Category Archives: Outdoor Learning

A very warm welcome

Thank you for the incredibly warm welcome I have received during my first week at Abbeyhill. It is immediately apparent what a very special school community this is. I have enjoyed meeting all the pupils and look forward to getting to know many more of the parents and families in the coming weeks. You will be aware from my letter on Wednesday that I will not be staying in post at the school in the longer term, but please be assured that recruitment is already underway and I will be working to support a smooth transition when the next Acting Head is appointed.

Our parents consultations will take on a very different format this year and you will have hopefully seen my letter detailing the booking system and the our Microsoft Teams platform. I know all the teaching staff are looking forward to meeting virtually with you to talk about the progress and achievements of your children. Please make sure you take the opportunity to book a convenient appointment and if you require a translator then please contact the school office so this can be arranged.

I have already been engaging with some of the parental community and teaching staff in regards to the outdoor classroom and look forward to progressing this soon. The dates for the Parent Council AGM and future meetings will be issued shortly. I would encourage you all to become actively involved with the work of the Parent Council and work in partnership to help our school to be the best place for all our pupils, staff and families.

I have been so impressed by the variety of learning opportunities have seen at Abbeyhill this week. Several classes and the Nursery have enjoyed outdoor learning opportunities in Holyrood Park, P7 have been making amazing working models of the human lungs, P5 have been learning about Black History Month and the life of Rosa Parks and Mary Seacole and all the classes have been enjoying very active outdoor P.E. sessions with Mrs Souness.

Finally, you will receive an email from me today regarding our after school provision. After several years, Scoosh our current provider will be ending their service. This will cease on Friday 16th October. I am pleased to say that we have already secured the services of another provider, Smart Cookies. Smart Cookies will begin their service on the first day back after the holidays, including school pickup. I know how vital wrap around care can be for some families and I hope this reassures you. They also accept payments from the various tax free childcare schemes.

If I can be of any help or assistance then please feel free to contact me through the school office.

Kind Regards

Barry Donald-Hewitt
Acting Head Teacher

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Informed

Yesterday’s news from the Scottish Government may have come as a surprise to some but whether you were expecting it or not, there is no doubt that this will feel disappointing and stressful to some. Those hard won freedoms look like they may be on shaky ground again and it’s more important than ever that we follow Government guidance in order to bring the R number down and continue to make progress. To that end, the Colony of Artists committee is meeting this weekend to discuss if any elements of the festival can go ahead whilst complying with the new rules or whether a delay would be more appropriate. Whatever is decided, Abbeyhill will not be taking part this year in a physical sense and have instead prepared window decorations and an online presence, curated by Iliyana Nedkova. Look out for our busy buzzing bees around the community!

Last week we got a lot of positive responses to #WakeUpWednesday on Twitter where I posted some infographics on some of the  social media apps that are most popular with children and young people. There was a new one I’d never heard of and as both a teacher and a parent it reminded me that the only way to support children to navigate the online world effectively is to make sure we keep up with it as much as possible and are prepared to have open and honest conversations about the hidden dangers, as well as enjoy the fun the internet has to offer. To today’s generation of young people, the online world is as real as the physical one and just as much support is needed to navigate it safely and enjoyably.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This week Mr Donald-Hewitt spent his second day with us and enjoyed spending some time in P1 getting to know the class. With limited contacts per day allowed, he will spend time with P4 and P7 over the next two weeks and then catch up with the other classes once he starts on the 28th September. I’m finding it hard to believe that I only have two weeks left at work and just hope that I can get through my ‘to do’ list before I start maternity leave! 

I enjoyed spending some time in P7 yesterday where we had a lot of interesting discussion around the topic of change as we explored the final ‘Building Resilience’ topic of Expect the Unexpected. The P7s talked maturely about sudden change versus expected change and how we can prepare ourselves or support each other through it. There was some mention of sore legs following their 5k march around Holyrood Park the day before (all within the 2 mile limit of school) but on the whole the fresh air and fun seemed to have done everyone good. Everyone is looking forward to the next one and trying to beat Alan’s step count; somehow he managed to do almost double the rest of the class! 

Have a lovely weekend and remember, although the new rules do not come into force until Monday 14th September, we’re all being encouraged to follow them immediately. Stay safe everyone!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher 

On your bike!

As all 5 year olds and over will have to wear a face covering on school transport from Monday 31st August, now is a good time to start considering different modes of transport rather than heading straight to the car (if you have one) and we have lots of children who already enjoy cycling and scooting to school. Watch this video for some of the benefits of more active travel, from getting fitter to helping the environment – especially in reducing air pollution round our schools.

Thank you to those of you who have supported us this week by using both gates, maintaining social distance, wearing face coverings, only sending one parent into the playground and leaving promptly once you have dropped off/picked up your children. As a staff, we will be discussing further improvements that we can make next week as we continue to try to make all our new routines run as smoothly as possible. We will also be examining guidance due out next week on how we can run our normal events, such as Parents Evenings, with an aim of having our usual ‘Save the Date’ list, or at least more information on how we will be approaching things this term, with families as soon as possible.

Hopefully the forecast is not to be believed and the weather will be better next week; I can’t believe we’ve had our first yellow weather warning of the session already! Sadly because of that some of our classes had to have an indoor break but everyone managed to rush out for some fresh air in between cloudbursts later in the day. Well done to P4 for making use of the sheltered space when the rain put paid to their outdoor learning plans in the wildlife garden!

Outdoor Learning P4

Next week our staff will start to decorate the windows of the school with busy bees to represent the hive of activity that we normally are at this time of year as we prepare to take part in the annual Colony of Artists festival. Sadly, our participation will be online this year but we look forward to 2022 when we can hopefully take part as usual. Look out for buzzing bees around the school and local community!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher 

 

A funny old week!

Well, what can we say? It started relatively normally with the fantastic experience of future playground planning with Lesley McMillan from Architecture Design Scotland as well as the third and final session of our parent literacy sessions and ended with us waving goodbye to the whole school and nursery for an unknown length of time. Naturally, rumours are flying as to how long the school closure will last but just on the off-chance that our P7s had their last day at primary school today, Mr Hamilton piped them out of the front door – just the way he would have done on the 26th June. And the good news is that if we are back by then and this is all just a memory we’ll do it all again! Head to our Twitter page @AbbeyhillPS to see the video.

Back to that positive start to the week. The Abbeyhill Ambassadors met with Lesley McMillan from Architecture Design Scotland and she talked to them about the concept of ‘Campfires in Cyberspace’ which the Ambassadors grasped enthusiastically. We showed Lesley round our favourite spaces in the playground and then went back inside to begin to plan what we would like in our playground.

Quiet, reflective spaces featured heavily, as did areas where nature and wildlife could flourish. All this will be taken into account by the Parent Council as they plan our Outdoor Classroom and Community Garden but in the meantime, the Abbeyhill Chicken Coop has been commissioned and will hopefully be ready to be filled by the time we return to school. I’m sure there will be a lot of good natured argy-bargying as to who gets to feed and look after our new arrivals!

Sadly, a lot of our other activities were cancelled; P3 missed their trip to the Botanics and on the instruction of the Council, our Parents’ Evenings had to be cancelled along with every other school who had them scheduled this week. We got the very sad news that the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, which every child had ticket for in May, was cancelled. The Swimming Gala, highlight of the Spring term sporting calendar and due to take place on 1st April, was also cancelled. However, one thing that had to be delivered differently rather than being cancelled was assembly. Instead of being together in the hall, we went outside to play and got all of the toys out of the shed as well as our Loose Parts Play on the pitch. It was declared ‘the best assembly’ ever and left me thinking ‘Why don’t we do this every week?!’. More fresh air, more physical exercise and more time to build on relationships with staff and friends all equals improved physical, mental and emotional health. Watch this space for more outdoor assemblies when we return!

On Tuesday we were told that certain staff should make arrangements to work from home immediately and on Wednesday the news came that was not unexpected but at the same time came as a shock when it became reality. There is no doubt that schools being closed, as well as a lot of the other places we all enjoy going, will be challenging for all of us. It’s not good for anyone to have the routine and structure of the day removed, and to have far less social interaction than normal. However, if there is anything positive to be taken from this situation so far, it’s that kindness seems to be on the increase. Emissions are down! People are becoming more appreciative of the smaller things. Hopefully these are things that we can hold on to when we return to normality, which we will. This too shall pass.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher