Whilst many staff are off on holiday, many are still working away in school. It is a common mis-conception that our school closes for much of the year and we are all on holiday. As many of my regular readers know, this is far from the truth. Indeed Oban High is open 50 weeks of the year, with only the Christmas holiday considered to be a “real” holiday.
So, what keeps us all working away? Well, to begin with we have lots of property related issues to work on. In Oban, it’s an opportunity to fix a lot of the “settlement” issues that every new building faces and we have dozens of workers in repairing floors and lino that has shifted and torn, sports equipment is being added and some of the general wear and tear caused by a thousand people a day moving around each 45 minute period. Similarly, in Tiree we have a new roof being laid and the new Promethean Boards used in classrooms are being installed to match the equipment used in Oban; and we are beginning to refresh all the paintwork to spruce the school up a bit. I have to say, painting a school is a bit like painting the Forth Rail Bridge. It is, or should be, continuous in an effort to keeping the place a bright and pleasant environment to work in for all. I am a firm believer that it does not matter how old a building is; it is how well kept it is that shows we care… shows we have respect.
As well as Janitors and tradesmen all working away through the holidays, we also have our School Technicians carrying out their normal updates and fixes on the huge amount of IT we now use in schools. Additionally we have office staff continuing to perform their roles. My excellent Admin and Finance Assistants, Julie and Marion are working away settling our year end accounts for Oban and Tiree and my PA, Christine is still processing all the paperwork generated from the six teacher vacancies I filled late last week.
Last week was, as predicted in my last Blog, a very busy week. It began with a few jobs in Tiree where I worked with staff on the new course options process, now published and awaiting youngsters choices after the holiday. As with all course choice forms, there was a couple of late additions that never made it onto the form but hopefully the pupils will still consider them: notably Music Technology; Foundation Apprenticeships in Social Care as well as Business; and Radio Production and Journalism National Progression Awards at Level 5 and 6 for all S5/6. All available now in both Oban and Tiree.
Thanks very much to Elaine Munro, Vice Principal of Argyll College who worked closely with me on securing not only all these FAs but also teasing out another large number of Skills for Work courses available to our youngsters next session. Our partnership with Argyll College goes from strength to strength ensuring we continue to offer the broadest curriculum in Scotland: one in which every youngster has the chance to benefit from experiences and qualifications that suit their individual learner journeys.
The Foundation Apprenticeships are the most significant addition to our suite of courses available and the ones receiving the most national attention. All schools are being encouraged to present these as, for many, they will be a more suitable learner journey than traditional qualifications: though we insist on all our youngsters doing both. If the key purpose of school is to prepare youngsters for life and work, then getting them into the workplace to gain experience in their chosen field, whilst also gaining qualifications at the same time, then this fits nicely with our desire to provide an education for all. A wee reminder: Universities will now credit pupils with 2 Bs at Higher when successfully completing an FA; thus giving parity to vocational learning as well as straight Highers. Of course, we hope that many pupils will achieve full apprenticeships or employment directly from these opportunities.
It was working on the development of these opportunities that took up much of my time last week. Time well spent! As was the time I spent running interviews for the posts of Business Education; Technology; English and French. I am pleased to say well done and congratulations to Caitlin Anderson and Hollie MacLeod for securing permanent positions in Business Technology; Mark Venton and David Berry in Technical Education; Meghan Thomas in French; and Maria Wilke in English. My thanks to all the members of the panels who kindly assisted in the difficult selection process. Assessing the suitability of candidates from their application forms and interview “performances” is always difficult, especially when we have a mix of internal and external candidates. However, in a large school like Oban, we are regularly recruiting and our promoted staff are very experienced. I am positive all our new staff will provide a great service to our pupils and community at large. Well done to all.
I know many of you will find it difficult to believe… but that’s it for this week’s Blog. This may be my shortest blog ever but the past week was jam packed regardless. With new staff and new courses in place and a fresh look and new equipment being applied to both schools I am content all is well this week. I am equally content with the number of staff and pupils giving up their holidays to come back into school to work together in preparation for the imminent exams.
For those of us still teaching our youngsters in Easter revision for the next couple of weeks; thanks very much for your continuing commitment. It will all be worth it.
For those on holiday, I hope you have a lovely time.