Gairloch High School Parent Council Meeting

Tuesday, 21st November 2017, 7pm at Gairloch High School Library

Present – Vanessa Quinn, Julie Brady, Isobel Mackenzie, Kirsty Copland, Belinda Brindle, Pam Urquhart, Fiona Mackenzie, Mari Stephen, Lucy Cairney, Gerry Baptist, Amber Drummond, Maureen Cumming, Stuart Smith (7.30pm), Grahame Mitchell (7.45pm)

Apologies: Chris Hildrey, Eilidh MacDonald, Ingela Davis, Alison Rushbrooke, Debbie Townsend, Hazel MacKenzie, Alison Gault

Vanessa opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending. We welcome Amber Drummond who is the nominated S5 representative.

  1. Review of previous minutes – the minutes verified by Lucy Cairney
  2. Matters arising from previous meeting (VQ) – it would be helpful if the minutes could be circulated quicker. KC confirms that once they are confirmed accurate by VQ, IM and another if necessary, they will then be emailed to the committee with a deadline with which to respond with any questions or corrections.  KC will then email to IM for publication on the school’s website.

VQ – St Andrews Day Ceilidh didn’t happen as unfortunately it was too busy a term and there wasn’t enough interest to make it happen.

The school has purchased 8 bikes.  A teacher (AG) is keen to take pupils out, he has the appropriate qualification for groups of up to 8 pupils at a time. This would encourage  health & well-being and wider achievement (certificates, groups etc).  IM is wondering if we could we assist with a contribution?  Either to the bikes themselves or the equipment?   VQ suggests we discuss at the end of the meeting re a fundraising group.  LC agrees to source high-vis vests for this.

JB confirms that the accounts are now audited (attached)

  1. Head Teacher Report (IMK)

Education Scotland – HMIe IMK commented on the positive aspects of the recent inspection and read the draft letter to parents.  Staff are pleased with the content of the letter and look forward to receiving the full report.

Sportscotland – Gold School Sport Award  – we were delighted to be informed that the school has been awarded a sportscotland Gold School Sport Award for 2017-2019. The Gold School Sport Award is recognition of the school’s achievements in putting sport at the heart of your school’s planning, practice and ethos.  The Gold Award also highlights that your school has shown excellent practice across the core areas of the Award and demonstrated an on-going commitment to increase young people’s opportunities and engagement in physical education, school sport and leadership and provide clear pathways to life-long participation in sport.  An award ceremony is being arranged for this in the new year.

Staffing Pupil Support Assistant appointed – Mr Michael Bulmer  – the Facilities Assistant vacancy will now be advertised – this is arranged by Development and Infrastructure.

Pupils’ Successes and Opportunities – Royal National Mod; Gaelic Debating; Scottish Rowing; Engineering Buoyancy workshop; So You Want to be a Doctor staff from Aberdeen University visiting on 7 December; two pupils attending Lessons from Auschwitz.

Assemblies and Time for Reflection – these have continued during the term and are focusing on our school vision.  We enjoy welcoming members of the community to these events.

Charities  – the school continues to support many national and international charities.  So far we have raised funds for Jeans for Genes; Unicef; Blythswood; Poppy Scotland and Children in Need.

Senior Art Exhibition – our annual Art Exhibition and launch of the school calendar takes place on Thursday 30 November.  Please come along and view the excellent work on display.

School Nurse – we have received information that recent adverts have proved successful and interviews will be held later this month.  We are all very concerned that this service hasn’t been available to pupils but the school has continued to work directly with pupils to support them in any way we can.

Scottish National Standardised Assessments – the Scottish Government has introduced a single nationally developed set of standardised assessments for pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3.  The tests focus on reading, writing and numeracy and are designed to give teaching staff information to plan next steps.  Our S3 pupils will undertake these tests towards the end of November and parents of pupils in S3 will receive information letters.

Empowering Schools – a Consultation on the Provisions of Education (Scotland) Bill  – this document was highlighted to the meeting and those present were encouraged to view this online.

  1. Work Experience (KC)

KC asked what the current arrangements regarding work experience are?  There seems to have been no mention which is unlike previous years.  IM explained that DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) are now the caretakers of this.  They are the recognised body who assess and verify possible employers and ensure documents, insurance and risk assessments are in place prior to a placement.  Unfortunately, there seems to have been a delay in this happening for our area.  IM has expressed her concerns but unfortunately the situation remains.   IM went on to explain that they are seeking to update the school work experience arrangements by encouraging work experience to happen when the individual is ready and not during a set week when the entire year group is out at the same time.  There followed some discussion regarding parents organising their child’s own placement and whether this was something that could be considered.  This may mean that some students are at a disadvantage to others.  An option may be to address DYW with our concerns re the delay in approving placements.

Re student’s careers – this is talked about during S4 in PHSE and pupil support encourage students to think about their various options and what may come next.  A discussion followed regarding the careers information and guidance surrounding FE/HE and employment.  The breadth of employment opportunities in the world is vast and the need for our students to know about them is vital.  Pupils and parents alike have a limited view of employment options or future studying options.  Past pupils returning is a great way to illustrate what is available.  How can we make this happen?  It was suggested that we could expand Interview Skills Day.    An issue to return to at a later meeting.

  1. Interview Skills Day (VQ, JB, DT)

VQ has written to IMK to address 3 points, 2 of which we go onto discuss and the third, the attitude, approach and preparation of the interviewers was briefly discussed and it was decided that VQ would meet with the event organiser (Nevis Hulme) and IMK.

This has long been a successful day involving members of the community and the school itself. It has always been very well attended by the S5 and S6 pupils (with S4 leavers also being welcome to attend). It was considered useful for all pupils regardless of their future plans. However, this year it was very poorly attended, only 14 students; none of them from S4. There followed a lengthy discussion surrounding the management and organisation of the day, its desired outcome and the best way to ensure it is achieved. It was also mentioned that not all pupils are comfortable participating and that perhaps it is not a “one size fits all” event. However, it is hoped that this event will be repeated in future years and the form which it may take could be addressed either with or without the help of the PC. It is an important learning tool for the pupils and one which the PC are happy and keen to be involved in.

BB – pointed out that the numbers involved seemed lower with a number of S5 pupils absent that day.

Update:  A meeting between VQ, NH and IM took place on 30th November.   It was agreed at the meeting that the form of the interview skills day would be remodeled and run more as a careers day, with speakers, rehearsing and preparing of interview skills and members from the community who are actively involved in the current day work place would ideally be involved. The PC looks forward to getting involved in the organization of this event next year.

  1. School nurse (PU)

PU queried the current status of school nurse provision.  IM confirmed that the post had been re-advertised.  She went on to say that issues arising were being dealt by herself and CB.  There is of course also the local GPs who can assist if appropriate.

  1. Slattadale (FM)

FM stated that following the last meeting she felt very passionate about the Slattadale Bothy.  She went out to have a look – needs work but not £££ in monetary terms.  However, ownership is still unclear although we are leasing it from the Forestry Commission.  MS and FM happy to have a look at the documents and assess the situation.  MS wonders if a building is really necessary?  If it was renovated would transport then become an issue thereby making it unfeasible?  Apparently the Estate definitely don’t own it. The plan had been to establish an outdoor education centre for us and other groups to use thereby financing the upkeep and maintenance, but does this remain a realistic vision.

Stuart spoke to Janet Miles at the GALE Centre and it might be something they would take on.  It would need a local to drive it, but GALE would have the knowledge to take it further.  It was discussed whether a project of this scale can be a school project?  Sustainability is the main issue.  FM suggests we stop thinking in terms of an education centre and downsize to just a base for the community including school?  It’s clear a Sub-group needs to be formed to make a proposal as we are unable to keep debating the same ground at every meeting.  FM, MS and PU agree to form a sub-committee to assess the situation and to then feedback.  KC offers assistance with locating the owner/title deeds if details of the lease are passed to her.

  1. Management of Schools – update (AR)

Timescale now in place Draft Plan issued on 9th Feb with a further 10 days for comment.  New email for questions and queries from parents and community available now and distributed.  12th, 13th , 14th Dec meetings locally to answer questions – Don Easson and Norma Young to attend.

  1. Fundraising

Please give email address to Vanessa if interested in being on the fundraising sub-committee.

  1. Outdoor space improvement

Very few responses to email from VQ, perhaps just nominate a specific Saturday and open to all.  We will resume our efforts in the Spring.

  1. AOCB

The Art depts. Art evening is in the school library on Thursday 30th Nov.  Asking for an adult to oversee, pupils already organised to actually fetch and carry.

Pupil Support – UCAS applications, do they get any help?  Yes, Mr Hulme as always.  BB says she does a lot informally as do other teachers, but Mr Hulme oversees.

Meeting concludes 8.47pm

Next meeting 23rd Jan 2018

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