Kirkcaldy High School News 20 Sept 2019

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Published: Friday 20 Sep 2019 by Fife Council

Dear Parent/Carer

How are you? Welcome to your weekly report from KHS.

Last week, I mentioned the Stonewall "No Bystanders" pledge. All our young people and staff have been invited to sign the pledge during morning tutor time. You will be aware that Stonewall is a charity which primarily looks after the rights and welfare of gay, lesbian and transgender people who have faced discrimination or harassment. However, the pledge is a commitment to challenge bullying behaviour of all types. It goes; “I will never be a bystander to hateful language and abuse. If I hear it, I will call it out and report it, and if I can, I will stop it. By adding my name, I promise to stand up for fairness, kindness and to never be a bystander.”  It's a serious commitment to make, but looking out for each other is the basis of community living.

I am so very proud that we are a school where everyone is equally welcome and we are regarded as one of the leading schools in Scotland in this respect. You’ll perhaps be aware, although S1 Parents/Carers might not konw, of the COSLA Excellence Award presented  to KHS last year. This was presented for our work in “Reducing Inequality and Improving Health” … that’s the kind of school we are.

This week we welcomed a new member of staff to KHS as we were joined by Suzanne Squires as our Principal Teacher responsible for Supported Learning. Ms Squires was previously of the “DAS” at Auchmuty High School in Glenrothes. I’m delighted that she has joined us and can report that our little group of Supported Learning kids have settled in exceptionally well. Many thanks also to Mr Broadway, Ms Patton, Mr Naismith, Mrs McNab, Mrs Proudfoot and all the other teaching and support staff who have given our new starts a fantastic introduction to our school.

On Monday afternoon, Miss Malcolm (Lead Teacher for Employability) took our “Career Ready” pupils up to Glenrothes for a “masterclass” session with mentors from local businesses and companies. This is an excellent programme and I am delighted that KHS is involved. There is an official launch at the Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline soon.

We held House Assemblies this week with Adam Smith on Tuesday, Carlyle on Wednesday and Oswald yesterday. These were led by Mrs Rae (Pupil Support Officer) on the theme of Period Poverty. I am very satisfied that at KHS we are doing our bit to reduce the stigma around menstruation and addressing the “poverty gap” in respect of this. That said, there a maybe things we could do better and so we are conducting an online survey to gauge young people’s opinions and needs. Here is the link; Please be reminded that free sanitary items are available in all our facilities. There is no need for any young person to miss lessons for want of appropriate support. Our PSO team are especially skilled in helping young people with this. I have to add that the attitude of our young people has been outstanding … let’s end the shame around a perfectly natural bodily function affecting half of us.

Also at the assemblies, we formally introduced the Kirkcaldy Schools’ Police Liaison Officer, PC Cameron Lee. We are really looking forward to working with Cammy to build links and work together to keep our kids safe and involved in their town. He was joined by PC Carly Campbell and they will be with us every Friday afternoon and at other times during the week.

Also on Tuesday, we welcomed Cheryl Rae, a former pupil, to give a talk about rhino conservation to several groups of Biology students. Cheryl left KHS 7 years ago and now works as a vet in Kirkcaldy with St Clair Vets. This summer, she spent time as a volunteer on a South African game reserve as part of a team trying to address the extinction threat faced by African rhinos. She explained the horrific trade in rhino horn, which is, by weight, more highly valued than gold. Our pupils were angered and moved by Cheryl’s stories and now have a far greater knowledge of wildlife poaching and other conservation issues (photo).

Tuesday was our S3 Parent/Carer Evening. I was pleased to meet some of you there and take your feedback. We would appreciate any further comments about the organisation of the event. How was it for you? How did you find the online booking system or the arrangements on the night? Please just press “reply” to share your views.

As I mentioned last week, we had another “Parents’ Evening” this week, with a different format. It was for parents and carers of S1, held last night, and we had a focus on developing positive attitudes to reading and numbers. You’ve likely heard of “Growth Mindset”? Many thanks to our lead professionals and teachers in literacy and numeracy, Mrs Hume and Mrs Hamilton, Miss Wilson and Miss Hay. The evening was a big success. We had a very good turnout and parents/carers enjoyed the groupwork challenges set by our staff. We’ll try to do some more “Family Learning” activities like this throughout the session (below).

Also yesterday, after the weekly swimming lesson, our Supported Learning class took part in a special cycling event laid on at the new Lochgelly Cycling Park by Disability Sport Fife. This was a great success and a good chance to get together outdoors.

The hot meal menu for next week is as follows;

Monday: Lentil soup, Stovies with crusty bread, turnip Tuesday: French onion soup, Chicken korma, boiled rice and vegetables Wednesday: Tomato soup, Steak pie, potatoes and vegetables Thursday: Green pea soup, Sweet chilli beef and noodles, vegetables Friday: Vegetable soup, Breaded fish/Scotch pie, chips, peas.

We also have baked potatoes, pizza, pasta, sandwiches and salad available every day as well as our outdoor snack bar. Please do be aware that we offer a free cup of soup with bread for all our young people, regardless of their “free school meals” status. There is also our "Breakfast Club" (sponsored by Stephens the Bakers) available from 8.10am and this is completely free for those facing hardship. We have cereal, toast and jam and juice on offer. Lunchtime meals are priced at £2.20 for pupils, and this is the value of the “free meal” entitlement. Main courses are £1.55 and desserts are priced at £0.65. Please call if you are facing financial hardship and would appreciate help to apply for free meals. You should ask for Mrs Hardie (Family Link Worker).

Next week we’ll be holding Yeargroup assemblies with different themes for different years. For example, for S1 on Monday, we’ll focus on the upcoming Fordell Firs Adventure Trips (Wednesday to Friday). For S2 on Tuesday, Mrs Kendrick (Guidance) has organised by a special fire safety talk from Fife Fire and Rescue.

Also that day, Mrs Hamilton (Depute Rector), Mrs Morris (Head of Modern Languages) Mr McFarlane (Acting Rector of Viewforth High School) and I will be visiting St Andrew’s High School as part of our “Learning Partnership”. I am sure that this will be a very worthwhile experience for us all. We will get the chance to be in classes, talk to teachers and talk to young people, then provide feedback on aspects of school improvement at St Andrew’s. A team from that school, led by Mr Callaghan (Headteacher) will visit our school just after the October holidays. We are looking forward to that too … we can always learn from each other.

In the afternoon, all S1 will be invited to a musical demonstration/concert in the Hall. This performance is being put on by our music instructors. Many thanks to all of them, and also to Mrs Duckett, our Head of Music. We are keen to encourage all our pupils to be involved in music. It’s never too late to learn a new skill or develop a new passion … and that goes for learning an instrument too. Our new Community Choir of staff and pupils is also going very well. The hot news of their first gig takes place a week tomorrow at the Salvation Army Open Day at Hayfield Road, at lunchtime.

On the Tuesday evening, we’ll hold a meeting of the KHS Parent Council and the main themes will be some feedback about the Kingdom FM “Best School” Award, a review of the SQA exam results, the latest position on staffing and timetable, our financial position and spending plans for the session ahead and in particular, the way we are attempting to close the attainment gap through Pupil Equity Fund projects and initiatives. Our Chair is Gillian McIntyre and she has asked me to extend an invitation to all parents/carers. The meeting starts at 6pm and I’ll have Prefects on hand to guide you upstairs. We’ll be joined by Head Girl and Boy, Cara Turner and Jake Ramsay, who will provide a report from the student perspective.

On Wednesday afternoon, we have a group of Drama students who will be attending a performance of “A Taste of Honey” at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. Many thanks to Mrs Bruce and Mr McPherson for leading this. I am also delighted that Mrs Bruce has set about organising the very first Fife Schools’ “Shakespeare Festival” in conjunction with Fife College. I am excited at the prospect. I understand that a group of local schools will be staging abridged performances of the bard’s works in 2020. Rehearsals start soon for the KHS production of “Othello”.

That evening, our COSLA Award winning LGBT+ Group will be delivering equalities training to Fife Council Youth Workers. Then, next day, they are off to the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow to deliver workshop sessions for teachers from all over Scotland. We have been invited by Education Scotland, the Government's lead agency in the field. I am so proud of our team, led by John, Morgan and Blake. KHS is lighting the way … and many thanks to Dr Murray too, our lead teacher supporter.

On a quite different tack, also that evening, Mrs Shearer (Head of Languages and Classics) will be delivering a special talk to the Scottish Classical Association on the teaching of Latin in Scottish Schools. This takes place at the old Medical School of Edinburgh University. Many of you will know that Mrs Shearer is regarded as one of the country’s leading practitioners in the teaching of Latin and Classics. In my opinion she is certainly in the top one! It’s an unusual distinction for Kirkcaldy High School to have greater numbers of young people gaining success at Higher Latin than any other school in Scotland … and that includes private as well as state schools. It’s a wee bit special and I’m proud that we are able to serve such a wide range of needs. Congratulations to Mrs Shearer.

Best wishes to our S1, who will be out of school (by House group) from Wednesday to Friday taking part in outdoor adventure and team building activities at Fordell Firs near Dunfermline. It will also be “best wishes” to our Rwanda team, which heads off to Africa next Friday. Thanks to Ms Mahr, Miss Cunningham and Dr Murray, our team leaders. In particular, good luck to Ms Mahr, who will take a career break after the Rwanda trip to work as a charity based volunteer in Thailand for a period of time.

The week ends with our S5/6 assembly and we will be welcoming a special guest. Craig Stockton is the Chief Executive Officer of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Scotland and he will be in school to talk to our seniors about that dreadful disease, which has been in the news this week after the death of Fernando Ricksen the former Rangers footballer at the age of 43. Craig will also be presented with a cheque for the grand sum of £1343, the result of our fund raising for MND Scotland over the past session, in memory of Gordon Aikman, the former Head Boy of KHS who was such a fantastic campaigner for research funding and medical support for Motor Neurone Disease sufferers.

I mentioned our LGBT+ Support Group earlier. Best wishes for tomorrow. A group from the school is attending Dundee Pride tomorrow. I think that the weather forecast is good and I’m sure it will be another joyous community event for our staff and young people, celebrating the diversity of the human experience.

Please remember our “FoKHS” Race Night. This takes place in the school Hall on Friday 8 November and is always brilliant fun. It’s also an excellent way to support KHS. FoKHS raises thousands of pounds annually to assist the school. Please call us and ask for Mrs Davidson to purchase tickets, or to sponsor a race or a horse.

Finally, please be reminded that Fife Council premises (including school grounds) are smoke free. As a health promoting school, and for the avoidance of doubt, here’s where we stand. For pupils, it is forbidden to bring tobacco, matches or lighters to school and the same rules apply for vaping devices and liquids. There is a health concern around this practice, and it is not appropriate for any young person to have these gadgets on our premises. We intend to reiterate these rules with our young people next week and I’d appreciate you reinforcing them at home.

With best wishes.


Derek Allan


20 September 2019

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