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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

 

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 

Spring term…the story so far!

We’ve been very busy at Abbeyhill so far this term, as always. We’ve started to build on the experience we had helping to launch the Edinburgh Adapts plan in November and small groups of children have been working with me to develop ideas for a few themes for the City Vision 2050. It’s a bit of a brain bender to think that far into the future but we’ve had some good ideas around ‘Community Safety’ and ‘Digital and Technology’. We’re hoping to make them into a video!
We’ve had our most successful Walking Bus yet with 30 children and parents taking part at the end of January; the theme was ‘tartan’ to coincide with Burns’ Day. It’s a lovely, sociable way to start the day and encourages sustainable travel to school so we will keep running them regularly. Less children do now travel to school by car which we’re pleased about and is hopefully down to a combination of factors such as our focus on sustainability and the environmental impact of various types of travel, road safety and of course the fact that Abbey Street is closed to non-permit holders before and after school as part of the School Streets/Safer Routes to School initiative. Our P7s had a ‘Bikeability’ session this week which saw them take to the roads and increase their confidence about doing so. Lots more bikes have been seen in the bike shed since!

Our Artists in Residence programme is also flourishing with other schools now showing interest in what we do. We’re continuing to work with the Talbot Rice and Collective Galleries and it’s easy to see the benefits that the children get from working with professional artists both in school and in formal gallery spaces. We’ve also struck up a new partnership with the Edinburgh Art Festival and look forward to developing it over the next few years. Of course, all the work the children are doing will be exhibited at the Colony of Artists festival on 23rd/24th September – put the dates in your diary!

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s been happening in school so remember to check our website regularly and follow us on Twitter @AbbeyhillPS to keep up with all things Abbeyhill!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

 

 

 

Abbeyhill Festivities 

What an amazing term we’ve had at Abbeyhill! December alone has been incredibly busy; our Parent Council organised the Winter Talent Show which was a fantastic evening and enjoyed by everyone. It made us all proud to see how confident the children were in front of a large audience and in an unfamiliar venue. We’re hoping it becomes an annual tradition! We’ve also had a whole school trip to the pantomime at the Brunton Theatre, the P7 ceilidh, which was a magical evening as always, and the P1 Nativity (which was tinged with sadness as it’s the last one that we’ll do at the London Road Parish Church which is due to close in January 2017). P6 ran a very successful market stall at the Stockbridge Market at the beginning of the month, selling handmade wreaths and candles (see our Twitter feed @AbbeyhillPS for photos). They made £500 so well done to the P6 fundraising committee as that brings their total for the session so far to £1000 with all the money raised going towards their P7 camp in October 2017. Still to come this week, we’ve got family film night, Christmas parties and a Christmas singalong before term ends on Thursday – there’s no winding down here!!

No matter where you are this Christmas, whether you celebrate or not, from all of us at Abbeyhill we wish you a happy and safe holiday and look forward to seeing everyone when term starts on Tuesday 10th January. 

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher