Headteacher Update

18/5/2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
As always, I hope that you and your families are safe and well. The National Parent Forum for Scotland has created some helpful advice and tips for parents to support learning at home.  I thought this may be a useful link for you  https://www.npfs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/edd/2020/05/NPFS_learning-at-home_E.pdf
Classwork & Pupil Engagement at Balfron High
The extent to which young people are managing work at home is really varied. The leadership team have have been discussing how we help our young people best manage their workload.  We are aware that every home is different and in some households, young people are sharing devices with family members.  It is certainly very challenging.
With this in mind we have agreed that work for the week will be uploaded on a Monday or Tuesday.  We understand that there is a danger that some young people may feel a little overwhelmed but on balance think it is important to give pupils the opportunity to manage their own time in the best way that suits their context.  We will review the effectiveness of this in due course.
We are keen to make sure that we support young people as well as possible and keep in touch with you if there is information that we think you might need. Form Class Leaders and pastoral staff are going to check engagement levels every week.  If a teacher is worried that a pupil has not engaged with resources, one of the team will get in touch with you.  We want to make sure nobody slips through the net.  We also understand that circumstances may make it hard for some young people to do everything that is suggested and we will take this into account.  It is important that we link with you to see what we can do to help.
New timetable (new S4-6)
Our new timetable has run for one week now in the senior phase.  Not all of our young people have logged into their google classrooms.  It would be great if you could check this with your child.  Here is a link to the codes for the classrooms: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/st/public/balfronhighschool/uploads/sites/3190/2020/05/12165148/Google-Classroom-Codes-12.5.20.pdf
Mr Scott put together a useful guide on how to access Glow, Show My Homework or Google Classroom.  Here is the link: https://youtu.be/tjCUp92mTVU
Senior pupils can access Scholar to support the curriculum. https://scholar.hw.ac.uk/
Username:          ges3nat5
Password:           bird70pear​
Our current S1 and S2 will change their timetables and move up to S2 and S3 respectively on June 1st.  In the mean time, they should access work through Show My Homework.
Behind the scenes
We are as committed as ever to do our best for you and your children and there is much going on behind the scenes. Every day, our teachers are posting work, giving feedback and creating innovative activities to support wellbeing as well as the curriculum. The Support for Learning Team have working on bespoke packages of work for targeted young people.  Every team meets weekly on Teams or Meet to review and plan.
The senior team meets every day and the leadership team meets every week.  At these meetings we are constantly reviewing and planning our work as well as checking the wellbeing of staff and young people.  Most recently our major focus has been on agreeing the SQA estimates and we are now checking and quality assuring them to make sure they are accurate and fair based on our professional assessments, observations and data.  As you can imagine, teachers put a massive amount of time and effort into this.
Mrs Short has been leading work on the new timetable. While she is putting together a full timetable, we have also begun discussions around how we might manage a blended approach to learning once we get the go ahead to have some young people and staff back at school. There are many logistical factors to consider.  We are also reviewing our digital approaches to learning and supporting each other using platforms that are quite new and different for some of us. As well as providing resources, teachers and support staff are taking part in training and development activities.
Led by each Depute, our House Teams continue to meet weekly to discuss and plan support for individual young people.  Some of our support staff are linking with targeted individuals to provide help, encouragement and support. If there is something you think we should know, the first point of contact is your child’s Form Class Leader or PT Pupil Supports.  Emails are available on the ‘about us’ tab of the school website: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/st/balfronhighschool/about-us-2/form-class-leaders/endrick-2/
Dr Appelquist has been working with primary colleagues to support the P7 transition to Balfron High.  We are in the process of creating Google Classrooms for the P7s and have been making an introductory video for them. It will be different but hopefully an effective solution to our current challenge.
Mrs Patrick is leading work on supporting positive destinations of our leavers and has started the process with new S6 pupils on selecting prefects and other pupil leadership positions.
Mr Slavin is supporting all things ICT.  He and and I are analysing the senior phase data and supporting the SQA quality assurance process.
Staffing
I am delighted to let you know that we have appointed a new maths teacher for next session.  Dr Levine, currently at the High School of Glasgow, will be joining us in August.  We also have 5 newly qualified teachers joining the staff at Balfron High. We are looking forward to welcoming Mrs Ellis (geography), Mrs McKeown (English) and Mrs Walker (art & design) back too.
Help us review and improve
It has been great to catch up with people through email and phone calls. However, I am keen to hear how we are doing and what we could do to improve.  With that in mind, it would be great is you could take a few minutes to complete our survey on home learning.  Here is the link https://forms.gle/9EFdXiNibJUbw6x1A
As always, do get in touch if we can help.
Very best wishes,
Elaine Bannatyne
7/5/2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope this email finds you and your family safe and well.  I am keen to provide an update to share some new information and address some questions that have come in to us.

Firstly tomorrow, Friday 8th May, is a holiday!  It is a good time for our learners and staff to take a break. I have asked staff to avoid posting on Show My Homework or Google Classroom.  I hope that helps everyone.

New timetable

  • The new timetable will start for National Qualification courses (new S4-6) on Monday 11th May.
  • Mrs Short has been making contact with individual pupils to ensure that appropriate changes have been made where necessary.  She is available via email (copied-in). If our child needs confirmation of courses, please ask them to email her directly.
  • SQA results will be out to pupils on 4th August.
  • Please note that, all going well, the leadership team plan to be available on the 5th August after the SQA results have been awarded to pupils, should further changes be necessary.
  • The new timetable for current S1 and S2 pupils will begin on 1st June. More info to follow nearer the time
Google classroom codes
  • I have attached a PDF with all of the new Google Classroom codes for senior phase courses.  Other than in English and maths, we have created ‘super classes’ with multiple teachers where necessary.  This will make it easier to manage.  This should also avoid confusion around what class your child should log into.  Your child should join the classes at the levels they chose for the new session.
  • In some cases we have had limited engagement from learners so your help in getting the new courses off to a positive start would be fantastic.
Form Classes (all years)
  • There are classroom codes for every form class on the attached PDF too.  Please ensure that your child logs onto their form class. These are organised for current classes (not timetable change classes).  The teacher name is there to help keep this clear.  We see this is an important contact for pastoral care and support.
  • Please let your child’s form class teacher know if they are ill, unable to engage or participate in learning.  We are doing our best to provide support where it is needed and to make sure no body is left behind.
  •  Form Class Leaders email addresses are on the school website

 

Face to face classes

  • I am afraid we are not currently in a position to offer face to face learning & teaching.  Nationally and locally there are issues relating to safeguarding of young people and finding a safe IT platform.  This  needs to be addressed and agreed before we can proceed.  If there are are any developments to this, I will let you know. In the mean time, we will use Show My Homework, Glow and Google Classroom for learning.  We are posting general ideas, information and successes on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Prefects

S5 pupils have been invited to apply for prefectship and other senior positions.  There is a link on the page on school website here: Prefects

Mindful May

In partnership with Back Onside, we have launched the ‘Mindful May Challenge’ on Twitter and Instagram for our pupils.  We recognise the importance of well being, particularly at this very challenging time.

We will be promoting all aspects of positive mental health and strategies to support it Mindful May Challenge

And finally, 

I hope this Hello message from some of the staff brings a smile to your face.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can help or support in any way.

Very best wishes,

Elaine Bannatyne

1/5/2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
Today we are launching a new challenge through our @BalfronHSSport twitter account for the month of May. It focuses on encouraging everyone (pupils, staff, parents, carers, etc.) to participate in activities everyday that have a positive impact on our mental health.  These may include going outside, being active, staying connected with friends by phone (following all government guidelines), looking out for others, etc. We will be running this challenge in conjunction with the mental health charity Back Onside.
On social media, we will be sharing tips and suggestions of what people can do to look after their mental health as well as highlighting support which is available through Back Onside.

We have created a video to promote the challenge using some of the pictures of staff that we shared on Twitter last week.  Here is the video link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ptdzF7x7lU&feature=youtu.be

It would be great if you and your family got involved.  We are looking for pictures and videos that promote positive mental health and show members of our community in action.  These might include:
  • Being outside in the open
  • Relaxing
  • Meditation 
  • Staying connected to others (phoning or face-timing others)
  • Being active
  • Smiling and being happy
You can get involved by posting via twitter tagging @balfronHSsport, your child can add pics to Google Classroom or send them directly to Mr Lauder, laudera01s@glow.sch.uk Thanks in advance for your support with this. We hope it will give everyone a positive boost and a connection to our school community.
Stay safe and well,
Best wishes,
Elaine Bannatyne
28/4/2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope this email finds you and your family healthy and safe and you are adapting as well as possible to these strange new times.  I appreciate that each family has different circumstances and priorities and that it may be more difficult for some of our pupils to access of the home learning tasks given.
I have attached updated versions of our FAQs for S1-3 and S4-6.  The new information has been highlighted so that you can find it easily.
We have had a number of emails from parents regarding the work set.  Some pupils (S1-3) have found the quantity of work overwhelming while others have got through it quickly.  I would like to reassure you that we all appreciate that circumstances and needs differ and we do not want to add to anxiety at an already unsettled time. Where learners feel overwhelmed, please reassure them that that we understand.  We do not have the same expectations of every student. The activities that we post on-line are there to support learners and families and should not be a burden. The health and wellbeing of our young people is a key priority at this time. We are working hard to strike the balance between supporting wellbeing and learning.
Regardless of the stage of your child, I have asked staff to post all information through Show My Homework so that you can use your pin to access the tasks given.  We are also monitoring pupil log-ins to help us understand engagement rates.  As a school, part of our job is to make sure that everyone is safe.  If your child has not logged in to Show My Homework, please let us know that they are safe.  It is most likely that we have been, or will be, in touch by phone if this is the case.
I am aware that the circumstances have impacted some parents‘ ability to work.  Please remember that there is provision to support those whose income has been affected. Here is the link to Stirling Council’s free meals and Education maintenance Allowance: https://www.stirling.gov.uk/learning-education/schools/school-meals-uniforms/school-uniforms-free-meals-ema/  I would urge you to apply if your circumstances have changed.
Learning & Curriculum
S1-2
The teaching staff provide work for all pupils daily.  Please continue to encourage your child to engage as appropriate.  They should log-in for some time each day where possible.  S1 and S2 pupils will continue with courses until the timetable changes on June 1st.  They will then become S2 and S3 pupils respectively.  We will give details on what these changes mean nearer the time.
S3-S5
The new National Qualification courses will start officially on May 11th for current S3-5.  Please be aware that Show My Homework will not be updated until 1 June due to our Management Information System change date.  Teachers will invite pupils to sign into new Google Classrooms from 11 May.  Please note that these may not be your child’s teacher longterm.
S6
We wish our outgoing S6 very best wishes on their next chapter.  They have been a fantastic year group who have a very bright future.  We would really like to bring them back together when we are able to do so safely – watch this space!   As outlined in the FAQ, we are here to help with any transition issues and happy to talk through any concerns and provide advice.
SQA
As you know, teaching staff are working hard following SQA guidelines to put together estimates for the SQA. This process will be completed and submitted by 29 May.  Please note that we are not in a position to share estimates at this stage.
Here is a link to the latest information from the SQA for learnershttps://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/41266.html

Here is a link to the latest information from the SQA for parentshttps://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/93825.html

Please do get in touch if there is anything we can do to help.  You can reach your child’s Form Class Leader, House Principal Teacher or House Depute by email. Emails are available on the school website.
Very best wishes,
Elaine Bannatyne

 

31/3/2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

We are well into our second week of home learning and I hope that you are all well.

Mr Scott has created this helpful guide for parents and pupils on how to use Google Classroom.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjCUp92mTVU&feature=youtu.be

Staff are doing their best to ensure continuity of learning for young people and to keep everyone busy while working from home.  We know that everyone’s situation may be different, so pupils should do what they can when they can.  If there are issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I have attached two documents with some answers to frequently asked questions.  I hope this will be useful to parents and young people.

We are waiting for guidance from the SQA on how to proceed with estimates.  I know that this is a worry for some of our young people, so as soon as I have more detail, I will be in touch.

In the mean time, stay safe and why not try the Balfron PE team challenge!  Go on – you can do it. These can also be found on twitter.

Headstand Challenge – https://youtu.be/qeZ9sbbqu_g

Forward Roll into a V-Sit – https://youtu.be/flpo5LmWs_A

Very best wishes,

Elaine Bannatyne

 

25 March 2020 – Communication to Parents & Carers (extract)

S1-3 Pupils
I want to reassure you that teaching staff have been posting tasks on Show My Homework and Google Classroom for our students.  We are very keen to provide continuity to learning as well as we possibly can.  It is important that our young people take advantage of this.
I am aware that the amount of work being posted may seem overwhelming to some of our young people.  I have asked teaching staff to ensure that there is enough appropriate curricular work to help young people stay focused and to progress with learning. All of our young people have different needs and can access resources as required.  Teachers will provide feedback and guidance when pupils engage with materials.
S3 Pupils
Teachers will continue to post tasks for their classes.  In addition to this, we have enrolled our S3 pupils onto Scholar.  This means that they can access National Qualification course work for the subjects that they hope to continue with.  Please note that courses will be confirmed in due course based on numbers, staffing and timetable structure.  This message was posted on the notification board of Show My Homework:
 

Temporary Scholar guest account for S3 learners

Learners in S3 studying level 4 material as part of the BGE often cover topics common to National 5 courses and may find access to SCHOLAR National 5 courses useful.

For the next 28 days, all S3 students will be able to access Scholar National 5 courses using the account details below.

https://scholar.hw.ac.uk/

Username & Passwords have been sent via email & posted in Show My Homework.

————————————————————————————-

It has been a great first term.  Congratulations to all our young people who received SQA results in August.  Again there were many notable achievements.  The day after the results were shared, the leadership team phoned all of our young people to congratulate them and help with some last minute course changes.

Now back in the swing of things, our S6 are undertaking a wide range of leadership roles that will contribute to our community.  Activities range from running co-curricular clubs to the pupil council.  There is a strong desire to promote the sustainability agenda through improving our attitudes and actions relating to recycling. As well as this, out head prefects are working hard to improve our 6-2-1 buddy system.  There are a range of activities planned for the term.

Each of our Head Prefects is linked to a year group.  They lead the pupil councils and assemblies for that year. 

Rose and Jamie Horrocks link with S1, 5 and 6.  Briagha Looks after S2, Jamie Young S3 and Cameron S4.  They are quickly proving to be an effective team!

Pictured here are our S6 managers and coaches of the new S1 squad with newly qualified geography teacher, Mr Hey.  They are set for a professional and successful season – watch this space!

 

It was great to see so many new S1 pupils sign up for the many lunch time and after school activities.  The extra curricular programme is shared on the website and includes a range of music, drama, science and sports activities to name a few.  Follow us on twitter @balfronhigh to get daily updates and successes.

 

 

 

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