So, a lot has happened since my last blog but I shall begin with the most recent success story. Our OHS Pipe Band just came first at the Gourock Championships. Superb! A great start to the season. Well done to all the players and supporters who cheer them on as we tour the country… indeed the world.
My last blog was at the start of the Easter holidays… I know… I have been tardy in writing about my travels, like our very successful Pipe Band trip to New York. But I have been very busy at the weekends and the Easter holiday/ holiday weekend just seemed to fragment my routine.
Mind you, routine continued afresh after the holiday and it was straight into the weekly round of assemblies as we welcomed Mary’s Meals in for the week to share with our pupils how the funds we raise are put to excellent use. This local charity is absolutely amazing at what they do and the thousands of people they help feed each year and the effect on their lives cannot be measured in words alone. It only costs £13.90 to feed a child for a whole year, so if you wish to help out, please log onto their website.
I mentioned in my last blog that I had just appointed new teachers: two in Business, two in Technical, one in English and one in French. Well as soon as we were back it was into the routine of interviewing again. This time for a new DHT, a Socials teacher, an Art teacher and a Technician. Sadly we didn’t appoint following any of these interviews. Added to these roles, I am looking for a Maths and Home Economics teacher in Oban. I also need a Socials teacher and a Cleaner in Tiree. Please have a wee look on our Facebook pages to get a flavour of our excellent schools and the beautiful area we live in. Everyone else, please share!!! The more you share, the more likely we will have of attracting excellent staff.
There is some good news on the staffing front. We confirmed that we will receive Probationer teachers in Art and Home Economics. These are in addition to the above vacancies we will still fill. It’s all change at this time of year as staff retire, get promoted or look to closer to home to secure a job. This was one of the discussions at last weeks Parent Council meeting.
Other issues under discussion were how the Parent Council can raise further funds to support the school. The PC are currently trying to raise additional funds for a new school minibus. Mini-buses are crucial for us getting our pupils out and about engaging in learning out-with the locality or for getting numerous teams to competitions all over the country. Such is the importance of utilising school transport, we also intend to buy a mini bus for Tiree. This will allow pupils to access educational opportunities across the island as well as making school trips to the mainland easier. And of course, when our pupils are on exchanges or Duke of Edinburgh events for example, we’ll hop on each other’s buses.
Talking of exchanges. I was very grateful to the staff and pupils of St Columba’s Primary for travelling over to Tiree Primary so they could share their experiences in using iPads / Apps in the classroom. All the pupils involved from both schools seemed to have a great time. I should take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to the work undertaken by St’ Columba’s Head Teacher Minnie Maclellan, who has been providing me with endless advice on Primary and Early Learning Centre issues as I get to grips with leading a 2-18 school for the first time. The work she has been doing to support our Tiree colleagues is very much appreciated.
Back to the work of our parents. Parents in both schools have been busy supporting the school communities. As well as the fundraising in Oban, Parents have been contributing to the development of the School Improvement Plan, been on the DHT appointment panels and been attending the Primary 7 Gateway evenings. Next up is their attendance at the forthcoming P7 Induction evening for parents on the 12th of June – tours will be available as well as information on how to help your child in specific subject areas.
Our Tiree Parent Council was also busy last week supporting our most recent consultation on changes to the Vision and Values; re-introducing and expanding the House System and changing the school name, badge and uniform. When any new Heidie takes over a school, it is essential to work together with the community on establishing a shared vision and values. In doing so, we have to ask the school community what they think, beginning with the pupils. I was surprised to learn that our Tiree High School pupils have been demanding a new uniform for years and equally surprised to learn the Primary pupils were not wishing to be left behind. Further surprise was to learn that most staff and many parents wished to change the name of the school from Tiree High School covering the whole 2-18 school, to having a separate naming of the Primary and ELC and High School. Well, that’s what happens when a new Heidie asks for views.
So, since January the Senior DHT in Tiree, Aine has been working with one of the Oban DHTs on a significant consultation exercise. First the pupils were asked about their views on the vision and values. They agreed the Primary and High school ones needed to be slightly different. Then, they were given a range of different uniforms and colours of uniforms to look at from other schools and clothing companies; then they were asked about the House system and how they would like it to work. It shouldn’t all be about sport they said.
Thereafter, when we had a feel for what the pupils like best (they are the ones living the vision and values, wearing the uniform, taking part in House activities after all), we turned to the staff for views. Very keen on the name change and not keen on Primary ties were the most stand out views.
Then the Parents had an open evening where Áine and Jemma led interested parents through the consultation process and sought views on all the different facets. As expected: sold on the vision, values and return of the Houses; and a mixed response to the uniform and badge change. Many pleased with a return to the traditional green uniforms but worried about costs, split on the new badge idea. The beauty of staying out of the consultation process (except the Vision statement) meant I have been able to take a balanced view on what was always going to be a varied response to the pupils desire for change. Currently, I am looking at ways to take on board some further suggestions from parents before making a final decision on anything.
There’s no point in consulting if we don’t listen to ideas; but equally everyone has to accept that not everyone agrees with change and someone has to decide on the changes asked for. C’est la vie.
Other than the above, as I said before, it was back to the routine. Regular meetings with a variety of contractors with regards to the new school in Oban; Teaching Advanced Higher; meeting the PTs and DHTs to discuss progress with remits; still working on live testing of the new Skype systems; getting ready for VC classes; going around classes (it was good to see the new construction facilities being used well; checking on the progress with the extra study classes; and of course wishing pupils well as they made their way to the exam halls. I even put on my work gear on and washed the windows in Tiree and cleaned the rubbish out the burn in Oban in the holidays. Something else to do whilst walking the dogs in the sun.
As well as being involved in all the above I enjoyed a wee holiday in the sun with my dogs, both in Oban and in Tiree. I hope you did too.