The school is looking at whether or not it can or should continue to run the trip in its current form. The most likely alternative, is to move the trip to later in the year, and change it from being part of the core curriculum to being a normal, extra-curricular trip.
In the letter below, headteacher John Devine outlines his thoughts on the matter. Mr Devine has asked for any parents who have strong feelings on the subject to email the school with their views, at Breadalbane@pkc.gov.uk, by 8th January 2016.
If you could also cc the parent council on your email, that would help us keep track of public feeling on this matter. The email address to use is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more about the school’s plans for the entire P7-S1 transition package, click here.
John Devine M.A. (Hons); M.Ed; SQH
ABERFELDY PH15 2DU
Tel 01887 822300 • Fax 01887 820464
Further to our initial consultation about the P7-S1 transition at last week’s Parent Council, I felt it might be useful to put in writing my thinking on the Lochgoilhead trip.
It was clear that this trip is very popular. Parents spoke passionately about the benefits of a week’s adventurous outdoor activities; of how children, often away from their families for the first time, discover that they are capable of things they previously wouldn’t have had the confidence even to try.
I hope I made it clear at the meeting that I absolutely accept the value of such outdoor experiences. It’s a joy to see how positively many children react to an experience such as the Lochgoilhead trip. That’s something I want Breadalbane pupils to carry on enjoying as long as I am headteacher.
However, in its current form the Lochgoilhead trip is different. Unlike every other school trip that Breadalbane Academy offers, the Lochgoilhead trip is not an optional enhancement to the core curriculum. It is actually part of the core curriculum, specifically the P7-to-S1 transition package.
It’s a part of the core curriculum, and yet we charge £250 for it, rising to around £300 this year. For some families, this is simply unaffordable. There may also be other children who have perfectly valid non-financial reasons for not wanting to go on a week-long residential trip. For whatever reason, in 2015 one quarter of our new S1 did not participate in this vital part of our transition programme.
These children aren’t just missing out on some of the benefits of the transition package; it’s actually worse than that. By excluding them from the part of the transition package specifically designed to foster friendships between children from different primary schools, we may in fact be making their move to secondary harder.
I’m sure parents are aware that the Scottish government’s highest priority in education is the idea of ‘closing the gap’. At the moment in Scotland, children from deprived backgrounds are significantly less likely to do well at school. This is true in most countries, but the picture in Scotland is poor in comparison to similar countries, including England.
To try and change this, the Scottish government has instructed schools to test all of their practices forinclusivity. Nothing we do should exclude pupils on the basis of income or social background. I’m afraid that, for as long as it is part of the core curriculum, the Lochgoilhead trip fails that test.
However, that doesn’t mean Breadalbane pupils have to miss out on a residential outward-bound trip. We’re looking into offering Lochgoilhead, or a similar trip, as an enhancement to the curriculum at some point in S1, probably during Activities Week.
As well as moving the trip to Activities Week, the other ideas we’re exploring include:
- The possibility of running a shorter trip as part of the transition, which might allow the school to cover all costs, so that parents didn’t have to pay anything.
- Funding respite care for Young Carers (children who have caring responsibilities, for instance for a disabled parent), so that they can participate too.
These are worthwhile and exciting possibilities, I hope you’d agree. We’ll keep the Parent Council fully informed of progress on both.
The school hasn’t made a final decision about the Lochgoilhead trip yet, as we are keen to share our thinking with parents in the first instance. However, I don’t think it can be part of the future P7-S1 transition.
I know parents and pupils may be disappointed, but I hope the reasons are clear. I cannot prioritise a school trip, no matter how worthwhile, over the Scottish Government’s policy of inclusion. And even if I could, I wouldn’t want to and I hope parents wouldn’t want me to.
I propose to post this letter on the school website and invite parental comments until mid-January, at which point a decision will be taken. I would also appreciate it if you could share this letter through your own website and encourage parents who would like to express a view to get in touch with the school.
John G Devine
Breadalbane Community Campus
To see letter in its original form, click here.
What: Open evening for parents and carers
When: 6:30pm, Tuesdays 10 November, 2015
Where: Breadalbane Community Campus
John Devine and the senior management team at Breadalbane Academy are holding an open-evening for parents at Breadalbane Community Campus, 6:30pm, next Tuesday (10 November).
Mr Devine will explain his priorities for the school and how the school will be changing because of Scotland’s new Curriculum For Excellence. This is also a great chance for parents to ask questions of the school senior management team and to tell the school what they think its priorities should be. All parents and carers are welcome!
In November 2014 Mrs Vicky Marshall became the acting depute headteacher, in charge of Breadalbane Academy primary. We caught up with her to find out how she’s getting on and to learn a bit more about her, her priorities and her approach to leadership.
Parent Council: Mrs Marshall, thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Please could you introduce yourself and tell parents a bit about your professional history?
Mrs Marshall: I was interested in teaching from an early age and went on to complete a PGCE (Primary) after finishing my degree in agriculture. I came to Breadalbane as a probationer in 2004 and shortly afterwards I got a permanent contract. The start of my teaching career was spent teaching infants and more recently I was teaching expressive arts and providing cover for Probationer teachers. In August I became the nursery teacher then Acting DHT (Primary) in November.
When the Acting DHT post was offered as a secondment, I decided to apply because I was keen to build on things I had started earlier. I had started to work on the tracking and monitoring of pupil learning and attainment since becoming the Acting Depute in November and wanted to further this. As a class teacher I had been in working groups looking at progressing learning and teaching and was interested in taking this further as the Acting Depute.
Parent Council: Can you give us a snapshot of the primary department as it is now?
Mrs Marshall: As the primary is part of the whole school the Primary DHT works closely with the school Senior Management Team. In the primary itself there are eight classes and one Gaelic Medium Education class. In addition there is a nurture class, the Pit Stop. This year in the nursery, there are 32 part time morning places, 16 part time afternoon places and 8 full time Support for Family and Children places. There are currently 212 pupils in the primary and 58 pupils in the nursery.
Parent Council: What are your priorities for the primary?
Mrs Marshall: This year in the primary we are building on the work started last year in tracking pupil attainment. Last year was the first time we carried out baseline assessments in reading, spelling and maths for all children from P2 upwards. When we repeated it this year we were able to track the progress pupils had made. We also track and monitor the writing attainment through an assessed piece of writing every term.
Pupil attainment is already tracked in terms of the Curriculum for Excellence levels, but using these additional methods of tracking and monitoring gives us a more rounded picture as well as additional information such as gaps in learning. Through monitoring the results I can work with staff to ensure that pupils are being appropriately challenged and supported.
As a department we started to look at our planning and assessment formats a couple of years ago, aiming to streamline and make them more manageable. Due to staffing changes we haven’t been able to complete this work. We need to progress further with this and hope to have made significant progress in time for the next academic year.
Parent Council: As part of an all-through school, the primary works closely with the headteacher and colleagues in secondary. Can you give us a run-down of how that works?
Mrs Marshall: The Senior Management Team generally meets twice a week to discuss whole school as well as departmental issues. Staff across the sectors frequently work together with part of most inservice days dedicated to whole school working. There are also whole school meetings held a couple of times each term. Teachers form working parties working on moving the school forward. Again, these are generally whole school working parties.
Pupils from the nursery and primary benefit from being part of all through school and learning in a community campus, for example, through shared resources such as access to the PE facilities. We also have primary pupils from P4/5 upwards being taught regularly in the secondary department. This means when pupils are moving into the secondary from primary 7 they are already know some secondary staff and the learning environment.
Parent Council: Thinking of the future, when you move on from this post, what do you want to able to say about your time as depute head at Breadalbane Academy?
Mrs Marshall: “In my time at Breadalbane I have helped pupils fulfil their potential“
Parent Council: If a parent needs to get in touch with you, how do they do it?
Mrs Marshall: Please phone the school office on 01887 822300 or email VLMarshall@pkc.gov.uk
Parent Council: Thank you very much, Mrs Marshall.
This interview is a summary of a longer presentation, which Mrs Marshall gave at the parent council meeting on March 31, 2015.
The staff speaker at the next parent council meeting, on Wednesday 20 April, 6:30pm, will be Mr Macluskey, depute head (school improvement). Mr Macluskey will explain how the school monitors and tracks pupil attainment, and how to understand your child’s school report.
John Devine, currently a quality improvement officer (QIO) in PKC’s education department, will be the next headteacher of Breadalbane Academy. Present head, Mrs Swan, who announced her retirement at the 4 February parent council meeting, will continue in the post until the 16 August. From 17 August, Mr Devine will be headteacher.
A veteran of 23-years in teaching
A graduate of Glasgow University, where he gained an M.A (Hons) in English Language and Literature, Mr Devine has been a teacher for 23 years. He started his career in 1992 as an English teacher at Kirkwall Grammar School, in Orkney.
After 13 years on the islands, during which time he rose from probationer to the principal teacher of the English department, Mr Devine left Orkney to become the depute head (school improvement) at Blairgowrie High School. He remained in Blairgowrie for nine years, before moving to the Perth and Kinross education department as a quality improvement officer, responsible for standards in a number of secondary schools.
As well as an undergraduate degree in English, Mr Devine has a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), with distinction, from Northern College; an M.Ed postgraduate degree, in educational management, from Aberdeen University; and a Scottish Qualification for Headship, also from Aberdeen University.
The best of ten candidates for the job
Ten candidates from all over the UK applied for the job as head at Breadalbane. A rigorous selection procedure saw this reduced to just two in the final interview. Mr Devine impressed the selection committee with his thoughtful and meticulous approach, his knowledge of and commitment to the school and its Highland Perthshire catchment area, and his inclusive and open leadership philosophy.
“I was honoured to be one of the panel who selected Mr John Devine for the post at Breadalbane”, said Councillor Kate Howie, the elected member on the interview panel. “During the selection process it was obvious he totally understood and was enthused by the challenges and benefits of a rural school and the responsibilities of a headteacher and campus leader. Good leadership and communication at all levels including with the local community were his main key themes and I am delighted that he has accepted the post.”
First message to the school community
“I am delighted to have been appointed headteacher of Breadalbane Academy”, said Mr Devine. “I look forward to working with parents and the wider community in building on the success of the school and the community campus.
“I want Breadalbane Academy to be known as a place where young people want to come and learn and where teachers want to come and work. For me, schools are at their best when they can both reflect and promote their community in the experiences they offer. Breadalbane Academy is already doing this, for instance with its Rural Skills course and Gaelic medium teaching. That makes being a head at Breadalbane a very exciting prospect.”
Mrs Swan working for a smooth handover
Mr Devine already already knows Breadalbane Academy well, thanks to his role as our school’s current QIO. Between now and August, he will be liaising with Mrs Swan and her team in order to get a feel for Breadalbane Academy from a head’s perspective, so that he can hit the ground running.
“I am delighted to be handing Breadalbane Academy over to Mr Devine in the summer”, said current headteacher Linda Swan. “He knows the school well as a result of our close working relationship over his time as quality improvement officer; knowing what we do well and where we need to develop. I look forward to working with Mr Devine over the summer term to ensure the transition is smooth. I wish him well in this post.”
A chance to meet Mr Devine
We hope parents will join the parent council in congratulating Mr Devine on his appointment. We’ll invite him to the first parent council meeting of the 2015/16 academic year, giving everyone a chance to meet our new headteacher and ask him questions. We look forward to seeing as many parents as possible there.
Perth and Kinross Council has offered John Devine, who until recently was depute head (school improvement) at Blairgowrie High School, the job of headteacher at Breadalbane Academy. Mr Devine is a teacher of 23 years’ experience, with 10 years at senior management level. Currently, he is working as a Quality Improvement Officer in the PKC education department. He has accepted the post.
There are still some formalities to get out of the way before Mr Devine is confirmed in the job, but these are expected to be just that — formalities. We’ll post more information on this website, once the appointment has been confirmed.
We had a fantastic turnout for the last Parent Council, on Wednesday 4 February. The debate was robust and parents raised some important issues, some of which we’ll be returning to. So watch this space.
But by far the most important issue, is the job of choosing a new headteacher. Linda Swan, Breadalbane Academy’s current head, will be retiring at the end of this school year. I’m sure everyone will join the parent council in thanking her for her hard work and wishing her well for the future.
Interviews for a new headteacher for Breadalbane Academy take place in March. Two parent council members will be on the interview panel. This is a very important time for the school community. Headteachers can stay in the post for a decade or longer; so this could be our only chance during our children’s time at school to influence who we have doing this job.
Is there something you, as a parent or carer, think we should prioritise when looking at the candidates? This is your chance to tell us.
Let us know, either by leaving a comment below or sending an email to email@example.com.
The school is being inspected this month, in what’s called an Extended Learning and Achievement. As part of the preparations for this visit, the council has posted an online survey which it wants parents to fill in.
It only takes a few minutes to fill in and will help make the inspection a success.
Check it out, the school’s on Twitter. Click on the link below or search for the handle @BreadalbaneAcad.