As 2013 at Gillespie’s draws to a close I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what has been a most enjoyable, successful and busy year. I continue to be impressed by the strong sense of community and unity of purpose that prevails in the school. Since August this year we have been operating across three sites. At Lauderdale we teach S1-S3 and deliver practical subjects for seniors; at Darroch our senior pupils take non-practical subjects and we transport all pupils to Meadowbank Stadium for Physical Education. Throughout these past months the response from pupils and staff has been magnificent and I would like to take this opportunity to record my appreciation of their efforts. Pupils and staff are immensely proud of the school and enjoy working together. Parents are engaged in the life of the school and they are quick to support when their child needs that little bit of extra encouragement to do his/her best. This united approach will ensure that our school will continue to grow and develop and overcome the challenges that lie in store.
The challenges overcome this year include adapting to our new accommodation arrangements and the continuing successful implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. I am delighted at the progress all pupils are making. Pupils and staff will be working hard between now and May 2014 in order to ensure that all will be successful in the new exams in the summer of 2014. The prelims in January 2014 will help prepare pupils in S4, 5 and 6 for what lies in store.
Towards the end of the summer we learned that our examination results were, once again, among the best in Scotland. Our Higher results for this year were the best we’ve ever achieved. Well done and thanks to everyone. From what I have witnessed as I visit classrooms across the school and talk to pupils, staff and parents, I am confident that next year’s results will be equally as good, if not better. We will achieve this by continuing to work hard, aiming higher and having the highest expectations of each other. Of course, without parental backing, the efforts of staff and students, sterling as they have been, would have been less effective. I am grateful for the excellent support I’ve had from the Parent Council. In particular, Mrs Cath Downie and Mrs Audrey Gilmour as the co-chairs of the Parent Council, during the past session, deserve special mention for their unfailing support.
After the summer we bade farewell to a number of long serving staff and welcomed several new staff to our wider team. As we prepare pupils for a world that is rapidly changing it is essential that we continuously challenge, review and adapt the service that we provide. Throughout the year we have benefitted from the new perspectives and innovative ideas brought to the school by the new staff who have joined us.
I hope that all of you will join us at our Christmas Concert in the Usher Hall on the evening of Tuesday 17 December. This grandest of venues is a fitting stage for our talented pupils to showcase their wonderful talents.
We are all looking forward to a restful and rejuvenating break over Christmas with our families and loved ones. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff, pupils and parents for your continued hard work, support and endeavours throughout 2013 and I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a prosperous and successful new year. (Bliadhna mhath ùr agus Nollaig chridheil dhuibh uile).