Friday, 3 April 2020

Friday 3 April


Dear Parents, Carers, Pupils, Partners and Colleagues,

I’d like to begin by thanking all in our school community for the many ways you have contributed to the JGHS community over the past term. The past few weeks have been extraordinary and challenging to say the least, but, once again, the commitment of all to ensure we continue to provide for all of our young people has been incredible. Over the next 2 weeks all JGHS staff are expected to take a step back to spend time with their own families so there will be a break in delivering the services we currently provide to our school community.  

We will resume on Tuesday 21 April from which point we will provide more online learning materials for pupils in all year groups and an increased focus for those in S4 and 5.

SQA Arrangements (Mr Shankland)
  1. Earlier today an email with the latest information from the SQA was sent to parents of pupils in S4, 5 and 6. https://www.jamesgillespies.co.uk/sqa-update/
  2. We will continue to update parents and pupils after more information and clarification is received.

Arrangements for children of Key Workers (Mr Donald j Macdonald liaising with Council Officers)
  1. City of Edinburgh officers have made arrangements for the children of key workers to attend schools (called HUBs) at various locations around the city.
  2. This provision will continue over the Easter period.
  3. Communications will come directly from the City of Edinburgh Council.
  4. If you are a Key Worker and you do not receive the relevant information then please email us and we will relay your enquiry to the relevant council personnel.

Vulnerable Pupils (Mr Ian Porter and Mrs Laura Stewart)
  1. I’m grateful to all of our staff, supported by a number of partners, who continue to support our more vulnerable pupils and families.
  2. If you are in need of any support or you know of a family that is, please email us to let us know. If we cannot provide the support then we will find someone who can.  
  3. Our admin email will continue to be checked each day and we will continue to respond to urgent requests.

Online Learning (Mrs Deirdre O’Brien and Mr Jeff Warden)
  1. Earlier today we emailed S1,2 and 3 parents to get feedback on our initial online learning provision.
  2. We will use this feedback to refine our current S1,2 and 3 provision and to inform the development of our online learning provision for S4 and 5 pupils.
  3. We appreciate that many are still finding their feet in regards to online learning and some may be struggling to manage the volume of tasks and activities that have been set. Please rest assured that tasks set are not prescriptive and should not become a source of stress or worry.

And finally, I’d like to wish all members of the JGHS community a safe and peaceful weekend. We hope that all will find ways to relax and rejuvenate over the Easter break. To those in our community who are involved in providing essential services; a heartfelt thank you for doing all that you do for others.

My quote of the week: “Love recognises no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope’ (Maya Angelou)

Kindest regards to all,
Donald j Macdonald (Headteacher)


Donald j Macdonald (Headteacher)
James Gillespie’s High School
( Phone:  0131 447 1900

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Tuesday 31 March


Dear Parents and carers,
I hope you are keeping well and managing to adjust to your new ‘normal’, whatever that means for you and your family. In recent days we’ve sent numerous emails to keep you informed in the rapidly changing situation we find ourselves in.  I’ll return to distributing a ‘Friday Update’ each week. In the interim, here are a few key points of information covered in recent emails that may be of interest to you.

SQA Arrangements (Mr Shankland)
  1. The 2020 exams have been cancelled and no further coursework will be submitted.
  2. We await clarification from the SQA on how examination grades or level passes will be arrived at for all candidates.
  3. Parents and pupils are requested to not email teachers directly about personal circumstances or grades that are required for university, college etc.  We shall email all parents/carers SQA updates as and when they arrive.

Arrangements for children of Key Workers (Mr Donald j Macdonald liaising with Council Officers)
  1. City of Edinburgh officers have made arrangements for the children of key workers to attend schools (called HUBs) at various locations around the city.
  2. Our designated HUB School is Craigroyston High School.
  3. Early feedback has indicated that further refinement of the arrangements is required. In particular, families have been in touch in relation to the distance to our HUB and the difficulties that are presented by having siblings attend different HUBs.
  4. I will send out an update in the next day or two.

Vulnerable Pupils (Mr Ian Porter and Mrs Laura Stewart)
  1. A number of arrangements have been made to best support our vulnerable pupils. This includes, but Is not limited to:
    1. 61 food parcels (provided by the Council) were distributed to families by JGHS staff on Friday 27 March.
    2. We hope to have a further batch of parcels to distribute next week. If you are in need of a food parcel or you know of a family that is, please email us to let us know. Please email both Mrs Laura Stewart Laura.Stewart@jamesgillespies.edin.sch.uk   and Mrs Elaine Oram Elaine.Oram@jamesgillespies.edin.sch.uk. It would be helpful for us to know what the best way is for us to contact the families concerned.(home/mobile phone or email).
    3. Various staff across the school have been checking in on selected pupils in recent days and we will continue to do so.

Online Learning (Mrs Deirdre O’Brien and Mr Jeff Warden)
  1. Details outlining arrangements for (mainly) S1, 2 and 3 pupils were emailed to parents on Thursday 26 March. Additionally, a list of useful websites to enhance and support learning was issued to parents for all year groups, along with a guide to online learning for EAL pupils. We are working on age appropriate learning arrangements for pupils currently in S4 and S5 and will issue this to parents after the Easter holiday.
  2. We will seek initial feedback on the arrangements we have put in place later this week. We are grateful for ongoing feedback as we continue to develop our practices as circumstances evolve and opportunities permit.
  3. We appreciate that many are still finding their feet in regards to online learning and some may be struggling to manage the volume of tasks and activities that have been set. Please rest assured that these are not prescriptive and should not become a source of stress or worry. We will continue to respond to these concerns and make adjustments as appropriate.


My quote of the week: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” (Plato)

Stay safe,

Kindest regards,
Donald j Macdonald (Headteacher)

Friday, 20 March 2020

Friday 20 March


  1. I’d like to take to begin by thanking everyone (Parents, Staff, Pupils, JHGS Parent Council, JGHS Trust and all external partners) for their help in supporting the school whilst we adjust to rapidly evolving and quite unpredictable circumstances. In this ‘Friday Update’ I’ll focus on and say a bit more about the three groups of people specifically referred to in the Deputy First Minister’s statement on Thursday 19 March 2020.
    1. Educational continuity The2020 diet of exams in April, May and June have all been cancelled. Examination awards will be issued in the normal way to all candidates in August this year. These awards will be based on estimates provided by the school. I anticipate that these estimates will take into account the range of evidence we have from when pupils started with us in S1, in addition to our experience of how much all pupils improve between sitting prelims and taking final exams. Teachers are currently collating evidence, processing al the advice from SQA etc. We will be in touch with specific groups of pupils, as opportunities permit in the coming weeks, where it is deemed appropriate, practicable and necessary to obtain additional evidence.
    2. Key Workers’ children. Councils and schools are currently making arrangements so that Key Workers (a definition will follow from the Scottish Government) can be supported to maintain their roles in society.  It is anticipated that their children will be provided for in a variety of educational settings. I expect the details around this to be shared with parents in the next few days.  Your patience will be appreciated whilst this is happening.
    3. Vulnerable children. Councils are planning to maintain protections and support for children who may be particularly vulnerable in the current circumstances, particularly in respect of free school meals, children with additional support needs and at-risk children. At year group meetings in the past 2 days I have suggested to pupils that all in our society are vulnerable to varying degrees. We will all, regardless of age or circumstance, need support and companionship in the coming weeks.  With the prospect of social isolation increasingly likely,  we will all have to find ‘safe’ ways to communicate and to support each other.
  2. All parents and pupils are strongly encouraged to download the school communications app at: https://www.jamesgillespies.co.uk/school-mobile-app/ 
  3. Parents are requested to ensure that you tell us if there are any changes to your personal details. This is especially true for S4, 5 and 6 so that exam results arrive on time in August.
  4. We will continue to:
    1. Email key communications to you
    2. Use the App to alert you and
    3. We will place all key documents on our website.  
  5. Please find attached a document that summarises who to contact at JGHS if you need assistance or advice.



My quote of the week: ‘‘The future of the world is in my classroom today’ (IW Fitzwater)



My very best wishes to all.



Donald j Macdonald

Headteacher

Friday, 13 March 2020

Friday 13 March




  1. Our staff been have considering contingency arrangements in the event that planned lessons are disrupted in the coming weeks. I will say more about this and respond to queries parents may have at next Tuesday’s Parent Council meeting.  We will continue to distribute regular communications from the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council and the medical authorities on the evolving situation with the coronavirus. www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus
  2. All parents and pupils are encouraged to download the school communications app at: https://www.jamesgillespies.co.uk/school-mobile-app/  As a school we will be increasingly directing more of our communications via this App in the coming weeks.
  3. We are soon to embark on updating our School’s anti-bullying policy in line with the latest national advice. Our plan is to complete this work by December 2020. Any parent/carer who would like to be involved should contact Mr Ian Porter (DHT) for details. Staff and Pupils will also be involved.

Well done to:

  1. The S3 pupils who did a marvellous job at our S5/6 parents’ evening, welcoming parents/carers on arrival, and for helping the Parent Council serve refreshments.
  2. Our very own PC Amy Fowler who was recently nominated for a local recognition award and received an award for being an outstanding officer
  3. Professor Mat Williams (One of our Parents from Edinburgh University School of Geosciences) who on Monday delivered a really terrific presentation and Q&A on tackling climate change.

Dates

  1. JGHS Parent Council would like to invite everyone from our school community to our next PC meeting on Tues 17th March @ 7pm in the Library in the Malala building.  We will have an update on Show My Homework – the online homework calendar – and discussions on parental engagement on school priorities and setting up an alumni database.  If you can't make the date our minutes are online at http://jghscouncil.btck.co.uk and if you have any topics you would like raised at future PC meetings please email us at jghscouncilcomms@gmail.com
  2. 18 S5 pupils have registered for the Oxford Cambridge Conference in Glasgow on Friday 20th March.
  3. On the 24 and 25 March we will be having our annual Spring Fling Concerts.  There will be a different selection of groups featured each night, the Tuesday is our "Strings" night and Wednesday is our "Bands" night.  Tickets will be available from 16 March priced at £5 for both events or £3 per concert.  Each evening will start at 7pm and last about an hour.  





My quote of the week:



'Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.' Dalai Lama



Best wishes to all for a lovely weekend.



Donald j Macdonald

Headteacher

Friday, 6 March 2020

Friday 6 March


  1. We continue to distribute regular communications from the City of Edinburgh Council and the medical authorities on the evolving situation with the coronavirus. www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus We are communicating directly with families who may be impacted by excursion travel restrictions. Earlier today, Curriculum Leaders shared their thinking on contingency planning for the coming weeks. I have also been in touch with our partner school in HK to learn from how they are dealing with the viral outbreak.
  2. All parents and pupils are encouraged to download the school communications app at: https://www.jamesgillespies.co.uk/school-mobile-app/  As a school we will be increasingly directing more of our communications via this App in the coming weeks.
  3. We would therefore be grateful if you could complete the following online survey using the following link no later than Friday 13 March: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QXNKHTF
  4. Many thanks to all who supported last Friday’s fundraising Quiz in the school dining room.
  5. The Spark blog (our pupil run Magazine) has now been updated with our first run of articles! You can find them here: www.jghsthespark.wordpress.com. The 8th of March is international Women's Day and ‘The Spark’ team has decided that this will be the focus of our first few articles.
  6. We are soon to embark on updating our School’s anti-bullying policy in line with the latest national advice. Our plan is to complete this work by December 2020. Any parent/carer who would like to be involved should contact Mr Ian Porter (DHT) for details. Staff and Pupils will also be involved.
  7. We would like to thank the pupils and parents of JGHS for their incredible support with the South Africa project, through the donations of pencil cases and books for our partner schools. We would also like to thank everyone who donated and attended fundraising events. The money raised allowed us to buy choir uniforms for Dloko HS and guitars for Zwelibanzi HS and Isidingo PS, as well as bringing students and teachers over to visit Gillespie's in June. We are sure that the donations will be put to good use and hope that the partnership will continue to grow and that future S6s will be able to experience the amazing friendship and hospitality we were lucky enough to receive.
  8. Earlier this week around 130 pupils from S4,5 and 6 attended a ‘jobs roadshow’ at the Corn Exchange

Well done to:

  1. S1 pupils did very well in the Scottish Schools’ Cross Country Championships earlier this week. In a highly competitive field of 194 runners, Jess Taylor came 9th and Anna Cruden came 11th in race 1 (first age group race for girls) in a race of 206 runners and Dylan Daunt came 5th,  Laurence Ward came 80th, Daniel Chowings came 107th, Patrick Snowdon came 145th and Kieran Glass came 161th and Jules Sangnakkara came 166th. Well done to all who took part.
  2. Congratulations to the many pupils who performed as part of the Resonate concert series this week at the Queens Hall. JGHS was represented at both the Screen to Stage and Strings/'Trad' concert with guest appearances from our Clarsach Ensemble and Trad Group. Thanks to our wonderful music instructors and the Music department for helping with their preparations.
  3. Ms Dickinson in our Sciences Faculty who has been selected to represent GB at the world long distance triathlon championship this September. The race, which consists of a 3.8k swim, 120k bike and a 42k run will take place in Almere near Amsterdam.
  4. The 4 teams from James Gillespie’s who competed in the Scottish regional final of ‘Formula 1 in schools’. This was our first year competing and we entered 4 teams; Team Impulsa, ONAIR, A.L.C.O.B.I and Iconic Racing, made up of 23 students from across the school. The teams designed, tested and manufactured individual dragsters and had to secure their own sponsors, which include University of Edinburgh, Vert Rotors, EdAR and Knockhill. A record number of teams (24 in total) competed and we're thrilled to report that our teams won 2 awards

Best wishes to:

  1. The JGHS Pipe Band as they travel to compete at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Competition in Kilmarnock on Sunday.
  2. The following S4 students will be participating in the European Youth Parliament debate on Thursday March 12th to compete in the East of Scotland regional debate.
    1. Toby Ward
    2. Finn Thomson
    3. Fergus Jajdelski
    4. Lucy Robertson
    5. Shilan Ucak
    6. Erin Sandiford
    7. Fiona Kenny
    8. Ingrid Ellis

Dates

  1. Today, the Amnesty group encouraged us to support ‘’yellow to school day” to show support for universal human rights and to raise money for Amnesty International.  Some of our pupils went around visiting classrooms and collecting donations from participants.
  2. The S5/6 parents’ consultation evening is on Wednesday 11 March.
  3. JGHS Parent Council would like to invite everyone from our school community to our next PC meeting on Tues 17th March @ 7pm in the Library in the Malala building.  We will have an update on Show My Homework – the online homework calendar – and discussions on parental engagement on school priorities and setting up an alumni database.  If you can't make the date our minutes are online at http://jghscouncil.btck.co.uk and if you have any topics you would like raised at future PC meetings please email us at jghscouncilcomms@gmail.com
  4. On the 24 and 25 March we will be having our annual Spring Fling Concerts.  There will be a different selection of groups featured each night, the Tuesday is our "Strings" night and Wednesday is our "Bands" night.  Tickets will be available from 16 March priced at £5 for both events or £3 per concert.  Each evening will start at 7pm and last about an hour.  





My quote of the week:



None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful." Mother Teresa



Best wishes to all for a lovely weekend.



Donald j Macdonald

Headteacher