Head Teacher Update - Letter 53

6th September in School

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6 September 2021

Dear Parent / Carer (please share with your child)

I hope this letter finds you and your family all safe and well.

It has been a very busy start to the term as you would imagine. Week one saw us all raring to
go and getting all the courses back up and running following the summer holidays. Re
establishing almost 90 courses, across multiple academic and vocational levels (Foundation
Apprenticeships, Baccalaureates, Advanced Highers, Highers, National Progression Awards,
Nationals 3, 4 and 5), and catering for over 1000 pupils supported by around 160 staff is a wee
bit challenging - but very exciting. We are all glad to be back and doing what we love.

Week two was very exciting as we welcomed the Princess Royal, her husband Sir Tim
Lawrence and a wealth of other dignitaries along to the school for a couple of tours. Along with
the School Captains, Hannah and Angus, I was privileged to escort Princess Anne around
many areas of the school. We couldn’t cover the whole school so we weaved through a
selection of courses which demonstrated our commitment to harmonising academic endeavour
with vocational opportunities, which fits nicely into our aim of getting our kids ready for life and
work after school. Our Senior Depute, Kevin Champion and his Somerled Clan Leaders
accompanied Sir Tim on the tour; and Depute Head Aileen Jackson and the remaining Clan
Leaders escorted our other dignitaries on a second tour. Everyone was amazed by the wealth
of opportunity on offer across our school and were very complimentary about the work of our
children and staff. My thanks to everyone who attended, especially to those who organised the
tours and to those who presented and performed throughout the day.

Of course the Princess Royal visit was only one part of a very busy week as we also had over
100 pupils involved in supporting and participating in the Argyllshire Gathering’s 150th
Anniversary Oban Games. My congratulations to all those who took part in the piping, dancing,
rugby and athletic events and my thanks to all the pupils who set up the field, acted as guides,
publicists and manned the school stall in the Heritage Tent. Special thanks to our school pipe
band who took part in the March and performed on the Field later in the day; and also to our
Traditional School of Music and School of Dance performers who entertained the crowds
throughout the day in the performance tent.

My thanks continues with recognition to the Argyllshire Gathering, who not only fund much of
the Primary Piping tuition in the area but who also leave us all their marquees following the
Oban Games so we can hold our own Highland Games on the last Friday of each August. The
significant number of tents allows our games to go ahead each year regardless of weather and
the backdrop of all these huge marquees with all the heraldic flags does lend our Games a
great look. A far cry from a traditional sports day in an empty field. Of course Games days are
about more than tents and flags. They are about our youngsters competing amongst each
other to lift coveted individual and clan trophies and this year saw an amazing amount of young
competitors, far more than in recent years. Well done to everyone who was awarded a trophy,
cup or shield from Councillor McCuish or myself on the day.

Games day is not only about taking part and winning silverware. It’s generally about enjoying
ourselves so we ensure that everyone has something of interest. We had dancing, music, arts
and games areas, and a number of inflatables to entertain a broad range of interests. My thanks
to Councillor Robertson who helped Mrs Clark and I judge the baking competition. All in all,
thanks are due to all the organisers and all the staff who ran the events, manned the stalls,
flipped the burgers, supervised, picked up litter and put everything away. Helped by the
excellent weather, it was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days.

Last week, saw us all back in classes… well most of us. As we are all no doubt aware from the
media, Covid concerns continue and many families are affected by family members either
testing positive or by having to take a couple of days off work or school as they await test
results themselves. Oban High School has seen very few positive cases thankfully. However,
we will continue to be cautious and will continue with most of the protective measures we had
in place before the summer. We still ask parents to drop off children at a safe and suitably
distant place away from the school and note that parents should only attend school personally
in an emergency. We also ensure that on arrival everyone uses hand sanitiser when entering
the building and then again when leaving and entering all classes. We still have enhanced
cleaning and ventilation precautions; still have year group bubbles when in classes and at
lunchtimes. If it is wet, year groups have separate dining areas for lunch and remain in class
for break. We also have staggered departures for lunch and at the end of the day to avoid
unnecessary mixing of the year groups. We encourage everyone to do their twice weekly lateral
flow tests.

Changes we have made include no longer having completely separate areas outside, though
we have installed new seating at the rear of the school for S5 and S6 only. We have morning
breaks outside in the fresh air when it’s not pouring. We also allow and encourage school clubs
that mix year groups. These clubs must maintain strict registers… just in case.

Covid Guidance

Please do not send your child to school displaying symptoms of Covid 19:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

However, people with COVID-19 can present with a wide range of symptoms including
headache, sore muscles and joints, tiredness, sore throat, cold-like symptoms and diarrhoea
and vomiting. If your child or anyone in the household does develop symptoms, you can seek
further advice from NHS Inform.

If there is a positive case in the household everyone should self-isolate and book a PCR test.

Please keep the school informed of positive lateral flow tests and subsequent results of PCR
tests.

‘Warn and Inform’ letters are now being sent from the school and not from the NHS
directly. However, if a young person is a considerable close contact the NHS will contact you
directly. ‘Warn and Inform’ letters are quite broad sweeping and not to cause alarm. These
are currently issued to pupils who may have been in classes with a positive case, 2 days before
a pupil has been identified positive.

The school and NHS Highlands’s Health Protection Team are in regular contact to support and
keep our community safe. Any further advice can be found on NHS Inform.

Flu vaccine

The School Flu Immunisation Programme will be offering all secondary school pupils in
Scotland the flu vaccine this year. It is normally given at school between September and
December. Please note that vaccinators this year will be wearing personal protective
equipment (PPE), including a mask and visor to comply with UK infection prevention and
control measures. This is due to the potential sneezing risk of pupils when administering the
nasal (nose) spray vaccine and the large number of doses that will be given.

S1 Flu immunisations will take place on Monday 20th September. Consent forms were handed
out last Friday. Could you ask pupils to return these by Wednesday 8th September.

UCAS

If your son or daughter is in S5/6 and applying to University this year please ensure they join
the Google Classroom puzgru2 and register for a UCAS account by Friday 3rd September.
The buzzword is obanhigh2022. There will be a programme of active support over the next few
months to help young people apply to university, college, apprenticeships, etc but we would
remind everyone to pay heed to deadlines and be pro-active in communicating with teachers,
Guidance colleagues and Deputes, especially concerning references and completing personal
statements, etc.

S1 Pupils

Can we remind parents/carers that S1 pupils should stay in school at lunchtime until after the
October break and that all pupils should behave responsibly out in our community, particularly
be mindful to dispose of rubbish in bins, recycling facilities, etc.

Whilst we continue to educate our pupils about such things as littering and how to be respectful,
beyond the boundary of the school and out across the community, children and their behaviour
remain the responsibility of their parents.

Education Maintenance Allowance

EMA is a weekly payment of £30, paid fortnightly in arrears for eligible students who are
planning to continue in post-compulsory education. (i.e. if you are over 16) The allowance is
payable fortnightly in arrears during term time. Payments will be made direct to the student’s
account.

Who will be entitled to an EMA?

If you are 16 to 19 years old, and attend a school in Argyll and Bute, and come from a low
household income you may be eligible to receive financial assistance from an Education
Maintenance Allowance (EMA).More information and an application form can be found here:

https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/education-and-learning/education-maintenance-allowance

Free School Meals and Clothing Grants

You may be entitled to Free Schools Meals and/or a Clothing Grant of £150 for your child.
Please use the link below to check eligibility and apply online.

https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/education-and-learning/free-school-meals

Skills Development Scotland

Oban High School works closely with Skills Development Scotland to provide up-to-date
careers advice and support for our pupils. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is the national
skills body which delivers Scotland’s career service. Careers advisers deliver career
information, advice and guidance in school to pupils from S1-S6. They are there to help pupils
understand the world of work and to develop the Career Management Skills they need as they
move through school.

Our school careers advisers are Margaret Bennett and Ewan Stuart. Margaret is in school on
Mondays and Wednesdays - Fridays and leads on supporting Diarmid, Fingal and Somerled
clans. Ewan is in school on Tuesdays and leads on supporting Ossian clan. Pupils might meet
with Margaret and Ewan in class at a group activity, at a careers event or at a one-to-one
appointment. They can be contacted by email margaret.bennett@sds.co.uk  /
ewan.stuart@sds.co.uk  or by telephoning the Oban Careers Centre 01631 564697.

You can also use SDS online services:

www.myworldofwork.co.uk 
www.mykidscareer.com 
www.apprenticeships.scot 
www.digitalworld.net

Senior Pupil Leadership Team

Our clan leaders have been working hard to produce weekly assemblies for our Friday Clan
Period. Last Friday the focus was climate change and the upcoming COP26 Conference in
Glasgow.

All pupils are encouraged to submit achievements during the clan period. Pupils can earn
points through a wide range of activities and successes such as attending a local club, helping
out at a charity event or taking part in an assembly. Points are also awarded to each clan for
Highland Games and SQA Exams and at the end of the year all the points are totalled to reveal
who has won the Clan shield.

Please encourage your child to submit all their achievements and contribute towards the
success of their clan!

Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is back! We are very excited to get our new groups up and
running and hope to offer a Bronze and Silver award for young people. Any S3-S6 pupils who
are interested in taking part should visit Miss McIntosh in room 2.34 to collect an application
form. Spaces will be limited and the application form may determine who receives a place. If
you have any questions or need any support please contact Miss McIntosh -
aimee.mcintosh@argyll-bute.gov.uk.

Prize-giving

My congratulations to all those who gained a prize during our online awards at the end of last
week. Sadly, we couldn’t all come together to celebrate the success and hard work of many of
our pupils but I did take the opportunity to congratulate each individual we managed to film. A
few other seniors who had left school managed to receive their awards from Heads of
Department outside or at the entrance to the school. Many others for a variety of reasons
couldn’t join us but their names will all appear on the roll call on the website and sent to the
Oban Times. Well done to you all and good luck for the forthcoming year.

You can watch the Prize-giving video from tomorrow on our You Tube Channel.

Our last S6 Farewell opportunity came on Friday evening where “The Chunks” played an
outdoor concert for us to ensure we put on some suitable event to mark their transition to life
after school. The band are firm favourites at the Jingles and with this year group missing both
a Jingles and a Summer Dance, we thought, with changes to the rules, we could at least give
them one wee dance with a big band before they left. Those who attended got the chance to
meet up and say their farewells to staff and to those friends about to leave for university or
college further afield. Thanks to all who organised the event and to The Chunks for playing.

Support

Should you have any questions, ideas or even concerns please contact your child’s Guidance
Teacher or use the “Contact Us” page on the website. Our clan pastoral teams are here to
support you and the Guidance staff, Family Liaison Officers, Youth Worker, IT support staff,
careers staff and the Clan Deputes will all ensure we work together to help you and our
children.

Yours faithfully,

P A Bain
Executive Head Teacher
Oban High School, Tiree High School & Tiree Primary School


Update 7.9.21

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