Category Archives: Kindness

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

Mr Woodhouse gets his steps in!

This week we’ve been working on making sure that we can ensure as many children are accessing learning as possible. Some children have their own devices and as much access to our online learning platforms as they need, some don’t have access to one at all. Others have to negotiate with siblings and a parent who also needs the device for work. Thankfully, staff were lucky enough to get access to school for a few hours this week and managed to make up packs for a significant proportion of the school (there may have been some good natured, socially distant argy-bargying over access to the photocopier) which can be collected from our Drummond Hub next week. It was lovely to get a tiny taste of normality by being in school  but of course it still felt very empty without our fantastic children there. We can’t wait until the day when we can have everyone under the same roof at the same time again – however far off that may be.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on our Twitter feed this week, you’ll have seen lots of Active Schools challenges; what will they do next week when they reach the end of the alphabet?! We’ve also posted details of the new Edinburgh Learns guidance with a version for parents as well as children. You can find copies on our Coronavirus: Useful Documents & Links page. We also shared a post from TES praising the overall approach that all Edinburgh Hubs have taken, allowing key workers to do what needs to be done in vital areas and singling out our cluster High School and local hub Drummond Community High for special mention. Well done to everyone who is working so hard in Drummond and every other Hub across the city and providing such a high level of care for the children of key workers.

It’s been tricky as usual to choose a Secret Superstar this week. Could it be Alma for logging in and getting on with her work from Spain? Or Mat who hasn’t missed a day of online learning since school closed? Sophia is extremely dedicated and also had a birthday she’ll never forget with her isolation birthday party – Happy Birthday Sophia! I hope your teddies and dolls enjoyed the party. Gregor showed great resilience as he battled with a Maths challenge for hours but his persistence paid off and he got there in the end, well done Gregor. John has been working his socks off and is looking forward to coming back to school for a rest by the looks of his photos! Unfortunately there can only be one winner and this week it’s a special one with our very first Secret Staff Superstar! As I said above, packs of work will be available to collect from Drummond next week but there will be no need for P2 families to make their own way there as Mr Woodhouse hand delivered every single pack for his class yesterday – what a hero! Well done and thank you Mr Woodhouse, your class all really appreciated the extra effort that you made.

Next week, it’s a short one as we have an staff only in-service day on Monday where Abbeyhill staff will be working virtually on activities created by Tom Sherrington to go through his companion book to Barak Rosenshine’s ‘Principles of Instruction’ which is the professional text we were working on before schools closed. There will be videos and worksheets to be completed before staff share their sections of work with each other and use it to evaluate their own teaching practice. On Friday, we are all off school for a bank holiday; hopefully the sun shines so we can responsibly enjoy some time outdoors. As always, take care, stay safe and stay healthy!

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

 

Busier than ever despite lockdown: Week 2

This week has been the second for all of us of juggling conflicting work schedules and parenting! I managed to ‘work’ and parent at the same time when my daughter and I logged into Mr Hamilton reading ‘Hairy Maclairy’ to P1 on Tuesday and it was lovely to see so many of the class! They had a very successful Show and Tell this morning to celebrate the end of term and they weren’t the only ones to be having a virtual meet up. P3, P4, P5 and P6 have also had a class catch up this week and although not everyone was able to be there, I know that the ones who made it really enjoyed seeing their teachers and friends. I’m sure the popularity of these virtual gatherings will grow as everyone begins to miss familiar faces more and more!

There has been so much going on online this week and it’s fantastic to see that it’s not just children who have been using Teams but parents too, with lots of you sharing tips and ideas for making it through the day with a smile on your face! I loved Mat’s ‘Survive’ mind map that was actually fairly similar to Lexi’s summer holidays one, just with less outdoor activity. It shows that Mat, and others I’m sure, is using this time to be mindful and use the time he has at home and with his family well.

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Mr Woodhouse very kindly picked up some home resource packs from our Hub school, Drummond, and took them to families who were self-isolating or otherwise unable to collect them – thank you Mr Woodhouse (although we all know he enjoyed the excuse to get out for a walk!). On the way, he spotted a message from Lili to Otis and Lenny so it’s great to see that you are using creative, practical ways to stay in touch and not just doing it online. It’s really important to let others know you are thinking of them so that everyone feels that little bit less isolated.

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It hasn’t just been Lili who’s been creative this week; Sara has made an incredible fairy garden with her dad, John has managed some impressive home gymnastics (complete with crash mat), Erin has created a very interesting PowerPoint about swans including beautiful photos that she took herself, Martina has been inspired by her native Spain to design an incredible poster about Semanta Santa and Mat and Emilia have done some beautiful art work and research on Picasso and Caravaggio respectively as part of P6’s art history project. Meanwhile, P7 as a whole seem to have been working impressively hard on their human body projects – well done P7! With all this creativity and kindness, its been hard to choose just one Secret Superstar and so this week we are going to have three! Well done to Otis, Belle and Rosie who are writing cards and letters (‘keep them very cheerful’ – Otis) to the Helen Wallace Trust Housing Association and Marionville Care Home to keep up the spirits of the residents. Well done to you all and to anyone else who has been inspired by their messages calling for helpers on Teams.

Although we’re officially on holiday from today, the teachers have been putting up plenty of ideas and resources to keep you busy if you are looking for something to do over the next few weeks although remember, it’s important to take a break too. The last few weeks have been mentally exhausting as we have come to terms with a temporary new way of life and started to learn lots of new skills so give yourself time to switch off. However, a few things that have really inspired me this week are….

The learning resources from The Palace of Holyroodhouse that some of your teachers might have posted into your Teams. I know lots of you are very interested in art and we’re a very creative school – our strong relationship with the annual Colony of Artists festival and our Artists in Residence programme proves that! So take a look at the resource if you want to learn more about Leonardo, explore the palace virtually, download some activity sheets or improve your interpretation of art!

I also loved the suggestion of creating a Kindness calendar  from the British Red Cross with suggestions such as checking in on neighbours in a safe way, calling or writing to a relative, doing something helpful for a friend or family member or simply following advice to stay at home to keep our communities safe and relieve pressure on the NHS and other vital services.

We’re on holiday next week but I’ll be posting some fantastic videos from Russell McLarty who is the local minister and a great friend to the school. He should have been at our Easter assembly but has recorded some wonderful stories for you instead which I’ll post in each class area during the course of the week.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, follow the government guidance and look forward to the day when we’re all together again.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher