Category Archives: Artists in Residence

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

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

Fire(pit) in the playground!

Don’t worry, I was assured it was completely safe and all the risk assessments were in place. P7 are having a fantastic time this morning cooking apples with cinnamon as well as bananas with chocolate (delicious, thank you for mine P7!) in the fire pit, which they been taught how to safely light. This experience is part of their weekly Friday Outdoor Learning sessions which are proving to be so beneficial in terms of learning as well as physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

We had an exciting online assembly yesterday where this year’s Abbeyhill Ambassadors were announced. Each class from P1-5 has 2 Ambassadors each and P6 & 7 have 4 as they take on the dual role of Ambassador and Vice/house Captains. Our first meeting is next week so watch this space to hear more about the projects they will work on this session. They will include creating a child-friendly version of our School Renewal Plan as well as a special interest project which the Ambassadors themselves will choose. They will also be tasked with gathering and sharing the views of their class on lots of different aspects of school life so they will be kept extremely busy!

We had interviews for a member of staff in the Nursery; congratulations to Miss Barclay who was successful and will now remain with us on a permanent basis. We also interviewed for a Breakfast Club Assistant and will be delighted to welcome Miss Page as soon as her paperwork is complete.

Well done to everyone who took part in the Colony of Artists festival last weekend, whether it was visiting exhibits in gardens or viewing virtual galleries. Thank you so much to Dave Pratt and Iliyana Nedkova who decorated our windows with our artwork as part of the festival – they look beautiful!

Our Nursery and class newsletters were sent home today by email so please check your inboxes for those. Another NHS Warn and Inform letter was also sent home and is on this website under the Covid-19 tab.

Best wishes,

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Happy holiday weekend!

The September weekend is upon us already! It’s been such a busy first few weeks of the term and they have just flown by. This week has seen the re-launch of the Daily Mile, ending on a high with the Disco Daily Mile! There was some discussion about the inclusion of One Direction with Mr Woodhouse taking full responsibility for the music choices. We hope that this is the first of many themed Daily Mile runs and we’re already planning prizes for effort, attitude and progress as everyone’s fitness levels increase.

For the first time since March 2020, classes have been out on trips this week which was very exciting. P3 spent time at Holyrood Park this morning and P6 & 7 were incredibly lucky to be offered the Treetops Challenge experience at Go Ape which has opened recently at Dalkeith Country Park. They had a fantastic time swinging through the trees and came back to school with happy faces, full of tales of the challenges they had faced and new skills they’d learned.

Yesterday we held a live Teams event where I attempted to share information with the whole school about Abbeyhill Ambassadors. We were plagued with technical issues but by a combination of some classes being able to hear but not see (and vice versa), others participating in the chat bar and a recording being shared, teach class will be busy deciding who their Ambassador reps will be. Watch this space for the big announcement next week.

This weekend is the Colony of Artists festival which we shall be participating in with window displays (which the finishing touches are being added to as I type). We wish we could participate in the way that we normally would be hopefully 2022 will see an extra special level of participation as we once again open as a venue. If you are taking part in the festival, or visiting, please make sure you check the Colony of Artists website for any last minute changes that may have had to be made since the brochure was printed. P4 and P5 had a special sneak preview of P6’s dance performance which was filmed for the festival and we were all very impressed with their confidence and choreography!

Have a lovely long weekend and I look forward to seeing everyone when school resumes on Tuesday.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Irn Bru vs. Glenfinnan Viaduct

I was delighted to be back in school today and spent time with P3, who were working on models of volcanoes, and P5 who had some very impressive Scottish iconography adorning their walls. Which do you think are true Scottish icons?!

We had Parent Council on Tuesday evening and it was great to see so many new and returning faces. Although online meetings have their drawbacks, they also fit well round family life and so keeping our meetings virtual for now works well. Keep an eye on the Parent Council page for the minutes of the meeting where we discussed everything from road safety to the Library.

Thank you to all our staff and families who continue to work so hard at keeping Covid-19 at bay with our infection control measures. We have had to send a few ‘warn and inform’ letters home with information about cases in a few classes but unfortunately this is the reality that we face with restrictions lifting. Some may say it’s a price they are willing to pay but for others there is still very real and understandable anxiety around Covid-19 so please respect and support each other as we continue to work through this.

Next week we will see the welcome return of the Daily Mile as everyone from P3-P7 attempts to run or jog a mile every day. This is a 15 minute burst of physical activity a day which has been shown to improve children’s physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing. P3-7 will be encouraged to run or jog for 15 minutes, gradually building up fitness at their own pace until they can achieve their daily mile. Look out for staff wearing their trainers and joining in on Monday!

I will also be asking teachers to help their class decide on who their Abbeyhill Ambassador reps will be and we will be busy making sure our windows are beautifully decorated ready for the Colony of Artists festival next weekend. It’s come around fast!

Have a lovely weekend.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher