Hello to Islay and Jura!

Welcome to my new blog! I thought this would be a good way to keep in touch with our community and families, so please check in regularly for updates regarding what is happening in school and any important dates and information.

Having arrived on Islay one dark night at the end of October I have to say the weeks have flown by since. I would like to thank the school and wider community for making my family and I feel so welcome. I have met so many people over the past few weeks that are ambitious for the school and want to see it do well and I look forward to working with you all in the future. I also have to thank Mr Harrison and the rest of the staff for “showing me the ropes”. I am sure they will continue to be of great support as the school year progresses.

During my first week I introduced myself to the whole school at a special assembly. It was important for me to talk to both staff and student about what I valued this included honestly, taking responsibility and perseverance.

I have also had two opportunities to meet with our Parent Council. It was an ideal opportunity to gauge any concerns and share our future plans for the school. These included new building works, website and some results from parental questionnaires. Parent Councils can be a great support to schools and I hope to see as many of you as possible attending our AGM on Wednesday 23rd January at 4pm at the school.

Click here to read more about the work of Parent Councils

As many of you will know the school has had some significant building work completed over the summer. There is still significant investment to be made in Islay High School and more planned refurbishment will take place in the next few years to re-design the use of our internal spaces. The downside to this is that redecoration will not happen until this refurbishment is completed; I know that condition of some areas of the school is not good but it will be addressed eventually. However one small program of redecoration has taken place. After an exploratory look under the rather grubby carpet in my office I discovered a beautiful parquet floor covered in glue; bring in Mr Bell and his boys. In two weeks the floor was scraped, sanded and varnished. It really looks stunning and my thanks to them and their very labour intensive work. Please pop in for a look!

It was good to see so many parents attend our S3-S6 Parent’s Evening and the Higher Mathematics and English night we ran. The feedback from the Higher evening was so positive that this is something we will look to extend into other subjects.

The pantomime and music evening were a triumph and have shown me just how much talent we have within the school, and how dedicated staff are in encouraging and supporting our students. It was a great opportunity for me to meet our community and thanks to all who came along and said hello. I have also been told that many of our music students have done very well in their grading exams. I know many of our students were involved in helping at our primary events too so well done to them on their commitment and stamina.

Our Christmas dance organised expertly by our S6 was a fun evening and students impressed me with their great behaviour and excellent dancing, it was also nice to see them so smartly turned out. Speaking of smartly turned out I have discussed the issue of school uniform with a number of parents, students and staff, please be assured this is something that I plan to address over the coming months.

Prelims are looming for many of our S3-S6 and at our Higher Mathematics and English evening I talked to parents about how much work students should be completing. Research shows that an average of 2 hours per evening can make the difference of at least a grade. As parents we can help by encouraging them to make a timetable of revision, make sure they have a suitable space to study and making sure they are eating and sleeping well. It is important to strike a balanced between work and play and it is important that our teenagers get to let off steam!

Applications to universities are now complete and many members of staff have been helping students complete their personal statements. For more information for parents please click here. Please note your child has to apply for their finance independently of school click here to find out more (you can apply from April 2013 onwards).

We have also been working within faculties to plan for the new qualifications, there will be more information given to parents on the S1-S2 parents evening at the end January S2 students and parents will begin to discuss option choices for S3. We will also be inviting any parent who wishes to know more about the new qualifications to this evening. More details to follow.

A reminder to students about the travel discounts they can claim with their Young Scots Card. Click here to find out more

Wishing all our families and community an enjoyable New Year.

Joanna Holmes

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