There are a number of pieces of staffing news that arise from a number of different factors as we approach the end of the session:
Mr Wildridge has now left the school to take up his seconded position with the Authority. He is currently heavily involved in reviewing staffing structures across East Ayrshire as well as leading discussions about projected attainment in the secondary schools for Session 2014-2015. He has also been tasked with taking forward planning for the new secondary school that will be built in Kilmarnock as a result of the merger of both Kilmarnock and James Hamilton Academies. He will officially retire at the end of June having served the Authority for over 15 years. We are delighted to announce the fact that he has been nominated for Headteacher of the Year at the Scottish Education Awards which will be awarded in Glasgow on June 10th—we wish him well and cannot imagine a more fitting recipient.
Our new Headteacher will be Mr Robert Johnston who is currently Headteacher of St. Benedict’s High School in Renfrewshire.
Mr Alan Forrester has been appointed to the post of Acting Depute Headteacher (O.8 FTE) until the end of June. He is well known to most of our parents as our Principal Teacher of Music and Drama but is now leading a number of areas within the school including Self-Evaluation and Ethos and Discipline. As a result of this Mrs Kirsten McGregor has been appointed to the post of Acting Principal Teacher of Music and Drama (0.8 FTE).
Parental and pupil choice has a direct impact on staffing: now that the processes are coming to an end it is clear that the STEM subjects (Sciences, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics) are increasingly popular. As a result we will be looking to recruit teachers in the following subjects: Design and Technology, Mathematics and Physics. We are also looking to recruit teachers in English and Gaidhlig/Gaelic. Finally, before the end of the session we will be appointing a Principal Teacher of Hearing Impairment and a Teacher of the Deaf.
The school website is now fully accessible and we are hoping that it will become a key source of communication between parents and the school. At the moment it contains information about departments and links to more detailed information about homework and study skills. The information contained on the website will continue to expand over the course of next session and we hope that an increasing number of hits will encourage staff to feel that the time spent uploading materials is well spent. At last count, the total number of visitors stood at 1248, with some coming from as far afield as Argentina and Brazil. The site can be accessed at www.grangeacademy.co.uk.
Grange Academy recently became the first school in East Ayrshire to receive the Game On Scotland award for offering pupils wider
learning experiences created around the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and legacy. International hockey champion Holly Cram and ex-Grange Academy weightlifter Graeme Kane led sporting activities for pupils before taking part in a question and answer session. Provost Jim Todd and Councillor Stephanie Primrose were both present to present the award. Three pupils from Grange have been selected to be Baton Bearers in the run-up to the Games themselves: Cameron Muir S3, Gillian Johnstone S4 and Rachel McGarry S5. Congratulations to them who have each been selected based on nominations received from the public recognising both sporting achievement and community involvement. Last Wednesday there was a high profile event at Kilmarnock Rugby Club, where there were S1 and S2 tournaments attended by 500 pupils. During the tournament Kenny McAskill, Justice Minister, made a presentation of Cashback funding of £2.25 Million to continue and expand the support of Schools of Rugby, currently in 29 schools across the country. Grange Academy piloted this scheme with Cumnock Academy 4 years ago. The programme which was first developed by Stephen Main and Chris Murphy (from what was East Ayrshire Leisure Development) and Jamie Houston (Teacher of Mathematics at Grange), in partnership with the Scottish Rugby.
One of our first year classes has won this year’s Sumdog Mathematics competition, an East Ayrshire wide online competition that develops numerical skills. Ms Surgenor in Mathematics led the team to a resounding 518 point triumph—101 points ahead of their nearest rival.
Grange Academy hosted a tea dance on Tuesday 22nd April attended by residents from our local nursing homes. It was a free event organised by Mr McGarvey in Science along with his S2 enterprise class. Those in attendance enjoyed a Rock n Roll show, bingo, food and drinks and a Big Band tribute act with ballroom dancing. Photographs from the event were featured in the Kilmarnock Standard and showed a number of guests and pupils enjoying the dancing—including an action shot of Mrs Harper and Mr McGarvey mid-jive.
Jenni Herd S5 recently wrote a letter to The Times that has gone on to reach a massive international audience: it has gone viral on Twitter, been retweeted thousands of Times, reposted over half a million times on Tumblr and shared on Facebook and Buzzfeed. The letter outlines her views on the ways in which teenagers are often inaccurately “psychoanalysed” by society and has been described as ‘brilliant’ by the prestigious Huffington Post. Many will remember that Jenni also won the prestigious Pushkin Prize writing competition when she was in S2.
Grange Academy pupils have recently contributed to the design of a new £40 million sports development in Malaysia. Working in partnership with architectural firm Keppie, pupils were challenged to produce a series of 3D models to be used as part of the final client presentation in Kuala Lumpur. They were also briefed to provide design solutions for a hotel for the development that will include amongst other things a ten-wicket international standard cricket oval and a Wembley replica football pitch. Pupils from the Design and Technology department have now been invited to Keppie’s offices in Glasgow to present plans before a final judging session.
The school has received a letter of thanks from the Chernobyl Children Child Line charity, thanking us for our continued support of their young people. A group of Ukrainian children recently visited Grange and took part in a number of activities designed to be both fun and educational. Mrs McBeath, one of our classroom assistants, has led these visits for a number of years and we are delighted to hear that the young people went home with reports of how welcoming the school was. Over the course of this session, Grange Academy pupils have also been involved in fundraising for "Young Minds" - the UK's leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young adults. They raised four hundred pounds in memory of Jenna Moriarty, age 13, who sadly passed away in June 2013. Jenna, a close family friend of Grange pupil and event organiser Louise Howie S5, was a loving, caring and compassionate girl who is greatly missed by all of her family and friends.
The standard of dress in Grange Academy has been high this session and as we approach a new school year, we ask that parents strongly encourage their children to arrive for the August term in full school uniform :