MELDRUM ACADEMY

Working together for success

PARENT NEWSLETTERS

Head Teacher Update – 29/05/2020

Dear Parent / Carer

 

Thank you for your continued support in delivering the distance learning work pupils have been engaging in. Monday is a local holiday and no work will be posted on this day.

This weekend brings us to the end of the year as far as the school timetable is concerned and from Tuesday 2nd June all pupils will embark on their new timetable with the subjects they have chosen for the coming year.

There are no further updates to give you at this time with regard to returning to school in August. We continue to plan what this will look like for our pupils and will communicate this with you closer to the summer holiday period once we have finalised our plan. There are currently a significant amount of things that need to be taken into consideration to opening the school safely to pupils but please remember that currently school will not be opening for all pupils from day 1, as there will be a phased return to schooling following the national and local authority guidance.

 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the fantastic weather.

 

Regards

Ian Jackson

Head Teacher

 

Ian Jackson

Head Teacher (Acting)

Head Teacher Update – 20/05/2020

 

Dear Parents/carers,

I would like to start this newsletter by saying a huge thanks to all our parents and carers who are doing a fantastic job in continuing to both encourage and support all our pupils throughout their distance learning. We continue to appreciate the challenges that some of you are experiencing during this time and I would like to reiterate to all to please get in contact with the school if you are concerned about your son/daughters learning or health and wellbeing.

This is national Mental Health awareness week and there are a number of useful resources that have been posted on the school website, twitter and the email to all parents on Monday. The theme this year is kindness and the positive impact that carrying out acts of kindness have on our mood and stress levels. This could also be a challenge we can set our pupils to see what acts of kindness they can do not just over the week but in the weeks to come.

 

Frequently asked questions

We are aware that there have been a number of very similar questions asked by pupils and parents with regard to online learning as a result of some of the challenges faced. If you have any difficulties with aspects of your learning at home, the series of frequently asked questions with answers should help you get back on track. The FAQ page can be found in the Tips and Advice section of the Distance learning website.

 

Pupils leaving school this term.

Thank you to those pupils in S4, S5 and S6 who have completed the online form informing us of their intended destination beyond school. For those pupils who have yet to complete the Form please do so by the deadline of the 22 May using the following link.  https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=BpPZ_i1NCUSVndDttzBKC3TFJQXiDm5IgVPYomTw-RFUREtGNERGV0ZTRUxJNDlOS1hLWjhISkQ4TS4u

 

Parent questionnaire

We have been engaging in distance learning for some time now and I would welcome parent’s views on a few things that could help inform how we can further support both the pupils and yourselves. I would appreciate if you could spare a few minutes to complete the following questionnaire by clicking on this link.

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=BpPZ_i1NCUSVndDttzBKC4Kc8M__2qBKsD11pmc3yllUOVcxVkFFSjdDVVBMVjRDM1dCOVZBN1pDNy4u

 

Subject choice letters and change of timetable.

Letters are in the process of being sent home to all pupils from S2 to S5 detailing the subjects they have been allocated from the choices that they made. S2 pupils received their letters this week with all other pupils receiving theirs next week. If anyone has any queries regarding their choices allocated, please wait for your letter to arrive and use the link to the enquiry form within the letter. 

All planning for the change of timetable has now been completed with instructions for parents being sent out to parents by Mr Carder.

 

Garioch Community kitchen.

Mrs Threadgold (DHT) previously wrote to all parents to raise awareness of how the school had linked up with the Garioch Community kitchen to support parents who may be challenged in providing food for their families at this time. If any family requires support with food, please use the following link to provide your details.  

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=BpPZ_i1NCUSVndDttzBKCzYe3aN-XftDjASPyKHsSP1UMTFRR0UyMFBGM0dTM0NJWUxUN1JWQ0NSRy4u

 

Pupil achievements during lockdown.

Staff have been sharing with me a wide range of work that our pupils have been producing during lockdown. The range and quality of work that is being produced by our pupils has been outstanding and they should be extremely proud of the effort and creativity they have put into their work. Making their own musical instruments, keeping a diary of their days at home, producing models of stage sets, playing their instruments for the NHS, creating animation videos of the digestion system are just a few of the activities that some of the pupils have been involved in. Our end of term newsletter will show case a range of the work they have been producing.

I would like to thank you all again for the fantastic support and encouragement from yourselves as parents and carers which has contributed to the fantastic work achieved.

 

School reopening.

This continues to be planned at both a national and local level with no decision yet made as to when and how we will return to school.

Parent contact details.

As a result of communication between school and home being via email or text can I please remind parents to update the school with any change to their contact details to ensure you continue to receive all communications. If your details have changed please either email meldrum.aca@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or telephone the school 01651 267470 to speak to a member of the office staff.

As always if you have any concerns regarding your son/daughters, engagement in learning, wellbeing or issues with ICT please do not hesitate to get in touch with their Pastoral Care Teacher or myself.

 

Regards

Ian Jackson

Head Teacher

 

 

 

 

Head Teacher Update – 07/05/2020

Dear Parent / Carer,

 

I hope you and your families are safe and well as we continue through lock down. We are now in our third week of term and the fifth week of being a “virtual” school.

 

Holiday VE Day Friday 8th May.

Tomorrow is a national holiday and as a result there will be no online learning being set or expected from the pupils. I hope you all have a short break from the online activities.

 

School Re-opening.

While there is much discussion in the media about when schools will reopen there have not been any concrete decisions made. There has also been some confusion because the UK Government has been suggesting a June start for some pupils in England. Education powers are devolved to the Scottish Government and in consultation with Local Authorities will decide when and how school’s return and with which pupils. There is a huge amount of work currently underway, both nationally and within Aberdeenshire, looking at how the return of pupils would be safely managed. The health and safety of pupils and staff is central to this. It is safe to say that what we return to will be very different from the previous situation and is unlikely to mean that all pupils are back in the building at one time. When we know when pupils might return and what it will be like we will communicate further with you.

 

SQA.

Teaching staff continue to work hard to provide estimate grades for all pupils in the senior school which will be submitted to the SQA by 29th May.

 

Distance Learning.

Having discussed with staff how pupils are learning at this time they are seeing some very good and creative work being produced which is very encouraging. We currently are working on finalising what the next stage in distance learning will be with a view to change the ‘timetable’ for pupils on the 2nd June. Further detailed information will be sent to you all shortly. Prior to this change pupils should continue to work on the current work plan set and for those pupils moving into new subjects working on the pre engagement tasks.

Pupils who have chosen subjects for next year, will shortly receive, confirmation of the subjects they have been allocated. For those pupils who have opted to study a college course the college are still in negotiations about a start date and will be confirming this in due course.

 

Expectations.

We appreciate that the amount of work has proven challenging for some young people. Where this has been the case, and we are aware of it, we have been in communication with families to provide advice and where possible solutions to alleviate the challenges faced. We also appreciate that each family has a different set of circumstances and that access to learning space, ICT hardware, high quality broadband and other elements will vary. These affect pupil motivation and their ability to access and overtake lessons. Some young people flourish in this type of learning while others miss the direction, contact with others and focus of the classroom. Alongside this we appreciate that time demands on parents will vary and many have to manage your own work along with supporting the learning of your children. This also affects the ability of pupils to log in at specific times. Continuing learning and moving it forward is key and will be essential to the futures of all our young people however, we do realise that not all young people will have the same experiences or opportunities and we do take this into account in our expectations of the work they can get through. In some instances, where families have alerted us to issues, we have been able to offer different work, timescales and, even, ICT hardware. Where staff have noticed that pupils are not managing to engage with their learning, emails have been sent to them as well as after two attempts to communicate with them, to yourselves. Please keep communicating with us if you have any concerns or issues with learning at home. Where issues have been raised with Pastoral Care  they have been communicating these to all staff regularly to allow them to further support the pupil or adapt the work accordingly.

 

Textbooks / Library books.

We are aware that a number of our pupils especially in the senior school will have textbooks at home which they have been studying from throughout the year. Can I please ask that any books are collated together in preparation for them being returned to the school at some point when we are safe to do so. For any pupil who has a library book on loan these will be extended automatically until 1st June whilst the library service negotiate how they move their service forward.

 

I want to finish by saying thank you. Staff have been outstanding and are working hard to support pupils and each other as well as managing their own family circumstances, just as everyone else is doing. I also want to thank pupils for engaging and I look forward to seeing the results of their hard work. Lastly, I also want to thank all parents and carers for working with us in encouraging your child’s learning at home. These are difficult times for us all and we are working to provide the best we can for our young people. Your help, support and patience has been appreciated as we have worked through all issues regarding distance learning.

As always if you have any concerns regarding your son/daughters, engagement in learning, wellbeing or issues with ICT please don’t hesitate to get in touch with their Pastoral Care Teacher or myself.

Regards

Ian Jackson

Head Teacher

Head Teacher Update – 22/04/2020

Dear Parent / Carer,

I hope you all had a good break, everyone remaining safe and well and are now prepared for the new term.

At the start of this new term it will be a challenge for the pupils bringing themselves out of holiday mode and back into school mode but it is important for all pupils to understand this and begin engagement again with the distance learning program allowing them to continue with their learner journey.

 

SQA

Since I last wrote to you the SQA have made us aware of further advice for schools.

Schools have been asked to provide an estimate of the grade for all pupils entered for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses by 29 May 2020. The SQA will then check and validate the grades provided by schools in order to ensure consistency across centres and fairness to all candidates. These estimate grades will be subject to change by the SQA. Once the final awards have been processed individual results will be issued to pupils by 4th August.

In reaching a professional judgement on an estimate grade, teachers will take account of a wide range of assessment evidence which will encompass pupil’s class and homework throughout the year, completed coursework and timed assessments, including the Estimate Examinations this year. It is important to note that the SQA is the awarding body with responsibility for the final grade given and for certification. As highlighted above, the estimate grade submitted by the school may be subject to change by the SQA following their standardisation and moderation processes. As such, we will not be sharing estimate grades with pupils or parents/carers.

As a result, this becomes one of the main priorities for school staff over the coming weeks.

  

Distance Learning.

Prior to the Easter break the pupils spent 2 weeks distance learning from home which was a new experience for all concerned. Taking into account the challenges that this has brought to pupils, parents and staff we have taken into account issues identified and have developed a new model which we hope will bring more structure to the school week for all pupils and alleviate any of the challenges faced. This week pupils should be completing any work that has been previously set in preparation for a new plan of learning starting Monday 27th April.

Please find information below with how we will approach Learning and Teaching from 27-04-2020 until 11-05-2020. We will then review and plan ahead accordingly. 

From Monday we will start a new simplified timetable, continuing with current subjects and in current year groups, but with a more coordinated approach. The full plan for the coming weeks has been posted on the school website with the following links taking you to the plan for pupils in different year groups:

 

Pupils in S1 or S2: https://www.meldrumacademy.com/s1-2-27-04onwards

Pupils in S3: https://www.meldrumacademy.com/s3-27-04-onwards

Pupils in S4/5/6: https://www.meldrumacademy.com/s456-27-04-onwards

A member of our Teaching staff has also produced some short help videos which can be found at https://www.meldrumacademy.com/online-learning-help which we hope you will find useful.

In order for yourselves as parents/carers to be aware of the changes made I would advise that you work with your son/daughter to establish the timetable that has been developed for themselves and create a copy of it that all can refer to at any point in time. I would hope this structure makes it clearer for yourselves to what is expected from our pupils each day.

 

We are increasingly aware of families having internet and ICT issues which has been causing concern to them, I would urge you if you continue to be in this position to be in contact with the relevant Pastoral Care Teacher as soon as possible so that we can alert teaching staff to this.

 

Teaching staff are becoming increasingly aware of a number of pupils who have not been engaging in distance learning. Where this is the case staff will be emailing the pupils concerned directly to establish if there are any issues. If they do not receive a response after two attempts, staff will be contacting parents via email to raise their concerns of the pupil’s lack of engagement.

 

Please find below the link to the new Aberdeenshire Educational Psychology website, which provides advice and resources for supporting children and young people during the Covid-19 pandemic.  It includes Covid-19 specific resources, as well as wellbeing resources, and dedicated resources for supporting children with additional support needs. 

You can find the site at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/as/aberdeenshireeps/

The Educational Psychology Service also continues to run a dedicated phone line for parents/carers and professionals who would like to talk through any education or wellbeing concerns about a child or young person. This is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 3pm by calling 01779 403721.  If parents would prefer a call back they can email eps@aberdeenshire.gov.uk with their name and number. ​

 

As always if you have any concerns regarding your son/daughters, engagement in learning, wellbeing or issues with ICT please don’t hesitate to get in touch with their Pastoral Care Teacher or myself.

 

Regards,

Ian Jackson

Head Teacher

Head Teacher Update – 03/04/2020

Dear Parent / Carer

Tonight, brings us to the end of our current school term and the beginning of our Easter holiday. The school holiday runs through until Monday 20th April with the school online distance learning commencing again on Tuesday 21st April.

For all of us there will not be much change from the routines we have been accustomed to over the past two weeks with the national advice to stay at home continuing.

At the end of this term I again want to thank all parents and carers for the part you have all played over the past weeks in keeping learning alive for your children and our pupils.

As parents you are probably wondering, what can I expect from the school for my child over the Easter holiday and also post Easter.

For those pupils in S1 to S3 these two weeks will give them the chance to sit back from the online learning and enjoy what they can of the two-week holiday. For pupils in S4 – S6 this period of time would have been used to revise and consolidate their learning in preparation for what would have been their exams. For these pupils it remains important that they continue to complete the work that they have been directed to by their teachers to ensure they complete all necessary work required to inform an estimated grade. Staff are unable to provide these grades to pupils as we await further guidance from the SQA.

The SQA published yesterday a guide for parents and carers

https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/files_ccc/020420-SQA-NQ2020-Parent-Carer-covid-19-FAQ.pdf

which provides learners, parents and carers with answers to some common questions about how SQA will deliver a fair, safe and secure set of results this year.

When Term 4 commences again on the 21stApril we initially will continue with on-line distance learning as we have left off this term. I will be back in touch once the school resumes with further guidance and information, with regard to both the learning expectations for term 4 for all pupils and a further update from the SQA for those pupils studying National Qualifications.

I have also been asked to alert all parents to the following Facebook page that may be of use to you:

https://www.facebook.com/abshirefam/

 

I wish all of you a good holiday and please take time to have a break and a digital detox before we commence again on the 21st April.

 

Yours sincerely

Ian Jackson

Head Teacher Update – 30/03/2020


Dear Parent / Carer,
I would like to start this newsletter by saying a big thank you to all of you for the part you are playing as parents and carers in what is a very challenging time for us all.


Although these are challenging times as parents, pupils, and teachers we must maintain a clear perspective of the gravity of the public health emergency we are faced with across the country.


It is at times like these that we need to be creative and innovative together. I would like to say a big thank you to Meldrum Academy staff who continue to work from home to provide new creative and innovative ways to allow all pupils to continue with their learning. Through the new approaches to learning that have been developed and continue to develop and evolve, I am confident that pupils will maintain academic standards over this period of time.


I am aware this week from communication I have had with some parents that these first few days have been as challenging for yourselves as parents as it has been for the pupils. Staff continue to explore ways that we can also support you as parents and one link that may help with this is: https://www.children1st.org.uk/help-for-families/parentline-scotland/


Maintaining a sense of motivation and routine within children will be crucial and your support with this cannot be underestimated.
I fully understand the concerns senior pupils have at this time having had their exams cancelled this year, but they should be assured that we continue to work with the SQA to ensure pupils achieve grades which they deserve. I would also urge parents to remind their children that education is for life and not just for exams. The preparation and hard work that has been put into this year will not be a waste of time but will be knowledge gained for life.


Our school moto is ‘working together for success’ and at times like this we need more than ever to work together to develop new ways of learning and supporting each other.


As indicated on the schools website https://www.meldrumacademy.com/distancelearning-parents the parents page gives information to help you continue support your child at this time. Where required staff can be contacted via the methods listed to answer any queries you have whether it be regarding the work for your child or advice on social and emotional support.

Pupils studying SQA qualifications.
There is much speculation about the next steps for the SQA in light of the decision to cancel the exam diet this year. Although we await confirmation from the SQA regarding exactly how pupil grades will be awarded, it is clear, that estimate grades will play a significant role within this process.


It is understandable that parents and pupils are anxious and concerned as to what this will mean, particularly if they are not familiar with the process for deriving an estimate grade. The SQA currently are working on a procedure to achieve equity for this year and provide parity with previous years qualifications.


For many, there is a perception that the mock assessment that pupils sat in January and February is the estimate grade. This is not the case. Estimate grades are not based solely on mock assessment results, progress throughout the year and since the mock assessment will be equally as important when finalising an estimate grade. This will include evidence from class assessments, class work, homework and course work.


It is acknowledged that this is an unprecedented year and anxiety amongst pupils is extremely high and is understandable. It therefore continues to be important that senior pupils within S4, 5 and 6 continue to complete the work they are directed to complete by their teachers to ensure they have the relevant evidence required.


Once further guidance and details have been received from the SQA and Scottish Government the relevant information shall be shared with you to make this process as transparent, professional and as equitable as possible.


Please be reassured that Meldrum Academy staff continue to work hard and in accordance with national guidance to collate available evidence for each pupil to ensure that estimate grades are a true reflection of a pupil's attainment.
As always, I thank you in advance for your support, trust and understanding. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries or concerns.


Yours sincerely
Ian Jackson – Head Teacher

Meldrum Academy, Colpy Road, Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, AB51 0NT