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Pulteneytown Academy
Newsletter 1 September 2003

Newsletter – 01.09.03

Welcome back to another academic year in Pulteneytown Academy and a special welcome to our 21 new Primary One pupils. A special welcome also to the 29 pupils enrolled in Nursery. Nursery parents should note that they will be given school newsletters throughout the year, but a number of items included in them refer to the Primary school only. Nursery staff will keep you right.

Administrative Information and Checklist

All of the following information is available in the School Handbook, but as we start a new session may I please ask you to review this check list and take any necessary action.

· Have you alerted the school to any medical problems about your child or informed us if they have any allergies? If they no longer suffer from a problem which you have highlighted in the past, have you kept us up to date on this?

· If your child needs an inhaler, have you provided one for use in school or do you make sure they have it with them in their bag every day? This is really important.

· Have you told us of any change of address or telephone number? This is needed to ensure easy communication and I have a legal obligation to keep the School Board Register up to date at all times. Parents who live at different addresses must let the school know of this arrangement as long as both parents still ‘retain a legal interest in the pupil’s welfare’ as both addresses must be recorded on our computer system.

· Is your Emergency Contact with the school up to date and are you sure the person you have nominated knows that you have nominated them? Have you made sure someone will always be able to be contacted? (There has already been a sick child who had to stay miserably in school for a few hours as we were unable to contact anyone to take them home.)

· Have you named all of your child’s clothing – especially new uniform and gym shoes? Remember we can do nothing about trying to find a missing item if it does not have a name on it.

· Have you ensured your child has a shoe bag to keep their indoor shoes in? Children need one of these if they are not to waste their (and staff) time looking for their indoor shoes. If your child does not have one, good quality bags can be purchased from the school office at the reduced price of £1 each.

Other important information

· If your child is off school for any reason, you can either inform us by telephone or by sending in a written note on their return. If any absence is longer than 3 days, you should telephone to school to keep us up to date with the reason for this absence and its predicted length. You may request homework for your child if they are unable to attend for more than 3 days due to ill health, but are able to complete some work at home. Teachers will do their best to provide work in the basic subjects, but this needs time to prepare and parents should give fair warning. If the absence is less than 3 days, you can help them catch up on their return.

· Following the instructions from the Scottish Executive Education Department Circular No 5/03, all absence for family holidays during term time will now be classed as ‘unauthorised’ and will be recorded as such. If you intend to take your child out of school for a holiday, the school should be informed in advance. Teachers will not provide homework in this instance.

· In keeping with our security measures, any person who is not a member of the staff will be asked to sign in and out and wear a visitor’s badge if they require to go anywhere in the school beyond the reception area and school office.

· Children are welcome to use the school grounds at the end of the school day and at weekends, but they must leave at the onset of darkness. They must adhere to all the usual school rules, but they may ride bicycles after school as long as they are wearing protective helmets. Please remind your child about the dangers of climbing fences, walking on walls and climbing on anything high – while these are against school rules, it is important that they are specifically highlighted as I do not intend to be held responsible for any child injuring themselves while on school property in the evenings.

· I would ask parents to be ever vigilant in checking their children’s heads regularly to ensure they have not contracted Head Lice. If these are found, parents are asked to take the necessary steps to treat their child. In accordance with new advice children will NOT be excluded from school if they are found to have head lice, but parents should take prompt action in dealing with them. If your child’s teacher suspects that he/she has head lice, you will be informed by means of either a confidential telephone call/standardised letter. If you require any further information about the treatment of head lice, please contact the school and staff can provide you with an information leaflet or put you in touch with the school nurse if you would prefer.

School Developments

A full copy of the School Development Plan will shortly be available in the school reception should you wish to read it in its entirety. A summary of developments include

· Implementing the Highland Science and Technology Programme and a restructuring of the Environmental Studies Programme of the school.

· Piloting a French Learning and Teaching Programme in conjunction with Robert McKinstry, HMI in P6 and P7

· Introducing a new format of Continuous Professional Development reviews for teaching staff, and introducing CPD to non-teaching staff.

· Review Support for Learning policy and develop a programme for staff liaison on writing and carrying out specific Special Educational Needs programmes for individual or groups of children.

· Improve communication with parents (in line with items raised by the Questionnaires you completed last year).

· Nursery to further improve Ethos and communicating with parents by developing Circle Time with children and offering shared reading training for parents (which was very successful this year)

There are many other items being developed as ongoing projects both within the school and by the Highland Council, such as Health Promoting Status initiatives. – Please see the attached two sided ‘Your Choice’ leaflet.

In school, working groups will be looking at our Religious and Moral Education and Circle Time Programmes with a view to developing these further in future years.

The Authority is also currently looking at a revised version of the Parent Report and at the Introduction of Standardised Testing in P3 and P6. I will pass on further details of these and any other initiatives when I get them.

Health Promoting Changes

Water - It has been shown that regular drinking of water is healthy and helps children learn. In all classes children are welcome (and encouraged) to bring a bottle of water to school with them to drink during the course of the day. This should be the sports cap type of bottle as this means children can take a drink whenever they wish, but when closed on the desk there is no risk to flooding of books and there are no essential lids to go missing. Please note that we are talking of plain, non carbonated water, children may not bring flavoured water or carbonated drinks of any kind.

Milk – Free semi- skimmed milk will become available to all children at lunchtime in school starting on 22 September. This is a pilot in Caithness which I am delighted the school will be part of. All children will be entitled to this milk whether they are having a school lunch (including snack bar), a packed lunch provided by home or if they are leaving the school to go home for their lunch. I will make arrangements so that children going home can just pick up a carton on their way out of the school at lunchtime and those staying will collect their milk on the way into the hall. (Nursery children continue to receive free whole milk in line with EEC regulations)

I have tried to make this milk available at playtime as I felt this would be more convenient, but I am restricted to only making it available at lunchtime. With this in mind, I feel it would not be appropriate to continue selling milk at playtime as I suspect very few children would wish to buy milk at 10.50 and then be given it free at 12.15 or 12.45. I therefore intend to cease selling milk on Friday 19 September.

As a healthy alternative, the tuck shop will sell cartons of fruit juice and bottles of plain water to ensure children have access to purchasing something to drink at break time – prices to be advised before 22 September. The tuck shop will continue to sell crisps, but there will be no fruit for sale. While I appreciate the opening of a new supermarket in the area has provided access to cheaper fruit, I have found it has a very short shelf life and this is no use in school as there is no way of knowing how much fruit will be sold. Selling more expensive fruit is not an economical option for parents. The tuck shop will therefore not be providing fruit for sale at the present time, but I will consider the matter and ask the children, through the Pupil Council, for ideas which may be tried during the course of the year. I would however encourage parents to give their children fruit to bring with them for their break.

Fruit for P1 and P2 – Free fruit or vegetables will be available for these classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday commencing on Tuesday 16 September. I am expecting menus and further details shortly and I will give those classes involved this information as soon as I have it.

School Lunches – These will be undergoing changes in the near future with initiatives on healthy eating. As always, I will pass on details when I get them. In the meantime we will be continuing with last year’s menu and are currently on Week 3.

Sporting Events – Wick Junior Triathlon will be held in Wick High School on Sunday 14 September, beginning at 1.00 p.m. and East Caithness New Image Rugby Gathering will take place on Friday 12 September beginning at 4.00 p.m., again in the High School Playing Fields. Children in P4 – P7 will be given information on this later in the week. I hope you will encourage your child(ren) to take part in the heats for the triathlon (we are restricted to the number of teams we can enter as the pool can only hold so many children at one time) and to take part in the Rugby festival. Even if your child is not taking part, parents should feel free to come along to either or both of these events to cheer on the teams.

Cycling – Mr G Smart and Mrs J McKay have very kindly agreed to offer cycling proficiency training to P6 children this term. Details will follow to those involved in the near future.

Swimming- P5 – P7 will be having swimming lessons on alternate Friday mornings. Children will be given dates for each term at the beginning of the term. P3 and P4 will commence lessons on Wednesday afternoons after the October holidays until the Easter break, and P1 and P2 will have a few lessons in the summer term.

Parent/Staff Association Information

AGM – the Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday 16 September at 7.00 p.m. in the school hall. All welcome!

School Hours and Holidays

Morning Break – This has moved back ten minutes and children now have their break from 10.50 – 11.05 a.m. This is to even out the teaching times so that there are now three 1 hr 40 min sessions for P4-7 and P1-3 have a slightly longer session before their lunch. This has enabled teachers to plan their timetables with greater ease.

Holidays for Pupils

School closes Friday 10 October and reopens Monday 27 October

School closes Friday 19 December and reopens Monday 5 January 2004

School closes Friday 26 March and reopens Wednesday 14 April (Inservice 13 Ap)

School closes Thursday 1 July and reopens Tuesday 17 August(Inservice 18 Aug)

Yours sincerely


Head Teacher