Category Archives: Team Spirit

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

 

Lockdown: Week 8 – and some of us are going on a bear hunt!

There has been lots going on as usual this week and we’ve been busy on Teams and Twitter. Opportunities we’ve tweeted about that are not to be missed include the invitation to sign up to Sustrans ‘Outside In’ newsletter for 4 weeks of fun ideas to get everyone moving; click here to find out more and sign up. We posted links from Mrs Mash and Jan Lee Brown who are well known to our children who love storytelling ‘Chit Chat’ Club and who are both running daily story and song sessions on Facebook. Click on their names to find out how to take part! of course today is School Uniform Day! Staff have had lots of fun preparing bitmojis and photos of themselves in school clothes (some even in uniform!) which Mrs Flowers put into an interactive classroom before inviting pupils to send in their own photos to add to the gallery! It’s been really lovely to see everyone joining in and having fun – what a nice way to end the week. And after all that hard work, Mrs Flowers is the deserved winner of Secret Staff Superstar this week – well done Mrs Flowers!

Of course, it hasn’t all been fun and games and we also posted a link to our website with information for key workers whose children are struggling with our current normal. If this sounds like something that’s relevant to you, head to our School Closure: Useful Documents and Links page for the latest advice from the British Psychological Society.

It’s also been busy on Teams with lots to keep everyone occupied. Apart from seeing everyone’s uniform photos, I’ve enjoyed Archie’s video about his lockdown experiences that he made for his Auntie who is a teacher in South Africa, Gregor’s enthusiasm for the Sumdog challenge has brought a smile to my face (I can just imagine your reaction when the website froze Gregor!), Mr Forde has started a very supportive thread about transition to high school where the P7s are posting the questions are important to them. Our Secret Superstar of the week has to be Maya who made a really touching video about how much she misses school – we miss you all too!

Like all schools we’re trying to keep connected with our families and ensure that everyone stays informed as far as possible; unfortunately we can’t answer all questions (no, we don’t know when schools will re-open and like everyone will have to wait for news from the government) but what we do know we share. This week we’ve contacted families with information on the new Sumdog competition that’s just opened for Edinburgh; this is a great way to get kids excited about Maths and doing something interactive every day. We’ve also made sure that some of our families know that another food parcel will be coming their way next week and I once again thank the staff who are collecting and distributing them once a fortnight. It is very much appreciated. Nursery pre-schooler families have received initial information on the city-wide transition project based on Michael Rosen’s ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ and P7 families can expect some news next week on what transition will look like for them. I may or may not have been on the phone earlier to a company lining up a special gift for them all to mark their last days at Abbeyhill….watch this space.

On Monday next week staff and pupils won’t need to login as we are all looking forward to our final bank holiday of the session for Victoria Day (18th May). Did you know Victoria Day was started in 1845 in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday but is now also celebrated as the official birthday of the Queen of Canada? The things you learn on lockdown!

Have a lovely weekend. Stay home, stay safe.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Short weeks can still be busy!

…hence I am writing this on Saturday rather than my usual Friday or indeed Thursday as I had intended! It’s been a 3 day week for learners and a 4 day week for staff with everyone hopefully enjoying the Bank Holiday yesterday. It’s unusual to have one on a Friday but in these times more than ever I am sure that we all appreciate the sacrifices made by everyone involved in the Second World War as we celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day, whether they were fighting on the front line or at home worrying about a loved one who was – and trying to keep the community going in the meantime. Parallels can be drawn with our current situation and we should all be thankful that we will never be asked to face the challenges that those brave men and women did between 1939 and 1945. As we enter week 7 of lockdown, it is incomprehensible to think of the daily changes to lives and routines that were wrought on the world for six long years and we thank everyone for their heroic efforts to defend our way of life.

On Monday, staff had an in-service day and we carried out in depth follow up activities around Tom Sherrington’s companion book which examines Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction. We split into groups, each with a video to watch and work to complete on a section of the book, and then ‘met’ on Teams to discuss our sections. Most of us were inspired to try to complete the rest of the sections and we will be following this up when we return to school to see which of the principles work well in the classroom. One of the key messages from the section I was working on was that it is normal for minds to wander (oh good) and that we should ‘vary the diet’ of the way we ask children to do things. This is extra-challenging at the moment but try to mix up the way your child is learning at home if you can and don’t expect them to sit and concentrate for hours at a time; the longest block they have in the classroom at school is 2 hours.

We also evaluated our School Improvement Plan for the current session; lots remains incomplete or unfinished as we have so far lost a lot of the planned opportunities to revisit, conclude or develop what we had started during this term. However, everything worth doing this year will still be worth doing next session and a lot of it will migrate to our 2020-21 ‘recovery’ plan, which parents will of course also get a copy of.

I had a cluster management meeting, again on Teams, on Thursday with the Head Teachers of Drummond Community High, Broughton and Leith Walk Primary School. We discussed the success and challenges of the Hub with the overall feeling that a good provision is being made available for those who need it and that both staff and children have adapted well to the current situation. Unfortunately, the challenges haven’t just come from the organisation of such an operation but from members of the public who flouted the lockdown rules to break onto the all-weather pitch at Drummond on Wednesday afternoon to pay football, surrounded by watching members of their families. This flies in the face of what we have been asked to do, as well as the fact that this is a play area for Hub children which then had to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Staff did absolutely the right thing by calling the police and the footballers were justifiably shamed on social media by passing members of the public who spotted them and took photos.

We were delighted to welcome a few more children onto Teams this week and also to be able to distribute paper resource packs from the Hub and on foot to families who need or wanted them. Ms Macdonald was nominated for our second Secret Staff Superstar for printing her packs at home (after not being able to get near the Abbeyhill photocopier), running off extras for children who didn’t get one of the original set (again at home as the Hub photocopier was out of action!) and then delivering them on foot after a shift at the Hub. What a hero – well done Ms Macdonald! Our Secret Superstar learner is Mubin who has been working incredibly hard and who has really impressed Ms Howson this week – congratulations Mubin.

I hope that you’re all staying active; I have stopped blaming my lack of routine and the local leisure centre being closed for my poor activity levels and have managed to do 3 YouTube workouts this week – all before the rest of my family are out bed. Otherwise I have no hope! Is this something I can keep up when we go back to school….only time will tell. Hopefully you’ve been following Active Schools on Twitter, either through their own account or our retweets; they’re posting daily challenges and ideas for staying active and healthy without leaving our homes, or gardens if you’re lucky enough to have one. Miss Robertson has also been posting some inspirational dance videos so if you fancy something a little more creative be sure to check out what she’s been doing through the Colony of Artists blog!

Next week we will be gearing up for School Uniform Day on Friday 15th May; children across the city will be wearing their school uniform and so we hope as many Abbeyhill-ers as possible will take part and post photos in their teams! How many people will have outgrown their school uniform?!

Stay safe,

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

 

From toilet rolls to surrealist art – welcome back!

Well done for making it to the end of the first week of the last term of the school year! This is usually one of my favourite times of the year as the days are long and usually warm(ish), there’s lots of excitement in school as we gear up for events such as Health Week, Sports Day, P7 transition, end of year celebrations and BBQs, and the added pressure of completing assessments, improvement plans and ideas for the new session makes the days fly by! All with the promise of a holiday and time to travel, see friends, family and relax on the horizon. This year of course feels more than a little different but it is incredible to see all the positivity that is radiating from our school community, from friends and neighbours checking on each other, online collaborations in ways we’d never previously have thought of and a heightened level of understanding for everyone’s own personal set of challenges.

This week our second batch of food parcels were delivered and thank you so much to the hero staff volunteers who collected them from Waverley Court (shame about that spilled milk on your car carpet Mrs Flowers, I’m sure the smell will disappear at some point) and delivered them to lots of Abbeyhill families. Some teachers were even able to take them to children in their own class which was lovely for everyone! Thankfully food stocks seem to have pretty much returned to normal in the shops but for some, finances are tight and it is important to remember Nicola Sturgeon’s message that no-one should have to worry about feeding their family. If you are struggling, you can get in touch with us as Abbeyhill is now a registered referrer for local foodbanks or you can call the national helpline on 0800 111 4000.

P6 managed to start their Artists-in-Residence project, despite lockdown, and produced some incredible pieces of surrealism art! You can keep up to date with the residency as it progresses through our Curator-in-Residence, Iliyana Nedkova’s, blog here.

I’ve enjoyed re-tweeting the Active Schools daily alphabet challenges and trying a few at home myself although it all came back to haunt me when Mrs Flowers challenged a few of us to try to match Mr Woodhouse’s toilet roll keepy uppy prowess. Safe to say it did not go well and I wish I’d been as clever as Ruaridh who attached string to his toilet roll to keep it in check! It’s so important to stay as active as possible, even if you can’t go out as this has a hugely positive impact on not just physical health but mental wellbeing as well. I did socially distant ‘Pavement Pilates’ with my neighbours on Monday which we’ve done for the last 3 weeks and it’s something I will miss when we all go back to school! Get outside if you can and soak up some of this lovely sunshine. If you can’t then throw open your windows and let some fresh air and birdsong in.

If you keep up with our Twitter feed (@AbbeyhillPS) you’ll have seen that our website has been updated with new resources that will hopefully be of use, from an offer of support to all families from Edinburgh Psychological Services, social stories, guides to helping your child understand the news and supports for families. They’re all grouped together for ease on our Coronavirus: Useful Documents & Links page.

All that remains is to announce our Secret Superstar for the week and as usual it’s a very difficult choice. However, it has to be Freddie for starting what turned out to be the funniest challenge of the week on Teams. Mrs Flowers will now forever be known as Spider Flowers!!  Have a lovely weekend whatever you do but remember to stay at home, stay safe and protect the NHS.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher