Parent Newsletter Archive
New School – Update
It was announced on 28th September that Garnock Academy would be one of 14 secondary schools in Scotland chosen for a complete rebuild under the new Scottish Futures Trust initiative. This was great news for young people of the Garnock valley who will benefit from the modern facilities the new school will offer.
Since 28th September, there has been a number of planning meetings, discussions and visits to recently re-built schools. There are currently ten potential sites identified within the Garnock valley area which could house the new Garnock Academy buildings. These sites all have to be assessed for suitability, and a choice placed before the elected members of North Ayrshire Council.
To gain experience of facilities in newly rebuilt schools, a number of staff and pupils have recently visited St Matthew’s Academy, Grange Academy, Greenwood Academy and Belmont Academy. We have observed and taken note of features which we think are excellent, and some which we would like to avoid.
In due course, a full consultation on parent and pupil views will be undertaken, to allow all “users” of the new school to express their views on any areas they wish taken into consideration.
Fourth year prelims were held at an earlier date this session – the end of October. This should allow for a greater period for “putting things right” where students have not performed as well as they are capable of, due to lack of application. The Senior Prelims (S5/S6) are planned to start on 5th February.
In preparation for prelims and final examinations, pupils often seek out past paper questions to practice their knowledge and skills on. This is excellent preparation, so you may wish to note that the SQA website allows the free download of, not only past exam papers, but also marking instructions. The marking instructions give answers and details of how marks are allocated, which students should find very helpful in assisting their studies. The SQA website can be reached at www.sqa.org.uk Thereupon follow the link for Services for Learners. The SQA exam timetable, and much more useful information can also be found on this site.
Students and parents may also care to note that SQA Past Papers are also available, free of charge, from local libraries.
The AGM of the Parent Council took place on the evening of Thursday 29th October. Mr Bentley was appointed chairperson, Mrs Kolonko appointed secretary and Mrs McKay appointed treasurer. Parent Council members also include Mrs Aird, Ms Cooper, Mrs Dagen, Mrs McMaster, Mrs Naven and Mrs Stevenson. Meetings of the parent council take place monthly in the school library. If you are interested in attending, or have issues which you wish to raise with the Parent Council, you should contact any member directly, or through the school office who will forward any mail to the Parent Council chairperson.
Posters, photographs and videos
The school has a considerable number of subject display boards throughout the school, which display good examples of pupil work. Some of these involve photographs of pupils engaged in department activities eg carrying out an experiment, working in a workshop or writing in a class group. Additionally, we continue to show pupil activities on our school website. These photographs will always be taken with the knowledge of the pupils involved, but if there is any reason why you would not wish your son/daughter to appear in photographs or videos in any school based activity, please let me know and I will ensure that this does not happen.
On a similar theme, we had several issues of pupils videoing or photographing other pupils in the school or in the playground using mobile phone cameras. Some of these have found their way onto Social network sites like Facebook without the permission, and in some cases, against the wishes of those photographed. This obviously can cause trouble. It has always been school policy that mobile phones should be switched off at all times in the school buildings. In the playground, however, it is also school policy that pupils should not make videos or take photographs of other pupils at any time.
Kilbirnie “Christmas Lights” Afternoon
The school was well represented at the “Licht up oor toon” events in Kilbirnie on the afternoon of Saturday 28th November. Callum Paterson (S6) played the pipes on the open bus leading the parade, and the Enterprise prefects managed two stalls in the Walker Hall, one selling confectionery, the other with a chocolate fountain. The Enterprise prefects had also held a bake sale in school the previous week, and raised £80 which was donated to the Kilbirnie lights fund. The school Junior Band and Junior Choir performed for two sessions outside the Walker Hall, to appreciative audiences. Finally, the Art Department held a design competition to produce a poster advertising the Lighting Up event, which was won by Sarah Aitken (1H), whose poster was used to promote the event.
Safety in the School Buspark
Parents who drop off or pick up their children in the school buspark just before 9.00am or just after 3.25pm place the safety of other pupils at risk, since the playground is extremely busy with more than 700 pupils crossing the buspark at this time. If you have to drive through the school buspark, please keep to the speed limit of 5mph and conform to instructions from school staff on duty. In particular, at 3.25pm, you will be requested to wait until all pupils have safely boarded buses and the staff on duty are satisfied that it is safe for vehicles to move.
This year, on 11th November (Remembrance Day), the whole school again held a two minute silence at 10.50am. Immediately after this Nadia Teele (S5) played the Last Post on her trumpet followed by Callum Paterson (Head Boy) playing the Flowers o’ the Forrest on the pipes. Both instruments played in the back playground, and produced an atmospheric tone as the sound echoed between the buildings. This gave the event an added layer of solemnity, which pupils and staff appreciated.
Winter Weather (Emergency Arrangements)
We are again at the time of year that the school could be closed because of bad weather, in particular a heavy fall of snow. It is important that we all consider and mentally rehearse what we should do in this event. The decision to close the school is only taken after consultation with the Police, bus contractors and North Ayrshire Council staff. It is important that you discuss with your child where they should go if there is no one at home and the school has to close early. Perhaps there is a relation, a neighbour or a friend they could go to until you return.
Every effort will be made to keep you up to date with school closures using the school website and Westsound Radio, but sometimes it is necessary to close the school at very short notice.
This information is also relevant if your son/daughter takes ill at school and has to be taken home early. Please ensure that we have your current contact details - remember the school should be informed if you move or change a mobile phone number.
School Concert Band Gold Award
Congratulations to our school concert band who performed at the Scottish band festival in the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow on Sunday 8th November, winning a Gold award - an excellent achievement. The band gave a complete performance in the Assembly Hall to parents and friends on the evening of Wednesday 4th November, which was very much enjoyed by those present.
End of Term Events
Staff and Senior pupils have been busy over the past eight weeks training to take part in the grand final of Strictly Come Dancing in the Assembly Hall on Wednesday 9th December, from 3.45pm to 5.30pm. This event proved hugely popular last year and I am certain that it will be even more popular this year.
The S4 Parents’ Evening will be held on Tuesday 15th December from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.
The school concert will be held on Wednesday 16th December at 7.00pm.
Pupil choirs performed at Princes Square, Glasgow on Thursday 3rd December, and on Tuesday 8th December. We will also have a choir in Princes Square on Christmas Eve, Thursday 24th December, from 10am to noon. Collection money raised is donated to the Hansel foundation. If you are Christmas shopping in Glasgow on Christmas Eve, please come along and listen to our choir, whose performance is a credit to the school.
A school Christmas talent concert will take place on Friday 18th December, organised by Prefects.
A Prefects and Staff Ceilidh will take place on Monday 21st December, starting with a buffet at 7.00pm. This was a hugely successful event last year, and is eagerly anticipated.
The whole school will attend a Christmas end of term service in St Columba’s Church on Tuesday 22nd December, weather permitting.
Term ends at 2.30pm on Tuesday 22nd December
School restarts after the holiday at 9.00am on Wednesday 6th January 2010.
Brian McNaught Rector December 2009