Category Archives: Parental Involvement

Back to school – almost!

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…

DARED challenge

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!

Abbeyhill Taxi Day 2 2019

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 

 

Phase 1: Day 1

I’m sure you’ll be feeling a little lighter in the spirits as we begin Phase 1 on our journey to recovery. Please continue to abide by the rules as this is critical to ensuring that we continue to move in the right direction, back towards some semblance of normality. It would be disheartening to see multiple local groups placed back on lockdown when we’re all no doubt looking forward to meeting up with friends and family who live locally. If you’re in any doubt, check the guidance on the Scottish Government website. You can also refer to this fantastic visual produced by staff in North Lanarkshire Council on what Phase 1 means for everyone.

Phase 1 visual (North Lanarkshire Council)

Today I have emailed our whole school community with the latest guidance from the local authority and what this means for us at Abbeyhill.  I am working hard on potential models for pupils returning and what that might look like. I hope to begin to share these with the wider school community at some point next week.

This weekend we should have been looking forward to a Parent Council Summer Garden Party which has quickly become a very popular annual event! It’s always a lovely day with a brilliant, relaxed atmosphere and I look forward to next summer when (surely!) we can all be back together. However, just to cheer everyone up who thought that they wouldn’t get the chance to ‘Soak the Teacher’ with a bucket and sponges, Mrs Flowers persuaded us all to do a DIY version at home and the resulting video is fantastic! Head to your virtual classroom on Teams if you haven’t seen it yet – and remember, we’re waiting for videos from those home school teachers too! Well done to those that have let their ‘pupils’ loose with hoses, buckets and even the sea! If you haven’t done it yet then at least it’s shaping up to be a hot weekend, perfect for pouring a bucket of water over your head. Yet again, Mrs Flowers wins Staff Secret Superstar for such a brilliant effort – well done Mrs Flowers!

I’ve had a few nominations for Junior Secret Superstar this week and have spotted some great work on Teams as well; Edith has done some beautiful painting, lots of the P2s have been designing dinosaur eggs and making 3D models (I loved Filip’s diplodocus) Konan has done a good piece of imaginative writing (I like your weekend plans Konan!), Alma’s been teaching her class Spanish, Mat has designed a brilliant robot and the P7s continue to be very busy with technology assignments! However, our joint winners have to be Otis and Lenny; if you’re a regular reader you may remember that Otis won a while ago as he had been writing letters to his local care home but we have found out that he and Lenny have been doing it every single week of lockdown and those letters have been pinned to the walls of the care home and really cheering up the residents! Not just doing it once but doing it continually really deserves some recognition so well done Otis and Lenny, you’re this week’s Junior Secret Superstars!

Next week we’ll be distributing more food parcels and paper resource packs will be available on Thursday; please check your emails on Monday for more information. In the meantime, enjoy the fantastic weather over the weekend and enjoy seeing some friends and family if you can!

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

 

Mr Woodhouse gets his steps in!

This week we’ve been working on making sure that we can ensure as many children are accessing learning as possible. Some children have their own devices and as much access to our online learning platforms as they need, some don’t have access to one at all. Others have to negotiate with siblings and a parent who also needs the device for work. Thankfully, staff were lucky enough to get access to school for a few hours this week and managed to make up packs for a significant proportion of the school (there may have been some good natured, socially distant argy-bargying over access to the photocopier) which can be collected from our Drummond Hub next week. It was lovely to get a tiny taste of normality by being in school  but of course it still felt very empty without our fantastic children there. We can’t wait until the day when we can have everyone under the same roof at the same time again – however far off that may be.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on our Twitter feed this week, you’ll have seen lots of Active Schools challenges; what will they do next week when they reach the end of the alphabet?! We’ve also posted details of the new Edinburgh Learns guidance with a version for parents as well as children. You can find copies on our Coronavirus: Useful Documents & Links page. We also shared a post from TES praising the overall approach that all Edinburgh Hubs have taken, allowing key workers to do what needs to be done in vital areas and singling out our cluster High School and local hub Drummond Community High for special mention. Well done to everyone who is working so hard in Drummond and every other Hub across the city and providing such a high level of care for the children of key workers.

It’s been tricky as usual to choose a Secret Superstar this week. Could it be Alma for logging in and getting on with her work from Spain? Or Mat who hasn’t missed a day of online learning since school closed? Sophia is extremely dedicated and also had a birthday she’ll never forget with her isolation birthday party – Happy Birthday Sophia! I hope your teddies and dolls enjoyed the party. Gregor showed great resilience as he battled with a Maths challenge for hours but his persistence paid off and he got there in the end, well done Gregor. John has been working his socks off and is looking forward to coming back to school for a rest by the looks of his photos! Unfortunately there can only be one winner and this week it’s a special one with our very first Secret Staff Superstar! As I said above, packs of work will be available to collect from Drummond next week but there will be no need for P2 families to make their own way there as Mr Woodhouse hand delivered every single pack for his class yesterday – what a hero! Well done and thank you Mr Woodhouse, your class all really appreciated the extra effort that you made.

Next week, it’s a short one as we have an staff only in-service day on Monday where Abbeyhill staff will be working virtually on activities created by Tom Sherrington to go through his companion book to Barak Rosenshine’s ‘Principles of Instruction’ which is the professional text we were working on before schools closed. There will be videos and worksheets to be completed before staff share their sections of work with each other and use it to evaluate their own teaching practice. On Friday, we are all off school for a bank holiday; hopefully the sun shines so we can responsibly enjoy some time outdoors. As always, take care, stay safe and stay healthy!

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.

IMG_3230

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.

MicrosoftTeams-image

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