Dear Parent/Carer,

Time passes. Quicker than ever, it would seem. The Easter break is upon us.

It seems that way to others too. I completed my 1:1 meetings with the S6 pupils earlier this week and many of them commented on how fast S6 has gone. I tried to break it to them gently that as they get older time seems to pass faster and faster!

This is a busy term for those pupils sitting exams after Easter. There are many deadlines to meet, coursework to finish and tests to sit. On top of all that, a well-planned revision programme needs to be put in place and followed. Who says that young people have it easy these days?

Despite their heavy workload, pupils in all years continue to achieve amazing things and to contribute to the events that make Firrhill such a vibrant community.

Parents’ evenings for S2 to S6 were well attended, as always, with around 80% of children being represented. Thank you to the many, many parents who commented on how helpful, polite and efficient our senior pupils are in marshalling the evenings and (mostly) keeping teachers to time and appointments moving along smoothly. If you are among the 20% who finds it difficult, for whatever reason, to attend parents’ evenings please make contact with your child’s Guidance teacher to see what we might be able to do to help.

We ran our second annual information evening on apprenticeships. Thank you to all the speakers, including members of the parent body, who provided such useful and engaging presentations. The evening was a great success with over around 150 in attendance. I think we will need to move to the Hall next year as it was a bit of a squeeze in the library.

Barely a year on from securing our Silver Rights Respecting Schools Award we welcomed two RRS assessors who spent the day with us to look at how we measure up against the Gold Award. We will not hear for another few weeks but the feedback on the day was very positive. Mrs Kerr and all the staff and pupils in the RRS group have done the school proud with the work that they have led around Children’s Rights. No matter what the outcome of the assessors visit, I thank them all. I will let you know the outcome of the Gold assessment as soon as I can. We are already putting in place work with other schools in Edinburgh to share our knowledge to help them on their journey to RRS status.

It has been a relatively quiet term for staffing changes. Mrs Mannion returned to Drama from her maternity leave in January and Mrs Waszkiewicz is back in Home Economics after her maternity leave. Ms Gilbert has settled in well to the Art department and Ms Beattie has also joined us in Art on a temporary basis.

Mrs Hewitson has now left on maternity leave and joins one of the science technicians, Mrs Korankye, who is on maternity leave following the birth of her baby boy in early March. Our best wishes go to them both and we look forward to seeing both Mrs Hewitson and Mrs Korankye back at Firrhill before too long.

Ms Swalwell, English, has been on a secondment to Trinity High School and has now moved there permanently to pursue a slight change of direction as a support for learning teacher. We thank her for her dedicated service to Firrhill and wish her well.

We have already appointed four permanent staff to start in August. Ms Brown, in Maths, and Mr Rennie, in Physics, will stay on with us permanently at the end of their probationary year. I will confirm the names of the two new members of staff along with all the other new appointments for the 2019/20 school year towards the end of next term.

Music continues to be a great success at Firrhill with performances from our pupils taking place all over the city during the past few weeks. The Resonate Concerts, which involve pupils from across the city, involve a large number of Firrhill pupils playing a wide variety of musical styles. I was so pleased to read the messages sent in to congratulate the pupils and their fantastic music teachers and instructors from people who had attended the concerts and other performances.

As usual, pupils right across the school continue to achieve amazing things. Kirsty, Alex, Caitlin and Katie (all S1) showed they have great skills of literary criticism with a centrepiece spread in Teen Titles back in February. They interviewed author Tom Palmer about his latest novel, Armistice Runner.

Callum (S4) literally will soar to new heights with his flying scholarship with the air cadets while Holly (S4) will be flying down the slopes having been selected for the GB Skiing Squad. Mhairi (S6) dribbled her way to success as part of the U18 Scottish Basketball Cup as a member of the West Lothian Wolves. Calum (S1) ‘foiled’ his fencing opponents representing Scotland on the way to a 9th place finish out of 300 competitors in an international competition in Poland.

Helen (S5) has been treading the boards at the King’s Theatre performing in My Fair Lady and Lucie (also S5) took part in The National Theatre Connections festival at the Traverse Theatre. At the Scottish Schools Cross Country Championships, Charlotte (S1) and Ailsa (S2) were well placed in the U14 Girls category, Magnus (S6) was 4th in the boys U17, while Finlay (S2) came in 1st in the Boys 14-16 category. Finlay also went on to represent Scotland in a competition held in Dublin. Charlotte and Ailsa picked up a 3rd and 4th place respectively in the Edinburgh Schools Cross Country Championships.

Brains were definitely in gear when Chloe, Emma (both S1), Alicia and Testimony (both S2) took part in the UKMT Maths Challenge in March. A challenge of a different kind awaits Clare (S4) and Michael (S6) as they compete in the Scottish Pan Celtic kayaking event this coming weekend. Good luck to them both. Getting even wetter than the kayakers do, Ben (S1) and Archie (S4) were competing in the Scottish National Age Group Swimming Championships last week.

Orla (S1) has been putting her hockey skills to good use and been selected for the U14 East District squad and in a ball game of a different type both the U13 (S1) and U16 (S4) football teams have won through to their league cup semi-finals. The U16s play Preston Lodge HS on Sat 27 April, at Newbattle HS, but we do not yet know who our U13s opponents will be. The U14 (S2) team have gone one step further and progressed to the Cup Final by beating the top side in Division 1. Well done to all three teams.

I will make a quick plug for the work of the Parent Council and the PTA. Both groups do fantastic work to support the school and they are always on the lookout for new and enthusiastic members. Details of how to get involved are on the school website. Please take a look and get in touch.

I will finish by returning to those 1:1 meetings with S6. Those conversations with S6 highlighted what a friendly and welcoming place Firrhill is. When I asked the pupils to identify a highlight of their 6 years at Firrhill a large majority spoke about the strong and lasting friendships they have made over the years particularly with fellow pupils but also with teachers. It is upon those strong relationships that so many of the successes of the school are built.

As always prior to a holiday, I will take this chance to wish you a good break and I hope that you have an opportunity to spend enjoyable, quality time with family and friends.

School resumes for pupils on Tuesday 23 April 2019 at the normal time of 0835.


Graham Hamilton


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