Category Archives: Artists in Residence

(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

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 

We’ve been on a (virtual) trip!

Yesterday we got the news that we’ve been waiting for and Scotland’s route map out of lockdown and back towards some sort of normality was shared by the Government. For a copy of the full publication, go to the Scottish Government website or you can download a copy from our School Closure: Useful Documents & Links page. Staff should be able to start back at school some time next month in order to prepare for pupils returning in August. At this time, we don’t know exactly what that will look like but will keep families fully informed as more information and guidance is shared with us. Lots of you will have questions and possibly concerns and today I tweeted a link to Parentclub‘s latest supportive information on what this first phase of recovery might mean for you and your family.

Earlier in the week I also tweeted a link to Iliyana Nedkova’s blog. Illie is our Curator in Residence and blogged about her determination to champion the right to art and culture for every child at Abbeyhill Primary School through our artists-in-residence programme even during global pandemic and lockdown, announcing that the Artists in Residence are joining the Cultural Learning Alliance – the collective voice working to ensure that all children and young people have meaningful access to art and culture. Read more about how this programme has been spreading the wonder of contemporary art to every pupil and teacher in and outside the classroom for the last 7 years here.

Over on Teams it’s been a busy week as usual with lots of virtual fun at Abbeyhill’s own version of the National Portrait Gallery (thank you Mrs Flowers); classes got a welcome surprise when they logged in to find that they were ‘going on a trip’! Lots of hilarity ensued as everyone toured the gallery, admiring photos of staff as children and trying to work out who was who. If you know our staff, can you guess at these two photos below?

Portrait Gallery

The Nursery started their transition project, based on ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen. Did you spot any bears while out on your walks this week? Keep up with #EdinBearHunt on Twitter to see how the adventure unfolds! Lots of learners across the school took part in Edinburgh’s Sumdog competition and it was great to see that P2 took to it with enthusiasm – hopefully enough of the class will join in to qualify next time! I also really loved Archie’s video of him completing Mr Woodhouse’s drawing challenge – can you draw yourself blindfolded? It was a great attempt Archie so you’re our Secret Superstar this week! Ms Macdonald has been doing a great job of supporting everyone with Maths (I love her times tables flowers!) as well as teaching P5 and Ms Howson has posted some creative ideas to improve reading skills (watch TV with the subtitles, now that I can do). Ms Stamati continues to be busy keeping P6 busy from home in Greece and Mr Forde and I have ‘met’ with high school guidance staff to discuss P7 transition and are planning to use citywide resources to support our learners who need a little extra help with the idea of moving on. P7 have been making use of the channel that Mr Forde has set up to ask questions about high school and it’s a very supportive environment so well done Mr Forde, you’re our Secret Staff Superstar of the week! Our wellbeing survey has gone out again and I would encourage all our learners to complete it so we can help with any areas you’re finding challenging at the moment.

Please remember, although the weather is forecast to be reasonably nice over the weekend (no Thursday scorchers again though, more’s the pity!) we are still in lockdown. Phase 1 of recovery will hopefully start on Thursday 28th May but please keep in touch with the news and Scottish Government announcements. Twitter is a great way to do this if you’re short on time.

Have a good weekend and I look forward to next week when there will be a class newsletter attached to my ’roundup’ email on Monday. It’s shaping up to be just as full as usual which is fantastic to see!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

 

Short weeks can still be busy!

…hence I am writing this on Saturday rather than my usual Friday or indeed Thursday as I had intended! It’s been a 3 day week for learners and a 4 day week for staff with everyone hopefully enjoying the Bank Holiday yesterday. It’s unusual to have one on a Friday but in these times more than ever I am sure that we all appreciate the sacrifices made by everyone involved in the Second World War as we celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day, whether they were fighting on the front line or at home worrying about a loved one who was – and trying to keep the community going in the meantime. Parallels can be drawn with our current situation and we should all be thankful that we will never be asked to face the challenges that those brave men and women did between 1939 and 1945. As we enter week 7 of lockdown, it is incomprehensible to think of the daily changes to lives and routines that were wrought on the world for six long years and we thank everyone for their heroic efforts to defend our way of life.

On Monday, staff had an in-service day and we carried out in depth follow up activities around Tom Sherrington’s companion book which examines Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction. We split into groups, each with a video to watch and work to complete on a section of the book, and then ‘met’ on Teams to discuss our sections. Most of us were inspired to try to complete the rest of the sections and we will be following this up when we return to school to see which of the principles work well in the classroom. One of the key messages from the section I was working on was that it is normal for minds to wander (oh good) and that we should ‘vary the diet’ of the way we ask children to do things. This is extra-challenging at the moment but try to mix up the way your child is learning at home if you can and don’t expect them to sit and concentrate for hours at a time; the longest block they have in the classroom at school is 2 hours.

We also evaluated our School Improvement Plan for the current session; lots remains incomplete or unfinished as we have so far lost a lot of the planned opportunities to revisit, conclude or develop what we had started during this term. However, everything worth doing this year will still be worth doing next session and a lot of it will migrate to our 2020-21 ‘recovery’ plan, which parents will of course also get a copy of.

I had a cluster management meeting, again on Teams, on Thursday with the Head Teachers of Drummond Community High, Broughton and Leith Walk Primary School. We discussed the success and challenges of the Hub with the overall feeling that a good provision is being made available for those who need it and that both staff and children have adapted well to the current situation. Unfortunately, the challenges haven’t just come from the organisation of such an operation but from members of the public who flouted the lockdown rules to break onto the all-weather pitch at Drummond on Wednesday afternoon to pay football, surrounded by watching members of their families. This flies in the face of what we have been asked to do, as well as the fact that this is a play area for Hub children which then had to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Staff did absolutely the right thing by calling the police and the footballers were justifiably shamed on social media by passing members of the public who spotted them and took photos.

We were delighted to welcome a few more children onto Teams this week and also to be able to distribute paper resource packs from the Hub and on foot to families who need or wanted them. Ms Macdonald was nominated for our second Secret Staff Superstar for printing her packs at home (after not being able to get near the Abbeyhill photocopier), running off extras for children who didn’t get one of the original set (again at home as the Hub photocopier was out of action!) and then delivering them on foot after a shift at the Hub. What a hero – well done Ms Macdonald! Our Secret Superstar learner is Mubin who has been working incredibly hard and who has really impressed Ms Howson this week – congratulations Mubin.

I hope that you’re all staying active; I have stopped blaming my lack of routine and the local leisure centre being closed for my poor activity levels and have managed to do 3 YouTube workouts this week – all before the rest of my family are out bed. Otherwise I have no hope! Is this something I can keep up when we go back to school….only time will tell. Hopefully you’ve been following Active Schools on Twitter, either through their own account or our retweets; they’re posting daily challenges and ideas for staying active and healthy without leaving our homes, or gardens if you’re lucky enough to have one. Miss Robertson has also been posting some inspirational dance videos so if you fancy something a little more creative be sure to check out what she’s been doing through the Colony of Artists blog!

Next week we will be gearing up for School Uniform Day on Friday 15th May; children across the city will be wearing their school uniform and so we hope as many Abbeyhill-ers as possible will take part and post photos in their teams! How many people will have outgrown their school uniform?!

Stay safe,

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

From toilet rolls to surrealist art – welcome back!

Well done for making it to the end of the first week of the last term of the school year! This is usually one of my favourite times of the year as the days are long and usually warm(ish), there’s lots of excitement in school as we gear up for events such as Health Week, Sports Day, P7 transition, end of year celebrations and BBQs, and the added pressure of completing assessments, improvement plans and ideas for the new session makes the days fly by! All with the promise of a holiday and time to travel, see friends, family and relax on the horizon. This year of course feels more than a little different but it is incredible to see all the positivity that is radiating from our school community, from friends and neighbours checking on each other, online collaborations in ways we’d never previously have thought of and a heightened level of understanding for everyone’s own personal set of challenges.

This week our second batch of food parcels were delivered and thank you so much to the hero staff volunteers who collected them from Waverley Court (shame about that spilled milk on your car carpet Mrs Flowers, I’m sure the smell will disappear at some point) and delivered them to lots of Abbeyhill families. Some teachers were even able to take them to children in their own class which was lovely for everyone! Thankfully food stocks seem to have pretty much returned to normal in the shops but for some, finances are tight and it is important to remember Nicola Sturgeon’s message that no-one should have to worry about feeding their family. If you are struggling, you can get in touch with us as Abbeyhill is now a registered referrer for local foodbanks or you can call the national helpline on 0800 111 4000.

P6 managed to start their Artists-in-Residence project, despite lockdown, and produced some incredible pieces of surrealism art! You can keep up to date with the residency as it progresses through our Curator-in-Residence, Iliyana Nedkova’s, blog here.

I’ve enjoyed re-tweeting the Active Schools daily alphabet challenges and trying a few at home myself although it all came back to haunt me when Mrs Flowers challenged a few of us to try to match Mr Woodhouse’s toilet roll keepy uppy prowess. Safe to say it did not go well and I wish I’d been as clever as Ruaridh who attached string to his toilet roll to keep it in check! It’s so important to stay as active as possible, even if you can’t go out as this has a hugely positive impact on not just physical health but mental wellbeing as well. I did socially distant ‘Pavement Pilates’ with my neighbours on Monday which we’ve done for the last 3 weeks and it’s something I will miss when we all go back to school! Get outside if you can and soak up some of this lovely sunshine. If you can’t then throw open your windows and let some fresh air and birdsong in.

If you keep up with our Twitter feed (@AbbeyhillPS) you’ll have seen that our website has been updated with new resources that will hopefully be of use, from an offer of support to all families from Edinburgh Psychological Services, social stories, guides to helping your child understand the news and supports for families. They’re all grouped together for ease on our Coronavirus: Useful Documents & Links page.

All that remains is to announce our Secret Superstar for the week and as usual it’s a very difficult choice. However, it has to be Freddie for starting what turned out to be the funniest challenge of the week on Teams. Mrs Flowers will now forever be known as Spider Flowers!!  Have a lovely weekend whatever you do but remember to stay at home, stay safe and protect the NHS.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher