Category: Head Teacher Updates

Head Teacher Additional Update: 16/01/23

This additional update is to confirm our preferred candidate for the post of DHT Curriculum. Subject to the required pre-employment checks, Mrs. Lynsey Stewart-Young will be joining the team.

Mrs Stewart-Young is an East Lothian resident and spent much of her early career here, before taking up promoted posts in both Midlothian and Edinburgh, most recently as a Depute Head Teacher. We will, I am sure, gain a great deal from her experiences in working with a range of local authorities.

As you will be aware, there have already been significant developments in aspects of our Curriculum, ensuring we have a timetable that works for young people, and can be realistically staffed. Therefore, ahead of the school opening, Mrs Stewart-Young will be focusing on her key role in supporting high quality learning, teaching and assessment. This will include working with all teaching and support staff to ensure consistency in delivering excellent learning experiences, with an absolute commitment to positive relationships between staff and young people in all faculties and individual classrooms.

Mrs Stewart-Young looks forward to joining East Lothian Council and meeting our new school community.


Head Teacher Update 13/01/23

Head Teacher Update 13/01/23

Happy New Year! This is a long one, as lots has been happening…

I am pleased to be able to begin to introduce some of the team who will be joining us at the new campus.

Our preferred candidate for the post of Business Manager is Ms Paula O’Neill who, subject to pre-employment checks, will join us at the end of February. Ms O’Neill is currently the Business Manager at Ross High School and comes to us with a wealth of experience and strong ELC networks. Ms O’Neill has a crucial role to play in terms of finance, resources, staffing, and a whole range of operational responsibilities related to the new building. I know she absolutely relishes the opportunity of this new challenge.

Mr Neil Valentine is the preferred candidate for the post of Depute Head Teacher, Pupil Support. Subject to pre-employment checks, he will join us from the 6th of March. Mr Valentine is currently a Pupil Support Leader at Musselburgh Grammar school and, as such, will be a huge asset in terms of the smooth transition of young people across the three year groups. Mr Valentine’s key responsibility is the safety, wellbeing and inclusion of young people, and he is very much looking forward to focusing on establishing the positive climate for learning that I know is so important to all of us.

We also have a preferred candidate for the role of DHT Curriculum, about which I will provide further details next week.

Both parents and pupils have been involved, and continue to be involved, in the recruitment of the senior team. This has been very positive for all of us, and I really do appreciate the input of the school community as a whole.

I am also very fortunate in being able to welcome a number of middle leaders who are currently employed at Musselburgh Grammar School, but who will move to work at the new campus from Term 3 (dates to be confirmed):

  • Curriculum Leader for Languages and Literacy: English, Media, and Modern Languages, with a whole school responsibility for Literacy.
  • Curriculum Leader of Social Subjects: Business Education, Geography, History and Modern Studies, with a whole school responsibility for Learning for Sustainability.
  • Curriculum Leader for Science and Technology: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and a range of CDT courses, with a whole school responsibility for Digital Learning.

All of the staff are very excited about the possibilities afforded by the next steps in their careers, and we are very lucky to have the experience and expertise that they bring. They will also have an important role to play in transition.

In the coming weeks we will populate the ‘Our Staff’ section of the website in order to help you get to know the team.

A number of additional middle leader posts will now be open to external recruitment. These include:

  • Curriculum Leader for Expressive Arts
  • Curriculum Leader for Health and Wellbeing
  • Curriculum Leader for Maths and Numeracy
  • Curriculum Leader for Support for Learning

I look forward to providing further staffing updates in due course.

In terms of continuing parental engagement, you should now have received a letter from your associated schools with information on a range of surveys you can complete to support the further development of the school identity. I really value your input and hope that as many people as possible are able to have their say.

A copy of the letter can be accessed here: Parent Survey Letter with links to Google Forms

You may also have noticed that there is now a sample timetable for S3 under the Curriculum tab on the website, as well as a link to some information on S3 Pathways. Young people moving into S3 in August 2023 will be supported to select two Personal Pathways to continue to extend their learning in the final stage of their Broad General Education. I am currently working with Mr Valentine on collecting the relevant data for learners, and we will be working with them on this during the month of February.

I had my first site visit of 2023 this week and am thrilled to report that we have doors, sinks, benches in the science labs… It’s all coming together. It was also great to meet with representatives from Edinburgh College, who were visiting the Regional Construction Skills facilities. Their presence on campus is going to be a real strength within the senior phase curriculum which we will be scoping out during the course of the coming academic year.


Head Teacher Update 16/12/22

This is the last HT update before Christmas, and it’s hard to believe that I have been here less than three months. Although it has flown by in many senses, I can’t quite remember what my life was like before! I thought it would be useful to provide some data to give a sense of the scope and variety of activities so far:

  • 98 in person or online meetings covering a huge array of topics: design elements, IT requirements, finance, staffing, community engagement, operational use of the building, partnership opportunities etc.
  • 91 pupils involved in 13 Pupil Voice sessions across 3 schools
  • 36 Google forms submitted sharing parent views across our 4 key themes
  • 30 parents attending 4 in person Parent Engagement sessions across 3 schools
  • 13 job descriptions/adverts prepared for a range of leadership roles
  • 12 different locations visited across East Lothian to learn from colleagues in and beyond education
  • 10 professional learning sessions, from safeguarding to employment law
  • 9 opportunities to work in person with other HTs, and share experiences
  • 5 site visits, each one getting progressively colder, but also progressively more exciting
  • 3 live/recorded Google Meets
  • 3 Parent Council meetings
  • 3 Assemblies
  • 1 timetable (nearly there!)

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Thank you to everyone who has worked with me so positively and creatively in the last 12 weeks.

The Pupil Voice and Parent Engagement pages will be updated by the end of the day to summarise the qualitative data gathered across all four themes. Please take a look to see what information is feeding into the community surveys that will begin in January.

For now, here’s wishing you and yours a happy, peaceful and enjoyable festive period.

Head Teacher Update 9/12/22

It was a pleasure to meet with parents at Musselburgh Grammar School on Monday to talk about our priorities for our young people’s learning. The cold, wet weather made for a small group, but that didn’t prevent some big conversation! In particular, we talked about the importance of a shared understanding of progress, the challenge of recognising the ‘quiet middle’, and the desire to learn more about the huge range of pathways and qualifications available to young people. A great resource for parents to start with is Parentzone Scotland:

If you would like to share your thoughts on what good learning looks like, please complete our Google survey using this link: Theme 4: Our Learning

Thank you to those who have already been in touch around the possible names for our new school. The overall site will remain Wallyford Learning Campus, but there has been a strong sense from pupils, parents and the wider community that we need to consider a distinct name for the school part of the site.

In reflecting on options, I am indebted to the work of Alister Hadden, who has so generously shared his research on the local area. I am currently pulling together information on the history and context of each of the following possibilities: Clement’s Wells/ Clementswells High School, Fawside High School (various spelling options available!), Ravensheugh High School, Rosehill High School, Scarlett Park High School- and I am open to other suggestions coming in! I will explore these further through Pupil Voice before the end of term, then consult with the wider community by mid-January.

Working with the wider community is a fundamental part of the success of any school, and I want to share a couple of examples of that from this week.

Morrison Construction is responsible for our build, and their Social Value team is keen to maintain and grow their connection with our community. We met this week to look at how we can work together to support young people’s aspirations. Along with a number of ways to enhance the curriculum, Morrison has committed to offering the opportunity for some of our young people to visit the site, to learn more about the ongoing work and what this means for their learning. Hard hats at the ready!

I also spent the time with Peter Wood of the Lothian Presbytery. His current focus is on how we can support members of our community old and new in continuing to connect, and we both very firmly agree that it takes a village to raise a child. Learning is as much about building character as it is building a CV, and I look forward to working with everyone connected to the school in developing our vision and values.

Head Teacher Update 02/12/22

As we move towards the end of 2022, it’s important to continue to think about transition for our new WLC pupils. Of course, aspects of transition are ongoing, such as Pupil Voice activities, parent engagement opportunities, and my time with staff in the associated schools, all of which are important parts of getting to know each other.

Transition activities in a secondary school generally focus on the move from P7 into S1, but we have three year groups undergoing a significant transition this year. Therefore, transition planning is as much about young people currently at Musselburgh Grammar School as it is about our associated primaries. A crucial part of this has been confirming which young people will be joining us at WLC in August, so that we can share data appropriately and ensure that planning reflects individual learning needs. Thank you, therefore, to everyone who has already confirmed their intentions with East Lothian Council.

In addition to this, we also have a number of young people joining us from other areas in ELC in order to access our Severe and Complex Needs (SCN) provision. Two meetings have been set up for these families. Individual introductory meetings have been set up for the 17th January, with a group meeting to look at more general matters related to the campus 23rd January. Parents of pupils accessing the SCN should be sure to email to book into these.

I am currently working on a ‘one page plan’ which notes all of the transition activities already undertaken and highlights what will be happening from January onwards. This will be published on the website by the end of next week.

There has been lots of exciting discussion on Theme 3: Our school identity. There is a link on the Parent Engagement page to a summary of the early parent comments around the ideas for the school name and dress code. The views of young people will be shared via Pupil Voice Updates after working on this with them over the next couple of weeks. Early indications are that there is currently no consensus whatsoever, but that’s perhaps to be expected! After gathering all of these initial ideas, a range of proposals will be shared with our community during the Spring term, with a chance to comment further and/or vote as appropriate. More on the options next week…



Head Teacher Update 25/11/22

I was lucky enough to be joined for Pupil Voice input by members of the Design Team this week. I learned as much as the young people with regards to terms such as biophilic design and supergraphics. We shared a number of images from the 3D building models and talked through the key concept of trying to bring nature from the outside, to the inside. I am particularly fond of the planning for real trees in our central atrium, and of the sheer amount of natural light that will flood into each part of the building. I’ve been encouraging all future pupils to take a look at the building ‘close up’ if they can, as there is plenty you can see from the roadside.  In addition to this, a number of pupils have asked about the possibility of both ‘real life’ visits and video/360 tours of the building inside. We obviously need to balance this up with the health and safety associated with building sites but do watch this space…we are working on it!

I have now shared the curriculum rationale for the Broad General Education (S1-S3) on the website. This outlines the key drivers behind our curriculum and highlights its core principles of wellbeing, inclusion and equity. As well as clear alignment with Curriculum for Excellence, it also reflects the conversations that have been undertaken with parent and pupil groups. I have shared this ‘big picture’ thinking with our timetabler who is now working turning it into technical reality. We hope to be able to share a couple of ‘sample’ timetables ahead of the Christmas break.

Pathways are important beyond as well as within school, and today I met with our Skills Development Scotland (SDS) link. Schools have a shared responsibility with SDS and other partners to support young people into sustained, positive destinations. Part of this is offering high quality careers education and identifying, at an early stage, which young people might need some extra help in figuring out their next steps. Although this seems like a long way away for our youngest learners, it’s important that we get that input right from S1 onwards.

Pinkie St. Peter’s Primary hosted our most recent Parent Engagement session. This was on Theme 3: Our identity. It was great to hear from parents about how they see the local area, and how they think others see it. We even started to generate some ideas for the name of the high school and its Houses. All suggestions welcome ahead of some votes in the New Year! We also discussed dress code and the importance of this being appropriate for active, collaborative learning- comfortable, easy to look after, gender neutral and inclusive. I’ll be picking this up with pupil groups next.

If you would like some ‘in person’ updates on a range of matters pertaining to the school, as well as the summary messages from the engagement work around Theme 2: Our Community, please feel free to join me on Google Meet live at 4pm on Monday 28th November. The link is in the letter that you were sent by your current schools in early November. However, if you don’t have this to hand, please email and it can be re-sent. If you can’t make that time, a recording will be added to the Parent Engagement page on the website a few days afterwards.

And finally, our last parent engagement session is hosted by Musselburgh Grammar on Monday 5th December (6-7pm) and is on Theme 4: Our learning. There are still places available and I would love to see as many people as possible to look at all things curriculum and learning and teaching. Please email to book your spot.


Head Teacher Update 18/11/22

One highlight of this week was undoubtedly attending the Learning Places Scotland conference at the SEC in Glasgow. It was a great opportunity to think specifically about the architecture of our new building and how this promotes innovative approaches to learning and teaching. I particularly enjoyed learning from the experiences of young people from both West Calder High School and Inverurie Academy, all of whom had recently moved into new build schools. They had some great advice about the importance of letting pupils gradually get used to the variety of different learning spaces. I also had the chance to speak with a range of potential partners about how we can support an exciting BGE curriculum within the STEAM facility, including Glasgow Science Centre and Morrison Construction.

On Wednesday, I joined a number of Wallyford residents and the Community Centre, for a Bite and a Blether. This included a talk on the history of Wallyford, by Alister Hadden. I learned so much about the way in which the community has grown and changed over the years, and I want to make sure that the eventual name of our school and its Houses really do reflect our unique context. We did laugh a lot together when we saw the images of the original school building in Wallyford, with only four rooms!

All parent and pupil engagements around Theme 1: Our school’s purpose, have now been completed. I therefore held a brief Google Meet on Thursday to summarise some of the findings. These Google Meets are recorded and will be added to the website in the next few days. The website also includes graphics showing the main areas of discussion. However, do feel free to join live if you are able to, as this gives you the chance to add any questions to the chat as we go.

Still on the subject of questions, you may have noticed a couple of new pages on the website. I have pulled together both Pupil and Parent FAQs. These can be accessed through the link to the relevant Google document, which makes it easy for me to update as we move towards opening.

Our next Parent Engagement session is on the 24th November at Pinkie St. Peter’s Primary, at 5.30pm. This will still be going ahead, despite potential disruption to the normal school day. I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Head Teacher Update 11/11/22

It’s been another busy week with a focus on getting out and about meeting pupils and parents, including:

  • Our second parent engagement meeting
  • Our first Pupil Voice groups at Musselburgh and Wallyford
  • A Musselburgh Parent Council meeting
  • Assemblies for P6 and P7 at Pinkie St. Peter’s

One theme that has been coming through is the value placed on good communication. I couldn’t agree more. It’s good to be aware that I am unable to initiate contact with any parents or pupils directly until they are confirmed as pupils who will be attending the campus, so I hope the following strategies are proving useful:

Information letters on engagement opportunities sent via pupils’ current schools.

Updates via the Twitter account: @WallyfordLC

Setting up the email

Building the website (Please note: there is no capacity to respond to comments on the website- these should be submitted via email.)

Please do get in touch with your queries. If I can’t answer them myself, I will find someone who can! I am also in the process of developing a Frequently Asked Questions page on the website which will bring some these together for the benefit of both parents and pupils.

Another topic of discussion has been around a name for the new school, and its Houses. I’ve been in touch with a number of contacts in the community to explore ideas around honouring a place or a person that might otherwise be forgotten. I am also thinking about ways in which we might reflect aspects of the local environment. Eventually, I will pull together a list of options and ask you to vote. Schooly McSchool Face will not to be in the list! If you have any ideas you would like to share, do let me know.

Linked into this are our plans for the overall ‘look’ of the school in terms of the colours, materials and textures that will be used.  The design team are working on the central idea of beaches/coastlines, and trying to capture something of the beauty we are lucky enough to have in East Lothian. You will see some of these colours start to filter through the website and other communications.

I also met with our consultant timetabler for the first time, to look at how we do the technical side of building the new curriculum. I will be able to share progress on this within the next couple of weeks so that you have a chance to explore the curriculum rationale, then to start to see what a school day might look like for pupils in S1-S3.

Head Teacher Update 04/11/22

I am delighted to share that our website is now live. If you are reading this, you have found it! Please take the time to have a look through previous head teacher updates which help to show the progress we have been making over the last few weeks.

There was a continued focus on staffing this week as I worked with local authority colleagues to plan roles and remits for the school’s Extended Leadership Team, who will lead in curricular subjects and in pastoral care. All school leaders will be able to join me well ahead of the school opening, in order that we have time together to plan the best learning experiences we can.

This was also the main consideration in my meeting this week with Leigh Watson, the Senior Education Officer for Curriculum Innovation at Education Scotland. As discussed with parents at our most recent engagement session, I’m committed to developing a curriculum in S1-3 that really does deliver a Broad General Education and that includes space in the timetable for important work around Learning for Sustainability, Digital Literacy and Skills for Learning, Life and Work. It’s great to have the reassurance that we are working in a way that genuinely reflects the principles of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Pupil voice groups are now established in Wallyford Primary School and Musselburgh Grammar. They will be working through a range of topics, including the chance to take part in a consultation with our interior designer. I will be doing an introductory assembly at Pinkie St. Peter’s on the 10th November, and will form pupil groups thereafter. It’s really important to me that we are listening and responding to what matters to our young people. I will post update about their activities on the ‘Pupil Voice’ tab once we are up and running.

Partnership working is hugely important for the new campus, and I got my walking shoes on this week with one of our local youth workers, Vanda Dow, to get out and about in the catchment area and start thinking about any issue and opportunities related to our School Travel Plan.

And finally, a date for your diary. I will be hosting the first of a series of brief live Google Meets on Thursday 17th November, where I will talk through some of the themes emerging from discussions with pupils and parents thus far. You can join me here Google Meet 1

A recording of the session will also be posted to the website afterwards.

Head Teacher Update 28/10/22

As a teacher, I am used to things ‘stopping’ during the holidays. Of course, we will often end up doing some work at home, but we return to school and find it pretty much as we left it. Not so with this project. I returned from the autumn break to once again be hugely impressed at how many people are working so hard to ensure success. Most importantly, we will soon be in a position to advertise posts to join the Senior Leadership Team, which will allow us to make big moves forward in terms of finalising a curriculum structure, transition arrangements and so on.

It was a genuine pleasure to meet with parents for the first of our engagement sessions. Our theme was ‘Our school’s purpose’, and there were some great responses on the question of what makes a good school, such as:

  • Excellence is not just about the academic side but about what is best for each pupil
  • A focus on a curriculum that is enjoyable and appeals to young people
  • The opportunity to build strong relationships with both peers and staff

The second session, ‘Our school community’ will be hosted by Wallyford Primary, from 5pm-6pm on the 7th November. Parents and carers of future Wallyford Learning Campus pupils can email if they would like to book a space.

We are also now on Twitter. Please follow @WallyfordLC for official updates on the school’s development.