As this is my first message of 2018 let me begin by wishing you all a very happy and prosperous New Year. I hope that you were able to relax over the festive period and enjoyed the company of family and friends.
The start of a new year has traditionally been the time to look forward and to plan to do something better in the year to come than we managed in the year just gone. Given the important events taking place over the next few months of school it seems like a good time for everyone to make a resolution to do at least one thing better in 2018 than in 2017. My assemblies with every year group at the start of the year asked every pupil to do just that – to make a resolution to do at least one thing better in 2018 than they did in 2017.
Pupils in S4, 5 and 6 can now see SQA exams on the horizon – 16 weeks and counting! The assessment fortnight will have provided useful insight to strengths and areas for development. Now is the time to plan that work and revision schedule so that those areas for development can be improved.
Those applying to university and college will start receiving offers. Whatever those offers might be it is essential to keep working right through to the end on every course. We expect every pupil to honour the commitment they made to seeing their course through to the end and completing it.
Pupils from S2 through to S5 will be making choices of subjects to follow for next session and it is essential that those choices keep options open and enable pupils to pursue their ambitions for the future. Advice from teachers, Pupil Support Leaders, the Careers Advisor, personal research and information from school reports all play an important part in advising those choices.
This coming term is an important one for our S1 pupils too. Hopefully, every pupil in S1 now feels well-settled and comfortable at Firrhill. It is important that the hard work and commitment from the Autumn term continues. Now is not the time to take the ‘foot off the gas’. Rather it is an ideal time to identify one aspect of school work and to make a commitment to improve it this term.
The New Year is also a good time to pass on some reminders to parents/carers.
The first is regarding Free School Meals. We know that many families who are entitled to a free school meal do not register for it. Please can I encourage you to check the eligibility criteria on the school website and at: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20183/food_and_clothing/392/free_school_meals_and_help_with_schoolwear
If you are eligible please register. Being registered not only means a nutritious school lunch is available every day for your child but it also gives them access to the Firrhill High School Opportunity Fund to assist with extra-curricular activities. Being registered also means the school receives a proper level of funding through the Pupil Equity Fund. There are also clothing grants available to help with the cost of school uniform. More information on eligibility and how to apply can be found at the same web address above.
The second reminder is regarding vehicle access to the school grounds. I would remind you that there are NO dropping off areas for pupils in the school grounds. The car park is for staff only and the spaces outside the main entrance are for disabled badge holders only. Vehicles driving into and out of the school grounds to drop off pupils creates congestion and increases the risk of accidents. If you are dropping off your child for school please do so near the access gate next to the large astro-pitch on Oxgangs Road North.
Uniform continues to be work correctly by the vast majority of pupils. Pupils look smart and ready to learn. The colder months over the winter sometimes sees an increase in non-uniform items being worn to school. We understand an extra layer or two whilst travelling to and from school but once pupils are in school we expect pupils to abide by the dress code of the school. Outdoor clothing should be removed when in class and the rules about wearing all-black footwear have not changed. Full details of the school dress code can be found on the school website (http://firrhillhigh.org/information/school-uniform).
Lastly, the start of the new term also sees some staff changes. I am very pleased to welcome Mrs Wilson as a permanent addition to the Home Economics department, to welcome back Ms Bentley to the drama department as maternity cover for Mrs Mannion. We also welcome Mr Murray as a new part-time member of staff in PE and Ms Griffin as a temporary addition to the Art Department. Ms Lewis joins the administrative staff in the school office. I am sure you will want to join me in wishing them every success.
Our Facilities Management team has also seen some changes with Mr Murphy joining us as our new Senior janitor in place of Mr Wright who is now at Braidburn school and Mr Meldrum has also joined the team. Both are very welcome to the school.
Sadly, we also said goodbye to Mrs Bygate from the school office who has moved on to a new challenge working for the NHS. Mrs Bygate leaves us with our best wishes for her new position and our thanks for all her hard work here at Firrhill.
I look forward to an exciting and successful 2018 for everyone.