Category Archives: Community Engagement

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.

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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

 

A whirlwind week!

Phew, we made it – what a week we’ve had at Abbeyhill! On Monday and Tuesday, we were delighted to welcome 15 Chinese Language Education students into school to observe learning and teaching as part of their Edinburgh University course. On Wednesday, we welcomed 16 Panamanian teachers for the morning who came to observe and compare the Scottish curriculum and teaching practices with what they do at home. I had a fascinating conversation about the challenges we each face and they left with a very positive impression of life in a Scottish school.

Also on Wednesday, we had lots of prospective P1 parents who came to look round Abbeyhill as their catchment school for starting P1 in August. The Abbeyhill Ambassadors showed everyone around and answered questions about what it’s like to be an Abbeyhill pupil and I’m delighted at the positive feedback that they got. It’s only November (just) but I’m already looking forward to seeing all our new P1s next year!

We had Parents’ Evening on Tuesday and Thursday and as always it was a pleasure to welcome families into school to catch up on what their children have been learning and how they have been progressing. Our Parent Council Uniform Exchange took its highest total yet so thank you to everyone who supported it.

In amongst all of this, P7 managed to sneak out for a bit of peace and quiet and went to ‘The Art of Listening’ workshop at The Hub, home of the Edinburgh Festival. They were treated to live operatic and piano performances and engaged in a little mindfulness (something that we’re very good at) and visualisation before heading home full of classical music inspiration.

 

And finally, today is the day that everyone has been waiting for and Halloween parties are raging on downstairs as I type! Every year this event is planned, organised and run by the Parent Council and it’s always very much enjoyed by everyone who attends. Thanks as always to Mrs Pender and Ms McCourt for their support as well as all the other staff who have donned a spooky costume and headed into the party!

Thankfully, next week is a little quieter but Parent Council is on Wednesday evening; please feel welcome to come along and join in with what is always a very enjoyable discussion about how to make Abbeyhill an even better place to live and learn!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Hitting the ground running, as always!

It’s been a short week for pupils but the staff returned from the October holidays on Monday and packed a lot of work into 2 days before normal service resumed. We completed First aid training, explored the new Dyslexia Guidelines, refreshed our knowledge of leading and managing trips near and far, attended a cluster Maths event (led in part by Miss Macdonald), recharged with some Mindfulness and had a discussion about staff wellbeing and workload. As soon as the children returned on Wednesday it was back to busy normality with Forest Adventures in the Nursery, a ‘Give Racism the Red Card’ workshop in P7, the start of an Edinburgh University Music project and the start of intense rehearsals for the choir in the run up to the festive season. I had an Abbeyhill Ambassadors meeting this morning and prepared them for a high level of duties next week…see below for everything we have got going on!

 

On Tuesday evening, a group of Abbeyhill-ers represented the school at the centenary celebrations for Save the Children. Along with Ben Macpherson, Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development, they paid tribute to the charity which supports children all over the world to grow, develop and become who they want to be – and has done for 100 years. We have personally benefited at Abbeyhill as Mrs Lyall and Mrs El Sarrag have delivered the StC ‘Families Connect’ programme for the last two years which has had positive feedback from all the families involved. Thank you to the parents and staff who went along on the night and supported as well.

 

If you enjoy the festive season and keep an eye on the Edinburgh’s Christmas website to see what’s coming up, you might have spotted that Abbeyhill is going to be part of Community Christmas and we’re very proud and excited to be one of only two schools in Edinburgh selected to take part. Our special night is going to be Thursday 12th December so watch out for more information as the time comes closer. Our choir will be performing and the outside of the school will be transformed with a magical light show.

I hope everyone comes back to school rested and refreshed and ready for a very busy week next week; we have Parents’ Evenings, P1 Open Day, a visit from some Panamanian teachers AND the Parent Council Halloween Parties. Not to mention the fact that most of the staff will be embarking on the October step-count challenge…there’s already a lot of competitiveness coming to the surface between the teams and it hasn’t even officially started yet! 

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

 

Playing in the park!

On Monday after school, the teaching staff headed to Holyrood Park with Ranger Rob from the Education Centre to learn more about this incredible natural resource that’s right on our doorsteps and how it can be used to enhance our curriculum. A lot of tourists wondered why were walking around with blindfolds on and some ‘friendly’ rivalries were established for a team based ‘Nature’s Clock’ activity and we all came home buzzing with ideas.

P1 were out today for their 3rd Forest Schools Friday and there were huge smiles on their faces when they returned a little while ago! From all the different activities that they are doing it looks as though they should have gone with the teachers on Monday and trained them up!

(Disclaimer – these photos are from last Friday but I fully expect some nice muddy ones from today’s adventure!)

This week, I visited Buckstone Primary School with the Head Teachers from Ratho and Broomhouse Primaries. We regularly meet in this group, as do all other primary HTs in the city, to discuss our own school in relation to progress against a particular ‘How Good Is Our School?’ quality indicator. This time we each presented information about ‘Raising Attainment and Achievement’ (3.2) and it was interesting to hear the different approaches that we all take and what works best in each school. We all took a few ideas from each other and agreed that, as always, it was time well spent.

Spotlight on….the Listening Spot with Russell McLarty

On Wednesdays at lunchtime over the past few weeks I have started to be a ‘Listening Spot’ in the playground. The idea is to have someone from out-with the staff – a ‘friend’ of the school – able to listen to any concerns children may want to talk about. Over the past 2 years I have been keen to help Abbeyhill Primary in different ways and certainly willing to take on this role carrying my ‘Listening Spot’ big umbrella. It takes time to build up rapport, but even over a few weeks it has been good to have some useful conversations and give a bit of encouragement. Where some youngsters may find it difficult to share things which are worrying them the ‘Listening Spot’ may help.

Did you visit…?

Last weekend it was the 14th Colony of Artists festival and as always it was an absolutely amazing celebration of the rich artistic talent that lives in the Abbeyhill area. We are so lucky to be such an integral part of the festival as we have exhibited for 13 of those 14 years and it brings so much to who we are at Abbeyhill. Profuse thanks as always to our curator-in-residence Iliyana Nedkova as without her skill, expertise and organisation we would not be able to have the experiences that we do. Thanks must also go to Vlad Hasiu who worked incredibly hard alongside Iliyana in the run up and over the weekend to produce the exhibits in the school. Thanks to all the other parents, staff and volunteers who helped or visited to show their support over the weekend. If you weren’t able to make it don’t worry, we’ll be back next year!

Next week, P7 leave us for camp at Lagganlia and they are all very excited! Bets are on as to who will have the biggest suitcase and organisation skills are being put to the test as a few have admitted that they haven’t started packing…. I’ve recommended 3 times as many socks as they think they need so let’s see who comes home with dry feet next Friday! All P7 families will be able to follow their adventures through the private Twitter account that Mr Martin and Mr Hamilton have spoken about. Have fun P7!

Meanwhile, back at Abbeyhill the Nursery start their Forest Adventures, P5 have their second attempt(!) at attending the touch rugby tournament at Murrayfield, P4-7 Mindfulness starts again (the P7s will be getting plenty of practice in Lagganlia without their phones), the Abbeyhill Ambassadors will be recording new phone messages for the school phone line, a parental behaviour attitude survey will be sent out to families and I will be attending the Edinburgh Head Teacher’s Association (EPHTA) meeting with a focus on Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce. We will also send out the link so that you can book your Parents’ Evening appointments for the end of the month. It’s so worthwhile to take the opportunity to discuss your child’s academic progress but if you can’t make either of the dates, please feel welcome to contact your child’s teacher to make an alternative appointment.

Phew! We’re all off for a rest over the weekend so we’re ready for another jam-packed week at Abbeyhill!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

 

 

Colony Community

Colony of Artists 2019 is upon us! The festival opens with previews this evening and doors open to the public across the Abbeyhill community tomorrow. Please come and visit us at Venue 39 and make sure you visit the Abbeyhill colonies to take in the atmosphere and all the hard work that goes into putting on this fabulous community arts festival every year. It sounds clichéd, but it really does get better every time!

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Listening Spot

Russell McLarty did his first Listening Spot on Wednesday and was a very popular figure with his umbrella in the playground! We’ll be getting feedback from children on how having the Listening Spot makes them feel so please watch this space to find out more.

Behaviour Attitude survey

I’ve been carrying out a Behaviour Attitude survey with children from P1-P7 to find out what they think is okay/not okay and how they feel about how the way we help them to sort things out when they have gone wrong. My next task is to share this with the rest of the school and design a survey for families to be able to carry out at home. Your feedback will be greatly appreciated so please watch out for this coming out next week.

Spotlight on… P1

In P1 we have started learning our sounds and what better way to learn ‘a’ than getting hands on and chopping up lots of a-a-apples. All of the children were given the opportunity to practice their fine motor skills by chopping up some delicious cooking apples before some of the children got their first taste of the cooking classroom. We stewed the apples with sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract to give everyone a delicious reminder of their daily sound.

Have you read…Mental health tips

A fantastic new resource has been developed by The City of Edinburgh Council Health and Wellbeing team which has been shared with families today. Please make sure you take a moment to read the Mental Health ‘Top Tips for Children and Young People’ and ‘Top Tips for Parents and Carers’ which have been written by and with children and young people and give a strong insight into what matters to them today.

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Next week…  is a busy one for us as always with a visit to Buckstone Primary for me on Monday morning, a staff outdoor learning session, our first Families Connect session of the school year and much more. But first…Colony of Artists – see you there!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher