Category Archives: Action on Climate Change

On your bike!

As all 5 year olds and over will have to wear a face covering on school transport from Monday 31st August, now is a good time to start considering different modes of transport rather than heading straight to the car (if you have one) and we have lots of children who already enjoy cycling and scooting to school. Watch this video for some of the benefits of more active travel, from getting fitter to helping the environment – especially in reducing air pollution round our schools.

Thank you to those of you who have supported us this week by using both gates, maintaining social distance, wearing face coverings, only sending one parent into the playground and leaving promptly once you have dropped off/picked up your children. As a staff, we will be discussing further improvements that we can make next week as we continue to try to make all our new routines run as smoothly as possible. We will also be examining guidance due out next week on how we can run our normal events, such as Parents Evenings, with an aim of having our usual ‘Save the Date’ list, or at least more information on how we will be approaching things this term, with families as soon as possible.

Hopefully the forecast is not to be believed and the weather will be better next week; I can’t believe we’ve had our first yellow weather warning of the session already! Sadly because of that some of our classes had to have an indoor break but everyone managed to rush out for some fresh air in between cloudbursts later in the day. Well done to P4 for making use of the sheltered space when the rain put paid to their outdoor learning plans in the wildlife garden!

Outdoor Learning P4

Next week our staff will start to decorate the windows of the school with busy bees to represent the hive of activity that we normally are at this time of year as we prepare to take part in the annual Colony of Artists festival. Sadly, our participation will be online this year but we look forward to 2022 when we can hopefully take part as usual. Look out for buzzing bees around the school and local community!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher 

 

A funny old week!

Well, what can we say? It started relatively normally with the fantastic experience of future playground planning with Lesley McMillan from Architecture Design Scotland as well as the third and final session of our parent literacy sessions and ended with us waving goodbye to the whole school and nursery for an unknown length of time. Naturally, rumours are flying as to how long the school closure will last but just on the off-chance that our P7s had their last day at primary school today, Mr Hamilton piped them out of the front door – just the way he would have done on the 26th June. And the good news is that if we are back by then and this is all just a memory we’ll do it all again! Head to our Twitter page @AbbeyhillPS to see the video.

Back to that positive start to the week. The Abbeyhill Ambassadors met with Lesley McMillan from Architecture Design Scotland and she talked to them about the concept of ‘Campfires in Cyberspace’ which the Ambassadors grasped enthusiastically. We showed Lesley round our favourite spaces in the playground and then went back inside to begin to plan what we would like in our playground.

Quiet, reflective spaces featured heavily, as did areas where nature and wildlife could flourish. All this will be taken into account by the Parent Council as they plan our Outdoor Classroom and Community Garden but in the meantime, the Abbeyhill Chicken Coop has been commissioned and will hopefully be ready to be filled by the time we return to school. I’m sure there will be a lot of good natured argy-bargying as to who gets to feed and look after our new arrivals!

Sadly, a lot of our other activities were cancelled; P3 missed their trip to the Botanics and on the instruction of the Council, our Parents’ Evenings had to be cancelled along with every other school who had them scheduled this week. We got the very sad news that the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, which every child had ticket for in May, was cancelled. The Swimming Gala, highlight of the Spring term sporting calendar and due to take place on 1st April, was also cancelled. However, one thing that had to be delivered differently rather than being cancelled was assembly. Instead of being together in the hall, we went outside to play and got all of the toys out of the shed as well as our Loose Parts Play on the pitch. It was declared ‘the best assembly’ ever and left me thinking ‘Why don’t we do this every week?!’. More fresh air, more physical exercise and more time to build on relationships with staff and friends all equals improved physical, mental and emotional health. Watch this space for more outdoor assemblies when we return!

On Tuesday we were told that certain staff should make arrangements to work from home immediately and on Wednesday the news came that was not unexpected but at the same time came as a shock when it became reality. There is no doubt that schools being closed, as well as a lot of the other places we all enjoy going, will be challenging for all of us. It’s not good for anyone to have the routine and structure of the day removed, and to have far less social interaction than normal. However, if there is anything positive to be taken from this situation so far, it’s that kindness seems to be on the increase. Emissions are down! People are becoming more appreciative of the smaller things. Hopefully these are things that we can hold on to when we return to normality, which we will. This too shall pass.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher 

We’ll be doing plenty in 2020!

Welcome back to our Abbeyhill school community after what was hopefully an enjoyable holiday. The days are still dark but we’re drawing closer to spring and there are lots of exciting things to come this term. For instance, tickets are now on sale for the Parent Council Burns’ Supper later this month so please contact either the Parent Council or the main school office for more details of how to secure yours. This event has become very popular and involves delicious food that has been prepared in our Cooking Classroom, ceilidh dancing, an address to the haggis and the all-important Scottish poetry recitals! Poems are being selected this week before rehearsals begin in earnest next week and it’s possible that there may be some friendly rivalry between the classes as to who can remember all their words…watch this space! Vast swathes of tartan, kindly donated by Kinloch Anderson, have appeared in P2 which have been transformed into cutlery holders whilst P1 will be perfecting their recipe for home-made shortbread.

 

Next week, P7 will have a visit from Lifelong Learning Development Officer Alan Stewart, who will help them to complete a ‘Youth Talk’ along with 200 other children from the ’10 Villages’ area of Edinburgh. Alan will talk to them about the Neighbourhood Environment Programme and help them to communicate their own ideas for environmental improvements in their area. This is a hot topic in Abbeyhill, as indeed it is everywhere, so I’m confident that P7 will have plenty to say!

P6 will be heavily engaged with ‘Burns and Beyond’ with Miss Stamati as part of a wider Culture United project. They will visit Flora Stevenson’s Primary and the Assembly Rooms next week for dance rehearsals with the other 3 schools taking part before enjoying a Scottish Dance workshop on Friday where they will create a song and musical accompaniment with the main aim of building confidence, encouraging participation and having fun! They’re all looking forward to the ‘Bairns Burns’ Supper’ later in the month before welcoming international project delegates to Abbeyhill to talk through their experiences of learning about Scottish culture through such an exciting series of events.

I will be attending the annual schools launch of the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (formerly known as Imaginate) to get a sneak preview of the festival programme and the opportunity to hear from the Festival Director. This festival gives us an opportunity for our children to access live theatre in various venues close to Abbeyhill and the performances are always of the highest quality. Check back next week to find out which shows we’re tipping to be the best this year!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

What a great week! (Oh no it wasn’t, OH YES IT WAS!)

Panto time!

It’s a little early for pantomime but we never let convention put us off at Abbeyhill and so we were delighted to welcome M&M Theatrical Productions into school on Wednesday who gave us two fantastic performances of ‘Dick Whittington’. Everyone from Nursery to P7 absolutely loved it and it was hard to keep everyone calm for the rest of the day! While we recognise and embrace the benefits of going to the theatre, this was an easy and cost-effective way for everyone to enjoy this experience together. Living in this wonderful city provides opportunities through festivals and our Artists-in-Residence programme throughout the year to experience live performances in more formal settings.

Panto 1Panto 3Panto 2

Winter Windows

It’s congratulations to Michael in P7 who was one of only a handful of winners of the City of Edinburgh Council ‘Winter Windows’ competition! Michael’s design on the theme ‘Festive Welcome’ will be made into a stained glass window style light box and will be displayed in West Parliament Square over the festive period. Please have a wander up the Royal Mile to see it, as well as all the other fantastic designs by other children across the city. As Michael is the first Abbeyhill student (in our memory) to win, P7 will go to visit the window and have a hot chocolate to celebrate his achievement. Well done Michael!

Parent Council

Thank you to everyone who attended Parent Council on Wednesday; we had a bumper session combining the AGM and a regular meeting. Congratulations to the post holders who were (re)elected and thank you to the wider Parent Council and school community for supporting all of their efforts. Most recently, Parent Council organised and run yet another set of brilliant Halloween parties. As usual, the children threw themselves enthusiastically into the spirit of the event and some wild and wonderful costumes were on show!

Switch Off Fortnight 

Switch Off Fortnight starts on 18th November and we’re embracing the key theme of ‘Goodbye, standby’. The Abbeyhill Ambassadors will be carrying out an audit of all the electronic items in their classrooms over the next week, mainly looking for items that are left on standby or left on without being in use. We’ll be bringing everyone’s attention to it from the 18th so expect vigilance in your home around TVs on standby, lights left on and phone chargers left in the wall. Sorry in advance! Of course, the 18th November also marks the start of Book Week Scotland and teachers will be communicating our plans for that once we have put our finishing touches to them on Monday (there might be another photo competition coming up….cameras at the ready!)

Next week

Monday is Remembrance Day and as always at Abbeyhill, we will be marking the occasion with a 2 minute silence at 11am and a special assembly led by Russell McLarty and P6. Everyone is always very good at understanding the solemnity of the day and I expect this year to be no different.

Also on Monday, I will be visiting Ratho Primary as part of my Leading Learning Partnership group where the participating Head Teachers will be sharing good practice and supporting each other with tips and advice. I’ll then be at a Head Teacher’s Conference all day on Tuesday before supporting the authority with an audit on enrolment and capacity planning on Thursday. Hopefully I’ll have time to speak to staff and children in between times!

On Friday Miss Macdonald and the Abbeyhill Ambassadors will be running the Toy and Book Sale for Children in Need; thank you for all the donations that have been sent in so far. I think I’ll get quite a bit of Christmas shopping done! If your child is having a clear-out in preparation for this, please check what they are donating before it leaves the house in case they have got carried away and have something of sentimental value or that you otherwise want to keep in their bag.

Thank you and have a lovely weekend.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

 

(Summer Garden) PARTY TIME!

It’s finally here! Tomorrow it’s our Summer Garden Party and after the success of last year’s event, we expect it to be very busy! Thank you so much to the Parent Council who have organised the whole thing which is a huge amount of work. We hope to see lots of you from 12 – 3pm in the playground! Hopefully the weather will be on our side and at least stay dry so we can have more luck than we did on Tuesday. We were very sad to postpone Sports Day and it was especially frustrating that the sun was out by the time the time we should have started rolled round but we had to make a decision at the time based on the information we had and the recommendations of the Ranger Service. However, Sports Day will go ahead next week come rain or shine (unless it’s REALLY rainy) so please get your suncream and your waterproofs and everything in between ready for Tuesday!

Something that wasn’t weather dependent this week was our visit from Catherine Gemmel from the Marine Conservation Society who spoke to us about leatherback turtles. Catherine told us lots of facts about the turtles and taught us how to spot one in the wild. Did you know that the change in climate can affect whether or not male or female turtles are produced? Warmer temperatures produce female turtles, while colder temperatures produce males.

Catherine Gemmell

Catherine told us about the dangers leatherback turtles face as a result of plastic pollution and we were shown some sad photographs of some turtles who had mistaken plastic bags for jellyfish. We’re proud that we already do a lot in our school to help reduce the amount of single use plastic reaching landfills and our oceans. The smallest change can make a big difference for our marine life.

P6 and P7 teams also attended the Interscholastics event at George Watson’s College on Monday and did a fantastic job of representing the school. We didn’t make it into any of the finals but everyone had a great time and plenty of fresh air so it was still classed as a successful morning! Thank you to Mr Martin and Mr Hamilton for taking the teams.

Check back next week to read about how the Summer Garden Party and the re-scheduled Sports Day went, as well as an update on P5s John Muir Award, the Pupil Council litter pick (foiled by heavy rain again yesterday, 3rd time lucky), a trip to Gorgie Farm for a lucky few and my first time out on Forest Adventures with Nursery!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher