End of Term Update
I write to you with just a day of this unusual and testing school year to go. The long summer break beckons, the weather has been pretty good so far this summer and we have the prospect of something much closer to normality when we return to school in August.
So I can concentrate on the end of term matters I will confine this update to rounding off the term and the year. A separate update will focus on the new school year and the start of term in August.
Easter saw the return of all our pupils full-time back to school and it was fantastic to have busy classrooms and corridors once again. For our S1-3 pupils it was about getting back into good routines while our senior phase pupils turned their attention to the assessments running through most of this summer term.
On the whole the readjustment to face-to-face teaching went very well and it is remarkable how the vast majority of our pupils have got back into the everyday business of learning again.
Senior pupils have worked very hard to complete their assessments and, as I write this, we are in the final stages of collating the provisional results that were be sent out to pupils earlier this week.
Many, many will be receiving really good news!
As rules have allowed we have started to reintroduce elements of school life that had been on hold. Mr Boyd, Ms Anderson, Mr Coyle and Ms Masters have all pitched in to enable Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions to take place in modified formats. It has been so fantastic to see our pupils all kitted out for the great outdoors. Luck has literally shone on the expeditions this term with sunscreen much more in evidence than raincoats.
It has been equally fantastic to see the hockey teams back out on the astro pitch for their training sessions after school. Thank you to our fantastic coaches who have got these sessions up and running so quickly.
Our pupils have started to get back out and involved in a wide variety of activities beyond school with Catherine (S6) performing with the Strangetown Youth Theatre and Sammy (S2) who successfully auditioned for the British Musical Theatre and will be involved in a residential workshop this August.
Well done to Mia (S4) who was selected to participate in the Scotland U16 Football Training Camp earlier this month. Only 29 players were selected to attend from across the country.
Team work has always been a strength of Firrhill and Lucy, Jessica, Catherine and Henning (all from the S6 who have just left Firrhill) were winners of the Edinburgh Active Schools Young Leadership Award, beating off competition from 22 other schools.
The end of the term brings the usual, and sad, staff farewells as people move on to new and exciting challenges. We are saying goodbye to the following staff this term:
Depute Headteacher Ms Statham retired two weeks ago after 26 years of outstanding service to Firrhill. She will be sadly missed by us all but she is already enjoying what we all hope will be a long and happy retirement.
Mrs Ramsay, Science Technician, leaves us for sunnier climes and she goes with our heartfelt thanks and our best wishes.
Ms Howells, Modern Languages, stepped down from the Curriculum Leader post earlier this year in anticipation of this impending move and Ms Howells also heads abroad for new and exciting challenges. An outstanding classroom teacher she will be missed.
Our probationer teachers all complete their year with us and we wish Ms Harker, Mr Herriott, Mr Kerr, Ms Punton, Dr Shaw and Mr Watson as they move on to new posts and opportunities in the new school year. We will see Mr Kerr soon as he is returning to the Art department on a temporary basis next term. It has been fantastic to see all of these new teachers embark on what I expect will be long and successful careers.
Mr Charman, Mathematics, also leaves us at the end of term to take up the Headteacher post at Hamilton College. I wish him every bit of good luck as he assumes the top job in his new school.
Ms Boyd-Moore has been a fantastic member of the Home Economics department this year, having done such a great job we asked her to stay longer than originally planned. Thank you.
Ms Gerhardy joined us early in the year as one of the ‘Closing the Gap’ teachers allocated to schools by the Scottish Government. Ms Gerhardy, from day one, picked up language classes and helped contribute to our catch-up programmes in literacy. That programme comes to an end this term and Ms Gerhardy also leaves us with our thanks.
Ms Sheikh Rajab, science technician, has been with us this year in a part-time position and has been a great addition to our fantastic technician team.
Thank you and farewell also to Ms Benjumea who has been covering lessons primarily in Social Subjects for a number of weeks and has done a great job.
Two of our PSAs, Ms Lafferty and Ms Snowden, are also leaving. Ms Lafferty will be starting a teacher training course in the autumn and Ms Snowden is heading to London to embark on a very different career path.
Ms Thayne, English, leaves us for a promoted post in another school and we wish her all the best in this new role.
Ms Morton, also in English, is taking a one-year sabbatical but will be back at Firrhill in August 2022.
Ms Duffy, PSA, Ms Connolly, RE, and Ms Mouat, History, will be on maternity leave, indeed Ms Mouat and Ms Connolly already are, and we wish them all the very best for their new arrivals when they decide to put in an appearance!
Ms Davidson is not leaving us but she will become the new Curriculum Leader for Modern Studies and RE.I mentioned the retirement of Ms Statham at the top of this list and it would be remiss not to welcome her replacement, Mr Else, to the Firrhill team. Mr Else took up post a couple of weeks before Ms Statham left allowing for a good handover of duties. Mr Else is already making his mark at Firrhill.
We held our S6 Commemoration Evening online to say goodbye to our S6 pupils and to celebrate their many and varied achievements in the presence of their families. It is a lovely evening and I hope will be a fond memory for our S6 leavers for many years to come. The evening culminates in the awarding of the Dux medal for outstanding academic achievement – well done Rachel. For the first time ever there were two recipients of a Headteacher’s Quaich. These are awarded to an S6 pupil who demonstrates outstanding character. The two worthy winners this year were Gracie and Kira.
We were able to still celebrate the last day for our S6 pupils in some style. The rain stayed away – just – so we could assemble outside to commemorate six wonderful years for a fantastic group of young people. Even the slightly grey skies couldn’t stop the S6 pupils making best use of the provided ice-cream van! Shirts were signed, photos were taken, awards could actually be handed to the winners announced the night before at Commemoration Evening and a great time was had by all. More great memories to keep. Fantastic!
Thank you again to all those parents who have been in touch to thank staff collectively and individually for their hard work on behalf of the pupils this year. I am constantly amazed by the willingness and capacity of the staff at Firrhill to go above and beyond on behalf of their pupils. I received from a parent today the kindest, most complimentary message about a number of teachers that I have ever received. It made my day to pass it on to those teachers. I can only imagine how good it made them feel. To that parent, thank you.
Looking ahead to the summer holidays Hearts have been in touch to ask us to pass on details of an online digital education festival they are running from July 5th to 13th. You can find out more and register at https://tinyurl.com/tynecastledigifest
These last few weeks of term have been incredibly busy for all staff yet it seems a rather more subdued ending to the year than normal. Perhaps that is understandable and, after all we have all been through, maybe that is for the best.
School will finish, as previously indicated, at 12 midday on Friday 25th June.
I look forward to being able to report to you in August on a much more normal start to the school year and to anticipate a year full of new, exciting and real-world (not online) opportunities. I cannot wait!
Until then, have a great summer. Stay safe and I hope you all get the chance to enjoy the company of friends and families more than any of us have been able to do for some time now.