Friday, 13 January 2012

End of first week

Reaching the end of the first week gives me an opportunity to gather my thoughts and reflect on the week's experiences. It's been a very busy week, as I expected, with a small number of surprises.

I've done my best to get around the school and to have a presence so that I can get to know pupils and staff. A very wise former headteacher, Sir Richard Staite, with whom I worked at Beeslack HS in the mid 80s always used to say that schools are about three things: Learning, Teaching and Relationships. When I met him a couple of years ago he revised this by saying that the three could be reduced to two; namely, Learning and Relationships. I think he was absolutely right. If, as a a school, we manage to get our relationships right everything else falls into place.

Another inspirational Headteacher I once worked with was Hamish Purves, former Headteacher of Portobello High School. Hamish was wonderful with both pupils and staff but his special talent was in managing staff so he always got the best out of them. He also had a passionate interest in ensuring that less able and disadvantaged children were suitably supported and provided for.

The day kicked off with a meeting with my senior team and Principal Teachers. This a is a long standing Friday tradition and one that I'm keen to continue with.

Later in the morning, following visits to several classrooms, I met with Sheena Purdom, the Chair of our Parent Council. This gave me the chance to share how the first week had gone and to discuss a few plans. In addition to having teenage children, Sheena is herself a practising teacher so has the advantage of having both the perspective of a parent and a teacher. Whilst at Liberton HS in my previous post, I developed a very close and effective working relationship with Karen Traill who was our Parent Council Chair. I learned a lot from working with Karen and am grateful to her for that and keen to use that experience as I develop into in my new post.

A highlight of the morning was, whilst I was on call, meeting with some of our S3/4 characters at break time. I love the banter with the pupils and the opportunity to get to know them in the less formal setting of the playground.

I will go in to school over the weekend for a few hours to clear my correspondence and get my filing organised for week 2 which is already shaping up to be very busy. Spending time with my family and relaxing over this weekend will help me unwind, especially as our older daughter is 11 on Sunday and we are having a number of fun events planned to mark this next milestone in her life.


  1. Welcome to JGHS. Thank you so much for your blog which is an excellent way to feel the pulse of how everything is going at the school.
    I am very much looking forward to having an opportunity to meet you soon.
    With all best wishes, Kate Katagiri (parent of S5 pupil)

  2. Hi there - thanks for emailing. I'm keen to find as many ways as i can of communicating and sharing views with the wider community. I look forward to working with you and, as you suggest, meeting with you soon.

  3. Dear Mr Macdonald,
    Welcome to JGHS. I am a sixth year pupil at the school and think it's great that you are blogging and keeping pupils and students up to date, I don't know of any other head teacher that does this. I have not as of yet met you but I do look forward to meeting you.

  4. Hi there - I tried doing a blog in my last school for a couple of years and thought I would do so again at Gillespie's. I see it as a great opportunity to share ideas with all that I work with.

    How are your preparations going for the prelims?

  5. I am very behind with my school work, unfortunately through no fault of my own. I spend a lot of time in the hospital, so therefore spend a lot of time of school. I think my attendance to school is about 50% if that. I am trying my hardest but I am if I am honest worried about my prelims.

  6. Hi - I'm sorry to hear that you are worried about being behind with your studies and feeling less well prepared for your prelims. I can understand you getting worried as there is a lot of pressure on teenagers to do their best but your health is the most important thing and must come first. When you are feeling better you will be able to resume your studies with us. I would be really pleased if you would come to see me when you next have a free period.