Category Archives: Head Teacher’s Blog

New Year Resolutions still holding fast!

We’ve had a great start back at Abbeyhill and hope that everyone else returned to work and school feeling rested and re-charged after the holidays. Or perhaps you were glad to escape the chaos of home and went back to work for some peace and quiet!

We spent our staff in service day on the 8th January overhauling our behaviour policy, inspired by the book ‘When the Adults Change, Everything Changes’ by Paul Dix. We’ve reduced our 26 page behaviour policy to a single side of A4 and reduced our school rules to just 3: Ready, Respectful, Responsible. We’ve removed Golden Time in favour of more immediate consequences and have introduced regular mindfulness sessions into classes and restorative conversations for when things go wrong. We’re 2 weeks in and everyone is responding well to it; children are calm and understand the rules, staff are enjoying having chances to strengthen relationships by seeing an incident through from start to finish and deciding on a resolution with the child. We’re working with the Mindful Enterprise and Bright Minds Meditation to embed mindfulness throughout the school and we’re really seeing the benefit of that in the class who have been working with the Mindful Enterprise for a few years. Please have a read of our new policy below and let us know what you think.abbeyhill behaviour policy

We’ve had Generation Science in this week and they will continue to be with us for a few weeks as they perfect their performances. We’re so lucky that they choose to come to Abbeyhill every year to do their dress rehearsals which means that every class in the school gets the chance to experience science being delivered in a fun, interactive (noisy!) way that gets everyone thinking. Make sure you harness that enthusiasm and visit the Edinburgh International Science Festival when it’s on in April!

This morning we had Don from Road Safety Edinburgh in assembly to remind us all to WOW (Walk On Wednesday). He talked about the health benefits for us, as well as our environment and it was brilliant to see so many hands up when he asked how many people walked, cycled or scooted to school. We’ll have our first Walking Bus of 2019 on Tuesday morning next week (22nd January) so make sure you’re at one of our designated walking bus stops by 0830 if you want to take part! After Don left, we treated ourselves to watching the video of the staff pantomime which was a huge success when we performed it for the children in December! It was a special goodbye to ‘Cinderella’ afterwards as Mrs Lansdown leaves us today for Education Scotland. We’ll miss her but wish her the very best of luck in her new role.

Next week, don’t miss the Parent Council Burns Supper on Thursday 24th January. There are only a few tickets left and at £5 for a 3 course tea for adults/£3 for children, mini talent show and kids ceilidh they will go fast so get in quickly if you’d like to go by visiting the Abbeyhill Parent Council  website. In an ‘Abbeyhill Decides’ vote, pupils will choose how funds raised at the supper will be spent. We also have Parent Council on Wednesday 23rd January where we will be voting for new post holders so if you’d like to get involved then please feel welcome to come along!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Nothing short of a triumph!

…is surely what the professional reviews will say of our Nativity this morning! Well done to Mrs Lansdown and the P1s as well as all the other staff and children who worked so hard to make it such a successful performance. The P2s were fantastic narrators and angels with P3 doing a beautiful job as choir. Thank you to Russell McLarty and his team at Meadowbank Church for being such brilliant hosts; it was fantastic to have the show up on the big screens so no-one at the back missed a moment!

Monday saw the first proper Christmas event at Abbeyhill with our P7s enjoying a brilliant ceilidh. Thank you to Mrs Souness for teaching them the dances as well as Mr Martin for working so hard with the P7s to make invitations, decorate the classroom, prepare food (in our new Cooking Classroom!) and make sure that everyone had a great time. It’s always a lovely way to kick-start the Christmas celebrations and is such a special event for the P7s.

Monday was also the day that Mrs Lyall and Mrs El Serrag held a coffee afternoon to introduce ‘Families Connect‘ to Nursery and P1 parents. This is a programme run by Save the Children and is all about increasing parents’ skills and confidence to support their child’s learning, whilst having fun together! Mrs Lyall and Mrs El Serrag were delighted to get a really good turnout and will be starting the programme when we return in January.

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On Wednesday, we had our Christmas lunch and Ms McCourt absolutely outdid herself this year; the dinner hall was decorated with tinsel, tealights (battery operated of course), tablecloths and festive napkins. Lots of staff came down to enjoy lunch with the children – the lure of an early turkey dinner was too good to refuse! Thank you to Ms McCourt for making it such a special occasion; the reaction from the P1s made it all worthwhile!

Yesterday, not only was it the Nursery Christmas party, with a very special visitor in red of course, but we also had a very exciting delivery from Network Rail who work with partners Story Contracting and Hibernian Community Foundation to spread ‘Edinburgh Cheer’ which you can read more about here. This year, they decided to present us with 17 reconditioned bikes that have been restored by Network Rail employee Simon Lloyd. We’re holding a free raffle next week so check back to see who won a Christmas bike to take home!

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Finally, as I said at the church, it’s Mrs Lansdown’s first and last Christmas at Abbeyhill as she will be leaving us next term to take up a very exciting opportunity with Education Scotland. Mrs Lansdown has brought so much to us in such a short time and we will be very sad to see her go, although we do of course wish her the very best of luck. And who knows, she doesn’t live far away so maybe we’ll be able to persuade her to come and visit us?! All we can say is, good luck topping that Nativity to next year’s P1 teacher …!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

A certain time of year is upon us and excitement is building in school! Festive music can regularly be heard, P1-3 are busy preparing for the Nativity next week, Christmas trees are popping up all over the place and there is a general air of merrirment (even more so than usual!) around Abbeyhill!

This week, the Nursery were the first to go on a festive trip and enjoyed a performance of ‘You Choose’ at the Spiegeltent in Festival Square. Thank you to all the families who volunteered to help and make this such a memorable day out. There were a lot of tired but happy faces in the Nursery yesterday, but that was just the staff!

Our Parent Council have coordinated a beautiful 2019 calendar which is sponsored by local businesses and features artwork from every class. At just £6, this would make the perfect stocking filler and all proceeds go towards supporting the school by enabling the Parent Council to help us improve our playground. You can order your calendar directly from the Parent Council who will be taking orders in the playground every day next week, at the school office or online by clicking here. All orders will be filled before we break up on the 21st December.

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P7 spent the day at Drummond on Wednesday at a volleyball festval organised by Active Schools. This was a great addition to the preparations to move onto high school and another good opportunity to mix with P7s from our other cluster primaries, many of whom will be going to Drummond too next year.

Yesterday, P1-3 families were invited to another ‘Sharing Our Learning’ event and it was lovely that so many were able to juggle other commitments to come along. There was lots going on in each class for families to get involved with and our Food Champions also ran sneak peak tours of our brand new Cooking Classroom; the teachers are testing it out next week to make sure that we have all the equipment that we need and if all goes well, there will be some treats to sell at the Nativity!

Finally, if you saw this blog last week or follow us on Twitter, you’ll know that we’ve already made a difference with our request to have large cartons of milk, as we all buy at the supermarket, instead of small individual ones. This morning, our Pupil Council reviewed the engagement with our tweet about it and we are now in touch with Changeworks to see what we can do next. We’re hoping that they will support us to form a partnershop with another nearby school who are campaigning for re-useable bottles…watch this space!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Drowning in plastic!

Drowning in plastic

(Yes, we did have lots of fun creating this photo!)

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we were inspired as a school to start challenging the amount of plastic straws that we were getting through on a daily basis following our ‘Make a Difference’ assembly topic back in September. You may remember that it all started when P4 brought a small pot of straws to our sharing assembly and told everyone that the way that they had decided to make a difference  was for the 6 children who took milk each day to pour it out into a cup, rather than use the cartons and straws. They then collected the straws in the pot (below). Those 6 straws per day added up surprisingly quickly and we were all shocked by how many they had collected in such a small space of time, from so few children.

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This is what 6 straws per day over just a few weeks looks like

We did some calculations and worked out that we could save arund 1,600 straws by the end of October (5 weeks) if we all followed P4’s example. So, each child who took milk was provided with a cup, cup washeruppers* were duly appointed in each class and we all began the challenge enthusiasically. By the end of the 5 weeks, we had in fact collected 2,312 straws (as we had forgotten to factor lunchtime milk into the original calculation) and we vowed not to go back to our old ways. It took a few weeks after that but I am delighted to announce that Abbeyhill is MAKING A DIFFERENCE to the environment as we have now got an agreement with the dairy who supply our milk (Muller) that they will give us large 6 pint jugs of milk, exactly as you would buy at the supermarket, instead of the little cartons. In the time it took to make that arrangement, the straws kept piling up and we had over 4,000 which helped us create our ‘Drowning in Plastic’ photo at the top of the page. Don’t worry, they are certainly not going to landfill as one of our artists-in-residence has grand plans for them. Come and see them as part of the Colony of Artists festival in September 2019!

We only have 70 children across the school who take milk every day and look how much plastic we’re stopping getting to landfill.  If you’re an Edinburgh school being supplied by Muller, why don’t you take up the Abbeyhill challenge and see if you can make a difference too?

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

*Mrs Ketchin’s made up word of the day

Imagination is the key

What a treat we’ve had today! We all went to the nearby Meadowbank Parish Church for a special concert with Fischy Music and heard the debut performance of ‘Imagination’ which P4 wrote from scratch and recorded with Margaret and Christy from Fischy. P4 (or ‘Baby Alien’ which is their official band name) gave a fantastic performance and managed not to be distracted by the fact that they were being beamed up onto big screens for everyone to see. We all had a brilliant time, dancing and singing along – including the staff and parents who managed to join us!

Of course, some of us had our Pudsey ears on as it is BBC Children in Need today. Mrs Brotherston and Mrs Pender got into the spirit of it as always and have had a bit of extra attention from the traffic as they have carried out their lollipop duties! Thanks also to Miss Macdonald, Mrs Lyall and Mrs Macdougall for organising our Children in Need toy sale yesterday; we raised £135 and all leftover toys will go to a local charity as suggested by Luca as part of our ‘Make a Difference’ assembly block.

Yesterday, I was delighted to welcome a small group of parents for our first ‘Parents Lunch’. It was lovely to have a sociable lunch together whilst giving them a chance to experience what their children do each today, including lining up and being reminded what they had ordered! They gave good feedback on the food and the experience and next time I plan to run it at the same time as the school lunchtime to give families a rare opportuntity to enjoy a weekday lunch together!

On Wednesday, we had our Parent Council Annual General Meeting (AGM) and there will be an opportunity to vote for new post holders at the next meeting in January. Thank you to Vlad who has stepped down after doing a sterling job as treasurer for several years, as well as to all the parents who have joined us and are doing such an amazing job of supporting the school.

Also on Wednesday, I spent the day at a National Improvement Framework conference for all Edinburgh Head Teachers where the new ‘Edinburgh Learns’ policy was launched and discussed at length. Edinburgh Learns encourages a renewed focus on learning and teaching which is the core business of all schools. Although we all felt the pressure that being out of school for the day brings (not least in the mounting pile of unanswered emails!), we all agreed that it was a valuable professional experience. As a staff, we shall explore Edinburgh Learns over the coming weeks and months.

Next week I am going to Buckstone Primary for a reciprocal visit following my hosting a group other Head Teachers a few weeks ago and I’m looking forward to seeing further good practice and having follow up professional dialogue. Back in school, it’s Book Week Scotland and Mr Martin will be launching an exciting week of activities in assembly on Monday. Check back next week to see what we get up to!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher