as part of this project and it was lovely to watch the videos, see some familiar faces and hear some of our P6s speak so articulately about what they had enjoyed about the project. You can watch the short version of the video here or if you have a little longer (most of us do at the moment!) then the longer version is here. Well done to everyone who was involved (credit also to @burnsandbeyond and @UniqueEventsltd).

Someone else who has been busy creating fantastic experiences and sharing them on social media is our dance teacher in residence, Eleanor Robertson. Read all about how she has supported and encouraged Nursery children to take part in the Bear Hunt transition project in one of the latest blog posts on the Abbeyhill School Artists website and watch her brilliant dance video here. Mr Martin and the Nursery team have also been working really hard to engage the Nursery children who are moving up to P1 in August and everyone is joining in and sharing their experiences on Twitter which is fantastic to see. I made sure I left my label on when I was in school on Thursday…have you left yours yet?

Our Staff Superstar this week is the brilliant Mrs Pender who has developed new skills over the last few months, not just by finally getting onto WhatsApp but by working out how to use Teams and managing to join every P1 story session (sometimes sideways, occasionally upside down) which the children love. She’s also supported one of our Hubs and has taken a lot of time and made a huge effort to make the experience memorable and successful for the young person she’s supporting. Well done and thank you Mrs Pender! Checking out what everyone has been doing on Teams, Elis has done some very neat colouring by number, Otis, Duncan, Sara and Marlena had done some brilliant wok on the layers of ocean, John did some very funny nonsense poetry, Erin submitted some great work on collective nouns, Alma is a banana tree (really Alma?!), Zuzanna managed some Maths that would have had me reaching for the calculator and Luca in P7 did an amazing drawing as part of the P7 Moving On Up project which has taken place this week to replace the 3 day high school visit that they should have been. Well done and thank you to Mr Forde also for working tirelessly to encourage and support the P7s as they navigate this time which should have been packed with all our usual transition activities in school. Consider yourself a runner up Superstar winner Mr Forde! However, our Junior Superstars have to be the P6s who represented Abbeyhill so well in that Culture United ‘Burns and Beyond’ video so well done to Mat, Jasmine, Amelia, Cadha, Liam and Maya!!

This time next week the holidays will be upon us but there will be one more blog from me before we bid goodbye to the 2019-20 school session. It’s ended in a way none of us expected at the start but I very much hope that this time next year normality has been fully resumed and lockdown is all just a distant memory!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher