Category Archives: Outdoor Learning

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 

STEM, Art, gardening, cooking…thank goodness it’s Friday!

Our classes have been busy this week and I was lucky enough to spend a day in P7 this week and even more luckily, on a day when a trip was planned! P7 are working with staff at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on a project based around Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches which are currently displayed there and it was a pleasure to see their own sketchbooks which they have created as well as witness the time and effort they put into creating their own emblems, inspired by Leonardo.

Over the next two weeks, they will visit with P2 and help their younger buddies to make dragon masks so watch this space for some photos!

P1 have been out on the hills as usual (luckily for them the rain didn’t start until after school) and have been using natural resources to help them with their current Maths topic of time. Well done P1!

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P2 planted Mirabilis Jalapa perennials in their own alphabet pots which they had made. Not only will they look lovely as they grow in the classroom but they might even be able to be transplanted into our outdoor planters which will form part of our Outdoor Classroom and Community Garden which was launched on Monday! It was fantastic to get so many parents and lots of really useful suggestions for how we can get started, from landscapers to project managers and practical tips for growing with the children. I can’t wait to see it all begin to take shape and I’m confident there will be a lot of discussion about it at Parent Council next week.

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P3 have also had a busy week as they have made pancakes in the Cooking Classroom which included recipe writing, measuring and munching! (None made their way to Mrs Ketchin’s office I notice…). They even found time to design and make their own wooden boats before testing them in the water tray and YES they all floated!

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P5, 6 & 7 had a visit from Generation Science yesterday and learned all about electrical circuits.Everyone now knows what electrons, atoms and negative charges are, as well as how to build their own ammeter!

On Tuesday I was on a Child Protection course to update my qualification in this area. We discussed some hard hitting topics and examined practice from across Education, Health, Social Work and the Police. Online safety was discussed at length with advice for parents (and practitioners) to think of the internet as a place when you are trying to decide whether to let your child use a particular app, game or website. Just like the real world, the internet is a wonderful, diverse place with amazing things to see and do but also with plenty of hidden dangers that young people need to be guided to navigate and deal with. Would you let your child go to Waverley Station, speak to as many strangers as possible, swap phone numbers and get on an unknown train? This is the reality of what many apps and games encourage children to do with TikTok being one of the most toxic apps available at the moment.

Next week, our Parent Literacy course starts on Monday and the tutors plus teachers are looking forward to sharing tips and strategies that we use in school to help you help your child. We have a Parent Council meeting on Wednesday and I shall also be at a cluster Head Teachers meeting where P7 transition to high school will be a strong agenda item – not long now! Mrs Watt and I shall be holding interviews for citywide Pupil Support Assistant posts and the Abbeyhill Ambassadors will be crossing their fingers that they get a reply to their letter to a local soup kitchen offering to spread kindness round the community.

And finally…

There have been no reported cases of coronavirus in Scotland yet but if you are concerned about anyone in your family, please do not come to school or send your child to school but seek advice from NHS 111 immediately. Do not physically go to your GP. In the meantime, the usual good hand hygiene practices and caution about seeing anyone who has travelled to an affected area will help to keep your family healthy. The Easter holidays are still 5 weeks away but it is worth checking your travel insurance in case you have trips booked to any of the affected countries which you may be advised to cancel.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

We love being part of our community!

From our new community garden to working hard with our royal neighbours, read on to find out what we’ve been up to at Abbeyhill this week! Our class newsletter went out today and it’s great to read about all the different things going on in each class. Nursery have been taking advantage of significant Early Years funding that was recently made available to each setting and lots of new STEM equipment has been arriving over the last few weeks. Plenty of it has gone into the garden so you may have already spotted it!

Speaking of gardens, yesterday I met with a playground development officer to discuss our proposed outdoor classroom and community garden. Simon Preston, our Parent Council Chair, was also there and we were pleased to hear about support that be offered in terms of building and sourcing the items we need to transform the area on the grass that has recently been revealed following the removal of the thorny bushes. If you are able to join us on Monday for the official launch of the project then Simon, Mr Woodhouse and Mr Hamilton look forward to giving a little more information on what you can expect to see before the school year draws to a close in June. P1 and P2 will both be exploring planting in the new garden as part of their projects this term although P3 is planning to go a little further afield and visit the Rainforest! Watch this space to find out what they are up to as they explore this topic.

If you have our newsletter, you’ll be able to access the official photos from P6’s Burns & Beyond project that I wrote a lot about last month and P4 and P5 have also been heavily involved in live performance this week as they were lucky enough to secure tickets to The Lion King at the Playhouse where they all had a wonderful time on Wednesday afternoon. I spent time in P5 on Thursday and enjoyed hearing them tell me about their favourite parts as well as discussing the technical elements of the production!

P7 have continued to represent Abbeyhill’s new partnership with The Palace of Holyroodhouse and visited again this week as part of a project which will see them create and bind their own sketchbook will be used as the project continues. P2 are very much looking forward to the culmination of this particular project which will see them be able to get involved and explore what the P7s have learned with them as well as doing some sketching of their own.

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Next week, we have our Outdoor Classroom launch and a Generation Science workshop for P5-7. I’ll be lucky enough to spend a few days with P7 so I’m looking forward to being part of the workshop as well as accompanying them to The Palace of Holyroodhouse to see their artistic skills in action!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher