Welcome!

November 11, 2016 | Welcome  |  Leave a Comment

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Welcome to the Head Teacher’s Update section of the North Berwick High School website. Here you will find posts on topics which I hope will be of interest to parents and friends of the school.

Mrs Lauren Rodger

Head Teacher

 

 

 

We have had a lovely start to the new session at NBHS, and it was a real pleasure to welcome pupils and staff back to school this week. As well as our new S1s, we have new pupils in most year groups and I sincerely hope that they all settle in quickly to their new school and soon feel a part of our community.

As well as new pupils, we also have a number of new staff joining NBHS. I am delighted to welcome them all onto our staff team and I know that they will have a very positive impact on the life of the school and the learning of our pupils. Some of our existing staff have changed their roles or remits and you can find details of staffing changes in a separate post.

In assemblies with every year group on the first day, I spoke about how proud I am of the warm, friendly, positive relationships here at NBHS. However, we cannot take these relationships for granted: it is the responsibility of every one of us to be caring, courteous and respectful at all times if we are to ensure that NBHS is a safe and happy place to learn and work. I also spoke about three essential qualities for success at school, and in life in general: hard work, resilience and being curious. Emphasising curiosity in particular, my challenge to the pupils for the year ahead is to have an inquiring mind and a hunger for exploration. I look forward to seeing that in action as I visit lessons and speak to pupils throughout the year. How can parents encourage this perpetual curiosity? Instead of asking your child “How did you get on at school today?” try asking them “What good questions did you ask in school today?” This is what the mother of Isador Isaac Rabi used to ask him as a child on his return from school each day – and Isaac grew up to be a renowned physicist and Nobel Laureate, always asking searching questions of the world around him.

There were certainly many good questions asked by staff during our two inservice days, as we worked together to enhance our professional learning. Topics included: strategies for building long-term knowledge; Getting It Right For Every Child and safeguarding; the Careers Education Standard; and coaching skills.

During our inservice days, there was also much discussion and analysis of exam results. This has been an excellent year for NBHS pupils sitting SQA qualifications and, indeed, a record-breaking one. It was such a delight in S5 and S6 assemblies to congratulate our pupils on their achievements. I will share more about exam results in a future post but, in the meantime, below are just a few details. (Please note that ‘records’ are based on comparisons over the last fifteen years; note, too, that we do not have percentages for A passes going back this far so cannot state with certainty that our A passes are record-breaking, though we think they are.)

  • National 4  –  The pass rate is 100%.
  • National 5 – The percentage of S4 pupils gaining 5+ awards is a record for the school; the percentage of S4 pupils gaining 4+ awards has gone up from 65% in 2015 to 79% in 2017; the percentage of A passes is very high.
  • Higher – The percentage of S5 pupils gaining 3+ awards is a record for the school; the percentage of A passes is very high.
  • Advanced Higher – The percentage of S6 pupils gaining at least one award is a record for the school.

Though teachers and school leaders are always interested in overall statistics, it is undoubtedly the results of individual pupils that matter most to us. It is a joy for teachers to see the hard work and commitment of pupils being rewarded and the vast majority of our senior pupils should feel rightly proud of their achievements. For those pupils who have faced a disappointment with their results, they know that they have an opportunity to do better in the coming session, and their teachers will certainly support and challenge them to do that.

There is one further achievement that I wish to mention here, this time in sport. S6 pupil, Dylan Hughes, has won a silver medal in the Youth Commonwealth Games! The Games were held in Bermuda in July, with 64 nations taking part. Dylan’s event, the Men’s Time Trial, was held in searing heat and his wonderful medal-winning performance puts him into the history books as the first Scot ever to win a cycling medal at the Games. Huge congratulations to you, Dylan!

I look forward to an enjoyable and successful year ahead for all in the NBHS community.

 

Staffing Update

August 19, 2017 | Staffing  |  Leave a Comment

Staffing

 There have been staffing changes in almost every faculty of the school, as detailed below:

 Business and Computing

It has taken us many months to find a computing teacher and we are delighted to welcome Mr Murdoch to the Business & Computing faculty.

Design and Technology

Mrs Calder retired at the end of last session and we welcome Mr McCorkindale to a part-time post in the art department. Another new face in the faculty is Mrs Johnson, who joins us as a CDT teacher. Both of our health & food technology teachers, Ms Ballantyne and Mrs Cochrane, have moved on to new schools. Taking over the reins are Mrs MacMillan and Mrs Currie.

Health and Wellbeing

We have welcomed two new PE staff to the faculty: Mr MacDonald, (yes, another Mr Mac in the PE department!), who is covering for Mrs McConville’s maternity leave, and Ms Piaskowski. Mr Moffatt has moved on to another school following his probationary year with us.

Humanities

Mrs Hughes, Principal Teacher, is not returning to NBHS after her maternity leave as she has been appointed to a similar post in an Edinburgh school. Mrs Brownlee’s post as acting PT has now been made permanent. Following on from this, Ms Anderson has been appointed as a permanent teacher of history and modern studies, and we also welcome Ms McEwan in history. Mr Cochrane has also moved to Edinburgh following his probationary year with us. Mrs Martin is about to go off on maternity leave and her modern studies role will be taken by Ms Johnston.

Literacy

In the last week of term, Mr Young was appointed to a post in a school in the west of Scotland. Mrs Gibson is currently on maternity leave and Mrs Rankine continues in her seconded post as a Principal Teacher in another school in the authority. Mrs Nathan and Mr Fell are back teaching English with us, and we have been joined by Mr Broadfoot. We are currently going through the recruitment process for Mr Young’s replacement.

Modern Languages

Ms Smith has returned to the faculty on a part-time basis following her maternity leave. Ms Breslin, who was covering the post during this time, is staying on with us this session as a French and Spanish teacher.

Numeracy

Before the end of term, Ms Gunston moved to a post in a school in Edinburgh and Mr Richard has been appointed to the permanent post to replace her. Following Mr Cox’s move to Support for Learning, we have appointed Mrs Woodhead to a post in mathematics. We still have a vacancy for a temporary post in maths and we are currently going through the recruitment process.

Sciences

Mr Forsyth has moved to a post in another school following his probationary year with us as a chemistry teacher.

Support for Learning

Mrs Andrews, Principal Teacher, retired at the end of the session. Mr Cox, formerly of the maths department, has taken over the role of Principal Teacher. Mrs Gilchrist is reducing her hours as a support for learning teacher this session, and we will be welcoming Ms Johnston in mid-September as a new member of the team.

 

To those staff who have left NBHS, we send our grateful thanks for all they have done to support our pupils during their time at the school. We also send them our very best wishes for the future, whether on the next step of their career or in their retirement. We will certainly miss them as colleagues at NBHS. I feel very privileged to work in a school with such a wonderful staff team, both teaching and support staff. Every day, it is a pleasure to see the warm relationships between staff and pupils, the positive learning experiences happening in classrooms all over the school, and the many examples of our staff going the extra mile for our pupils.

 

 

Recently, I spent a very enjoyable day shadowing S3 pupils in their lessons. Some of them perhaps thought I was shadowing them individually as I appeared in so many of their classes, but I can assure them that wasn’t the case! While I often pop into lessons, I don’t normally spend a whole day in classes so this was a privilege for me. My focus was on the learners’ experience, in particular the level of challenge and pace S3 pupils experience in lessons. It was a real pleasure for me to see young people so engaged in their studies; focused and on task; confident in planning and organising their own learning; seeing the relevance of their studies to the ‘real world’; working collaboratively on tasks; having fun with their learning. In terms of challenge, I saw some classes being challenged with level 5 work (equivalent to National 5) and coping admirably. In one class, pupils were producing work which was of Higher standard. I shared my thoughts on the day with pupils in assembly and I also challenged them to be more curious in their learning, to ask more questions of their teachers, of the texts they read and of the world around them: occasionally, the pupils were perhaps too compliant, waiting for teachers to provide answers rather than being curious and asking their own questions. This curiosity is something that the teachers will continue to encourage, too. I learnt a lot throughout the day myself, not least how to take bearings when piloting a boat or a plane. That may well come in handy the next time I’m sailing from Troon to Brodick and getting blown off course in a gale.

Talking of shadowing, it was my turn to be shadowed this week when a principal teacher from another East Lothian secondary spent the day with me. I felt very proud as I showed her around the school, talking to teachers and pupils as we went. Everyone was so welcoming, and very keen to talk about learning and the life of the school. Perhaps the loveliest moment for me was when she said “There’s lots of laughter in this place, isn’t there?”

Last weekend was a momentous one for North Berwick High School: a group of pupils, from S3 to S6, attended the Model United Nations Conference at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh and were awarded the BEST DELEGATION prize, the first state school to achieve this honour! On top of that, Nathan Robertson in S6 was awarded the BEST DELEGATE prize! Please excuse my use of capital letters and exclamation marks; this is not something I normally do in my writing but on this occasion I feel it’s warranted. I am extremely proud of our young people, who were very impressive throughout the two day debate. NBHS pupils represented Cambodia and China and they argued the case for their countries’ interests extremely effectively. There were over 500 delegates at the Conference from schools all over the world, so the achievement of the NBHS pupils is massive. As well as congratulating our pupils, I would like to thank them for all their hard work, commitment, confidence and – on occasion – bravery. There were times during the weekend when our pupils really pushed themselves beyond their comfort zone and I know that they felt a huge sense of achievement when they did so. I would also like to thank Mrs Martin and her team for supporting and encouraging the NBHS pupils. You are all stars!

Parental Support

March 19, 2017 | Parents  |  Leave a Comment

I am very grateful to two groups of parents who willingly give of their time to support the school: the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and the Parent School Partnership (PSP).

PTA  –  I hope that you will have seen the advert for the latest PTA event, a Fizz and Fancies afternoon on Saturday 27 May. Please do consider coming along to the event; you will have a lovely afternoon, I’m sure, and at the same time you will be making a difference for all the young people in NBHS. It’s hard to emphasise enough the importance of all our parents supporting the work of the PTA: in a time when the school budget barely covers the necessities, the donations from the PTA are absolutely vital in enabling us to continue providing some of the extras – and, indeed, some of those necessities. As well as attending events, you can also help the PTA to raise funds by entering the monthly prize draw or registering with easyfundraising, where every purchase you make online includes a contribution to the school. The PTA will also be raising funds at our Spring Concert next week by providing drinks at the interval and running a raffle. Any raffle prizes would be gratefully received; just hand them in to the School Office.

PSP  –  At recent Parents’ Consultation Evenings, you may have been approached by a member of the PSP to ask if you’d be interested in hearing more about the work of the school and sharing your opinions. Thank you to all parents who provided their email address. The PSP will be in touch with you soon and will let you know when particular topics are being discussed. Our next PSP meeting will be held in the School Library on Tuesday 25 April at 7.00 pm. All parents and carers are very welcome to attend.

I am delighted that we are once again able to offer the Duke of Edinburgh Award to our pupils. Mrs Clubb, principal teacher of numeracy, has volunteered to lead D of E at NBHS, with the support of other staff. Our intention is to offer Bronze Award to S3 pupils next session (current S2); we hope to then offer the Silver Award from 2018 and Gold Award from 2019. The initial Bronze Award cohort will comprise up to 28 pupils and information about this opportunity will be coming out to S2 pupils soon. If you would like more information on the D of E Award, please follow this link: http://www.dofe.org/take-part#k2 .

Running the Duke of Edinburgh Award for a group of young people is quite an onerous task and we would be extremely grateful if any parents – or friends in the wider community – could commit to helping out in some way. If you are interested, please email Mrs Clubb directly at: aclubb@northberwickhigh.elcschool.org.uk .

 

 

You may have seen in the press last week an announcement from John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, that the Scottish Government is allocating £120 million directly to schools through the Attainment Scotland Fund. The funding is coming out to schools in April and is to be targeted at those children most affected by the poverty-related attainment gap: it is being distributed on the basis of the numbers of pupils in P1-S3 known to be eligible and registered for free school meals. For NBHS, this means we will be receiving £21,600. John Swinney has given a commitment that schools will receive this funding for the next five years.

In order to ensure that we make the best use of this additional funding, we will be consulting widely, with: the head teachers of our cluster primary schools and the other East Lothian secondary schools; with the Parent School Partnership; with staff; with local authority education staff; and, of course, with pupils. If you have any suggestions as to how this funding might be used to help reduce the attainment gap, please do get in touch with me, or with the Parent School Partnership via their email address: parentcouncil@northberwickhigh.elcschool.org.uk .

 

Staffing

January 24, 2017 | Staffing  |  Leave a Comment

There have been some recent changes in staffing at NBHS. As you know, Mrs Moore and Mr Roderick have now left the school, both taking up posts in Edinburgh City. Our depute Mrs Neri, who had been on secondment to East Lothian Council for eighteen months, has now returned to her substantive post here at NBHS and we are delighted to have her back. Among her duties, Mrs Neri is in charge of pupil support, she is the S6 year head, and she is the depute link with Law House. Mrs Cairns, who has been acting depute during Mrs Neri’s secondment, will be leaving us at the February break. We are very grateful for all that she has done for the school community in her time at NBHS and we wish her well as she returns to Dunbar Grammar School. Following a rigorous selection process, we have appointed Mr McCallum to the vacant depute post. He is currently teaching in Edinburgh City and starts with us after the half-term holiday. Once we have our new senior management team fully in place, I will share details of remits with you.

At the start of this term Mrs Rankine, one of our English teachers, took up an acting post as a principal teacher at Knox Academy. This is a well-deserved opportunity and we wish her every success in the role. We are delighted that Mrs Rankine’s classes are being taken over by Ms Cahoon, an experienced English teacher who has taught in Canada and London, as well as here in Scotland. Recently, we have also welcomed Ms Dudgeon to the pupil support team and Ms Mitchell as a science technician.

Following the February break, we will have a new guidance teacher for Fidra House.  Mrs McCormack, who has been a wonderful member of staff at NBHS for many years, is leaving and she will certainly be missed, especially by the pupils of Fidra House. Mrs McCormack has played a leading role in promoting positive mental health in school, including the launch of our mental health app. Our new guidance teacher, Mr Orr, is currently working in Scottish Borders.

Later in the term, we will be welcoming Mr Frew to the post of principal teacher of business education and computing, and we hope to recruit a new computing teacher to the faculty, too. Familiar faces will soon be seen in the science and performing arts faculties, as Dr Scott and Mrs Loudon return from their maternity leave.  We are very grateful for all that Ms MacLeod has done for the pupils in her time in the music department and we wish her well as she moves on to a new school.

Schools are always special places in the run-up to Christmas and NBHS was no exception. In December, we held: a stunning art show; two joyful concerts; a fun lunchtime fair; four fabulous dances; and four hilarious pantomime performances. And the learning carried on throughout all of this! I would like to thank all staff, pupils and parents for ensuring that these events were such a success, and for making the month of December so uplifting.

Following the very welcome – and, I hope, happy and relaxing – Christmas break, pupils and staff arrived back in school on Monday 9 January ready for the challenges and opportunities that the new year will bring. Within a few days, the prelim exams began and I am pleased to say that these have gone very smoothly. It has been a pleasure to hear the invigilators praise our senior pupils for how well they are conducting themselves throughout the exam diet. Parents, I am sure you will also be delighted to hear that our pupils have been unfailingly polite and courteous – they really are a credit to you.

This week, the focus for S2 pupils is on building relationships, challenging themselves outwith their comfort zone, learning and developing new skills, and having fun. For some, this is on the Italian ski slopes; for others,  it’s here in school and in the local area. You can keep up to date with what’s happening by following the school’s Twitter account.

This Friday evening we hold an event which is always a highlight of the year, especially for our S6 pupils: the Burns Supper. The speeches, recitations and music are all provided by the pupils, and the delicious 3-course meal (with haggis, of course) is followed by dancing to the excellent Clappy Doo Ceilidh Band. If you haven’t got your tickets yet, do contact the School Office. I have had a sneak preview of the speeches and I know the audience is in for an entertaining evening, with plenty of laughs. I am pleased to note there will also be lots of tablet.

Next week, there is another important event, this time aimed at our S3 – S6 pupils and their parents. On Tuesday 31 January we are welcoming some of our partners to the school to provide an information session on pathways beyond school, with a particular focus on careers in business and alternatives to university. This is part of the Developing the Young Workforce initiative, and there will be something for everyone, no matter what their goals and ambitions. Please do make every effort to come along to this event if you have a child in S3 – S6. And do bring your young person with you – it may just be the evening where they hear something that sparks a real interest and takes them on an exciting pathway to their future, one which they hadn’t previously imagined. Information is on the website and is being sent home to parents via email.

Senior Pupil Team

November 30, 2016 | Uncategorized  |  Leave a Comment

In June, our Head Boy, Head Girl and Deputes were appointed, then in September it was the turn of the House Captain applicants to go through the selection process. I am pleased to say that the members of our Senior Pupil Team have made a positive impact already this session.

Head Boy Adam Whiteside
Head Girl Rowan Baxter
Depute Head Boy Gregor Griffiths
Depute Head Girl Rosie Hamilton

 

Craig
House Captain Siobhan Duff
House Captain Nathan Robertson
Vice Captain Rebekah Gleeson
Vice Captain Siobhan Duff
Fidra
House Captain Rebecca Hamilton
House Captain Katie Brown
Vice Captain Zoe Kelly
Vice Captain Jack Algeo
Glen
House Captain Rebecca Price
House Captain Alec Thompson
Vice Captain Flora Douglas
Vice Captain Rachel Jackson
Vice Captain Matt Pearson
Vice Captain Lauren Renton
Law
House Captain Elliot Glynn
House Captain Rachel Watson
Vice Captain Noah Poole
Vice Captain Gregor Kelly
Vice Captain Milly Hartley
Vice Captain Daisy Penman

 

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