Strictly Come Dancing
This has become one of the major “events” in the school calendar with its colourful costumes and highly skilled performers. This year the final took place after school on the 7th December to a capacity audience in our Assembly Hall. The worthy winners were Mr Boyle (PE Department) and Jennifer McQuade (S6) although they were closely challenged by a number of other couples.
Mr Boyle and Jennifer McQuade – winners of the school 2011 Strictly Come Dancing contest.
Curriculum for Excellence – Parent Information Evening
We intend to hold an information evening on Thursday 23rd February at 7.00pm for parents of pupils in S1 or S2. This will offer parents the opportunity to learn more of the new middle school arrangements which are coming into effect next session, and how the curriculum for excellence programme will affect their children. There will be a separate invitation sent to parents giving more details regarding this evening.
Fifty four pupils and staff from Poland, Spain and France visited the school in November. These were from our partner schools in a European project, run under the Comenius Project scheme, involving choral poetry and Art. Our visitors enjoyed visits to the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Castle, the Irvine Burns Club, Burns country, the Transport Museum and Kelvingrove Art Gallery. They also experienced a Burns Supper and a Scottish ceilidh, as well as performing in a concert in the Walker Hall. Thirty pupils and staff from Garnock Academy will visit Lorca in Spain at the end of March 2012 to take part in the final concert with our partner schools.
Some of our Spanish and French visitors outside the Scottish Parliament buildings in Edinburgh.
Craig Taylor Memorial Award
Stefanie Wilson (S4) is this session’s winner of the Craig Taylor memorial trophy. Stefanie is the S4 pupil who, in the views of other S4 pupils, has contributed most to the school and community. Congratulations to Stefanie.
Mr McNaught (left), Mr K Gibson MSP (second right) presenting the Craig Taylor memorial Trophy to Stefani (centre) and Stefani’s family.
S4 prelims are well underway and appear to be going well. It is very important to learn from the experience and put right any issues which have caused a less than expected performance. We will be running supported study classes after school in most subjects between now and the SQA exams and I would encourage pupils to take full advantage of this opportunity.
S1 Homework Programme
This session we introduced an enhanced homework programme for S1 pupils. As well as the normal homework set by class teachers in the subjects studied by first year pupils, we have introduced a project based homework programme where each faculty in the school sets a homework project which pupils have several weeks to work on and complete. So far pupils have completed a project from Art Design Technology on architecture, a project from Language and Literacy on Gothic literature and a project from ICT/HE on the technology of modern appliances. We think that this has been successful so far, but we will be surveying pupils and S1 parents on how they feel these projects have gone.
Well Done Caitlin
Caitlin Turner (S6) won the West of Scotland Rotary Young Musician of the Year award for vocalists in Pollockshaws Burgh Hall on Sunday 15th January. Congratulations to Caitlin for her excellent performance against competitors from all over the West of Scotland. The school Young Musician finals will take place in school on 7th February, with the winners competing in the North Ayrshire schools final later this term.
A Head Teacher’s Vision – Ten Years on
The school buses arrive on time, as always. The Head Teacher and janitors watch as rows of pupils, wearing dark jackets and carrying schoolbags, step from the buses in an orderly manner. The lines of excited pupils head towards the buildings. The drivers reassure the Head Teacher that behaviour on the school buses was excellent. “There is no smoking now” states the driver, “the Health Education programme has convinced them it’s too dangerous.”
The pupils move into the school buildings, up the stairs in orderly lines, keeping to the left side. Senior pupils act as mentors to ensure that no one slips on the damp stair steps. Pupils arrive at registration rooms where their registration teacher awaits their arrival at the classroom door. The registration teacher is pleased to see that her class has arrived on time and checks off the register. All pupils have already taken off their jackets and hung them on their chairs. All are present. The class teacher praises the class, “Another day of full attendance and we will have completed a week of perfect attendance. Excellent.”
After commending the class for their excellent turnout in appropriate dress, the teacher proceeds to read the prepared notices lying on her desk, as the class listens. When she has finished, pupils already have their homework diaries open at today’s date. The teacher walks around glancing at the neat booklets. The pupils sit quietly looking at the ticked off list of homework, signed off by parents. A few look at the new classroom wall display which shows new work completed by third year. They appreciate the effort both pupils and teacher have made to produce such work and display it.
At their first period class, pupils arrive on time and settle down quickly. Jackets are again off, showing a uniform picture of pupils eager to start. Homework is quickly collected by the teacher, and the previous homework returned. The pupils read the detailed comments on their work and resolve to avoid repeating the same errors. The teacher asks pupils to open their workbook at page 46. The teacher starts to explain the lesson he is about to start. There are no interruptions. Pupils respect the teacher’s knowledge and the teacher respects their desire to learn. There is no wasted time. Teacher and pupils are focussed. Pupils listen intently, the phone never rings during lessons, and other intrusions are rare. The corridors are quiet as lessons continue. There are no truants. There are no raised voices.
In the Principal Teacher’s room the results graphs show a steady upward trend. The percentage number of pupils gaining passes at all levels is increasing. Good teaching, good coursework and good preparation are paying off. The Principal Teacher is telephoning the parents of three fifth year pupils whose work has noticeably declined over the past two weeks. Time to alert parents and try to put matters right before it is too late.
The bell rings for the end of period four. The class has carefully packed away workbooks, pencils and pens into their bags. Homework has been set and recorded in homework diaries. The class is dismissed row by row with the teacher standing at the door. Pupils leave in an orderly manner. The majority of pupils head to the dining area. Pupils in S1 and S2 know that they must not leave the school playground at lunchtime. Playground supervisors watch over pupils chatting to each other in the playground. In the dining areas, pupils queue in an orderly manner. All are polite to each other and to the catering staff. Pupils place rubbish in the bins provided leaving dining tables free of debris and litter. The playground is full of pupils talking to each other in a mature manner. There is no litter to be seen in the playground or on the paths leading to the school.
Much later, when school is complete for the day, pupils arrive home and change out of their school clothes. They wish to keep them neat and clean. After teatime, pupils settle down to prepare homework and go over the lessons they have been taught that day. Revision programmes, issued by teachers, are scrutinised and scored off as topics are covered. Books are studied and read, problems are tackled and solved. Revision websites, recommended by subjects and by the school, are visited on the home computer, and exercises are worked through. Homework notebooks are cleared and signed off by parents, ready for the following day.
A pipe dream? When I wrote the above ten years ago, many people thought it was amusing because it represented what was then considered an impossible ideal. Reading it again, it is no longer amusing since almost all the above have happened or are in the process of happening. As I indicated in 2002, all of the above are achievable by almost all of our pupils, staff, parents and support staff right now. The only essential ingredient required is the collective will to reach this ideal.
“Partes Quisque Suas” is the school motto, meaning, “Each has his or her part to play.” Nothing could be more appropriate to pupils, staff, support staff, parents and local authority staff in striving for the above goal.
I have, as in 2002, issued the above to every pupil, parent, member of teaching staff and support staff. It is also on our school website.
Let us all continue to resolve to try to reach the above standard.
Brian McNaught Rector January 2012