Newsletter March 2022

Hello, we hope everyone had a lovely February break and are enjoying the first signs of spring!  The parent council met via TEAMs on Monday night and our Co-Chairs gave a brief update on what has been keeping them busy.    Our Chairs attended the meetings held by Edinburgh Council regarding the impact of COVID related restrictions on schools and we should hear an outcome from these meetings soon.  They have been in discussions with Mr Urquhart regarding the future of Comiston Road.  It’s been many years since the “big” school has welcomed P1’s and P2’s, so planning for the future when the younger members of our school return to the site is starting already.    We are all excited that the Stage Club production of Ollie T has started.  We wish the cast and crew lots of luck and we hope you all enjoy the show! There are still tickets available so please invite friends and family!! https://fienta.com/ollie-t

Smpc_chair@outlook.com

Headteachers Update

Mr Urquhart updated us on the progress with Canaan Lane Primary.  He was lucky enough to be allowed into the school along with Mrs Morgan and Mrs Richmond to have a look around and see the new space for the children.  It sounds like it’s going to be amazing, lots of break out spaces, a large atrium, and a cooking kitchen onsite for freshly made meals!  Mr Urquhart is in consultation with our Co-Chairs regarding planning for the transition and as mentioned above the eventual accommodation of P1 and P2 in Comiston Road.

Mr Urquhart reiterated the reasoning for SMPS reducing COVID restrictions more slowly than advertised by Edinburgh Council.  The school has seen a large rise in numbers (you may have noticed the abundance of warn and inform emails!).  They are reviewing this regularly and making decisions based on what’s right for our school community.  There have been benefits to some of the restrictions, for example the staff have noticed children have more room in the playground because of reduced numbers and fewer accidents! 

Accommodation

Our Accommodation subgroup continue to have regular meetings with the contractor of the new school and Edinburgh Council.  SMPS P1 and P2 will relocate there after the Easter break (dates to be confirmed) all being well, and the new nursery will move to the site after the summer break (again not confirmed so don’t quote us!).

Regarding the renovation of Deanbank house, it is unlikely to be the same contractor doing the works that has been building the new school.  The team are going to suggest that the Council use the same agreed ways of working for the new contractors regarding the safety of the children and times unsuitable for heavy vehicles etc.

Concerns have been raised regarding traffic on Canaan Lane with the building works on the site of the old public toilets. Vehicles have been driving both ways as the Morningside Road end is blocked off.  Edinburgh Council are taking these concerns seriously.  Please do get in touch if you have any concerns or questions.

accommodation@sm-pc.org

Clubs

Lots to update you on here! Guitar Club started in February and there are now 4 classes with a total of 34 children learning guitar with Paul from Morningside School of Music at Greenbank Church Halls weekly, thanks to the amazing efforts of the new convenor. Other clubs running this term are Recorder, Friday Night Football, Stage Club, Creative Writing, Judo, Chanter and Drumming.

Recorder Club are taking a group of P7s to perform at Edinburgh Music Competitions Festival this month. The school cannot take responsibility for children for this type of trip so Recorder Club have risk assessed, produced permission slips and asked parents to approve absence with the school. This is the first time the current team of clubs’ admin/convenors have done this so many thanks to Sue Hoole and Elaine Jones for paperwork. We wish them lots of luck!

You may have seen on classlist that Ski Club has been offered a reduced number of places at Hillend.  The terms will run from April to June, and August to October. Hillend can accommodate 7 groups of 10 children.  Last term there were 103 children taking part so it may come down to a ballot if there are as many children wishing to ski as last time. 

Clubs is hoping to meet with Mrs Richmond and the team to discuss formalising Pupil Equity Fund requests for access to Parent Council clubs, so we can ensure that families requiring financial support to attend clubs receive help appropriately. 

Going forward this term the Clubs team are looking for people to volunteer a small amount of time (2 x 1-hour sessions) to support a safeguarding review. If anyone has any experience or interest your help would be most appreciated.  Please do get in touch.   

clubs@sm-pc.org

Canaan Lane Subgroup

Hopefully everyone has seen the excellent news that Mrs Richmond has been appointed as Head Teacher for the new school.   Congratulations Mrs Richmond.

The Council are still hopeful that children and staff will be able to visit the new school before moving in but unfortunately parents will not be able to visit.  There are plans to make a video tour that can be shared with parents though.  We have been informed that Edinburgh Council are intending on sending out communication to parents soon regarding school places, and they are also hoping to tell families who have made out of catchment requests the outcomes of their applications soon.   They also plan to phone families who have made out of catchment requests to discuss each situation and their needs, to plan for the kind of support and mitigation that may be needed for families caught across two schools

The subgroup will be meeting again with the Education Dept on 25th March, so any further questions that people have then please do get in touch.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/390946935775260

canaanlane@sm-pc.org

Transport Subgroup

There is lots going on for the transport team too just now. They are working on a plan for the upcoming School Travel Review. All parents will be receiving a survey in April asking for details of how they currently travel to school, how they’d like to travel to school, and what changes they’d like to see to make travel easier. They are hoping to prepare some materials for parents with suggestions that they can make.  This survey will form the basis of a 5-year plan for the school and is our best opportunity to get some physical infrastructure built to enable safer travel to school, including possible crossing points and walking/cycle segregation. More information is available at

Schools – Streets Ahead (streetsaheadedinburgh.org.uk)

Have you seen the road safety banners? They seem to be making a difference and we are grateful for all in our community for considering the safety of our children and parking safely.  Community Police are monitoring parking and will be getting in touch with illegally parked cars.

If you have any questions, suggestions or are keen to be involved please get in touch.

 transport@sm-pc.org

Treasurer

HELP NEEDED!  Every year the Parent Council accounts require to be independently examined and the current independent examiner has stepped down.  Do you know someone who might be interested in helping us with the role? It does not need to be an accountant but a suitably skilled parent or community volunteer who is not on the PC or related to anyone on the PC.

The role involves….

  • Checking the accounts against main bank statements at the end of the year
  • Liaising with the treasurer regarding invoices and details for selected large transactions
  • All information is provided by email attachments and correspondence
  • The role typically involves no more than a few hours and usually takes place in July or August
  • No qualifications are required and there is no liability.

If you would like more information please get in touch.

treasurer@sm-pc.org

Potential New Subgroup – Supporting Neurodiversity

A parent highlighted the need to support children and families who may be struggling with neurodiversity and the process of being diagnosed and supported.  This was discussed at the meeting and felt it could be a huge source of support for parents and the school.  Would you be interested in joining the Subgroup? If so please email our Chairs for more information.

Smpc_chair@outlook.com

Next SMPC Meeting

The next meeting will be on Monday 25th April, where we will have an update from Mrs Jones regarding outdoor learning. 

As always, we welcome as many parents as possible to attend! Our Parent Council and sub-groups are 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.

Smpc_chair@outlook.com

https://www.facebook.com/southmorningsidepc

South Morningside Parent Council

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!