New Term – August 2017
Welcome back. I hope the summer holidays were a pleasant and enjoyable time for you and your family. The first full week of the new term is just about over and it has been, in most respects, a great start to the new school year.
This is always an exciting time in the life of a school. A new school year not only brings a new cohort of pupils into S1 but also provides a chance for everyone, pupils and staff, to return to school rested and refreshed, ready for the challenges that the new year will bring.
Before looking forward to the new year I want to take time to pause to reflect on the success of our young people in the SQA examinations sat in 2017. S4 achieved very high results with a record percentage (65%) of pupils obtaining five qualifications at National 5 level. There were 17 pupils who achieved 8 A grades at National 5 including one who gained 8 A band 1 passes.
There were also high levels of attainment in S5 with 25% of pupils passing five Highers. There were 12 pupils who achieved 5 passes at A including two pupils who gained 5 A band 1 passes. The percentage of pupils passing one and three Highers was also up on last year.
In S6 just under a quarter (23%) of our pupils left school with at least one Advanced Higher pass. Our S6 have moved on to a wide range of destinations: jobs, apprenticeships, training, college and university. We, of course, wish them all well.
A more detailed breakdown of examination performance will be sent to you separately.
Whilst it is right to note and celebrate the examination success of our young people it is important to recognise that success comes in many different forms. Within those results there are many pupils who deserve our praise and congratulations because they achieved the very best they were capable of. It is important that success is measured against what each individual is capable of.
The core message of my assemblies with each year group has been that ‘We Can Learn Anything’. To learn anything requires effort and that is how each pupil can ensure that they do their best. If a pupil gives their best effort all through the year then they can be confident that whatever they achieve will be the best they were capable of. The attitudes of working hard, giving your personal best and using our failures as learning opportunities underpins our philosophy at Firrhill.
The start of this term also sees a long-serving and well-respected member of staff moving on to a new challenge. Mrs Ranger, Curriculum Leader for Technologies: CDT & FCT will be taking on a permanent Depute Headteacher role at Balerno High School from the start of September. She leaves with our very best wishes and our grateful thanks for her years of outstanding service to the pupils and the wider school community.
In addition to new pupils a new school year brings new staff and this year sees a large group of new staff join us. I am very pleased to welcome to Firrhill the following new staff:
Mr F. Bidier (Geography)
Mr D. Bradshaw (Maths)
Mr G. Cameron (History)
Mr A. Choudhary (Maths)
Ms R. Davidson (Modern Studies)
Ms C. Elder (English)
Ms K. Hendry (English)
Mrs K. Lydon-Griffin (Biology)
Ms A. MacLeod (Music)
Mr C. McAlpine (English)
Mr D. McCann (Librarian)
Mr R. McCord (Physics)
Ms R. Patterson (Biology)
Ms J. Peciulyte (Chemistry)
Mr L. Rahimian (PE)
Ms U. Shahzad (PSA)
Ms O. Sliwinska (PSA)
Mr A. Welford (Maths)
They are already settling in well and will add to the already great group of staff who work so hard to provide your children with a great education.
The start of the new term has, unfortunately, also seen a few gremlins in the works and we are trying to resolve these issues with external partners just as quickly as we can.
The old website has been down since the start of June. I appreciate that this is frustrating for everyone. The new website is waiting to go ‘live’ but an unexpected delay hit the schedule over the summer holiday. We hope this will be resolved soon. We will email out to parents/carers very soon a list of upcoming events/dates so that you can organise your own schedules.
A few ingenious parents have ‘discovered’ the location of the new website as it undergoes testing and construction. Please be aware that it is not currently being monitored routinely for any messages. If you need to contact the school you should do so using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address. Please also be aware that any information posted on the new website prior to it going ‘live’ may be test information and should not be relied on for accuracy. Any necessary updates will come to you through the ParentPay or Groupcall messaging systems.
The cashless catering system and payments through ParentPay have not launched in the way we had hoped they would. We continue to assist our catering providers in getting the system up and running just as soon as possible. We will pass on updates just as soon as we have them.
There is a new school tie design for all pupils from this year. There is a redesign of the ties for S1-S5 and a brand new and distinctive tie for S6 pupils. Our supplier has encountered a production issue which has delayed the arrival of the ties.
You should have received some information on this already but, in brief, if you purchase a tie you will be given an old style tie. When the new style ties arrive we will swap your old tie for a new one. This swap only applies to ties purchased since the start of term. This year will be a transition year for the tie so both old and new versions can be worn. From August 2018 only the new tie will be allowed.
I would like to finish this first message of the new year by thanking you for the very smart appearance of your children and for making sure they are full, proper uniform. As the term progresses that can sometimes slip a little and all the staff appreciate your efforts in making sure that your child continues to come to school in the proper uniform.
I look forward to another exciting and successful year.