Parent Newsletter Archive
Start of Term
The new term started with the Standard Grade prelims continuing for fourth year, and new subject choices starting for second year. This year, in second year, pupils have chosen their subjects for Standard Grade much earlier than in the past. This has allowed second year pupils to start their Standard Grade courses now (in January) instead of in May. We hope that this will increase pupil motivation and allow greater time to be spent on study for Standard Grades and Highers. We also hope this will lead to improved pupil performance in national examinations.
It is very early to measure the effect of this change, but first impressions from staff and pupils alike are encouraging. I should add that this has never been attempted in any other Scottish school - the timetabling of the change midway through a session is very difficult - but we are convinced it will be beneficial. This timetable change has attracted a lot of attention from other schools who are interested in carrying out similar changes. Mr Waddell, Assistant Head Teacher, the school timetabler has been invited to address a national conference in Education run by Learning and Teaching Scotland, to describe the process we have used to successfully make this change.
Three playground supervisors started after Christmas to assist staff supervise pupils during intervals and lunchtimes. The supervisors are also on duty during period 3 and 4, the time between interval and lunchtime. They are a very welcome addition to our staff complement.
Pupils should treat the playground supervisors with courtesy, and should heed their instructions. It is important that this is emphasised at school and at home. We should not have to remind pupils that cheek to or refusal to comply with instructions from supervisors is unacceptable conduct.
Information for Parents
Along with this newsletter you should find three information leaflets for parents. The first explains our anti-bullying policy and steps to take if your son or daughter suffers this. It also explains what steps we will try to take to assist avoid this problem occurring and what we try to do if it does.
The second leaflet describes the school policy on appropriate dress. This policy was developed at the end of last session in consultation with pupils from all years. It has been successful, but needs continual reinforcing by school staff and parents.
The third leaflet describes the school discipline code for pupils and what steps staff will take when pupils fail to meet required standards of conduct. Please discuss this with your son or daughter so that we all give the same consistent message on the need for high standards of conduct in classes, in the playground, on school buses, in dining areas and in corridors.
Winter Weather Arrangements
A letter was issued last week concerning arrangements if the school has to close early because of bad weather. We are most reluctant to do this because of the difficulty it produces with children reaching home before normal time and the problems of supervision. If we have to close, school buses will run early and pupils will be delivered as far as possible to their normal stops. Please discuss with your son or daughter exactly what you expect them to do if this happens. Ideally, pupils, particularly S1 - S4 should go into the care of a responsible adult, grandparents, next door neighbour, relatives, etc., if you are not able to be at home during the day.
More details can be obtained from the school website or by contacting the office for a copy of the letter which was issued last week.
I wrote to parents several times last session to say that pupil attendance needed to be improved since previously high standards of pupil attendance were gradually slipping. It is vital that this trend is reversed. It is also important that any pupil who leaves school during the day signs out at the main office giving brief details, and is issued with a truancy watch pass. Any pupil found out and about may be stopped by the Police during the school day to check this pass. Local shops and businesses will also request to see this pass. Any pupil of school age who does not have the correct pass will be returned to the school and parents notified. At various times throughout the year we send every parent a printout of their child/childrens attendance which should be checked for accuracy. Obviously it is important to us to know if there are discrepancies, particularly where a child is marked absent when in fact he/she was present.
Scott Houston, in S4, spent an extremely intense but enjoyable month before Christmas having been selected by British Swimming to go on a World Youth Tour. Scott has reached an extremely high level of national, and now international performance in swimming, competing in Shanghai, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. I am sure everyone will realise that this is a magnificent achievement and we wish Scott continued success for the future.
Pupil Code of Conduct
Over the spring term we shall be using pupil councils to develop, with staff, an acceptable code of conduct throughout the school. This will cover classroom conduct, corridor conduct, etc. We hope to involve as many pupils as possible in the discussions leading to producing the code of conduct, and there will be time at Assemblies and during Personal and Social Education classes (PSE) to discuss issues. Pupil councils which are elected by pupils, will further debate these issues, to reach an agreed code. School Board members have also been invited to take part in these discussions, which I am sure they are keen to be involved in.
Many staff and pupils will be involved under the guidance of Mr G Whyte (Mathematics Department) who has a special responsibility for Promoting Positive Behaviour.
We look forward to seeing the results of this exercise in due course.
Supported Study Classes
This programme will commence shortly. We will run an intensive programme of supported study after school - normally Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3.45pm to 4.55pm, until April, to assist pupils prepare for examinations. There is a range of Standard Grade and Higher revision classes for most subjects as well as general study in the library.
A spring term programme is being issued to pupils. Any parent who would like a copy, or more information about the supported study programme, should contact the school office or visit the school website. Free transport is provided to Glengarnock, Beith and Dalry, as well as the further reaches of Kilbirnie. Free refreshment (crisps or chocolate and a bottle of juice) is also provided by the school at 3.35pm.
A reminder to pupils and parents that S5/6 prelims will be held in mid-February as usual. More details will be issued nearer the time.
Many thanks to parents and friends who came to support our Christmas concert on Monday 9th December and our Christmas Evening Performance in St Margarets Church in Dalry on Thursday 19th December. Both were well attended and much appreciated. Our choirs also performed at Princes Square in Glasgow on three occasions prior to Christmas to raise money for Hansel Village and Quarriers Holmes. All three performances were of an exceedingly high standard and very much admired by shoppers, parents and friends.
The whole school attended a Christmas service in St Columbas church in Kilbirnie on the last morning of term - our traditional way of ending the Christmas term. Our thanks go to the Rev A Black who took the service, and we send our very best wishes to Rev D Broster and Rev D Grant who are also school chaplains.
School Plan 2003-2004
This years school plan is printed in its full form on our website. The main themes are: moving S2 pupils onto their S3 choices at Christmas; increasing the use of computers in teaching; developing an integrated pupil support team of staff; promoting positive behaviour; improving accommodation in a number of departments and developing the New Community Schools Initiative in Garnock Academy.
Next years plan will continue on similar themes. If you would like to make any comment on this years plan or make suggestions for next years plan, please get in touch with Mr McNaught in school. Next years plan will be written in the Summer term.
Brian McNaught Rector 20th January 2003