It’s all about the Bees

Since my last blog our youngsters have been very busy indeed. Our OHS Wind Ensemble won Gold at the Highlands and Islands Music festival with an outstanding score of 95 out of 100. What an achievement from our incredibly talented musicians. I’m sure I’ll be reporting further wins next week after this weekend’s MOD.

Of course we don’t just celebrate our youngsters successes, we have talented staff too. This week I learned that Davie Paterson will join musician and TV presenter Joy Dunlop, representing Scotland at this year’s Eurovision Choir competition in Sweden, in August. We wish everyone in the Alba choir well.

On the rugby field, our Under 15s displayed determination and talent to win their first North v South Argyll Trophy match.

Also touring again were the members of both OHS Pipe Bands. We came 4th in the British (3B). Hopefully this will give us a wee boost ready for travelling to Ireland to win the UK Championship on the 15th June. Our Novice Juvenile grade band came 5th at the British again a fine effort given the competition. Both bands will travel to Inverness on the 29th of June to take part in the European Championships.

Talents and successes come in many shapes and sizes. I often tell our senior pupils that we are here to support all our youngsters to success. Some will feel a sense of achievement from learning to boil an egg; others from attaining a baccalaureate. Our Primary pupils in Tiree have had many successes this week. The P4s and P5s managed a 6 mile walk to Hynish and an overnight stay. That is quite an achievement for ones so wee; but it’s these achievements that our youngsters build on each day, week, month and year. Others included developing their enterprise skills linked to making money from a working farm; from practicing writing skills by preparing invitations for the new August starts or from learning about horticulture (linked to literacy and art) planting beans for Jack to climb. You needed to have read last weeks blog to get this!

Back in school the exams came to a close with a very complementary and positive statement from the OHS Chief Invigilator, Jim Milligan. I followed this up in a rousing congratulatory speech to all new S5/6 pupils who have worked well this year, encouraging them to be even more ambitious for the forthcoming year.

Pats on the back continued to roll in all across the community with Argyll and Bute Council and the Oban Times promoting the success of Finlay MacDonald’s innovative and highly useful colour scheme game developed for Spruce hairdresser Elaine Smith. A great practical application of the skills learned in Finlay’s Game Design course: another addition to our outstanding earth of curriculum.

We also had members of the Rotary Club coming into the school to award certificates to winners of the “My Inspiration” writing competition. I was really pleased to see Mairi Inglis also being recognised as the West of Scotland winner as well. Well done Ellie! It was also good to see former Science teacher Dave Waltho back in school.

Ronnie Neil, from Bruce and Neil Architects, was vey complimentary about our S4 Graphic Communication pupils when he came along to provide inspiration for those wishing to go onto an architect or design vocation. We are very lucky to have so many supportive members of the business community willing to give up their time.

Indeed, one of the meetings I was part of this week centred on setting up this year’s Business Breakfast. Aisling Clark and Jemma Playfair are busy putting together the invite list of those who we wish to recognise for all their support this year; and those we wish to encourage to sign up next year. Any business or organisation interested please call me at the school.

Another mammoth task that has taken up my time this week is also linked to guests coming along to support the school. This Wednesday we are due to host the official opening of the school. Councillor Yvonne McNeilly will be the guest of honour alongside up to 100 other guests. This is a great opportunity for our departments and youngsters to showcase their talents and they have grasped the opportunity. As our guests arrive down the new Avenue they will get a glimpse of some of the outdoor pursuits: Marine Engineering; Horticulture (a bed of flowers in the shape of the school badge is currently being laid by pupils); sailing; canoeing; mountain biking; Archery; drone flying will all have a welcome display. Our full Pipe Band will be performing at the entrance (great practice opportunity in the middle of competition season) before our guests will be welcomed by the Senior and Junior Pupil Leadership Teams. Potential recruits for next years pupil teams will then act as guides taking our guests to the Terrace to taste the delights prepared and served by out Hospitality pupils. Then our pupils will take our guests on a tour of the school where each Department will be able to give a glimpse of what the new school has been able to offer. Notable lessons on display will be across the Support Department, including at our newly installed massive polytunnel; bricklaying in our new construction barn; automotive engineering in our garage; design and construction skills illustrated through the pupil design and building of our new bee keeping facility – a fantastic way to demonstrate the inter-connectivity of many of our courses. Bee-keeping? Yip! It’s likely to be a significant eco career in the not so distant future; along with a whole host of jobs not previously thought of until recently.

Talking about the importance of bees. Could you please help out Tiree Primary pupils who are making and selling seed bombs as part of their enterprise project. The more seed bombs sold, the more wild plants we can grow and the more bumblebees we can help; especially the Great Yellow Bumblebee.

Thereafter everyone will gather in the Atrium for performances by the Pipe Band; traditional School of Music; School of Dance and Drama classes; before speeches by the senior pupils, Douglas Hendry (Director) and Yvonne McNeilly. I’ll close with a wee word of thanks before we all go for a photo shoot and lunch. I say wee speech but it my be a bit longer than that… as was noted in my not so wee speech at the Laurinburg coffee morning last Friday. A wealth of cakes were laid on by the pupils engaged in the Laurinburg exchange in a last fundraising effort before our American guests arrive in a couple of weeks.

As well as preparing for the Open Day, I’ve traveled to Tiree to ensure progress is ongoing with the School Improvement Plan; and that the property works are in hand. The the new roof, interior painting; new Promethean Boards for every classroom; new computers and new VC equipment, ready to deliver new classes between Tiree and Oban are all progressing as planned.

Additionally, I took on board all the school identity consultation responses provided by Aine and Jemma and discussed at these at a full management meeting last week finally agreeing the full package of changes including the last part, the school badge. That last piece in the agreement will allow us to start ordering the much anticipated new uniforms.

I also met with Gina Cargas, from the University of Edinburgh. Gina is interested in comparative education and international development. She was very interested in my knowledge and views of inclusive education in Scotland; and of course of the many examples of inclusive education we provide in Oban and Tiree. Given the recent exceptionally positive comments from the HMIe visit in February about our curriculum and our inclusivity, I suspect further national interest in this area; likely international interest: as exemplified by another discussion held this week with the outstanding Wenche Rudshaug Kavli, Head Teacher of Skedsmo videregående skole in Lillestrom, near Oslo. We caught up on the professional exchange programme we are currently working within. I think it likely that how we take forward our inclusive approach for all pupils will focus in our future meetings in September.

Other meetings and discussions held in the last week or so included meeting all the PTs and DHTs in both Oban and Tiree; attending the Council’s Transformation Board; attending an educational conference in Cumbernauld to hear from Scottish Government and Education Scotland ideas for future developments; and local councillors, whom I caught up with at the Police Scotland Youth Volunteer Awards. I have to say what a credit our youngsters are, not just in school but out in the community and this excellent organisation is one that allows our youngsters to contribute to the community in many ways. Well done to the excellent PC Claire Brown and her colleagues for helping shape such fine young citizens. Thanks to Kevin McGlynn for this wee pic.

So all in all, a fairly busy but very satisfying time of the year.

Remember the Bees. No Bees; no us!

Author: Peter Bain

I have been the Head Teacher of Oban High School since 2008. Most recently, I also took on the role as the Head Teacher of both Oban High School and Tiree High School (which includes a Primary School and Early Learning Centre) as Executive Head Teacher. I previously worked as a DHT in Eyemouth High School in the Scottish Borders; as a Principal Teacher in Balwearie High School, Kirkcaldy and Kirkland High School, Methil; and as a class teacher in Trinity Academy in Edinburgh and Viewforth High School in Kirkcaldy. Although born in sunny Leith near the hallowed ground of Easter Road, I am really from Musselburgh where I spent most of the first 30 years of my life. I went to Edinburgh University in 1990 and attained an MA (Hons) and an MSc before going to Strathclyde to pick up my PGCE (with Distinction) in 1997. I returned to Edinburgh University to complete my Scottish Qualification for Headship and Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership and Management in 2008. The purpose of my blog is to give an insight into my working life, although a wee bit of my personal life and views will inevitably arise. Although I am writing about my experiences at work and these are shared by the school's social media functions, this is not an Oban High School blog and the views expressed are all my own.

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