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

New Mountain Bikes

The school had 8 new mountain bikes delivered on December 18th. These bikes will be used by  S1 pupils in cycling safety and in preparation for their Cairngorm trip in May, up to S5/S6 Outdoor Education pupils doing cycling maintenance and cycling activities.
Thanks to Mark at Orangefox Bikes in Muir of Ord.

New Mountain Bikes

New Mountain BikesNew Mountain Bikes

Gairloch High FilmG entries

Our pupils have entered four films into this year’s competition. A lot of work has gone into creating them – please have a look if you have time (and VOTE). The shortlist for the various prizes will be announced on the 8th of January.
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Gairloch High School’s main film this year. The first viewing will leave a lot of questions but the second should answer them.
It would be awful to hear that you were no longer wanted … but to hear that your loved-ones no longer want you around …
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Sgaradh Tuinn nan Linntean

Eòin‘s trip by kayak to Isle Maree.
Even though it is small, there aren’t many places as important or as precious in the culture of the Gael. I myself had heard a lot about it, but the divide between legend and truth wasn’t at all clear. Furthermore, there was a long and dangerous journey ahead if I was to follow the heroes of our past.

A journey through the waves of time… 
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Slighe Cost a Tuath 500S

Anna, Ruaraidh and Summer investigate the NC500.
The North Coast 500 has proved very successful but is it beneficial or damaging to our local area?
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An Saor Latha

Ruaraidh’s animation – the third episode in the series.
After “Falach Fead,” and “An Aisling,” Seorais and Dolaidh get invited on holiday to their cousin’s house abroad, but an intruder in the house surprises them before they can leave!

Wester Ross Fisheries Trust Phone Presentation

Mr Peter Jaroz of the Skye and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust  came to Gairloch High School in December; to present three S6 pupils, Roddy Macrae, Jack Wright and Sean Quinn, with OnePlus5 Smartphones (worth approximately £500 each) as a reward for working in their own time to develop an App for the Skye and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust.

The app is designed to collect data about fish catches and invasive species as well as give the user up to date information about where to go fishing in Wester Ross. They put a lot of time and effort into the project and have forged links with SWRFT and UHI  as a result of their efforts. This has given them an insight into the world of work and app development. The programme is ongoing and may be an opportunity to work with other GHS pupils in the future.

SWRFT Phone Presentation
We would like to say a huge “thank you” to the Skye and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust for giving us such a fantastic opportunity to work on an app that will be used by so many people.

Receiving the new phones will be a great chance for us all to progress with our careers as we can keep better communication with peers and other members of the work force. This job has given us an incredible amount of experience in working in the real world, having to meet deadlines and to work through all the problems that may have arisen along the way. These new and more developed transferrable skills will help all of us in our future careers and are rare in the work environment.

We would all hope to see future collaborations between Gairloch High School and Skye and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust so more people will be able to benefit from it in the same way we have.

We would like to thank Kevin Ginty for providing experience and knowledge in areas where we previously had none.

We would also like to thank Peter Jarosz and Dr Close for bringing the project to us and allowing us to take it on.

We really appreciate having this unique opportunity given to us.

Thank you once again,

Roddy MacRae, Jack Wright and Sean Quinn 

Modern Studies Parliament Visit

The National 4/5 Modern Studies pupils visited the Scottish Parliament recently. They had the privilege to attend First Ministers Question Time in the debating chamber, contribute to an enquiry of the Justice Committee and engage with some of our local MSP’s, Gail Ross, Edward Mountain and Maree Todd.

Modern Studies visit Parliament

As always, the trip was much enjoyed and worthwhile and our thanks go out to the wonderful staff at Holyrood who always go out of their way to make our Parliament visits  so memorable.

Modern Studies visit Parliament


Senior Art Exhibition & Calendars

‘Thanks to all who came to the Senior School Exhibition on Thursday evening. Your support is very much appreciated. We had a great turnout and sold a record 34 calendars!

Senior Art Exhibition 2017 Senior Art Exhibition 2017

There are lots of photos from the event, taken by Evander Duncan (S6) on Flickr.

Senior Art Exhibition 2017

There is a comment book alongside the exhibition which will be in the Library for the next couple of weeks if you’d like to add something. We’d appreciate your feedback!

Senior Art Exhibition 2017

Senior Music pupils provided the entertainment

Scottish Schools Indoor Rowing Championships

12 rowers from a mixed age group, travelled to Glasgow to the Scottish Indoor Rowing Championships.  There were over 400 pupils from all over Scotland but only us and 1 pupil from Ullapool from the Highlands!

Scottish Schools Indoor Rowing 2017

They were tasked with trying to beat their personal bests and to do their best –  and they did!  We were very proud of every one of them, they took it seriously, behaved impeccably and showed lots of spirit, not giving up when it was tough…it came close a few times.

Scottish Schools Indoor Rowing 2017

Maisie Baptist (S3) writes:

As soon as we rowers entered the sports centre the competition was in, we already knew the bar was set high.  Everyone was nervous for their individual competitions bus as soon as we began our timed rows our mind was set on each stroke and every meter we could squeeze in.  All of us were very supportive of each other-so much we’d practically lost our voices by the end of the day!

By the time it was our team rows, everyone still had all their energy and was either yelling, edging us on or actually taking part in the competitive 1000m team row.  The atmosphere during team rows was fantastic!

Scottish Schools Indoor Rowing 2017

I think I can speak on behalf of everyone saying our months of hard work paid off.  An experience none of us will ever forget!  Thank you to Mrs Hildrey and Fiona for all the support, driving us down and of course for even putting up with all the hassle over the Bluetooth and the music!

Results were:
S1 girls out of 32 competitors Katie Mackenzie 8th & Ashley Quinn 10th.
S1 boys out of 38 competitors Ruaridh Beaton 8th & Lewis Hildrey 16th.
S2 girls out of 29 competitors Ellie Watson 7th & Meghan Dillon 27th.
S3 girls out of 32 competitors Abi Crawford 16th, Lucy Hildrey 18th & Maisie Baptist 20th.
S5 girls out of 19 competitors Amber Drummond 9th, Morven Maclean 13th & Arlene Morrison 17th.
S1 mixed team out of 16 teams came 5th.
S3 girls team (with Ellie from S2) out of 6 teams, came 2nd.
Lots more photos from the event can be seen on Flickr.
Now onto the next event, inter house Rowing in December.

School Calendar

The school calendar is now available! It features artwork from all year groups from S1-S6 and is £6. The calendar has also been supported by many local businesses. It’s available to buy at the school office, library, Cornerstone, Farm and Garden Store and Poolewe Village Store and other local outlets around Gairloch area. All profits made go towards school funds.

Calendar spreads jumble

They will also be on sale at the Senior School Exhibition opening this evening to which all are welcome – from 5.30pm in school library.

An Deasbad Ghàidhlig Nàiseanta / The National Gaelic Debate

Ghabh an Deasbad àite ann an e-sgoil Steòrnabhaigh air an t-seachdamh is an ochdamh latha den t-Samhain. Dh’fhàg sinn Geàrrloch tràth madainn Dimàirt is chaidh sinn air a’ bhàt’-aiseig tarsainn an Cuan Sgìth gu Leòdhas. Ro-làimh bha sinn air a’ chiad is beagan den dàra deasbad ullachadh eadar an sgoil is an taigh.
The Debate took place in Stornoway’s e-school on the seventh and eighth of November. We left Gairloch early Tuesday morning and took the ferry to Lewis. We had prepared the first and part of the second debate beforehand, between school and home.

Ghabh sia sgoiltean deug pàirt. Dheigheadh ceithir sgoiltean troimhe dhan iar-chuairt dheireannach ann an Dùn Eideann. Dh’fhuirich sinn aig Taigh-Òsta Chaladh airson dà oidhche agus ghabh sinn ar biadh an sin cuideachd.
Sixteen schools took part in the debate but only the top four would go through to the semi-finals in Edinburgh. We stayed and ate in the Cala Inn for two nights.

Cameron and Eoin took part in the Gaelic Debate in Stornaway.

Dimàirt bha sinn an aghaidh Sgoil Drochaid na h-Easbaig agus b’ e am moladh gum “bu chòir reifreannan a bhith air an casg gu tur.” Bha sinne an aghaidh a’ mholaidh. Diciadain bha sinn an aghaidh Sgoil Lìonacleit à Uibhist. B’ e am moladh “gu bheil sinn fhathast a’ cur cus luach air ceum oilthigh.” Bha sinn airson a’ mholaidh.
On Tuesday we were against Bishopbriggs High School and the motion was, “A permanent ban should be placed on referendums.” We were against the motion. On Wednesday we were against Sgoil Lionacleit from Uist and the motion was, “We still put too much value on a university degree.” We were for the motion.

As deidh do gach deasbad a bhith air an crìochnachadh, fhuair sinn na puingean againn air ais. ‘S e na sgiobanan a chaidh troimhe Àrd Sgoil Loch-abar, Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu, Sgoil MhicNeacail agus sinn fhèin. Bha sinn uile air seachd puingean deug fhaighinn eadar gach deasbad. Chaidh sinn troimhe agus leis a sin bidh sinn a’ siubhal sios gu Dun Eideann ann an trì seachdainean.
Once both our debates were over, we received our points. The schools that went through were Lochaber High School, Glasgow Gaelic School, The Nicholson Institute and ourselves. We had all got seventeen points between the two debates. As we went through, we will travel down to Edinburgh in three weeks.

Fhad ’s a bha sinn ri deasbad, fhuair sinn barrachd misneachd agus thog sinn sgilean bruidhinn agus dh’fhàs sinn na b’ fheàrr air smaoineachadh fhad ’s a bha sinn fo uallach.
Whilst debating, we gained confidence, developed speaking skills and improved our ‘on the spot’ thinking.

Cameron MacIll-Fhinein/MacLennan & Eòin Cuimeanach/Cumming

Football Tournament

Hear from Mia and Ezekiel about their latest football tournament representing Gairloch High School.

Junior Highland Small Schools Football

Ezekiel (S2) writes:

A Gairloch High School S2-S3 boys football team and a S1-S3 girls football team including me went to Dornoch for the small schools football tournament. When we arrived we got into our kit and we were all assigned out positions and I played Goalkeeper. As we stepped onto the pitches we went in with a burning mentality and we were so confident. The teams that was playing in the qualifiers football tournament were as follows: Gairloch High, Golspie A, Golspie B, Ullapool A, Ullapool B, Dornoch, and Farr. First game we won 7-0 that was a great game and we only lost one game our results were 5 wins and 1 loss which drew us with Dornoch and we are through to the semifinals of the small schools football tournament which is great for a size of a school like us, we succeed in the activities that we participate in. My highlight of the game was probably my penalty save against Ullapool A but out top goal scorers did amazingly great they were Corey Maclennan with 9 goals, Eoin Cummings with 8 goals and Josh Tallach with 7 goals which was fantastic. Now we look ahead and get ready for the semifinals I have a feeling that we are going to win it all.

Junior Highland Small Schools Football

Mia (S3) writes:

We started off the day hyped up, the weather was great we were ready to come back winners but as the girls now know it’s not always going to go our way.

When we arrived we got onto the pitch the atmosphere was tense but yet very excitable, we went off to stretch and warm up. The energy was amazing.

Our first game was against our hosts, Dornoch High. The first game was by far the most difficult because we had never played as a solid team. Unfortunately we lost 3-0 in that game.

We were much more prepared for the next game against Ullapool the final score of that was 1-0.

After that we had a group discussion and  we agreed that we were playing to defensively instead of attacking.

Our last game was one we knew we had to win. This game was the one we were absolutely dreading playing because we knew it was Golspie who are one of the strongest girl’s teams in the league although we were pleasantly surprised when we got onto the pitch. We were very strong in that match especially, both defensively and we lost 2-1.

Somehow throughout all of our games we came off the pitch with smiles on our faces and very hyped up spirits within us the entire day.

Junior Highland Small Schools Football