Monthly Archive for March, 2013

School Opening

Please note that Islay High School will be open on Monday 25th March
Joanna Holmes

Spring Term 2013

I was recently asked by a parent how I had settled in to which I replied “Well I feel like I have survived the winter!”. After some stormy weather early in January (I have been told it can be worse) the first spells of calm clear weather were stunning and I got another opportunity to appreciate how beautiful this area is. As we come towards the end of a very busy spring term I find there is lots to look back on and celebrate and still more to look forward to.

I have had plenty of opportunities again through the issuing of reports and parents evenings to get to know many of our parents. We have also had some very productive Parent Council meetings.

I am sure many of you have seen the recent press attention regarding our “student cleaners”. I have been amazed by the interest and found the tone of different newspapers coverage very amusing at times. I was even invited on BBC Radio Scotland’s Kay Adam’s show, but declined – I would have been teaching and classes come first!

It was also good to see our student’s make the front page of the Oban Times through their investment adventure. I hope they have a great time at the regional final this week.

In February I began work with staff and students to review the school, looking at where we are, what our values are and the direction we plan to take. Having shared this with the parent council, I am now in discussion with my managers here and another education trust that I would like to work with us. We have a lot of planning to do over the summer term and I will keep parents up to date on the progress we make. If you would like to be involved please get in touch with a Parent Council member or I am happy to meet with any parent for a discussion.

Part of that review included uniform and I would like to give parents an opportunity to comment on the following draft policy. Much of what students are currently wearing to school is not really suitable and the fairest and simplest solution is to introduce a uniform. I would see this being compulsory from August 2013. Please make any comments via email to enquiries@islay.argyll-bute.sch.uk .You can also phone the school office or simply drop me a note.

Islay High School Uniform Policy

We also had our annual prelims. These really are important in deciding if a student is ready to sit examinations and we are in the process of firming all the examination entries up. This information will be with parents shortly.

Mr Beresford went on secondment to support work in another school and he of course is missed, however this has been a great opportunity for other staff to take on responsibilities in this area and I am pleased to say they have been outstanding! One of their main tasks at the moment is option choices for our S2-S5 students. Staff will be interviewing every student and they have a great deal to cover so I would encourage parents to help this process with discussions at home.

As many of you will now know Mr Drain is leaving us for pastures new after the Easter holidays. Senior staff are already covering his classes and this will continue up until the examinations.

Even with the winter weather our sports groups have managed a few trips to compete in badminton and basketball tournaments. We have also had visitors with a rugby development day and a recent volleyball tournament at IHS.

Our Youth Work has continued and I was impressed how many of our students gave up some of their February holiday to attend workshops. This together with the very successful Feis and the Dance workshops meant that many of our students had a very busy February break.

Our annual S2 Loch Eil trip was a resounding success. I enjoyed following their exploits on our twitter feed and have heard nothing but positive comments from staff and students alike. Well done S2 you are a very impressive bunch.

Our Ethiopia expedition planning is gathering pace. Student still have fund raising to complete as well as more than a few vaccinations to get. Thanks to all our GPs for their combined efforts to support in this.

University applications were completed and submitted in January with many of our young people now receiving offers from a variety of places. As I said in my last blog 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). If you have any questions or concerns then please do call school for an appointment, I am only too happy to support.

With study leave approaching I am pleased to say that I have employed a study supervisor in order to support those students who wish to come into school (or have to be in for an examination). They will be available every school day during study leave, which is Tuesday 7th May to Tuesday 4th June. Our new timetable will start on Wednesday 5th June. If your child struggles to study independently then I would encourage them to use this facility. They will be able to access guidance and support on how to study in a supportive environment. There are also master classes running, a timetable of which will be will parents shortly together.

With Easter fast approaching we have organised extra revision classes on Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd April. I would encourage as many students as possible to make this part of their study plans over Easter.

Finally my thanks to all staff, students and parents for their continued support.

Joanna Holmes




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