December 2013

It is difficult to believe it is now well over a year since I took up my post at Islay High School. During the last year I have really enjoyed getting to know the staff, students, parents and much of the community.

This term is often the busiest of the school year, a large proportion of the teaching content of courses is delivered and this together with our new National Courses being introduced has made this an extremely busy time for staff.

Our S1 have settled into school life with confidence. We are planning to give them further freedom by allowing them to leave the school grounds at lunchtime. If any parent is concerned about this please get in touch.

Prelims will take place on from 3rd February mostly during lesson time. This is due to a change to the SQA appeals service which is to be replaced by a ‘post certification’ service. It will not now be possible to make an appeal for a candidate unless there are “exceptional circumstances” e.g. severe illness or bereavement during the exam session. It is no longer essential for us to complete prelims to do this. For all other candidate a re-count and re-mark are all we can request. Further details of the Authority guidance on this will be available soon.

I am really excited to announce that Islay High School is working towards becoming an accredited Adventure Learning SchoolTM. This means we have embarked on a process of school improvement and re-evaluating certain aspects of our curriculum and structure that will hopefully lead to full accreditation. There are a small group of schools across Argyll and Bute beginning this journey with us. You can read more here.

The Merit/Demerit system is running well. Mr Mitten has worked with a student group and the badges the students chose to have as rewards have now been designed and caste, we will be awarding them to S1/S2 before Christmas and to the Senior Phase after Christmas as we are still awaiting extra to be delivered. We will normally be awarding these as on a monthly basis but there has been a delay as we got the badges “just-right”.

Now that the uniform is well supported we have been able to have “non-uniform” days with money being raised for a variety of charities this term. We have dressed in Pink, Jeans and even worn a Onesie, as well as S1 raising over one thousand pounds for the’ Spirit Aid’ charity through a sponsored run in Health & Wellbeing classes. Staff have joined in too with a memorable Movember when 5 staff grew fetching “tashes” culminating in a shave off which raised £111.00 for men’s health issues. The Maths department took part in fundraising activities for this year’s Number Day and raised £65 for the NSPCC.

There have been many trips and visits off the island including our theatre trip to see The Lion King, Football and Rugby trips, Sports Ambassadors met Clyde the Common Wealth Games mascot and a memorable trip to the Argyll and Bute Awards where two of our groups had been nominated for an award. Well done to our “Water of Life” film group who came first in the Health and Wellbeing category. I believe it was a real red-carpet affair and well done to the Youth Group too for their nomination. We have had visit from a Youth Theatre groups who ran workshops for all our students. Our music concerts have shown the wide range of talents our students have and thanks to all in the community who support them in their endeavours. Our student’s achievement in the Associated Board Practical exams was an excellent 100% pass rate. We have run Aids awareness workshops in conjunction with our Youth Work Team.

For the Commonwealth Game’s Queens Baton Relay Liam Logan has been selected as our school ambassador to carry the baton on a leg of the relay and Millie Mitchell will be on the panel for selecting the Argyll & Bute community baton carrier.

Our annual Christmas Fair which is used to raise money for the S2 Loch Eil trip was a resounding success. Thank you to all who attended and who made donations, over £1,100 was raised, a fantastic amount. It was a very enjoyable weekend with the Reindeer and skate rink adding to the festivities.

None of these wonderful trips or experiences could happen without staff who are willing to put in the extra time and effort. My thanks to them for all they do for our students to give them as wide an experience as possible.

I have been working with those students applying to University and am pleased to say the majority of the applications are completed and ready to be sent. The deadline for sending entries is 15th January 2014. If you have any questions about this process please contact me on the school number or email. I will be supporting students with college applications in the New Year but please note that the school does not have any responsibility for sending these to the colleges and they are very much completed by the individual via each college website.

I have had many request for an online calendar for parents which I whole-heartedly support. I am looking into getting this up and running in the New Year.

Staffing – my thanks to Dr Weatherhogg, Mr Weatherhogg, Mr Stuart, Ms Siddall and Mr Pollock who have all taken on extra responsibilities since Mr Beresford’s departure. We have now made more permanent arrangements for our Student Support area. I have split the role into 2 distinct areas, Pastoral Support and Academic Performance. Mrs Nicola Moran will be joining us to take up the role of PT Student Support (Pastoral) after Christmas and Ms Siddall with be taking up the role of PT Student Support (Academic) on her return from her maternity leave in February. Mrs Fraser will of course be continuing her role as area PT with part of her time allocated to IHS, her particular focus is students with additional support needs. Mr Stuart is leaving us for a 23 month secondment with the Scottish Government. Details of how his classes will be covered is avaible here Timetable changes

School Uniform – can I ask parents to take time over the break to ensure any replacement shirts/shoes etc. are purchased in time for the new term? Only a plain black V-neck jumper or blazer can be worn in school and no leggings/jeggings/jeans please. Please avoid sending your child in a hoodie unless it is worn as an outdoor coat only. There is a very small minority of students who have missed out on trips, activities and dances this term due to their lack of consistency in wearing uniform and I will continue to monitor and enforce this next term.

Please see a letter re our early closure on Friday here. Finally I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff and community who have supported the school in the last few months and wish all our families a lovle festive season and a Happy New Year!