….and we’re all very glad about it! The rain is lashing down as I write this and it feels that the ‘summer’ holidays are a distant memory already! Nevertheless, it’s been fantastic to welcome all of our staff and families back to school over the last few days and we’re all excited to start our first full week back together. Some of our families are observing a quarantine period after arriving home from abroad and we thank them for this. We’ve seen from Aberdeen and other places in England just how fragile our newly restored freedoms are and we all have to play our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe and healthy as we journey back towards a ‘normal’ life. Our Frequently Asked Questions have been updated several times already and set out clear information on what to do in the case of suspected symptoms appearing as well as what course of action we will take in school. This is designed to reassure and not to alarm anyone.
As well as welcoming everyone back, we’re also thinking of those who have moved on who didn’t get the send off that they were expecting, although we did our best to make things special given the circumstances! Good luck to Ms Stamati who starts a new teaching job in Greece next week, Ms El Sarrag who has retired from Abbeyhill, Ms Howson who secured a permanent post at Rowanfield school and all our P7s and leavers from other year groups who have started S1 or moved away from the area for new adventures. We will miss you! Goodbyes were counter-balanced with plenty of ‘Hellos’ though as we welcomed our new P1s and new pupils in other classes across the school – it’s lovely to bring you into the Abbeyhill community. Our new Nursery pupils will begin to settle in next week and we’re so excited to meet them too!
We were all pleased, and relieved, at how smoothly things went in general last week. There were a few hiccups as is to be expected when we changed (or abandoned) longstanding routines and there were last minute crises to keep us on our toes – such as essential paperwork for poor Mr McNeil not arriving in time for him to start with his class – but by and large we’ve resolved everything and the whole Abbeyhill community is pulling together brilliantly as always as we move forward. Mr McNeil is enjoying his first day in P3 today – phew!
Normally at this time of year we are sending out ‘Save the Date’ lists for all our key events from Meet the Teacher to our festive celebrations. I’m sure you will bear with us this term as changing guidance means that we can’t be certain what we’ll be able to offer and when although you can rest assured that we will find alternative ways to deliver events such as Parents’ Evening and the Nativity. I had a chat with Iliyana Nedkova, our Curator in Residence and P7 parents, about what Abbeyhill’s involvement in this year’s Colony of Artists Festival (19th & 20th September) might look like so watch this space for news on some exciting online exhibitions. Our whole school Art project ‘Bee Kind’, in line with our key values as well as the theme of the festival, should fit in beautifully and P4 have already made a strong start!
Have a good week and as always, keep an eye on Scottish Government updates, the City of Edinburgh Council‘s website and social media accounts as well as NHS Inform for all the up to date information. You can keep in touch with us by phone or email, as well as our website and Twitter account.
Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher
The sun was shining this week as we handed out our final teaching packs of the term, and school session. It was lovely to see so many families, socially distanced of course, and it will be even better when we can have children back in the building in August. It seems very quiet when we are in there at the moment. Preparations are well underway for having everyone back with the number one priority being Health and Safety. Details will come out on Wednesday next week so that everyone knows which days their child will be attending as we begin to move back towards something resembling normality.
If you follow @CreateLearnEdin you may have seen the official Burns and Beyond videos which were posted this week. As you may remember, Ms Stamati and P6 worked incredibly hard and had a lot of fun as part of this project and it was lovely to watch the videos, see some familiar faces and hear some of our P6s speak so articulately about what they had enjoyed about the project. You can watch the short version of the video here or if you have a little longer (most of us do at the moment!) then the longer version is here. Well done to everyone who was involved (credit also to @burnsandbeyond and @UniqueEventsltd).
Someone else who has been busy creating fantastic experiences and sharing them on social media is our dance teacher in residence, Eleanor Robertson. Read all about how she has supported and encouraged Nursery children to take part in the Bear Hunt transition project in one of the latest blog posts on the Abbeyhill School Artists website and watch her brilliant dance video here. Mr Martin and the Nursery team have also been working really hard to engage the Nursery children who are moving up to P1 in August and everyone is joining in and sharing their experiences on Twitter which is fantastic to see. I made sure I left my label on when I was in school on Thursday…have you left yours yet?
Our Staff Superstar this week is the brilliant Mrs Pender who has developed new skills over the last few months, not just by finally getting onto WhatsApp but by working out how to use Teams and managing to join every P1 story session (sometimes sideways, occasionally upside down) which the children love. She’s also supported one of our Hubs and has taken a lot of time and made a huge effort to make the experience memorable and successful for the young person she’s supporting. Well done and thank you Mrs Pender! Checking out what everyone has been doing on Teams, Elis has done some very neat colouring by number, Otis, Duncan, Sara and Marlena had done some brilliant wok on the layers of ocean, John did some very funny nonsense poetry, Erin submitted some great work on collective nouns, Alma is a banana tree (really Alma?!), Zuzanna managed some Maths that would have had me reaching for the calculator and Luca in P7 did an amazing drawing as part of the P7 Moving On Up project which has taken place this week to replace the 3 day high school visit that they should have been. Well done and thank you to Mr Forde also for working tirelessly to encourage and support the P7s as they navigate this time which should have been packed with all our usual transition activities in school. Consider yourself a runner up Superstar winner Mr Forde! However, our Junior Superstars have to be the P6s who represented Abbeyhill so well in that Culture United ‘Burns and Beyond’ video so well done to Mat, Jasmine, Amelia, Cadha, Liam and Maya!!
This time next week the holidays will be upon us but there will be one more blog from me before we bid goodbye to the 2019-20 school session. It’s ended in a way none of us expected at the start but I very much hope that this time next year normality has been fully resumed and lockdown is all just a distant memory!
Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher
It’s been quite an up and down week as we have waited for news on what school will look like when we return in August. We got this information today and you can read Alistair Gaw’s letter here. Further details will be sent to families by the 24th June including which groups their children will be in and which days they will attend school. In school, we will spend the final two weeks of term preparing our classrooms and learning spaces with our reduced capacity and essential Health and Safety in mind as well as carrying out our final food parcel delivery and Hub volunteer sessions. I have no doubt that we will look back on this term as a strange one but one that has had lots of positives – new skills learned and hobbies started as well as lots of family time. However, we shouldn’t forget those for whom it has also been incredibly stressful – for people living alone, keyworkers separated from their families and those for whom extra family time is not the positive experience it is for some. Whether it’s a return to school or work, I know there will be plenty of people who are very glad that this situation may be coming to an end. Please continue to observe all Scottish Government advice and guidance as it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that we are only in Phase 1 of recovery and could easily slip back if everyone starts to bend the rules.
Our Staff Superstar this week is Mrs Lyall; she helped me out when I was in a Hub-staffing shaped jam and I was very grateful! It was lovely to be in the Hub this week and see so many children from different schools enjoying their time together, in socially distanced bubbles. I felt quite emotional when I saw the Abbeyhill pupils who attended – even if some were almost unrecognisable under their lockdown haircuts! It will just be lovely to see more familiar faces in August. While deciding who would be our Junior Superstars this week, it was lovely as always to see how busy everyone has been on Teams and on Twitter; the Nursery (and Mr Martin) are throwing themselves into the #BearHuntEdin transition project, Neive has done some great writing, Happy Birthday to Sara in P2 and well done to Duncan for tackling some tricky looking Maths! Georgia and Sophia ‘treated’ their dad to a makeover (it looked great, honestly), Eva has mastered the 12 times table and there was some healthy competition between Ola and Martina in ‘Wordshake’. Well done to P7 for getting started with their My World of Work profiles and top marks to Nate, Yasmine and Christina for being the first ones to work out the login! However our Junior Superstars are Freddie, Elsie and Harry for supporting their mum in the DARED challenge and running more than one 5k with her this week! They were also among a group who ran into (no pun intended) Mr Woodhouse when he was doing his own DARED run and jogged along with him for a bit to keep his spirits up! Mrs Souness was particularly impressed with the multiple 5ks so watch out Freddie and Elsie as she may have you coaching a running club when we go back! She might let Harry off…
I also really enjoyed watching the ‘Meet the Teacher’ videos that each teacher posted into the channel of their class for next session. It’s not quite the same as being able to spend time together in real life but that will come soon enough! Copies of these will be emailed to families with no access to Teams next week.
Next week would normally see our P7s heading off on their 3 day visit to their new high schools which of course can’t happen this year. However, they will be taking part in the ‘Moving On Up’ transition project with different tasks to complete over the 3 days. Visit our P7 Transition 2020 page to find out about different activities, videos and ideas that Drummond has been sharing to welcome the P7s, as well as inviting P7 families to careers events and Parent Council meetings. I’m sure that the P7s will feel as prepared as they possibly can in August and that all nerves will have been forgotten by the end of their first week.
As well as our P7s missing their visit, they’ll miss their last Abbeyhill Taxi Day which is such a shame (maybe Drummond will let them go next year?!) but it was lovely to see this throwback to June 2019 posted on Twitter by @OutingTaxi earlier in the week. I didn’t realise they’d all grown up so much in the last year!
I hope you get the chance to relax and enjoy the weekend even though it looks like it’s going to be a rainy one!
Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher
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.
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