Category Archives: Parental Involvement

Hello Sunshine

What a lovely week it has been! Let’s hope that the weather defies the forecast and stays sunny for the long weekend. Please remember that the school is closed on Monday 20th May for Victoria Day and we are also closed to pupils on Thursday 23rd May as we are a polling station for the European Elections.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had lots going on as always. We’ve had staff development sessions on Mindfulness, Gender Balance and Equality, supporting learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL) as well as planning for the end of this session and the beginning of next. As a staff, we evaluate our progress in our Standards and Quality report (which will be shared on our website by the end of the term) and set targets for improvement with a plan of how to achieve those targets. Again, this will be shared on our website. Before this happens, Parent Council will be asked to cast their eye over relevant sections so if you are interested in this process or would like to contribute, please don’t miss the next Parent Council meeting on Wednesday 19th June.

Before that happens, Parent Council are busily preparing for the Summer Garden Party on 1st June and it looks as though it’s going to be a brilliant day! An email/letter went out earlier in the week asking for willing volunteers so please let the team know if you would like to get involved. Otherwise we will see you on the day for such fun as ‘soak the teacher’ (oh dear), BBQ, tombola, crazy hair stall, bake sale, a police van, fire engine and garden games!

In preparation for this, the Parent Council held a Playground Makeover event last weekend and would like to thank everyone who managed to come along and help. Lots was achieved including a new sand table being created, new herbs planted, benches and railings planted. They even managed to move the fence from the Wildlife Garden to the Nursery area and it looks fantastic!

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This week I’ve been out of school for two very worthwhile events; an Edinburgh Primary Head Teachers’ Association meeting on Tuesday where discussions ranged from school improvement planning to strategies for working more effectively, and a Health and Safety Conference where the focus was more towards health, particarly the mental health and emotional wellbeing of staff. Looking after ourselves enables us to do our jobs well and provide help and support to others. So I feel that I was one step ahead as earlier in the week I booked a yoga teacher to come in next month to do two staff taster sessions with a view to running a regular class after the summer holidays!

Russell McLarty also came to visit us in P4-7 assembly to talk about the next block of Chit Chat club which will run as an after school club for 3 weeks in June. If  you haven’t seen the letter/email for this already, please look out for it next week as places are limited and it was a very popular club last time it ran!

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Have a lovely long weekend and I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday 21st May.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

And the winner is….the Unicorn Squad!

There was a lot of excitement in Abbeyhill this week, mainly revolving around BBC cameras, special visitors from the Scottish Government and (most exciting of all) Abbeyhill’s first ever Maths Quiz! Miss Macdonald organised and hosted this, ably assisted by Mrs Flowers, and it was a resounding success. We were delighted to see so many children and parents taking part in the quiz together. In fact, Miss Macdonald calculated that a third of our school roll from P1 to P7 attended which is fantastic. All of the teams did extremely well and showed off their amazing maths skills. We were particularly impressed with how the year groups worked together to ensure that all children in their team were given the opportunity to answer the questions at their level. A massive well done to the winning children’s team – ‘Unicorn Squad’ and the winning parent’s team – The Number Crunchers’. Maths related competitions such as ‘Guess how many Smarties in the jar’ and ‘How much does this splat ball weigh?’ got everyone’s attention and tested our estimation skills! Well done to the winning parent and child teams who were each only 2 points off a perfect score! There will definitely be another one so watch this space after the summer holidays…

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Back to those BBC cameras….. If you were watching Reporting Scotland yesterday, you might have spotted some familiar faces! On Thursday our Pupil Council were visited by Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform and Professor Keith Bell from the Committee on Climate Change. The children were told of the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling climate change by 2045. Reporters from the BBC and STV news were also present alongside local and national press photographers.

Our Pupil Council representatives spoke very well about some of things we do in school to save our planet- recycling, switching off the lights and reducing plastic packaging in our snacks. Our guests were especially interested to find out about our single use plastic straw collection and the changes we have made during our milk time.

Several visitors commented on how polite, well-mannered and knowledgable our Pupil Council were. They did a fantastic job of representing our school and you can watch the clip which featured on BBC Scotland Lunchtime and Evening News here (from 57 seconds).

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Today, P5 rounded off the week with a Bake Sale in aid of a charity which is yet to be decided. They have discussed choosing a few and then splitting what they made between them. Everyone enjoyed visiting the classroom and choosing between some delicious looking home baking. One of Ellie’s raspberry and white chocolate muffins was very welcome with my coffee this morning!

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Please remember that Monday 6th May is a bank holiday and school is also closed to pupils on Tuesday 7th May while the staff carry out a variety of professional development activities. We’ll be reflecting on our work against the School Improvement Plan, refreshing our Mindfulness training with Gary from the Mindful Enterprise and exploring the concept of Gender Balance with Mrs Lansdown who is visiting from Education Scotland.

See you all back at school on Wednesday 8th May!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Happy Holidays!

We had such a dramatic end to term at Abbeyhill that I ran out of time to write our blog entry! Hopefully you all have some exciting holiday activities planned, whether at home or further afield. Everyone can look forward to sharing their tales when school and Nursery resumes on Tuesday 23rd April. If you are a parent at the school and you receive school emails, you will have seen the What’s On for Families Spring guide to some free or cheap holiday activities in the North-East of Edinburgh but please have a look if you haven’t seen it and need some inspiration.

During our final week of term, we were all busy as usual with P4 taking some time to plant wildflowers using seeds that they had packaged themselves. Hopefully we’ll get back in a few weeks to see a few shoots emerging!

They were also delighted to officially receive their certificates for making their fivers grow as part of the Virgin Money ‘Make a Fiver Grow’ drive to increase young entrepreneurs…

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…but still had time to get very creative with some real eggs before Easter! Well done P4.

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On Tuesday, I visited Broomhouse Primary School as part of the Leading Learning Partnership programme that all Edinburgh Head Teachers undertake. It was so interesting to spend the morning in a completely different type of school and compare strengths with Abbeyhill.

As well as everything going on in school, Mrs Peters and I took a group of P5-7 swimmers to the Royal Commonwealth Pool on Wednesday to take part in the Edinburgh Primary Schools Swimming Association Gala and as always, it was a fantastic event for everyone who took part. Our team did fantastically, getting into the finals for 2 out of the 3 strokes we competed in. We didn’t come home with any medals this time but come 1st and 2nd in those heats and had a great time so we were happy enough with that!

We also had Parent Council on Wednesday evening, discussing plans for the summer term, the Big Spring Clean and after school club. Please check the Parent Council Facebook page and playground notice board for more details!

And finally, thank you to everyone who supported P6 on 31st March at Stockbridge Market. They did so well, manning the stall all day and providing service with a smile even when energy levels were flagging. They made nearly £600 profits which is one of our best efforts yet and will go a long way towards the cost of camp later in the year. Well done P6!

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Have a lovely holiday, whatever your plans; I look forward to welcoming everyone back to school on Tuesday 23rd April.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Bake Off meets Abbeyhill

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It was one of those surreal moments that happens when you work in a school when on Monday I went from completing paperwork in my office to watching P7 run around Calton Hill, wrapped in foil blankets, creating performance art with headpieces fashioned from plastic packaging. And that’s when Prue Leith walked past. I’m not sure what she thought was going on (and I’m still not even sure) but I’m convinced she enjoyed the ‘showstopper’ performance of George Ezra’s ‘Shotgun’ by 2 of our most enthusiastic artistes. P7 were on the hill as part of our ongoing collaboration with the Collective Gallery and as a class, they have had a special role in the redevelopment of the site since they were in P3. If you haven’t been up recently, you will discover a regenerated site with a gallery, monuments, cafe, restaurant and incredible panoramic views of Edinburgh, Fife and the Pentland Hills.

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Back at school, we had a visit from Angela Mitchell from Changeworks who had been inspired by our decision to ditch plastic straws following our ‘Make a Difference’ assembly project back in September 2018. She helped us work out which plastics it’s okay to use and which we need to stop. Luckily, we’re already on the road to being as plastic free as possible and Angela gave us even more motivation to be Zero Waste Heroes by following the most important of the 3 Rs which is to REDUCE. She was pleased to hear that Abbeyhill will definitely be a plastic red nose free zone for Comic Relief 2021 (and we’ll work out an alternative if there is any single use plastic on offer for Sport Relief in 2020).

On Monday, Mrs Lyall and Mrs El Sarrag ran their last ‘Families Connect’ session and a very special visitor came to present the certificates – Hearts Captain Christophe Berra! Even the most diehard Hibs fans were a little starstruck and Mrs Lyall was in heaven! Christophe was there as the programme is run through Save the Children who are partnered with Hearts FC. Thank you to all the families who came each week, we hope that you enjoyed it and took some useful information home. Well done to the winning family who will be going to the zoo!

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On Wednesday, we had 10 Croatian Head Teachers visit every class and then meet with me to discuss curricular reform. The Croatian education system is undergoing a radical change and moving to a child centred curriculum that will be similar to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and it was fascinating to compare and contrast our experiences in school.

We also had Parents’ Evening this week and thank you to all of the parents who took time to come and visit us on Tuesday and Thursday. It’s great to catch up and let you know about all the great things that your children are doing in school and it’s also a chance to hear about all the great things that they’re doing at home!

To round off the week, P4 and P6 held a craft fair as part of their Virgin Money ‘Grow a Fiver’ project. They each had £5 to buy materials and create something to sell with all profits going to camp (P6) or to buy more craft materials (P4). Scented candles, bows/bowties, mint lip balm, badges and wildflower seeds have been magically produced, with only one glue gun related injury (don’t worry, it was only Mrs Flowers). At an early count, nearly £300 had been raised by P4 alone so well done and thank you to everyone who supported them!

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So all in all, it’s been another busy but successful week at Abbeyhill. Check in next week to hear all about P6’s trip to Edinburgh Castle and my re-scheduled meeting with Mrs Lansdown! But the big question will be….have the newborn chicks that have hatched in the Nursery week survived a weekend of chicksitting at Mrs Ketchin’s house?! Fingers crossed!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

 

Red Nose fever!

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By the end of last week we were red nose, deeley bopper and wristband crazy for Comic Relief. Well done to everyone who took part and helped us to raise a whopping £400 for all the charities who benefit. Thanks also to our local Sainsbury’s who supported us and provided official RND tops for the staff! However, it was interesting to note David Attenborough’s words of warning about the encouragement of single use plastics, especially considering that RND fell on the same day as the second Students for Climate Change protest and next year we will consider whether Abbeyhill will be displaying painted red noses, rather than plastic ones, and donating the full amount to Comic Relief rather than the 50% which is currently received after the production and marketing costs for red noses and other merchandise are removed.

In other Abbeyhill news, we had a staff training session on Monday which was jointly run by both Mr Hamiltons and focussed on the evolving way we need to approach teaching internet safety. Some great new resources are coming out that will help children and adults to see all the opportunities that the virtual world can offer us, as well as the dangers. Just like the real world, it’s important to be able to look around and appreciate the amazing things you might see but also use common sense and have guidance on what to do when things go wrong. We’ll have information displayed for families this week when they come to visit us for Parents’ Evening.

On Thursday I took P4 for the day while Mrs Flowers and Miss Macdonald got stuck into the unenviable task of auditing our Maths resources. Mrs Flowers got very excited about all the things she found that had been hidden at the backs of the cupboards and by the end of the day they had planned an exciting Maths based family event for May so watch out for that when next term’s ‘Save the Date’ sheet comes out!

On Friday, we had a bumper awards assembly with certificates for everyone who took part in the fantastic Talent Show on 7th March as well as the introduction of the ‘Over and Above’ Award. A maximum of two children per class were nominated for this and had to have gone over and above in one or all of our school rules; Ready, Respectful, Responsible. With the grand prize of being allowed to sit on the chairs rather than the mats, it was all to play for and I think a lot of people will be upping their game this week! Well done to our first OAO winners. The Pupil Council also told everyone about how they had worked with Graham Construction to build a Bug Hotel in the wildlife garden. They explained how this had come about, told us about the building process and gave their top tips for keeping it (and all the bugs who come to stay) safe.

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This week, as well as Parents’ Evening, we have trips to the Collective Gallery, ongoing engagement with professional artists in school as part of our Artists-In-Residence programme in preparation for the Colony of Artists in September, filiming will start for the ‘Power of Yet’ video, it’s World Poetry Day on Thursday, a familiar face will be popping in to advise me on how can begin to address gender balance at Abbeyhill (Mrs Lansdown!) and we have a special guest from Changeworks who is going to talk to us about our ongoing drive to reduce plastics. Phew! Check our next blog post to see how it all went!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher