Head Teacher Update 8/10/21

Dear Parents and Students

As we approach the October Holiday, I am writing to share some important news. As I said in my previous update, this has been a most challenging period with a high number of absences relating to COVID self-isolation. This has meant that there has been some disruption to the continuity of learning and students will not always have had their own class teacher. Although this is not ideal, they should be congratulated for the way they have coped.

We are also grateful to the fantastic supply staff who have helped us during this time.

End of the two-week timetable rota

The two-week timetable was introduced as an emergency measure to cut down on movement and the number of contacts for staff and students. This was an emergency measure which was never meant to be in place for such a long time. Unfortunately, with high COVID numbers continuing we have not been able to move away from this measure. However, understanding that this has put an enormous strain on staff and students, I feel that the benefits gained by the two-week rotation are now outweighed by the risk to the Health and Wellbeing of staff and students. On Tuesday 26th October we will move to a weekly timetable model, with no rotation. To maintain COVID mitigations – to fit in two breaks and two lunches – there will be some changes to the timings of the school day. I will share the details of these changes in a separate communication.

Assessment Window for Senior Students

An unintended consequence of moving to a weekly timetable is that our assessments planned for November will now have to be re-aligned and modified to fit single periods. Again, I will share the detail of this separately and teachers will continue to make students aware of upcoming assessment.

SQA Exam Timetable

National assessments are set to go ahead this year, and the SQA have now published the Exam Timetable for 2022.

This can be accessed here: https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/41619.html

In recognition of the disruption to learning over the last two years, the SQA have reduced the content in some subject areas. Nevertheless, formal, external exams will be a challenge for our young people and it is important that they get into good study habits now and that they make the best use of the study and wellbeing supports available in school.

S1 Parents Evening

Our first Parents’ evening of the year is due to take place on Tuesday 2nd November. Unfortunately, the continuation of COVID mitigations means that we are not allowed to meet parents in-person. We are working hard to find a suitable alternative solution – we could not get the online video meetings to work last year. We are continuing to test the online system, and the solution may also involve telephone consultations. We will communicate the plan to S1 parents early next week.

Black History Month

This year the theme for Black History Month is ‘PROUD TO BE’. During DMT we have been focussing on inspirational people of colour, such as Marcus Rashford and Doreen Lawrence, who have fought for systemic change. Forrester

Our aim is to challenge our own attitudes and beliefs and to support and improve the confidence of all members of our community.

We will be showing Racism the Red Card on Friday 29th October where students will be encouraged to wear something red to school.

Duke of Edinburgh

This morning our intrepid Duke of Edinburgh team set off for their overnight expedition. They will navigate their way through the hills and set-up camp. They will pitch their tents, cook their meals and sleep under the stars (or more likely the clouds) before walking back to school on Saturday. I have my fingers crossed that the weather is good and that they have a successful expedition. As ever, huge thanks to the staff team who make this possible.

Finally, I greatly appreciate your continued support and understanding as we navigate our way through these difficult times.

Next week, the last week of our timetable rota, is a week 1 (periods 1, 3 and 5).

Thanks and best wishes.

Stephen

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