This week we are continuing to review arrangements with council staff and looking to see how things can be improved for S1-3. I am very grateful for the parent support received on trying to improve the bus arrangements to ensure an earlier start for S1-3. I was contacted about this earlier today. Please be assured I am aware of parent feelings on this issue, and we are working with council staff to improve the current situation. We are also planning this week to improve our staffing support next week in order to deliver a better S1-3 curriculum once the exam leave starts.
Can you please let Mr Rafferty know with a brief note if you are happy for your child to make their own way to Forrester. We are also considering whether allowing S1 students to use the public buses could support an earlier start. We will of course continue to ensure there is contracted bus transport for any vulnerable students, or those who specifically request this. The key thing is to try to get all students into the school each morning as soon as possible, and at the same time.
S2 and S3
If buses are made available at an earlier time, we will deliver an earlier start. We are also working with the centre to see if the S3 departure for Broughton (which is furthest away) can be switched round with S1 buses so S3 are leaving earlier.
4 School sites
Some parents have been asking what will happen once the exam leave starts and wondering if S3 students might move to Tynecastle.
This will not be possible during the exam leave, as the accommodation will be taken up by the need to meet the needs of the SQA exams for both schools. Tynecastle’ s S1-3 students will also still be in school. Whether we have Craigmount senior students at Tynecastle after the exam leave starts is something that is being considered, but this will of course depend on council announcements on the situation with the 17 school buildings, which will hopefully be made soon. This will be a decision for senior centre staff, in consultation with Head Teachers. As soon as I have information on the building situation, I will inform you of any options for relocations that are presented to me.
We are also reviewing with council staff whether there may be options to reduce the number of S1-3 sites if at all possible, as this would improve our capacity to deliver a richer curriculum.
Contacting the S1-3 sites
Forrester Mr Rafferty 0131 334 9262
Broughton Ms Gibson 0131 332 7805
Darroch Mr Pye 0131 228 6192
We have requested Craigmount phone options at each site.
Change of timetable
This was planned to take place on 6th May, but the three to four weeks post Easter preparation this would normally require has not been available to us. Our administrative staff are now inputting subject choices and planning for the change. The new time-table was completed by Mr Irving by the start of term, but we will need time to complete arrangements. A further update on when the new change of timetable will be released as soon as we are able to provide this. Much will depend on any announcements this week, and how this will impact on what we are doing. Please be assured, I am aware of any implications of a later start, particularly to the new senior phase students, and will be sharing this with the SQA. It is also the case however, that many schools do not start until June, or even August. Craigmount had a particularly early start.
Further meetings with SQA staff took place today. The invigilation teams from both schools have been in school and planning the programme. Furniture and floor coverings from Craigmount will be set up by our own janitorial team from AMEY on the holiday Monday. SQA deadlines are being met, and extensions have been agreed with the SQA where required. In fact, most coursework was completed prior to the Easter break.
Exam leave S4-6
Exam leave for S4-6 students will now start at the end of the day on Friday 29th April. Before this situation arose, we had intended to have S6 in school next week to celebrate their time in Craigmount but that is no longer possible. We hope to plan another event for them when the situation normalises and we can get back to our school. Mr Irving will be meeting all S4-6 students with me this Friday to outline arrangements. Students will be issued with their individual exam timetable on Thursday. It is important that they check this and let us know of any issues on Friday, the final day in school. Fortunately, the first exam is on Thursday 5th May, so there is time to contact us if required before the exam. A strong faculty presence will remain in school for the duration of the exam leave. Details of exam leave will be included in an update by Thursday this week at the latest.
The provision of free lunches for all S4-6 students at Tynecastle will stop during the exam leave. Free pack lunches for those students entitled to free school meals will continue as usual during the exams.
How can parents help at this difficult time?
A number of parents have been asking this. By far the best thing parents can do is to reassure and support students at all levels. I know this is already happening. As an English teacher I am also very conscious of the importance of personal reading for students; so ensuring that suitably challenging fiction or non-fiction is available and encouraging private reading in the evenings, would be very helpful. I am very grateful to Forrester for issuing library books to all in S1 this week. Our public library partners also have an important role to play. Please also remind students to check the Faculty sections of the school website for advice on study topics and links to educational websites. I have asked staff to offer as much advice as possible on this.
Mr T Rae