Category Archives: Leadership

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

 

Lockdown: Week 8 – and some of us are going on a bear hunt!

There has been lots going on as usual this week and we’ve been busy on Teams and Twitter. Opportunities we’ve tweeted about that are not to be missed include the invitation to sign up to Sustrans ‘Outside In’ newsletter for 4 weeks of fun ideas to get everyone moving; click here to find out more and sign up. We posted links from Mrs Mash and Jan Lee Brown who are well known to our children who love storytelling ‘Chit Chat’ Club and who are both running daily story and song sessions on Facebook. Click on their names to find out how to take part! of course today is School Uniform Day! Staff have had lots of fun preparing bitmojis and photos of themselves in school clothes (some even in uniform!) which Mrs Flowers put into an interactive classroom before inviting pupils to send in their own photos to add to the gallery! It’s been really lovely to see everyone joining in and having fun – what a nice way to end the week. And after all that hard work, Mrs Flowers is the deserved winner of Secret Staff Superstar this week – well done Mrs Flowers!

Of course, it hasn’t all been fun and games and we also posted a link to our website with information for key workers whose children are struggling with our current normal. If this sounds like something that’s relevant to you, head to our School Closure: Useful Documents and Links page for the latest advice from the British Psychological Society.

It’s also been busy on Teams with lots to keep everyone occupied. Apart from seeing everyone’s uniform photos, I’ve enjoyed Archie’s video about his lockdown experiences that he made for his Auntie who is a teacher in South Africa, Gregor’s enthusiasm for the Sumdog challenge has brought a smile to my face (I can just imagine your reaction when the website froze Gregor!), Mr Forde has started a very supportive thread about transition to high school where the P7s are posting the questions are important to them. Our Secret Superstar of the week has to be Maya who made a really touching video about how much she misses school – we miss you all too!

Like all schools we’re trying to keep connected with our families and ensure that everyone stays informed as far as possible; unfortunately we can’t answer all questions (no, we don’t know when schools will re-open and like everyone will have to wait for news from the government) but what we do know we share. This week we’ve contacted families with information on the new Sumdog competition that’s just opened for Edinburgh; this is a great way to get kids excited about Maths and doing something interactive every day. We’ve also made sure that some of our families know that another food parcel will be coming their way next week and I once again thank the staff who are collecting and distributing them once a fortnight. It is very much appreciated. Nursery pre-schooler families have received initial information on the city-wide transition project based on Michael Rosen’s ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ and P7 families can expect some news next week on what transition will look like for them. I may or may not have been on the phone earlier to a company lining up a special gift for them all to mark their last days at Abbeyhill….watch this space.

On Monday next week staff and pupils won’t need to login as we are all looking forward to our final bank holiday of the session for Victoria Day (18th May). Did you know Victoria Day was started in 1845 in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday but is now also celebrated as the official birthday of the Queen of Canada? The things you learn on lockdown!

Have a lovely weekend. Stay home, stay safe.

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

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

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much…great Teams-work Abbeyhill!

Week 1 of home-schooling is done! It’s been absolutely fantastic to see so much brilliant work going on online in our Microsoft Teams and to still have lots of positive contact with families through Twitter, email and phone calls. None of us knows how long this situation will last so try to stay positive and take each day one at a time. We will get through this and will hopefully have found out more about ourselves and the little things that we value in our normal, everyday lives when they resume.

You would be forgiven for thinking that there won’t be anything to feature on the blog with school being closed but that’s far from the truth! I’ve been so impressed at the quality of work going on online and it’s been lovely to see the interactions between children, teachers and parents each day. That’s one positive that we can take away already; we’ve been forced to explore a new way of working and I know that we’re developing skills that we’ll take back to school and continue to build on when this is over. Everyone seems to be busy getting creative this week and I’ve seen a fantastic garden collage in P1, a particularly beautiful rainbow in P3 (done carefully with pipe cleaners to spread extra joy around the community), some home-made bird feeders in P5 and one extra special use of technology that has to earn Eva the SECRET SUPERSTAR award of the week for really making me look twice! She used Google 3D animals to make it look as though she  had wild creatures in her house and I admit it had me squinting at my laptop trying to work out whether they were real or not! Well done Eva, I will definitely be having a go at that this weekend!

Other special mentions go to Elis who is learning the new skill of knitting, Ruaridh for designing and making a very sturdy looking rocket, very entertaining book reviews from P4, baking in P6 and World War 2 fact files in P7. P6 even had their very own video conference, hosted by Ms Stamati, and it sounds like it was a lot of fun and a great chance for everyone to see their friends.

Of course, it hasn’t all been fun and games and everyone has been working incredibly hard to ensure that all children have access to educational materials whether it’s online or on paper. So many new systems have had to be set up so quickly and despite barely leaving the house, most of the staff say they’re still exhausted by the end of the day. I’m sure all the parents are as well. I certainly am as Mr Ketchin and I juggle work with parenting a toddler who asks to go Nursery several times a day! However, well done to all the teachers, parents and children who have mastered Teams this week and a very special thank you to Mr Martin, Mr Hamilton, Mr Woodhouse and Mrs Flowers who went to our hub school, Drummond Community High, this morning in preparation for the children of Category 1 workers coming in. Ms Macdonald will join them on Monday as we expect our Category 2 and 3 parents whose work is essential to also use this service. Thank you to you all (although I know they were glad of an excuse to get out and got to work really). A huge thank you as well to Mr Woodhouse, Mr Hamilton, Mrs Lyall, Mrs Peters and Mrs Watt who delivered food parcels to some of our families this afternoon (and a special thank you to Miss Wilson who was on her way but was told the team had it covered!). Plenty more staff are willing to help if demand gets higher as food deliveries are made every two weeks and lots of parents have also emailed to say that they are willing to help as well – it really is much appreciated.

On my very limited time out of the house this week I have noticed that everyone is being so much nicer to each other. There seems to be much more of an appreciation for our fellow human beings, especially those working tirelessly to ensure that some normality prevails. 8pm last night was a very emotional moment as nearly a million people across the UK opened their doors and windows to applaud all our fantastic NHS workers and all I can hope is that this spirit of appreciation and kindness continues long after normal service is resumed across the country. As it will be.

Whatever you are doing this weekend, please stay safe, observe the emergency laws that are in place and keep your loved ones healthy. Take care.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher