During this past week, staff and students have been preparing for the SQA Assessments (aka Exams) which take place from Monday 10 May. The attached presentation is the information that was shared with Pupils online yesterday evening in an information session chaired by Mr Bob Shankland, our SQA coordinator.
We are mindful that pupils in S4 and S5 have no experience of sitting exams under formal conditions so will understandably be anxious about what lies in store. Whilst SD6 pupils will have had experience of sitting formal exams in S4, many will be under immense pressure as they prepare for their post-school destination. Please continue to reassure all and remind everyone that all we can expect is for each student to do their best. Circumstances for learning and teaching over the past 15 months have been far from ideal so it is entirely understandable if students don’t feel confident about performing to their full potential. These forthcoming assessments
During the next few weeks, whilst assessments are taking place, pupils will have restricted access throughout the day to various parts of our building. Other than in extreme weather, we will be asking all pupils to be outside during social breaks. All pupils have been reminded to wear warm clothing to best prepare for the vagaries of our Summer weather.
Alternative Assessment Arrangements. Following a communication from Mr Shankland earlier in the week regarding arrangements for the upcoming SQA assessments for S4, S5 and S6 students, there has been a significant level of correspondence about specific arrangements for individual candidates. Mr Shankland will work through these as quickly as possible and communicate with home regarding any amendments made. Please be assured that we will do all we can to ensure each candidate has their agreed individual arrangements for each of their assessments.
Finally, after all the assessments are marked, teachers will allocate grades based on the advice received from the SQA and the City of Edinburgh Council. This is a significant undertaking and will require much time and coordinated effort in the coming weeks. Please bear with us in the interim, if we take longer than normal to respond to routine enquiries.
- Thank you to S1 parents for making bookings for the forthcoming teacher consultations on the evenings of Tuesday 18 May and Thursday 20 May. We are aware that not all parents have managed to make the number of bookings they would wish. Please be reassured that we will already have been in contact with parents if concerns about settling in to S1 or making progress have been raised by staff. In a situation where appointments are full, it is our usual practice to respond flexibly to requests for additional information for parents. Frustratingly, there will be less scope for that flexibility in the coming weeks as staff will be heavily involved with marking and grading in order to meet the various SQA and CEC assessment deadlines throughout the rest of May and June. When our Parent Consultation calendar was drawn up over a year ago, we could not have anticipated the disruption to ‘normal life’ that has happened. The requirement for all secondary schools to generate evidence based gradings for all students in S4,5 and 6 has added enormously to teacher workload and is highly likely to impact on what flexibility we would normally have during the months of May and June.
- S3 Reports will be emailed to parents this afternoon. If you don’t receive your child’s report, please first check your junk/spam folder. If not there, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and will arrange for it to be sent to your preferred e-mail address or alternatively, posted out.
- We strongly encourage pupils and staff to walk, cycle, run, etc. to school. Cyclists are reminded to use a more secure ‘D’ lock (or similar) to deter thieves.
- If your child feels unwell during the school day, they must report to Welfare. We will then contact you if they need to go home. It is essential that this procedure is followed.
- Please ensure that you ‘phone or email the school if your child is absent from school. When absences are planned, please give us as much notice and detail as possible so that we can maintain accurate records. The school will be supportive and understanding of the additional pressures being faced by families during this time.
- A reminder that COVID-19 test kits are available for collection from Reception. All pupils and staff are strongly encouraged to test twice weekly at home. Pupils aged 16 are over do not need signed parental consent but it is expected that those taking part discuss the matter with parents.
- Parents are reminded to not enter the school car parking areas unless it is absolutely necessary.
- The next Parent Council meeting will be held online on Wednesday 12 May at 7pm. A link to join the meeting will be circulated via the school next week. The agenda will be:
- Donald j Macdonald (HT) – overview and parents’ questions
- Laura Stewart (DHT) – update on capacity
- Ben Lewis (DHT) – proposal on changes to school communities
There will be the opportunity on the night to ask questions via the Q&A typed chat facility, but if you want to raise a question in advance please sent it to the Parent Council email email@example.com by Monday at 2pm and we will try to include it in the updates. You can catch up with the March meeting on the Parent Council website https://jghspc.wordpress.com/ where there are links to presentations and the recording of the meeting.
- Digital Update: As part of the City of Edinburgh 2050 Vision and Digital and Smart City strategy, pupils across S1-S6 will be receiving a digital device to support them with their studies in session 2021-2022. The first phase will involve pupils going into S5/6 who will receive their devices before summer. The second phase will involve S1-S4 who will receive theirs after the summer. During the second phase the S5/6 devices will have to be returned briefly for a systems update and will then be reissued. Much more information will follow in the coming weeks and months. If you would be interested in participating in a small short-life working group centred on parent partnership with this initiative, please contact Jeff Warden by Monday 31st May at Jeff.Warden@jamesgillespies.edin.sch.uk
- iPads and laptops – All devices which were borrowed from the school during the last period of school closure must be returned for annual maintenance and inventory-reconciling. Please return any borrowed iPads and laptops (along with their respective charging cables) to the school reception for the attention of Mr Warden. These must be back in the school by Monday 31st May.
My quote for this week: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m Possible’” (Audrey Hepburn)
Very best wishes and good luck to all pupils taking assessments in the coming weeks. Wishing all a lovely weekend.
Donald j Macdonald (Headteacher)