Category Archives: Lockdown

Mrs Pender is our hero!

This week I learned that Mrs Pender had been secretly very hard at work over lockdown knitting dolls which she sent to children who were unwell in the Sick Kids hospital, as well as sewing NHS scrubs. What an absolute hero! Well done Mrs Pender – lockdown Secret Superstar has been revived just for you!

On a more sombre note, I’m sure that you have all read or seen the worrying news that Covid-19 cases are rapidly on the rise again. Please, please continue to play your part in suppressing this virus as we have all learned this year how quickly things can change and the prospect of another national lockdown is something that I’m sure nobody wants to even contemplate. Remember FACTS at all times; Face covering, Avoid crowded places, Clean hands and surfaces regularly, keep a Two metre distance from others at all times and Self-isolate and book a test if you develop symptoms.

This weekend we would of course normally be looking forward to joining in with the Colony of Artists festival but sadly our involvement this year has been yet another Covid casualty. Please take a moment to have a look at our ‘Windows and Screens‘ display this year and if you have a little more time, watch these videos of the 2018 and 2019 festival finales held in our hall and hope that 2021 brings a welcome return to Abbeyhill Primary being a bustling hive of activity over the festival weekend!

Next week is a short one as school is closed on Monday for the September long weekend. Whatever you are doing, please stay safe and be responsible as always!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Observe, create, imagine. A great approach to life, Lexi!

This week we have been planning for staff to return to school but only if they have a specific task to carry out. The Government guidance is still to work from home if possible and so we are certainly not all going to be in school for our normal working hours between now and the end of term. Some of us were in on Thursday and I know that the staff who were handing out learning packs in the afternoon were delighted to see so many familiar faces turning up to collect them! On the odd days I have been in school, I have made a list of what I want to achieve and it usually involves accessing paperwork or computer systems that I can’t do from home but from this point forward it will be very much geared towards planning new class layouts, signage, thinking about socially distanced lining up points and how we manage the many different elements of our day that will have to change for the time being. Some changes will be positive and we are using this opportunity to gently force us to complete a few things that have been on the ‘to do’ list for a while such as going cashless and digital registration from August. All our plans are still in draft format, as with all schools, until we have authority from the Council to share them with families. I very much hope to have this permission next week as I know how anxious everyone is to know what is happening and what school will look like when we all return after the summer.

It’s been busy on Teams as always this week and I’ve also really enjoyed keeping up with the Nursery Bear Hunt on Twitter. It’s fantastic that our P1s-to-be are able to take part in this city-wide transition project so that when they start with us, no matter which Nursery they have come from, they should have all had the same transition experience and be familiar with the same story. If your child is in our Nursery class, you can request access to this private Twitter account @AbbeyhillNC – well worth it to see friends as well as lots of updates of Mr Martin’s dog, Buddy!

 

I may not be social media’s biggest fan but Twitter has been a great source of information and inspiration and news (from verified, reputable accounts of course!) over the last few months and I’ve enjoyed sharing the different resources that have popped up to support families and staff. My favourites this week have been this video that Mr Woodhouse shared about a hedgehog and a tortoise who find ways other than having a hug to show they care, as well as seeing all the excitement that was generated by Active Schools first virtual Games @ the Hub on Wednesday. As well as it went, I really hope that it can go back to normal for 2021 as it’s always such a brilliant day for the P6s and a real highlight of the summer term.

OCI

Mrs Flowers is banned from getting Staff Secret Superstar for the rest of term to give everyone else a chance but we have had nominations for Mr Andrew Hamilton who has been not only working very hard on ideas to interest and entertain his P1s on Teams, making up learning packs and helping to distribute food parcels when needed but has also been volunteering in the Drummond Hub and supporting the ASL Hub at Rowanfield. So Mr Hamilton is this week’s Staff Secret Superstar! Well done. I love keeping an eye on Teams activity during the week and seeing what is going on, always keeping an eye out for Friday’s Superstar. Elsie made some yummy looking muffins (Freddie was very busy eating his in the background of the photo!),  P2 have continued their focus on dinosaurs (I loved Ruardih’s ‘Dippy’ model), John has been working incredibly hard and I was impressed with his enthusiasm for French and his drawing of a hedgehog (as well as very jealous of the lovely looking cake in the background!), Ella made an epic film trailer of her and her mum’s trip to Finland (I bet that feels like a long time ago!), I was laughing over P5’s attempts to ‘Guess the rectangles’ – have Granny’s eyes recovered yet Gregor? I really liked Lexi’s ‘observe, create, imagine’ and Emilia and Martina’s fantastic artwork and Nate and Martin have produced great posters for our final unit of ‘Building Resilience’, aptly named ‘Expect the Unexpected’, However, this week’s winner has to be Mat who threw himself into Games at the Hub and posted videos of himself mastering not just skateboarding but hockey too. Well done Mat, you’re this week’s Junior Secret Superstar!

Enjoy your weekend and try to get outside if the rain stops!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

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