Old and new: two very different school environments
I had seen the outside of the school a few times, mostly just by travelling past or quick glances out the car window, and every time I was nervous, just because of the size of the building, Musselburgh Grammar was nothing compared to this, so when I first walked into the school it was a shock to see the inside. It was a huge difference to my last school, it was extremely modern and very open. The classrooms were bland when we first arrived but are starting to gain character now, the whole school is.
My last school was very grey and dark in interior but it still had character because of the people there. I hope this school will be like that in years to come. Sometimes I think this school is too modern but then I think about other schools and realise you don’t usually get this much colour, but is that always a good thing? I’m still not sure.
When you ask people what their favourite part of the school is they usually say things like the atrium or the hellerup stairs, but that’s not mine, mine is the break out spaces, when the corridors are quiet and lonely, when you can do your work in peace. But that’s still not my favourite part of going to school, mine is that I get to see and spend time with my friends more (and seeing my favourite teacher Miss Roddy of course).
The building feels refreshing, it’s not packed, there’s tons of space so I feel that it improves my learning and stops me feeling stressed because of the noise or just because of the amount of people in general. Do I like it as much as the grammar? I’m still not sure yet, I still need time.
This pupil has chosen to remain anonymous but wanted to share some favourite memories from her first few weeks at Rosehill:
The first time I saw our school building was when it was just beginning to be built, not even Ms Preston had seen it yet! I used to go to Musselburgh Grammar School and I had the get the bus EVERY SINGLE MORNING, but luckily I had my friend to accompany me. It was always a good start to the day having a nice chat with my friend and to see Wallyford whizzing by slowly changing into Musselburgh. Now I just open my front door, turn a few corners and there it is Rosehill High School. It is less of a journey though and now I can go home at break and lunch!
One of the first things I noticed, when the school was actually built, was the library. It was very empty when we first arrived but filled up more and more with books over the couple days, which I saw when we would have break and lunch in there. Whenever I walk into the library now I always remember my 13th birthday when me and my friends had grabbed a booth pulled over an extra table and chairs. They had bought a cake for me and we all took extra forks from the cafeteria and they all sang happy birthday to me! Everyone was bursting for a piece of cake. I held the lid down and we all started a countdown from three, 3…2…1!!! And I lifted the lid and forks were flying everywhere.
Another thing I noticed when I walked through the doors are the Hellerup stairs. After food was banned in the library my friends and I all sat on the stairs from then on, and we’d watch the kids and the teachers waddling around underneath us.
Compared to the Grammar the building is very different. The grammar had four floors!! There are a lot less stairs in Rosehill though, thanks Ms Preston! [Editor’s note: unfortunately, Ms. Preston can take no credit at all for the number of stairs!]. Another comparison is obviously this school is new and the grammar isn’t. This means that the Grammar was a lot more developed than our school, because our school has just got started! Also, the grammar was bursting at the seams with students! And are not even close to our full capacity yet.
Some of my favourite places to spend time are probably either the library or drama/music department; the library because I love reading and have so many happy memories in the library also because of Mark, he is a celebrity to us!. I like being in the drama/music department because I like to play the drums and I love acting and all the teachers are so nice!
The building benefits my learning and other peoples by having breakout spaces and times to work in some very open plan classrooms or balconies. It also has much more outdoor learning opportunities too, because we carry around our chromebooks we don’t have to go to another classroom if we need to work on something digitally.
This school is wonderful and it has really opened a lot of doors for me.
Tapha was asked to reflect on his first impressions of our building. His blog is below:
In October, I laid eyes on my new school for the first time. The weather was calm, perfectly matching the mood of everyone around. Excitement bubbled among my friends and me as we eagerly awaited the opening. Upon entering, I was immediately struck by the grandiosity and complexity of the school.
When I first walked in I was amazed at how big and complex this school was, with its key card pass that reminded me of an airport to its huge Hellerup stairs. Everything was just super fancy.
The next thing I noticed was the ginormous hallways and
Classrooms. They were a bit bland at the beginning but they started to brighten over the following weeks/months. They still looked very nice at the start because of their roof to floor windows that spread light across the whole room and across the whole corridor as well, making the school a lot more happy and bright than the dark weather that comes around quite a lot.
Comparing my new school to my old one is a challenge, but I can confidently say that despite the slightly higher cost, this new environment surpasses the old. The culinary delights, especially the pizza twist and chicken burger, contribute to the overall positive experience.
My favourite part of the school to hangout in is the cool little seats in the Atrium. There are nice spots because you have a good view of the hall and the seats are super comfy.
This school has a profound impact on my learning. It doesn’t feel like traditional schooling; rather, it provides an entirely different and enjoyable experience. Aside from the occasional tests, my learning, and hopefully that of others, is filled with fun and fascination within the walls of this building.
We have been supporting a number of universal pupil voice activities in our first few weeks of opening.
All young people have had the opportunity to take part in a Google survey around school safety. Regular safety surveys are good practice to support work on safeguarding and health and wellbeing, and support school self evaluation activities. We know that starting a new school is always daunting, and no one else in Scotland has done it with three year groups all at once. We are therefore keen to continue to have open dialogue about how everyone in our school community feels about different areas of the school.
We have also surveyed the young people on their experiences of Homeroom during the first 15 minutes of the day. This is an approach that differs slightly from our neighbouring schools and was put in place to support wellbeing at a time of significant change for our whole population. It has been wonderful to read their feedback on the warm, welcoming environments that have been created by our Homeroom teams. Pupils have flourished in mixed year group settings and used words such as safe, warm, chilled and happy to describe the start of the day. Homerooms have benefited from lots of direct input since the start of term, and we will now move towards giving more discussion and reflection tasks to further development the positive relationships within.
The Senior Leadership Team has been taking a lead on our 5 A Day programme, in which each member of the team spends time one to one time with randomly selected pupil, finding out from them what is going well and where we can continue to develop our practice. The first two weeks of sessions focused on pupils initial impressions of the school, and we then moved on to concentrate on learning and teaching.
A real highlight has been hearing the praise for our teachers and support staff, particularly given the relatively short period of time they have been working with our young people.
In terms of next steps, we will now move on to offer some guests spots to young people on this section of the website, so that you can hear from them directly.
5 a day is a universal pupil voice offer in which all young people are able to participate over the course of the school year.
On a weekly basis, members of the senior leadership team select 5 pupils at random and have a short one to one meeting with each to listen to their feedback on how well the school is supporting their wellbeing and learning.
To give an example of the feedback generated, our first topic was ‘First Impressions of Rosehill High School’. The young people shared some lovely reflections, including:
- I thought it would be hard in a big building but I can find my way around easily
- The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly
- I have managed to make new friends already
Pupils also shared favourite aspects of learning, including; exploring maths anxiety, team games in outdoor learning, and learning about real life in social subjects.
We will continue to share some of our pupil feedback throughout the year. However, young people don’t need to wait to be asked! If they have any comments or suggestions about how we can keep developing as a community, they can share these with House Teams at any time.
We’ll be working hard in the establishment phase to support the development of pupil voice and associated leadership opportunities.
Our Welcome Days for young people included an allocated slot for our new S3 to begin to think about their identity as the most senior pupils, and how they can take on roles and responsibility that will support the wellbeing and learning of the whole community.
They met in small groups with members of the staff leadership team and had the opportunity to share what activities they thought had been successful in the past and what they would like to see more of. An emerging theme was the importance of it ‘not being the same people all the time’ when it comes to listening to ideas. A number of young people commented on their discomfort with the idea of ‘Head Pupils’ or similar, because they felt that this doesn’t always represent the views and experiences of all young people. They were also clear that pupils voice activities should include everyone if they are going to be seen as valuable.
Our S3s were able to come up with a huge range of ways in which young people can support e.g. sports, the arts, and our commitment to sustainability. The next step if for House Teams explore these starting points with all year groups via the My World programme.
Our first SLT strategic session will take place on the 28th August and will be focused on pupil leadership opportunities. These discussions will be focused on the Education Scotland documents linked below:
How Good is OUR school? A resource to support learner participation in self-evaluation and school improvement (Part 1)
How good is OUR school? A resource to support learner participation in self-evaluation and school improvement (Part 2)
We will also be starting our ‘5 a day’ programme at the start of September, the findings from which will be shared via the website. You can read more about this and our overall approach to pupil voice here:
The Rosehill Way: Pupil Voice
Following on from parental engagement group discussions regarding potential vision statements for Rosehill, we explored the language in more detail with pupil groups.
Mrs Stewart Young DHT and Mr Valentine DHT explored with pupil groups in April and May.
Pupils were keen on the idea of making the vision statement easy to remember. We explored the terms Learning, Growing and Thriving and what these could look, sound and feel like at Rosehill.
Mrs Stewart-Young explored specific opinions on learning. Pupils explored their own responsibility for learning, the role of the teacher and the importance of a positive ethos and climate. We covered questioning, challenge, feedback, and differentiation. We also discussed the explicit link of wellbeing to engagement and progress in learning.
A summary of the notes from these sessions can be accessed here Vision Summary.
Mr Valentine will be leading on Pupil Voice as we head towards the Easter holiday, with a firm focus on vision and values. This input is designed to work alongside the ideas explored in our recent Parent Engagement Group, as it’s important that we take into account views across the Rosehill community.
A school vision is the direction of travel that we all agree to commit to. School values are the behaviours that help us to realise this vision.
Using the data generated by our Google surveys earlier this term, he will be working with small groups to explore our proposed school values and what they might look like, sound like, and feel like in practice.
He will also be sharing some proposed vision statements and checking that these are clear, concise and easy for everyone to understand.
This work will allow us to confirm our school vision and values early in the summer term. And most importantly, it means that we can get those values on our lanyards, to refer to every single day!
Pupil Voice has had a slightly different shape since the new year, as we move onto a new phase of the project.
Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that we had almost 350 responses from young people to our surveys of house and school names, dress code, and vision and values. For those of you still waiting to see if your favourite name for the school made it through, please be patient. There are lots of people involved in that decision! This level of engagement shows really clearly the young people’s sense of ownership in this project, and it’s been great to find out their thoughts and read their comments. This has been especially important for the inclusion of young people who might find it more challenging to speak out in group situations- all voices are valued.
Young people have also been getting involved in the recruitment of our staff team. Pinkie pupils were a huge help in setting questions for our Curriculum Leader interviews. Their suggestions included:
- How will you make sure that all pupils know about hidden disabilities?
- How will you make sure that we all leave school able to cook healthy things that are easy to make?
- How will you make sure that everyone gets involved in your subject, even if they think they are not very good at it?
- How will you make sure the work is hard enough for people who might find it quite easy?
Questions like these have really made candidates think on their feet, and helped us to get a real sense of how they will respond to our young people.
Pupils from Wallyford will be involved, this coming week, in compiling questions for our class teacher interviews, which take place throughout March and April. I am sure they will continue to be a great support to the process.
We will be reconvening and building on our regular Pupil Voice sessions in the spring. Mr Valentine will be leading some groups focused on what we are calling ‘ways of being’. Mr Valentine has a real passion for what is referred to as character education. The idea behind this is that education is as much about learning how to be in the world as it is learning facts and figures. Our senior leadership team has very high standards when it comes to how we treat each other, and takes wellbeing, inclusion and anti-bullying approached very seriously. We know that lots of our young people feel the same.
Mrs Stewart-Young will be leading discussions around classroom experiences. We want to make sure that we are working with everyone in our school community to give young people as much consistency as possible across the different areas of the curriculum. It’s important that we all know what to expect when it comes to our daily classroom routines, as well as thinking about learning actively, learning together, and how we assess our learning.
They are both very excited (that word again!) to get into all three of our partner schools in the next few weeks.
All three schools have now worked through the four key themes of culture, community, identity and learning.
On the final topic of ‘our learning’, pupils were asked to explore what they saw as positive classroom experiences.
The image below shows the adjectives they most commonly used to describe the ideal teacher:
This was such a valuable exercise because it can influence the wording we use when recruiting classroom teachers in the spring, as well as providing a great reminder of how much interpersonal relationships impact on young people’s sense of progress and engagement.
The pupils were also asked to explore what makes for a good classroom experience. Some quotations included:
- I know I have learned something when I use it out of class
- Knowing I am improving
- Learning things but having fun at the same time
- Lots of interaction
- Happiness and kindness
Finally, pupils were asked to think about what their ideal school day would look like. There was a lot of emphasis on hands on, active learning, with one pupil commenting, ‘I like the subjects where I get to the end of the lesson and I feel like I have something to show for the effort I have put in.’ The graphic below shows some of the subjects identified as being an important part of the ideal day:
You can access the full data on this topic here: Pupil Voice Theme 4 Data