After a long and (for a change) sunny summer holiday the new academic year has begun and it has been lovely to welcome back into the school pupils old and new. This is always an exciting time in the life of the school as over 200 new pupils join us in S1 to begin their 6-year journey as Firrhill pupils.
I spoke to every year group today in an assembly and focused very much on the importance of continued effort, of being an optimist, of grasping opportunities when they arise and of having the resilience to bounce back when the going gets tough. Most importantly of all I emphasised how important it is not to look back at a past that can’t be changed but forward to a future that every pupil can still influence for the better. I know that these messages of effort, optimism, ambition and resilience will be ones that you will have given yourself many times.
I would like to thank you for the very smart appearance of pupils right across the school. We know the arguments that can arise when you do the right thing and insist on correct uniform so I am very grateful for your continued efforts in this area. One thing to remind you is that denim and leather jackets are not appropriate wear in school and so denim and leather jackets (whatever their colour) must be removed before coming into the building and should only be worn outside. There are still a few ‘old-style’ ties around. All pupils should be in the new style tie from this term, including the different design for S6 only, so if you need to please purchase a new tie as soon as you can from the school office.
This is also a good time to inform new parents of the school and to remind the ‘old hands’ that there are no drop-off facilities for pupils (except those with a disability) on school grounds. Please do not drive into the school to drop off pupils – no matter how much they plead. Vehicular traffic into the site in the morning is very busy and when cars come into the car park area and then have to turn around and leave, it can create significant congestion that, in turn, increases the likelihood of an accident involving one of our pupils. If you are dropping off in the morning please do so on the public road with due consideration for our neighbours.
You may have seen Firrhill on the news and in the papers on SQA results day. Deputy First Minister John Swinney spent the morning with us on Tuesday 7 August meeting pupils who had just received their results, chatting with them, spending time small group of staff and then spending time visiting the Holiday Headstart pupils before leaving. Given the mandatory media commitments on such an important day in the political calendar, it was impressive that he gave so much time to meeting with pupils and staff.
That was not the only politically connected event over the summer. A group of students led my Ms Lynas in RE were involved in the Send My Friend to School campaign. As part of that campaign they sent their drawings to the Prime Minister. In early July we received a very nice letter on some very official looking 10 Downing Street Notepaper thanking the pupils for their contribution to the campaign and signed by the Prime Minister, Teresa May.
A new school year always brings a number of changes to staffing and roles in the school.
Mr Isdale is Acting Depute Headteacher and will be House Head for Braidlaw House.
Mr MacLeod joins us our new Support for Learning Leader following Mrs Adams’ promotion. Mr Edwards has now taken over the role of Curriculum Leader of Social Studies following Mrs McClellan’s retirement.
It is my great pleasure to welcome the following new staff to Firrhill:
Ms Brown and Mrs Fraser-Walsh have joined the Maths faculty. Ms Thire adds to the Modern Languages staffing and Ms Campbell joins us in D&T. Expressive Arts welcomes Ms S Graham and Ms Morrant (both Art). Mr Crichton and Ms Neilson have both joined PE while the English faculty welcomes Ms Gillies and Mr McCartney. Ms Alexander will join English on a permanent basis in a couple of weeks’ time. The Science faculty sees Mr Moore (Biology) join their ranks and Social Studies have Ms Connolly (RE), Mr Haviland (Geography) and Mr Smith (Geography) added to the team. Ms McDonald joins us as a new permanent Pupil Support Assistant.
Ms Archibald (English), Ms Bentley (Drama), Mr McAlpine (English), Mr McCord (Physics) and Mr Welford (Maths) all joined us last year on temporary contracts and I am very happy to say that they have now been appointed to the staff at Firrhill on a permanent basis.
Continuing the theme of welcoming back familiar faces Mrs Harkness (PE) and Mr McLean (D&T) return to the staff following a maternity leave and a secondment respectively. Mr Rennie (Physics) also returns this year having been at Firrhill for a large part of last session.
Finally, our exam results were again very good. The highlights being the best ever S5 Higher results and the best ever S6 Advanced Higher results. I will write to you in a few days with a breakdown of results and a brief summary for your information.
I look forward to another exciting, eventful, hard-working and productive year.