Newsletter November 2020

Hello! We had the last meeting of 2020 on Monday night and it was great that so many from our parent community joined us on Teams. It’s been an unusual year, but we have all adapted and kept going, so roll on 2021!
 

Head Teachers Update

Mr Urquhart gave us an update on the progress with the new school. The contractors are aiming for the school to have SMPS pupils from October 2021 whilst Deanbank is being refurbished, and then be open to Primary 1 pupils enrolling in the “new” school from August 2022. The details of the transitions are still being discussed and he will keep us informed. 

All PE continues to be outdoors, and outdoor learning continues.  Initially the focus was on health and wellbeing but now the focus for outdoor learning will lean more to linking with the curriculum and digital learning.  

The one-way system at Comiston Road appears to be working well and after the holidays the House drop of times will most likely be swapping around to keep it fair for early/later starts. 

The toilets at Comiston Road were discussed too as apparently toilet seats are missing and they are often left in an unhygienic state. Mr Urquhart informed us there is a supply problem with toilet seats, and he will look into the state of the toilets with the Comiston Road team. 
 

Accommodation Team Update – Deanbank works

This has been a serious cause for concern and the Parent Council has received many emails from parents regarding this.  The accommodation team and Co-chair have been in touch with the contractors to discuss the temporary heras fencing and the impact on the children. They have been assured that permanent hoarding will be erected within the next month as a priority. 

The scaffolding on Deanbank building itself will remain until Deanbank is refurbished as part of the new school build. Soon there will be larger scale building with steel works and cranes but the contractors have committed to limit works at pick up and drop off times and parents need to be confident that there will be no risk to our children. The accommodation team will be meeting with the contractors monthly, so if you have any concerns or questions please get in touch: accommodation@sm-pc.org.
 

Transport Team update – Quiet Route

The Quiet Route that was discussed at the last Parent council meeting was considered at the Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday 12 November. Prior to that meeting, James Gillespie’s, Bruntsfield, Sciennes and St Peter’s sent a written deputation supporting the proposal to the Committee. Voting on the route was referred to the full Council meeting on Thursday 19 November. Since the route was discussed at Parent Council there have been some changes which remove any new restrictions on through motor traffic south of Cluny Gardens. The proposal also now  includes a modal filter halfway down Canaan Lane, which if included in the scheme, would significantly help with reducing traffic on the road.

On the Canaan Lane issue, the Astley Ainslie logistics manager has been contacted to ask about their transport fleet potentially avoiding using the road as a cut through at drop-off and pick up times, which they were receptive to. In addition, the Council has also been asked to consider delaying bin collection times to later in the day and avoiding busy school drop off and pick up times.  The aim of these interventions are to reduce traffic and keep our children safe. Please remember Canaan Lane is closed to all traffic, at all times, unless you are a resident. 

For more information regarding the quiet route please see https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/cycling-walking/explore-quietroutes/1. You can also contact our transport subgroup on transport@sm-pc.org.


Fundraising

Our 2021 Calendar is now at the printers and it has been a huge success with over 210 orders being placed! We are hoping for a profit of around £2000! That’s amazing!

Enormous thanks to Alice Nelson for organising and designing the calendar once again. Let us hope that we have lots of post-COVID social events to put in it for 2021! Thanks as well to all the local sponsors who have helped us raise valuable funds for the PC. A big thank you as well to Emilia Robdelo for coordinating the Christmas Cards this year, which is another important fundraiser for the PC each year. Keep your eyes peeled for more Christmas activities which will be advertised through Classlist. 
 

Classlist

You might have heard or already have signed up to Classlist. This can be done via the App or website. Due to COVID we are having to adapt and think about other ways of communicating with the parent body and of raising money to enrich our children’s school experience. We hope that by introducing Classlist we can streamline our communications. 

It is a platform where we can keep you updated on the parent council, send emails regarding fundraising activities, and keep you posted on important updates. We hope that clubs will be able to communicate to you through this too. Rather than emails about club start times, you can receive information from your clubs group. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pay for your club through here too – no more BACS transfers or cheque books! Socially, instead of what’s app you can message your child’s class or make a private message group if you are trying to organise a party etc.  

Classlist will greatly help with our fundraising events too. Since we can’t have a winter fair or collect money at the school gates you can donate safely and easily through classlist. Already you will see there is the St Andrew’s Day Highland Fling!  You can donate to encourage the dancing by “buying a ticket”.  

Obviously, this is new to us, and you, and we have had to implement this pretty quickly so bear with us if there are teething problems.  We would really welcome your feedback if things are or are not working well. Also, if you would like to get on board and help us manage this new communication method, we would be very grateful for your help – please contact fundraising@sm-pc.org or comms@sm-pc.org.

Clubs

Massive thanks to all on the Clubs team for all their hard work behind the scenes to get clubs up and running again.  As always more help is needed.  We need volunteers for convenor roles for Gym club, Spanish club and the Deanbank choir.  If you can help, please get in touch – clubs@sm-pc.org.

🚨 URGENT APPEAL – Parent Council Chair/Co-Chair Needed! 

Olly and Brendan our wonderful Co-Chairs will be leaving the role at the end of this academic year as they will no longer have any children at SMPS. As there are only a few meetings left we are urgently asking for one or more volunteers to take over this very important role. Without someone in the chair (or co-chair) role, the Parent Council must unfortunately fold. This would be a disastrous situation for the school and the parent community, so we would really ask anyone who is interested in making a difference, and who can commit a few hours each month to emails (and the odd video call), to get in touch with us so we can discuss the role with you. It’s a hugely rewarding role and we would encourage everyone who is interested to have a non-committal chat with us.  

The sooner we can start the handover the smoother the transition will be. Thank you in advance. Please contact chair@sm-pc.org.
 

🗓 Next SMPC Meeting

Our next parent Council meeting is on 18th January 2021, 18:45 – 20:30.

As always we welcome as many parents as possible to attend! Our Parent Council is run by volunteer parents who do their best to try and help enrich our children’s lives. If you think you could help at all, or would like to know more about our subgroups, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email (chair@sm-pc.org), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/southmorningsidepc), or via our website at https://sm-pc.org

Newsletter June 2020

Welcome to our final newsletter of the school year. In this edition we will reflect on the Parent Council achievements over the 2019/20 year, and we also have a big ask for corporate laptop donations to help those SMPS families who are currently going without.

👩‍💻 Corporate Laptop Donations

There are a number of families who didn’t have access to computer devices to use Microsoft Teams during lockdown. The school loaned iPads to these families, but as the school year returns in August, these devices will need to be returned.

The Parent Council is looking to our parent body to see if anyone is able to source old laptops or tablets from local companies who might have them spare. The organisers of our Code Club have offered to help clean up any laptops, and they have also offered some guidance:

  • AGE: Any Windows laptop/Chromebook/Macbook newer than 10 years of age
  • MEMORY: 4GB+
  • HDD: 128GB is fine for a home schooling Windows machine
  • OS: Windows 7 at a minimum (though laptop age probably guarantees this)

If you might be able to help, or if you have any questions, please email chair@sm-pc.org

🖼 Reflections on 2019/20

What a year it has been, quite unlike anything any of us can really imagine.

We had a fantastic first term despite a lot of changes within the parent council and a lot of challenges on the accommodation front. This year we have introduced two new chairs, a new treasurer and an entirely new fundraising team. Thanks to excellent hand-overs and a lot of energy and enthusiasm, we organised a fabulous Winter Fair at short notice in a brand new venue and managed to raise over £5,600! It was a great achievement from all involved.

There have been many challenges on the accommodation front. We saw a much-needed refurbishment start at Comiston Road with new ceilings, heating improvements and windows throughout the school which is looking great. This did, however, cause huge challenges with many of our clubs, but thanks to our clubs admins and many convenors, we still managed to run many clubs at different sites this year.

In January, we saw work start on the new school at Deanbank. It has taken many years to get to this point so it was a huge milestone for the school and the PC. Unfortunately we did see rather a lot of issues with the construction firm and site logistics at the start, but thanks to quick work from the school’s management team and our accommodation group, we managed to work with the council and the construction firm to make the site a safer place for our P1/2 families. The PC will continue to work with the council and the construction firm as work restarts shortly and the main building work commences.

All of this changed, of course, in March with the coronavirus lockdown. It has been a huge challenge for teachers, parents and pupils alike but thanks to the resilience and determination of all involved, we are managing to get through it and it looks like we might be able to see a return to something resembling normality for the school in August. We are continuing to work with the school on contingency plans for how we can support parents if we need to return to a blended model at some point.

ℹ️ The PC needs your help!

If you’re interested in helping the Parent Council in the 2020/21 year we would love to hear from you. We have a number of key roles to fill, including:

  • Treasurer 
  • Vice Chair, to shadow current co-chairs (Brendan and Olly are both stepping down in 2021)
  • Volunteers to join our subgroups such as fundraising, communications, accommodation, transport and finance

If you are interested in helping in any way, please get in touch via chair@sm-pc.org.

🗓 PC meeting dates for 20/21

AGM

  • 14 September 2020

Meetings 20/21

  • 12 October 2020
  • 23 November 2020
  • 18 January 2021
  • 8 March 2021
  • 26 April 2021
  • 14 June 2021

We hope you have a lovely summer – see you at our AGM in September!


☀️ The Parent Council Team

March 2020 Update

SMPC Newsletter March 2020

Hello and welcome to our March update!

We had our second Parent Council meeting of 2020 on Monday night and it was great to have another good turnout with lots of non-parent council members attending and hearing what’s happening in our school community.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA)

Mrs Moore gave us a talk about these assessments which happen in P1, P4 and P7. They are part of the National Improvement Framework and aim to achieve excellence and equity. They are one part of a wide range of ongoing assessments which the teachers are constantly monitoring such as day to day observations, class work, learning conversations, holistic assessments, and end of unit assessments. They are adaptive and the experience of the teaching staff is that they are generally well received by the learners. The information gathered is used by the school to help support and direct the children’s learning.

For more information have a look at the official website.

💰 Fundraising Subgroup

Our fundraising team has been working hard behind the scenes brainstorming new ideas to help raise funds for the parent council to allow us to continue supporting our children’s experience at school and eventually a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) for the main school.

Please save Friday 24th April in your diary (or school calendar!) for a quiz night at the Braid Hills Hotel hosted by Dougie Robertson. More information regarding tickets to come out soon!

They are looking for auction prizes and an auctioneer so if anyone has any contacts and would like to help support this event please get in touch with the fundraising team via fundraising@sm-pc.org.

There’s a tentative date for the school Summer Fair for 6th June but this will be confirmed nearer the time. We have our fingers crossed that the building works at the main school will be finished by then and the fair will be back on home turf!

👫 After school use of the main hall at Comiston Road

Well this was a humdinger of a discussion! Since the last Parent Council meeting, a three way meeting was held with the After School Care Club (SMASCC), the Clubs sub group (SMPC Clubs) and Edinburgh Council Active Schools. The Parent Council has been asked to make a decision in two parts. Firstly, whether we agree with the compromise agreed at the meeting that SMASCC should have use of the hall on two of the four evenings from Monday to Thursday from the beginning of the new school year in August. 

If this is accepted, the second decision is regarding which clubs should be stopped. This is a difficult decision so we asked for your opinions too with the recently advertised questionnaire. Thank you to all who took the time to complete it. We had a good response rate and 86% agreed with the compromise allowing SMASCC to use the hall on two of the suggested days each week and 14% disagreed.

As the vote was about to go ahead a new piece of information came to light from Mr Urquhart that the school would need to have the halls for parent teacher consultations on certain nights through the year (namely Tuesday and Thursday). It was felt that the Care Inspectorate would be unlikely to allow SMACC to change venue for random days depending on the parent teacher nights.

After much discussion it was felt that we need to consider this new information and the potential implications on clubs not on these days before going ahead with the vote. We will be asking the parent body to participate in another survey very soon as this may impact on your decision.

🏫 Deanbank Works Update

Good news! Communication with the construction company and the Parent Council has improved greatly. Our Accommodation team and co-chair met with the contractor and council representative to discuss all the concerns raised. The project is to be registered on the considerate constructor’s scheme which means there will be QR codes on billboards around the site where you can easily and directly message the project manager with any concerns.

Soon there will be a new access point to Deanbank which will be permanent for the duration of the build. Now that the nursing home has been demolished the real work will start and the site will become much busier.

The contractors are still set on a final completion date of May 2021.

For a more detailed run through please keep an eye on our website for when the minutes of the meeting become available.

🚦Transport Update

Have you seen the consultation that’s out regarding the new design for Braidburn Terrace?  Braidburn Terrace will be a one way system, with improved pavements, new traffic lights and crossing for pedestrians and cyclists at Comiston road and redesign of the roundabout on Braid Road and signal crossing for the Hermitage. This will be particularly beneficial for local residents and will offer an improved route for the school walking children up to the Hermitage.

https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/trafficorders

🚌🚶🏽‍♀️ Walking buses

 A pilot is hopefully going to start soon. The delay has been because of numbers of parents able to volunteer and PVG checks. If you are interested in finding out more, please email transport@sm-pc.org.

📝 Great new opportunities on the Parent Council!

Our wonderful Secretary has almost completed her 3 years as a Parent Council member and so we are looking for someone who would like  to take over her position. It involves attending the 6 PC meetings and the AGM each year, taking minutes and producing meeting packs and generally being invaluable and omniscient!

Our Co-Chairs will be moving on at the end of the next school year (June 2021) when their children move up to high school. To make the handover as orderly as possible we’re looking for a Vice Chair to shadow Brendan and Olly from September this year to learn the ropes!

If you’d like to volunteer or find out more, please email secretary@sm-pc.org.

🗓 Next SMPC Meeting

 Our next meeting is on Monday 27th April, 18:45 – 20:20.

As always we welcome as many parents as possible to attend! Our Parent Council is run by volunteer parents who do their best to try and help enrich our children’s lives. If you think you could help at all, or would like to know more about our subgroups, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch, via email, Facebook, or via our website at https://sm-pc.org

Deanbank Update 16 Jan 2020

We wanted to keep the parent community updated with information about progress relating to the ongoing Deanbank issues. 

There was an incident yesterday witnessed by several parents around pick-up time, where there were a number of tipper trucks at the Woodburn Terrace junction, and one reversed hitting the pole on the island at the zebra crossing as parents and kids were crossing the road. The PC sent an urgent communication to the council and our councillors to raise awareness of the issue. The senior manager in charge at the council has been very responsive and helpful, and has updated us as follows:  


I wanted to let you know that I will be on site tomorrow morning from about 0845 along with other colleagues from the Council. 
 
The Managing Director of Morgan Sindall has tonight instructed his team to communicate with all their subcontractors that as well as restrictions on deliveries and access / egress they are not to have any vehicles sitting stationary in the vicinity within these times. Furthermore Morgan Sindall will prohibit any deliveries to the site before 0915. This communication may not have been received by all subcontractors before tomorrow morning so we can’t guarantee 100% that there won’t be any deliveries to the site tomorrow morning before the restricted times. 
 
The Managing Director has also re-iterated that there is no greater priority to Morgan Sindall, and indeed himself personally, than the health, safety and welfare of everyone in and around their sites – particularly children. They are always happy to listen to concerns, take on board any feedback and act accordingly.
In relation to the photographs which have come through, I have had some information back from the Managing Director. The first image isn’t a vehicle that would be going to our site. The site team did notice increased traffic running along Canaan Lane today that was not related to our works. All large vehicles servicing our site today were  branded from one specific company. Some of the vehicles in the photograph are not from this company. 
 
It has been re-iterated to all subcontractors with vehicles visiting our site that sitting stationary with hazard lights on, as shown in one of the photographs is not acceptable.
 
All the Heras fencing has been subject to a temporary works design and has been installed and inspected in line with that design and is not unsafe. In addition, the Morgan Sindall Safety Director will attend site tomorrow and carry out a comprehensive inspection of the Heras fencing in order to provide reassurance to the parents and school.


In addition, our councillors continue to support us and you will likely see them at drop-off this morning. Please take this time and opportunity to share your concerns directly with all of these representatives.

The Parent Council will continue to communicate with the school and Edinburgh Council to make sure that parent voices are heard, so please do keep your feedback coming and we will do our best to help influence matters as much as we can. 

January 2020 Update

Hello and Happy New Year!

We had a bumper of a Parent Council meeting on Monday night! It was great to welcome so many parents from our school community. The hot topic was obviously the impact of the new school on Deanbank and it was good to hear from our accommodation group on what has been happening, and from Mrs Richmond and Mr Urquhart. We are hoping to be able to give you regular updates via this mailing list from our Accommodation subgroup and co-chairs as the situation progresses.

🏫 Deanbank

Last year the Parent Council asked parents to write to the council with our suggested concerns over the planning application of the new school. The concerns mainly centred around safety of the site (access roads, fencing etc), consideration (or lack of) that P1 and P2 children will be next to the site, traffic management, and the installation of a new substation and air source heat pumps in the existing Deanbank playground and the effect of this on the children. There was no reply to this letter to the Parent Council  and planning was subsequently granted in November 2019. 

The main concerns of the many parents who have emailed the Parent Council, and from Mrs Richmond, is obviously the safety of the children being so close to a construction site with only Heras (temporary metal) fencing separating them from HGVs, demolition etc! Pick up and drop off access is very limited. The children have very little space now because of the grass being too slippy in the winter to be used. The poor communication from the contractors and the council is causing much frustration. 

As a result, the Parent Council have now requested four-way, on-site meetings each month with the council, the contractor and the school leadership team in order to improve communications between everyone. Over the last week since the Parent Council and many parents have been emailing the relevant people at the council, as well as our councillors, we have already started to see action being taken such as:

  • Confirmation that the temporary access road is now available for use by parents until 9.15 am each day, and will be available until the end of the “Phase 1” works (which we believe is March)
  • The council have asked the contractor today to find a solution to the issues with the Heras fencing
  • We have had assurance that the lighting on the path is going to be improved
  • The council have asked the contractor to provide appropriate extracts from the Risk Assessment and will make these available to the school management team
  • The council are looking at different options for making the grassed area of Deanbank available. They have said they will discuss this further with the school

The situation is obviously changing daily so we will try and keep you updated. Please email any personal concerns to chair@sm-pc.org and we will field these accordingly.
 

🚙 Parking Issue!

One thing that we all can do to improve the safety of our children at Deanbank is to not double-park or park on yellow lines on Canaan Lane! This obstructs emergency access, reduces visibility at a very congested site and puts all our children at risk. PLEASE do not double park or park on yellow lines near the school.

Our Transport and Accommodation subgroups are understandably trying their best at this time to help support the school and our children. If you are able to spare some of your time to volunteer and help, please get in touch via accommodation@sm-pc.org or transport@sm-pc.org


🦺 After School Care Club proposal

Following from the last meeting, when the After School Care Club asked for access to the main hall at Comiston Road midweek, potentially displacing clubs and active schools, the clubs and ASCC teams are trying to work out a solution. Active Schools unfortunately hadn’t been involved, so a new meeting to discuss the impact on Active School clubs is happening soon. We’re hopeful a reasonable solution can be found although it is likely to mean some compromise!

🌻 Pupil Equity Fund

Thank you to SMPS teacher Mrs Agnes Campbell who spoke to us about the Pupil Equity Fund and the poverty related gap in our cluster. She has been taking a whole school approach to educate the staff and pupils about identifying poverty, reducing the stigma, what it means and what the PEF can do to help. In South Morningside, 30 families are supported to ease the financial burden and reduce inequality. Funds from the Parent Council have been very important as South Morningside doesn’t receive as much money to help as it needs from the council’s budget. School clubs and Active Schools make places available either at a reduced cost or for free. Every little helps, from the rag bag to Christmas jumper recycling. It’s great that we can support families when they need a little extra help.

🗓 Next SMPC Meeting

Our next meeting is Monday 2nd March, 18:45 – 20:20.

As always we welcome as many parents as possible to attend! Our Parent Council is run by volunteer parents who do their best to try and help enrich our children’s lives. If you think you could help at all, or would like to know more about our subgroups, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch, via email (chair@sm-pc.org), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/southmorningsidepc), or via our website at https://sm-pc.org

Minor Amendment to PC Constitution

We are looking to move to a more modern banking service, which will allow us to make payments electronically. In order to do this, we need to make a minor change to our constitution, which says that payments must be approved by two signatures:

11. Finances

· Parent Council funds shall be lodged in a bank account in the name of the Parent Council. Money shall be drawn from the account on the signature approval of any two office bearers, or other individuals as agreed in a minuted decision of the Parent Council.

A full copy of the current and proposed constitution can be found at the bottom of this page: https://sm-pc.org/more/about/

We need to publish this change ahead of our AGM on the 12th. If you are free, why not come along, enjoy a glass of wine and learn more about the PC? There will be far more interesting things being talked about than this. We promise!

Comiston Road – major gas works start Monday 23rd May 2016

SGN will be commencing major gas works on Comiston Road on Monday 23rd May 2016. They’re replacing 800m of ageing gas pipes and a one-way traffic system will be put in place for a number of weeks to prevent the need for temporary traffic lights.

SGN have supplied a document which lists all the details and you can see the new traffic flow below. A representative spoke to the Parent Council at our meeting last Monday and assured us that disruption to the school day will be minimised – he confirm there would be no drilling outside the school until after the end of the summer term.

Apparently, some of their workforce will be able to invest a bit of time helping out with school playground projects – sorting out the flower beds was specifically mentioned. We’d be happy to pass on ideas from parents for how else they might help!

comiston-road-traffic-changes.png

Information from our Head about the National Improvement Framework

nifOur acting Head Teacher, Mrs Morgan, has asked us to share some of the main points of the National Improvement Framework (NIF) with you.

The NIF comes from the Scottish Government and builds on the frameworks that are already firmly established in Scottish schools, Curriculum for Excellence and GIRFEC. The vision of the NIF is Excellence through raising attainment: ensuring that every child achieves the highest standards in literacy and numeracy and the right range of skills, qualifications and achievements to allow them to succeed; and Achieving equity: ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed. The Scottish Attainment Challenge will help to focus our efforts and deliver this ambition.

Gathering evidence is a key part of the NIF. There are six key drivers of improvement: school leadership, teacher professionalism, parental engagement, assessment of children’s progress, school improvement and performance information.

These six key drivers for improvement will be instrumental in achieving the key priorities which are:

  • Improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy;
  • Closing the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged children;
  • Improvement in children and young people’s health and wellbeing; and
  • Improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school leaver destinations for all young people;

You can read more about the NIF in this detailed presentation.