School news 29th May 2009

Nethybridge – S1 pupils returned from a successful week in the Cairngorm National Park.  Thanks to Mrs Fraser, Mrs MacLean, Mrs Johnston and Mr McSwan who supervised the whole week, and to the other staff who turned up to provide specific activities.  Everyone enjoyed the cycling, walking, climbing and kayaking activities as well as the visit to Landmark and the pizza in Inverness after the bowling.  A busy week with excellent weather, allowing everyone to participate fully in a wide range of activities.  Well done to all!  The school website contains many photos of the week’s activities.

S1 Malawi PresentationThe event took place on Wednesday 20th May, attended by S2 and S3, P4-7 pupils from all our associated Primary Schools and some parents and friends who were able to make it.  S1 spoke about and displayed work they had been doing in Music, Art, Technology, Modern Studies and Science, and performed Scottish songs with a Malawian rhythm and instruments. Representatives from S2 also spoke about the annual Malawi backpack appeal that they are launching.  S1 would like to thank everyone who came to the presentation and all the pupils and teachers for putting in so much effort. (This text prepared by Ryan MacLean, S1 – click here for photos.)

Global Education – Dr Caley has received professional recognition from the General Teaching Council of Scotland for her involvement with Mlozi School in Malawi.  At a presentation in Edinburgh she and her colleagues were the recipients of certificates and the following accolade.

“They demonstrated a commitment to enhancing their existing skills and sharing their knowledge and experience to the benefits of children, schools and fellow teachers in Africa. But not only this, they have brought these experiences back to Scotland and applied them in their own classrooms, benefiting children and schools here too.”  Read more here.

We certainly have benefited from Dr Caley’s work in this area.

S2 Backpack Appeal – Every year the pupils in S2, organised by Mr Sutherland, do their bit for less economically fortunate pupils in Africa. By sending low-cost backpacks full of basic materials, we can make a real difference to their school life.  Here is what they want from you:

We would like to be able to send away as many bags as possible and so are asking you to donate some of the following items: jotters/notepads, pencils, pens/crayons, erasers/rulers, sharpeners, pencil case, towel, shorts, t-shirt, summer dress/skirt, flip flops/sandals, spoon, small ball, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste. If you would like to donate any of these items or a backpack, please hand them in to specially marked collection points, in the school or around the community after the 1st June. Thank you for your continued support. (Text prepared by Rachel Mackenzie and Margaret Matheson, S2)

S3 Enterprise week – During the week 11th to the 18th of May all S3 took part in our annual enterprise week.  They participated in drama, digital photography and arts/crafts activities.  External agencies were also involved and this year we were lucky enough to have the Royal Navy & Royal Marines, the Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage and Wester Ross Countryside Ranger Service.  The school librarian also got involved this year by offering a Manga art session.

Pupils got the chance to solve problems in a team, learn some urban awareness, learn more about the habitat around Loch Maree, work on paths at the Kinlochewe Reserve, remove non-native tree species and get out and about in our local area.  All of this was organised by Mr. Sutherland.  The pupils also received a day of emergency first aid training.

Photos on the website show the breadth of the activities!

Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Expeditions – Learning to function as a team and meet the requirements of this national certificate is different from going out with parents and friends.  Pupils ultimately develop skills of independence and resolve that allow them to support each other in sometimes difficult conditions.  After classroom sessions on map reading, route planning, cooking and first aid the pupils spent the night at Slattadale.  The second outdoor training event is a two-day trip that took place on the 25th and 26th May in the Shieldaig and Baosbhienn area.  We will report on those trips in the next edition and are grateful to those who give up their time to help.  

Co-fharpais Comunn Gaidhlig Lunnainn / Gaelic Society of London Competition – Congratulations to Sinead MacRae and Natalie Stein who have both recently won Merit Prizes in the Gaelic Society of London’s annual speaking competitions.  Both will receive their certificates and prizes shortly. In the competition report it stated: “There were a lot of entrants in this section, so they have done very well to win prizes”.

Ten Under the Ben Training – The mountain biking squad were training again recently, at the Witch’s trails, near Fort William. This is the trail that the Ten under the Ben race is held over. Teams have to complete as many 10-mile laps as they can, in ten hours. Our squad feels much more confident with the event now they have tried out the course. Technically, they know they can do it but feel they need to work on their endurance and hill climbing. Thanks to Mr Gorman, Mr Milner, Andrew Vickerstaff and Mr Johnston for accompanying the boys.

Torridon Mountain Rescue Team have asked to thank Luigi Bernardi, Calum Milner, Tom Hardman, Lewis Martin and James Staddon for their help with a first aid exercise recently. The boys were mock casualties, having supposedly suffered a variety of nasty mountain /motor bike accidents.

Active Schools – Pupils from George Watson’s College, Edinburgh, who were on an adventure expedition in our area, visited the school recently. Seven-a-side hockey and football matches were arranged after school. The 7-4 victory for the George Watson’s girls hockey team was the result of a last minute effort to overcome the stubborn Gairloch defence.  In the football match, the 5-1 win for Gairloch was the well-deserved result for consistently good play by the Gairloch boys. Congratulations to all who took part and thanks to Mr Gorman for refereeing the football and Dr Shearer for organising.

Street Dance – Martin Arbidans, a dance instructor specialising in ‘street dance’ visited the school on two consecutive Fridays. As well as putting the pupils through some simple moves, Martin took time to demonstrate some of his more energetic routines. His skill and balance were impressive illustrating the high level of fitness required for this form of dance. Thanks to Dr Shearer for organising this.

Primary 7 pupils visit – Last week we welcomed the Primary 7 pupils in for a taste of High School life.  The pupils met staff and got involved in Science and Arts projects.  At the end of their visit, after having learned the dance and song and making their own costumes, they put on a lovely performance, in front of S1 and S2 pupils.  P7 return in June for a day following the timetable.  Particular thanks to Mrs Macrae, Mrs Whall, Miss Hunter, Mrs Hildrey and Ms Gulliver for their contribution.

School news 15th May 2009

Mexican Swine flu – Parents received a letter home with a message from Hugh Fraser, the Director of Education Culture and Sport. “We are all aware of the national picture on the possible spread of influenza and clearly there has to be concern about the health situation for school pupils and staff.  I am writing to confirm that if you have any families returning from holiday in Mexico or if you are aware of any families who have had contact with people returning from Mexico then those families must be advised as a purely precautionary measure to keep the children at home for a period of 7 days from the time of contact.”

At the moment we are continuing with all our plans for the French trip.  At this stage we are confident that the trip will proceed, however we are monitoring the situation carefully and will take heed of any changes regarding the development of this flu outbreak.

There is also guidance on the Parentzone website for those concerned about school closures and effects on the SQA exams by the Swine Flu outbreak. The advice also has links to the NHS website and the leaflet that is being sent out by the government.

Staffing update – The new timetable begins on Monday 18th May.  Parent Council met on Monday 11th May to discuss progress with the Council.  Parents will be informed and details will be posted on the website as soon as news is available.  In the meantime thank you to everyone who has taken the time and effort to write in support of the school.

Primary 7 transitions to S1 – We are well underway in our preparations for welcoming our new S1’s into the High School. Teaching staff have been visiting primaries and meeting with primary staff and speaking to pupils.  A letter giving dates and information for the Icebreaker Day, Expressive Arts Day, Induction Day and Parent Evening is going home via the primaries along with forms, which need to be returned on Icebreaker Day (Thursday 21st May).  Should parents of P7 pupils require further information, they should not hesitate to call the school and speak to Mr. Port or Mr. Milner.

Geography Fieldtrip to the Cairngorms – The Higher and Intermediate 2 Geography class went on a very successful fieldtrip to the Cairngorm National Park for two days after the Easter holidays to look at how ice had shaped the landscape, and how people use the Cairngorms. Highlights included a guided walk with a local Ranger, Heather Morning, seeing the ptarmigan, a trip on the funicular railway, and half the class failing on the monkey bars across the pond at Badaguish and falling in!  Apart from being fun, the trip has given the class a better understanding of one of the areas they will be writing about in their exam next month.  Click here for some photos.

Culloden trip – S2 pupils visited the National Trust Centre at Culloden.  Miss Colquhoun arranged the trip as part of the S2 History course.  Pupils reported that they had enjoyed the visit to the new centre with its high-tech presentations and interpretive displays.  Click here for two photos of the trip.

Giant Heptahlon –On Wednesday 29th April a team of 7 girls and 7 boys from S2 travelled to Fortrose Academy to participate in a day of heptathlon training and competition with 5 other schools. The morning was taken up with training in 7 different athletic events – hurdles, triple jump, shot, javelin, long jump, sprint and an endurance run. In the afternoon, each team rotated round the seven events again with their distances and times being recorded and collated to give team totals. There were some excellent individual results and all pupils improved their performances in the afternoon showing that they had benefited from the morning’s coaching.  Click  here for some photos.

Nethybridge – S1 pupils return from the annual event at Nethybridge today (Friday 15th May).  Full report next issue on the walking, kayaking, rock climbing and mountain biking activities. The week is sponsored by the school fund and the money raised by the Bring and Buy sale.  Pupils are charged £40 contribution for the whole week inclusive.  The school sees this as an important team building and activity week for S1 and staff.  It is a week that most enjoy thoroughly!  Click here for a collection of Nethy photos from the last few years.

Highland Youth Voice – Storm Lawson, Lyndsey Croal and Roxanne Ramsay (S5 pupils) are all members of Highland Youth Voice, an organisation set up by the Highland Council to give teenagers and young people a say in what they would like to see happening in the Highlands.  Roxanne has also been voted to be one of two executive representatives for Ross and Cromarty area. The Executives have to meet once a month in Inverness and tell the other execs what they have been doing and what they think needs improved in their community.

On the 17th March Roxanne went to the council buildings in Inverness along with the other execs to shadow a councillor for the day.  Richard Heartland, Head of the Planning Department, showed Roxanne round.  She also got taken to a site that had applied for planning permission and one of the councillors explained why it had been refused.  It was an interesting day where she found out what the point of planning actually is.

Lyndsay, Storm and Roxanne also attended a recycling council ward forum on the 27th of April in Kinlochewe.  They heard the Council’s plan for future recycling measures.  This includes the introduction of new mixed recycling bins in Gairloch.

On the 24th April the exec helped to plan the trip to Sabhal mor Ostaig where all the HYV members will discuss what could be done to solve the problems facing school leavers.  The next day the execs went to the Highland Council to attend a meeting where they talked to some of the councillors about health.  In particular they raised a concern that awareness of mental health issues should be explored in more detail during PSHE lessons.

S1 Malawi Presentation – Invitation
The S1 pupils of Gairloch High School are putting on a presentation of their Malawi project that they have been working on this term. It will be on Wednesday the 20th of May at 10.00 a.m. and again at 1.45 p.m. in the multi-purpose hall in Gairloch High School.

The presentation will include a short talk about what we have learned about Malawi and a display of our work. We will also show some of the instruments that are used in Malawi. We have been using the instruments in music and we will try to play an African version of “Loch Lomond” and some other tunes using the African instruments.

We have invited P4-P7 pupils from the local Primary Schools and our parents, and, through the Gairloch Times, we would like to invite any interested members of the community.

Upcoming Datesclick here for more.
•    20th May – S1 Malawi Presentation
•    21st May – P7 Icebreaker day
•    22nd May  – P7 Expressive Arts day
•    22nd May – S3 reports issued

All S4, S5 and S6 pupils are now sitting national exams.

School news 1st May 2009

StaffingMrs Flora Morrison arrived in the school as a Home Economics teacher briefly in 1984.  In 1991 she joined the Support for Learning Department.  In June 2006 she took over that department as Principal Teacher.  Her two children Anne Marie and Colin have both been through the school and last year she moved through to the East with the intention of leaving her current position this month.  Her final day in school will be May 7th and prior to that staff and pupils will bid her farewell in the traditional manner.  Mrs. Morrison has been a key member of the staff in recent years and this was reflected in the HMIe report where the work of her department was reported as exemplary.  Mrs. Morrison will be sorely missed for her contribution to the life of the school over many years but we all wish her well as she moves into a new phase of her life.

Click here to read the response of the Parent Council, on behalf of parents and the pupils, to the staff cuts notified last month.  The Council are looking for support from parents and former pupils to make a strong case against cuts.

Within the school two changes to staffing responsibilities have been resolved recently.  Mrs. Somers takes on the role of Head of Kerry and Principal Teacher (PT) Pupil Support formally and Dr Caley takes on additional responsibility as Principal Teacher Management.  We wish them both success.

Slattadale Day – Gairloch High School’s S2 event at Slattadale by Loch Maree on Wednesday April the 23rd was a wonderful, Wester Ross, Spring Day.  The pupils formed into teams and then visited four different sessions during the course of the day.  Click here for photographs of the day.

Mr Sutherland has created a new part of the website specially for enterprising activities.  You can read more about the day by clicking here.

Mr Gorman gave each group an hour of problem solving, team building and communication activities.  The Forestry Commission Scotland activity, from Shona Amos and colleagues, had pupils racing in wooden sedan chairs and toasting marshmallows on a fire.  Mrs. Johnston ran an exciting introduction to orienteering in the woodland.  In preparation for future developments, Mr Bowker got pupils to plan a ‘Slattadale Makeover’.  Ideas ranged from sleeping accommodation, picnic benches to new curtains!

Our thanks go to the staff who delivered sessions on a day that pupils reported to have enjoyed enormously.

Shinty – Our Active Schools Coordinator, John Shearer, organised a Shinty coaching day recently.  The Shinty Development Manager, Ronald Ross, came through to Gairloch and ran training sessions for P6 & 7 pupils of Gairloch Primary and S1 & S2 High School pupils.

Ronald, Kingussie’s star player, hopes to score his 1000th shinty goal this season.  He is arguably Shinty’s greatest player of all time and it was a tremendous privilege to have the benefit of his coaching skills.  The pupils showed great enthusiasm during the day and Ronald was impressed by the potential he saw in some individuals.

Following on from this visit, a team of S2 boys hope to travel to Bught Park, Inverness in May to compete in a shinty festival being organised by Ronald. The boys will compete in a group that contains teams from a number of schools new to the sport.

Military Band Visit – On Thursday 23rd April the school was visited by 4 Scots (The Highlanders) Military Pipe band.  Pupils from 5 local primaries joined High School pupils and staff at the front of the school for half an hour of rousing music from the band.  The Band is currently visiting Highland schools after completing tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Click here for photographs.

Pupil SuccessBriony Young was presented with her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at Assembly recently.

Adam Gunn (S5) arranged and organised successfully a 5-a-side tournament in school.  The winners were presented with medals at assembly while runners up received a small shield.

Four pupils represented the Den at the Fairburn Challenge recently and came third out of twelve teams.  Well done Katie Allan, Callum Vickerstaff, Keith and David RobertsonClick here for photographs.

Roxanne Ramsay has been successful in her application for Space Camp this June.  This prestigious event is organised by University of Strathclyde and has links with NASA.  We look forward to hearing how Roxanne gets on.

Eden Project – Three of our pupils recently took part in a debating competition and after winning their way to the final in the Scottish Parliament were disappointed not to win.  Too polite to mention it on the day they felt that the judges had misunderstood the rules.  HIE have now apologised to the girls and arranged for them to visit the Eden Project as a consolation prize.  Anna Hulme, Kirsty Alexander and Isabella Claydon will head south this month for a three-day visit and we hope they will report back on the trip in the near future.

French Trip – A letter was sent home to all pupils involved last week inviting parents and pupils to a Briefing Evening on Thursday 4th June.

The itinerary is not finalised yet but travel times have been altered slightly.  We will now be leaving school earlier on Thursday 11th June at 13:00 hours.  Pupils need to be in school by 12 noon on the Thursday and not in uniform. We have also arranged to cross the Channel by Ferry, as opposed to the tunnel.  Estimated time to be back in Gairloch is around 15:00 hours on Wednesday 17th June.

Pupils remaining in school that week will be on an alternative timetable of arranged activities.  These are currently being planned.

Exams – S3 exams are over now and we extend our thanks to Naomi Milner for carrying out the role of invigilator throughout.  S3 sat their exams with due diligence and we hope the results reflect their effort.

Friday 1st is the last day of classes before S4 exams begin and S5 and S6 end classes on 13th May. We wish all our pupils the best of luck as they sit these important exams over the next few weeks.

S1’s Malawi Project Presentation – Wednesday 20th May.  S1 are currently working on a project in several subjects learning about different aspects of the country, the lives of the people there and their culture, and comparing it with Scotland and our lives here.  On Wednesday 20th May, they will be presenting their work to P4-7 and S2-3 pupils during the day.  They would be delighted for parents and any member of the public who is interested to join them for one of the presentations.  Details and times will be in the next issue of the Gairloch and District Times.  Meanwhile, please put the date in your diary.

Upcoming Datesclick here for all dates.
•    4th May – Holiday
•    5th May – Standard Grades exams begin
•    8th/9th May – Bronze DofE training Slattadale
•    11th May – S1 Nethybridge, S3 Enterprise week begins
•    13th May – Last day for S5/6 before exams
•    15th May – Higher exams begin