Head Teacher Update - Letter and Video 59

13th December in School

(jump to video section)

13th December 2021

Dear Parent / Carer (please share with your child)

I hope this letter finds you and your families all safe and well. I know it’s long (again) but better
to share than not, I believe. As well as there being clear sub-headings for you to browse, as
usual there will be a video version should you wish to watch and listen, rather than read the
updates.

Please subscribe to the School App for Parents so you get alerts to everything we post

https://www.connectustech.com/school-app-for-parent/

Christmas is coming

Well, the last couple of weeks have been very busy indeed… and very pleasant on the whole.
The numbers of pupils and staff absent has fallen and those in school have been enjoying
some early festive cheer. The Christmas lights are illuminating our school; the Christmas music
welcomes us through the doors; the array of Christmas jumpers finds many smiles; and the
Christmas Fayre and other Christmas competitions and presentations are adding to a very
festive, enjoyable spirit in the school. And, I’ve been privileged to have had a peek at the
performers practising for our music and drama performances – superb! I’ll post the videos of
these fabulous productions in due course.

In the same Christmas spirit, we are promoting our message for everyone to be kind to one
another, both in school – and online in particular. That’s a message for young and old alike.
My thanks to everyone taking the time to say kind words to others, lend a helping hand to those
in need and sharing a smile whenever they can. #bekind

Public Health Scotland guidance

As much as our spirits and our attendance rates have risen, sadly, as we can see from the
daily news reports, Covid remains an ominous threat to us all and we must not be complacent.
We will continue to have in place all the mitigations we have used thus far but with a renewed
reminder that Lateral Flow Testing is a significant tool in our armoury to keep the virus from
spreading. In summary, the guidance we have received from Public Health Scotland contains
up to date information. I have attached the Council letter as a reminder.

SQA and Supported Study

Since I am attaching a reminder about the NHS information, I should also take the opportunity
to attach a reminder and details of our Supported Study programme. Each year we offer
additional support after school for many of our subjects. My thanks to all the staff who volunteer
to give up their time to lay on this additional help.

I tend to find that attendance at these sessions rises dramatically just before the prelims and
then again just before the exams themselves. However, all the evidence suggests that those
youngsters who attend each week and gradually enhance their learning through regular
attendance do much better than those who try and cram everything in at the last minute.

So, please encourage your child to attend each week from now, right up until the exams.

I’m aware there’s a lot of chat just now about whether the exams will go ahead or not given the
absence rates in schools across the country and with the rise in covid cases. However, the
SQA are repeatedly saying the exams will be held as normal, and that is what we are preparing
for.

Having said that, it makes sense to be ready for the SQA pulling the exams sometime into the
New Year as they have for the last couple of years, and our staff are gathering the natural
ongoing assessment materials which will help provide SQA evidence if required. The more our
children engage fully with the learning now, the more evidence we have of ability throughout
the year. Again, please keep encouraging your child to work hard, follow their teachers’
guidance and attend supported study where they can.

HMIe Inspections

You may have seen news reports that there are to be no school inspections until February.
Well, that’s only half a story as is so often the case in the media. Whilst there are no full
inspections to be held just now, the HMIe continue with their Thematic Inspections across the
country. These have been the most common, and persistent forms of inspection since the start
of the pandemic. They are an incredibly useful way for the HMIe to evaluate progress in schools
in a variety of areas, in sensible chunks, which also lead to ideas and development
opportunities to be taken forward as a result of their visits. Oban High School has been involved
in Thematic Inspections that examined leadership through the pandemic; curriculum; remote
learning, recovery and health and well-being and just this week, Outdoor Learning and how
that mode of learning can support youngsters with their wider learning; with well-being issues;
with qualifications; and with the acquisition of skills needed for life after school.

Summary Findings

Strengths

  • The school vision and rationale for outdoor learning is clearly exemplified in the pupils’
    work, ethos, achievements and certification.
  • There is a fantastic breadth of opportunity for our pupils to help serve their many
    interests and support potential career pathways.
  • The wealth and breadth of partners supporting the school shows that Oban High School
    is actively at the heart of the community.
  • That there is a “striking” number of genuine partnerships, involving other educational institutions, businesses and local community partners, all leading to increased opportunities and life chances for our pupils.
  • That pupil involvement and pupil leadership is significantly evident.
  • That the concept of learning for next steps (learning for life after school) is evidently
    preparing our pupils well for their next steps.
  • Our Recovery Plan and processes are really clear, robust and being sustained.

Development opportunities

  • We need to provide a clearer map for staff to identify and measure all pupil progress
    through our aims.
  • We need to make language explicit in our plans to help pupils be able to discuss and
    exemplify their development as much as they are able to, actually demonstrating their
    progress. (The language of learning can be difficult but it is easier if there is an
    understandable and progressive framework).
  • We need to create synergy between our Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) plans
    and our Outdoor Learning plans to create a coherent unified purpose. (rather than run
    two discreet programmes). This will allow us to demonstrate clear progression as pupils
    develop a myriad of skills and qualities during their journey through school
  • We need to have in place a more detailed “Tracker” to measure pupil participation and
    engagement so we can more clearly identify gaps, and further opportunities for all.
  • Continue to check on the quality of learning, teaching and assessment. There will be
    natural variation across departments / staff. We need to continue to support everyone
    to keep pace with developments in these areas.
SKILLS

And, my apologies for adding yet another reminder. Given the importance the HMIe placed on
our skills developments and for ensuring that all our pupils (and parents) were aware of this
work, I thought I would re-issue the YouTube video link on this subject from a couple of weeks
ago.

https://youtu.be/1Qyd4XVBW7g

Support for pupils

Mr Champion will be holding his second online workshop for families focussing on how we
learn, how to revise and how to cope with exams and assessments on Thursday evening,
January 13th 2022 at 6:30pm. We would encourage anyone who was unable to attend the
previous session to make this a date for the diary, as the feedback has been very positive.
Anyone in S4 would particularly benefit as high stakes assessments and tests have not been
part of their educational experience so far.

The Big Young People’s Survey for 13-25 year olds was created by YoungMinds, the UK's
leading youth mental health charity, in partnership with wagamama. They want to make sure
that every young person gets the mental health support they need, when they need it. The
survey is being run by YouthSight on behalf of YoungMinds and wagamama. There are some
questions in this survey that ask for your personal details and parents need to give consent if
your child is between 13-16 years old. You can read the (YoungMinds privacy policy) and the
(YouthSight privacy policy) for details about how the data gathered in this survey will be used.

The survey can be accessed here: 
https://www.youngminds.org.uk/support-us/join-the-movement/the-big-young-peoples-survey/ 

Argyll and Bute Council Consultation

Our Council are currently carrying out a consultation exercise on proposals linked to school
leadership structures. The proposal for schools across the local authority is similar but not
exactly the same as the leadership model we currently employ (and have done for the last 3
years) between Oban High, Tiree High and Tiree Primary schools.

A variety of groups: Head Teachers; professional associations; staff groups; trade unions and
most recently parent councils have been sent information packs and these groups will discuss
the information therein over the coming months. The consultation closes at the end of February.
Elected Members will ultimately make a decision on this issue sometime next Summer.

As always, there is a lot of rumour and mis-information on social media so I thought it useful to
provide all our parents (and pupils) the link so you can see what is actually being proposed:

https://empoweringoureducators.co.uk/

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 your
children.

If you need any help at all with supporting our children educationally, socially, emotionally or
financially, please contact us. We will try and help you in any way we can. We care and wish
to help.

Yours faithfully,

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


Mr Bain’s Update 13.12.21

Back to news