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

May 2020 FAQ

Frequently Asked Question

South Morningside Parent Council has worked with the school to try to answer some of the questions parents and carers are asking most often while the school is closed. We’ve made every effort to make sure the answers are clear, concise and accurate but thoughts on how they could be improved, particularly as circumstances change, are always welcome. We will try to update the FAQ as often as we can but of course we’re also working and caring for our own kids, as well as trying to do our bit as volunteers on the Parent Council.

Planning your home learning

Do we really have to do all the assigned work?
The Scottish government has made it clear that parents and carers are not expected to be teachers, nor to home educate in the formal sense. The needs and circumstances of families will vary considerably depending on their child’s specific needs, their household circumstances, and their knowledge and confidence.
The school is seeking to provide materials and activities that would allow parents and carers to support children to cover the same core learning that they would at school but it is clear that not all parents, carers and children will be in a position to complete all this work. Your children’s well-being comes first.

How much work should we do each day? What kind of timetable should we follow?
Try to set up a regular timetable that works for you and your children. Make sure you build in time for snacks, breaks and physical activity as well as more formal learning. Even if a parent or carer is available all day, it won’t necessarily be practical or necessary to expect children be work from 9.00 – 3.25pm every day. Government guidance suggests 3-4 hours a day or 15 hours over a week.

Other than what the school provides, what other support is available?

How can we help ensure our children’s mental health and well-being?
The school has shared some advice about supporting children who are anxious about coronavirus. For many children though the hardest thing will not be fear of the disease itself but the disruption of their routines and particularly the inability to see friends and extended family.

While we are physically distancing, social closeness remains more important than ever and many of us are staying in touch with online chats, video calls or by telephone. For P5-7 children there is a chat function on Teams that will allow them to stay in touch with their classmates. The school will also seek to speak with specific children before the school holidays where it is important for different reasons to do so.

Where can I find the learning for my child’s class or year?
Nursery & P1-2 children’s work will be updated via your Learning Journal.
P3-4 children work will be updated by class on the school website
P5-7 children work will be updated by class on the school website as above but also on your child’s Teams account.

When will these be updated?
All classes/years will be updated on Friday for the week ahead. Resources will not be updated on public holidays or inset days when the school would normally be closed.

How can I share progress with teachers?
This is possible via Teams and the Learning Journal, and your teachers will respond to the work you share when they can. P3-4s are being asked to share updates, work or related photos with their teachers by email. P7s teachers are trialling the use of the assignments function on Teams.

Are there not better ways that we could manage online learning?
The school had to move very quickly to put in place the best systems it could to support remote learning based on existing capacities. There are undoubtedly many things that could and should be improved but there are also many other demands on teachers and support staff, just as there are on parents and carers. Different schools all entered this crisis with slightly different capacities to support remote learning based, for example, on whether their teams included specialist digital support staff and how widely they had already rolled out digital learning platforms such as Teams and Learning Journals. Most schools continue to use a mix of these platforms, plus some others, and their websites, to support remote learning. Where schools had strong pre-existing capacities, they have been able to adapt very quickly in some cases and there may be things we can learn from them. The school cannot though simply replicate what other schools may be doing overnight where this is based on different pre-existing capacities or where the school has made decisions based on the age appropriateness of materials and learning platforms.

What are teachers doing now?
Many teachers are supporting and caring for their own children. Some are working in the hubs set up to teach the children of essential workers. A lot of time is spent supporting parents and children who are having issues and responding to their questions and suggestions. They are also of course preparing and posting the learning materials on the different platforms we are using. The school leadership team is also preparing to contact as many children as possible before the holidays and is particularly concerned to reach families with whom they have had no contact to date. Teachers are also learning about and experimenting with new tools and ways of connecting with students, for example Mrs Richardson and Mrs Moore have created the school’s first video assemblies. This all means that time to make improvements to our remote learning systems or for individual contact with children is tight.

Couldn’t teachers run video classes?
The school has now provided some training and support to teachers to help them make their online learning materials more engaging, for example by creating PowerPoint presentations with accompanying voice overs. These approaches are likely to be used particularly where a new topic or concept is being introduced.
There are significant concerns from some teachers and the EIS teaching union about live streaming video lessons from teacher’s homes. Where other schools have run such classes, attendance has sometimes been poor and there is a very real risk that basing learning around online video conferencing could further exclude children with more limited access to the internet. These children already risk suffering disproportionately as a result of the school closure and preventing a widening of the educational attainment gap is one of the school’s primary concerns at this time.

Digital learning, communities and platforms

Why are P3-4s not on Teams/OneNote?
Well before the coronavirus outbreak, South Morningside Primary School was an early adopter of OneNote as a way of supporting home learning. After evaluating the suitability of the platform for different age groups, the school took the decision that it was most suitable for P5-7 children. This was because it is a powerful but relatively complex platform. There were concerns not just about its appropriateness for younger children, but also about the levels of support that many children, and indeed parents, would need to use it effectively. Teams was rolled out across Edinburgh Schools by the Council more recently and South Morningside took the view that it was also best suited to P5-7 children. Some schools, particularly where they had in house support from specialist staff, took a different view and are of course benefiting from this now that all learning is taking place remotely. Rolling out Teams to P3-4 children would be a huge undertaking at the best of times, and there are specific challenges at present, including the need for support from council staff to create new logins for a large number of children. The school still has longer-term concerns about whether these platforms are the best way to support home learning by P3-4 students in the future and it is worth noting that many parents and children who have access to Teams still prefer to use the website for at least some of the time. In addition to the website, P3-4 children and their families can now contact their teachers by email and we are exploring using a private area of the school website to allow us to share more content with P3-4s including videos.

Who do I talk to if I am having trouble logging into Teams?
Please email the school admin@southmorningside.edin.sch.uk

How do I find and use the different features on Teams and OneNote?
Teams is quite a complex system with links to OneNote and other parts of the Microsoft 365 suite of tools. You will need to spend time exploring it and playing with it to get familiar with how it works and all the different tabs and features. I’m afraid you can’t expect to sit down and start learning straight away the first time you start the programme up and you may find there are some things that you can do more easily on the school website.
Finding your home learning resources on Teams

  • On the left-hand side of the screen is a tab called ‘Teams’ and if you click on this it will display all the subjects that are relevant for your child’s level.
  • Within the subject you have clicked on, on the left, you can then click on your child’s year.
  • Now Teams will display a series of ‘Posts’ from year teachers on the subject you are in – these posts will usually tell you about and link to new resources – if you look at the top of the window you can switch from ‘Posts’ to ‘Files’ where you will see just the attachments with the resources.
  • Click on a resource in Posts or Files to preview it, click on the three dots at the top right of this window for the option to download the resource and open it outside of Teams – which may make it easier to read.
  • To go back to the subject menu you can hit back on your browser or the ‘ < All teams ‘ text towards the top left of the Teams window you are in.
    Class chat function
  • On the page listing the Teams your child is part of there will also be a team with the name of their class – click on this to access the chat ‘channels’ set up by your teacher
  • Channels are listed on the left of this new window – click into each one to see what’s there.
  • At least one of the channels will include a place where children can leave messages for the class, not just the teacher

Sharing your learning with your teacher on OneNote

  • Although OneNote and Teams are link it is probably easier to access them separately
  • Once you open OneNote there are a series of resources including topics and activities that pre-date the current school closure
  • On the left hand side of the window, click on the tab with your child’s name
  • This will open another set of tabs that again include current and older material
  • Different teachers my use different tabs but at the bottom you will find one labelled ‘My Home Learning’ and when you click on this it should open another sub-menu on the left with page headers you can click on to open each page
  • When you have page open, you can add to a page by clicking the ‘Edit in Browser’ option at the top of the window with the pen icon.
  • Once you have clicked ‘Edit in Browser’ you can either type messages or use the Microsoft Word style editing options to create your own headings, insert photos/files/links or draw.
  • Leave details here of the home learning you are doing for your teacher and you may receive some feedback or encouragement.

Why are we using Teams/One Note given the issues it causes?
Teams, OneNote and the wider Microsoft 365 suite of programmes were selected and are being supported by Edinburgh Council. They are relatively complex, particularly for younger children, but also very powerful. Not every P5-7 child or family has to use every part of the system to benefit from it. The school will continue to provide as much support as it can to those children, parents and carers who need it, but teachers and support staff also have different levels of confidence in their use of the platform. Some P5-7 children and their parents and carers do still rely on the school website as well as or instead of Teams.

Couldn’t you use Groupcall/ Xpressions to just email the require work to each class/year?
Neither the system itself, nor the school admin team, have the capacity to make this a viable alternative at present.

How can we feedback to school with ideas and concerns?
They school is preparing a survey about the experience parents and carers are having with home learning. If you have further questions or corrections you think should be made to this FAQ you can email communications@sm-pc.org. For questions or suggestions for the school you can email admin@southmorningside.edin.sch.uk but please be aware the school is dealing with a very high volume of questions and suggestions at present. Do contact the school if you need help but please be aware that time spent responding to questions and suggestions is time they cannot spend supporting current learning, or planning and delivering improvements.

Returning to School

When will school reopen?
We don’t know when the school will reopen but Scottish Government ministers have indicated that it isn’t likely to be before the new school year in August 2020. When school does restart, we should not assume that all children will return at the same time and resume classes as normal. Indications of when schools in Scotland may begin to reopen will probably come first from the Scottish Government but specific arrangements will then need to follow in updates from Edinburgh Council and South Morningside Primary School. There will almost inevitably be some delay between the announcement and the release of specific details of how any changes will be implemented. Please also remember that because education is a devolved matter, UK government announcements regarding the reopening of schools have no direct impact on the situation in Scotland.
How can schools reopen while maintaining physical distancing to keep everyone safe?
No decisions have been made about how schools will reopen but it is quite possible there may be some changes to how many children can attend school and classes at the same time.
Will P7s be the first to return?
The Scottish Government has indicated in its updated framework for decision making that any return to school is likely to be phased and schools will not be open as normal for the foreseeable future. So far there is no timescale given for any return to school beyond saying it is unlikely to be until the new school year in August. The Scottish Government has also said that priority will be given to vulnerable pupils and those facing major transitions, such as P7 pupils.

In terms of what a phased return might look like it is perhaps worth quoting directly from the framework (Section 4, final para): “To enable ongoing physical distancing, most pupils are likely to have a blend of in-school and in-home learning. This would include attending school part-time in blocks of a few days or even a week at a time, to enable deep cleaning of schools between groups. Learning at home will be supported by consistent, high-quality online materials which will be developed to support the curriculum.”
Will the new school on Canaan Lane still be able to open in August 2021 as planned?
All work on the Canaan Lane site has currently been paused and it is not clear when they will recommence. The Scottish Government has suggested that some outdoor work and activity may recommence before indoor work and activity but is not clear how this will relate to construction work, where maintaining physical distancing during many activities may be challenging.

There was at least three months between the expected completion of building works on the new school and opening date but it is not currently clear if this will be a sufficient cushion. Neither the school nor the parent council has received any updates at this time regarding when works will recommence or what contingency planning, if any, is being done against the possibility that the new school will not be able to open as planned for the 2021/22 academic year.

Can we keep same teachers next year for continuity?
Unfortunately it won’t be possible for mostcmost to keep the same teachers as over a quarter of teachers tend to move on from the school each year, and keeping all the remaining teachers with their existing classes would make reorganising classes and schedules extremely difficult. Most children will however stay with the same classmates.

How will P7s be supported in their transition to Secondary school
The school is in discussions with Boroughmuir High School and looking at how this could be achieved. The school is still planning a proper send off for P7s whenever school resumes, including the grand march down the stairwell and the ringing of the old school bell.

 

Suggestions for additions, updates or corrections to the FAQ?

Email us

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

November Update

Welcome to our November update! The Parent Council meeting on Monday night was busy with lots of members and guests present. There were several big topics discussed but thankfully Brexit wasn’t one of them!

❄️ Winter Fair

It’s full steam ahead for the fair! It’s one of our biggest fundraising events of the year and it’s this coming Saturday 30th November from 10am until 1pm at Greenbank Church. We have relocated this year because of the building works and we would like to say a huge thank you to Rev Dr Martin Ritchie and everyone at Greenbank Church for being so accommodating and generous with the use of the halls and staff. We are very grateful! 

There is a lot going on behind the scenes to make sure the fair is a success, but we need your help! We are in desperate need of more helpers to lend a hand on stalls.  Please have a look at the sign up and see what you could help with.

Whilst I’m on the theme of helping… we also need donations for the hampers, home baking and a little help moving tables at the end of the fair! The wonderful local scouts are helping set up the tables before the fair but it’ll be all hands on deck at the end.

We are hoping it’ll be great fun for all and raise lots of money so we can continue to support and enrich our children’s education.

🎓 New School  

Work has started on demolishing Oakland’s Care Home. Despite delays to the project, the council are still stating that the first cohort of pupils to move into the new school will be on schedule in August 2021. While there will be no immediate disruption to Deanbank before Christmas, we expect access to Deanbank to be restricted to the lane leading from Woodburn Terrace by St Peter’s Park and from Falcon Road in the new year. The Accommodation group are now seeking further details of the construction schedule and to ensure that regular meetings take place with the contractor, parent council and school management as works progress.

👷‍♀️ Main School Renovation Works  

The works are well underway and you may have seen some of the lovely new double glazed windows and the pipes are in the process of being lagged.  Mr Urquhart and Mrs Moore commented that the works have caused minimal disruption and the building team have been working well with the school. Roll on the rest of the works!

🗓 School Calendar  

We’ve seen a brilliant new 2020 School Calendar fundraising initiative this term organised by Alice Nelson, and it’s a project that has involved all the pupils in the school with their wonderful drawings! The calendars are being printed this month and we’re excited to see the physical copies.  We’ll be selling them at the Winter Fair if you haven’t made a pre-order, or you can still email calendar@sm-pc.org. We’ve had well over 200 pre-orders from 150 parents which is just fantastic! Thanks to everyone involved.

🥅 Playground  

We’re also grateful to Simon Crunden, Anna Carson, Mrs Richmond and everyone else from the playground and fundraising groups who have pitched in to help with preparing for a request for up to £5,000 of Council funding to help pay for a new Multi-Use Games Area. This will take some time yet to complete because it requires considerable detail which will necessitate further liaison with contractors and the council.

👫 Afterschool Care Club Proposal  

The Chair and several members of the board of trustees for SMASCC came along to the meeting to discuss a proposed change to the After School Club. They provide an invaluable service to allow many families at the school to continue to work. They have 365 children on their books and up to 175 children in attendance at peak times! 

Unfortunately due to issues around recruitment and retention of staff, and changes to care inspectorate requirements, it is becoming increasingly challenging to operate a two site club at the main school. They are proposing that they take over the let of the main (upper) gym hall as well as the lower hall which they currently use on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after school. This may impact on the ability to run school clubs and active school classes on these days. Obviously our clubs are very important for inclusion, health and enriching the children’s school experience. It was agreed that trustees from the After School Club, the Clubs team and a representative from Active Schools would meet to see if a solution can be found. 

If the after school club cannot take over the let they may have to reduce the number of children they care for by potentially 20 per session. Once we have more information regarding the potential impact of this the Parent Council will consult the wider parent community.

🗳 School as a Polling Station  

The Parent Council are against the school being used as a polling station for obvious reasons. This is being investigated by the council and we hope to be introduced to the council member responsible for this so we can discuss other options. We will keep you posted!

🎄 Christmas Lights Switch On! 

And finally… remember to come along to the big switch on! Friday 6th December at 5.15pm in Morningside Parish Church.  

A few years ago the council sadly stopped funding this event, but thanks to the amazing work and fundraising by Debbie Murphy, the £300 budget has been crowdfunded and we’ll have both the SMPS and St. Peter’s choirs singing carols and the fabulous Dougie Robertson as the host of the event. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud and clear for all to hear!!


On behalf of the Parent Council we wish you all a wonderful festive season!

Next meeting: 13th January 2020 18:45 – 20:20, Main School

Contact us: chair@sm-pc.org or check out our webpage https://sm-pc.org/

Please like us on Facebook:  South Morningside Primary Parent Community

October Update

Hello and welcome to our first newsletter of this academic year!

The Parent Council met on Monday night and it was great to meet so many new members and our new co-chairs did a great job! Brendan and Olly kept us on track and we even finished 10 minutes early!

Head Teacher’s Update
We started the evening with an update from Mr Urquhart on the school’s attainment and achievement in numeracy and literacy compared to our other cluster schools, Bruntsfield and Buckstone. There was very high attainment in literacy and numeracy over all the stages looked at. In previous years it was noted that there was a dip in numeracy in P7 learners, but thanks to an intervention by the support for learning teachers this attainment was improved, with a majority reaching the expected level. Mr Urquhart also updated us on the school’s equity for all learners plan and how they look at the spread of engagement in activities outside school, and how they can support this with the pupil equity fund if some children don’t have access to these activities.

Jill, our new treasurer, explained there is ~£6,000 available to spend in the parent council pot! Every year we have £15,000 of recurring spend that we commit to, so fundraising is vital to continue to support the school in this way.

Fundraising
Speaking of which, we have a brand new fundraising team! This is an enormously important role so thank you to all the volunteers! We are always looking for more volunteers to help with fundraising though – so if you’re keen to help at all, in any way, big or small, please email fundraising@sm-pc.org. We are currently planning the Winter Fair and a “save the date” message will be coming out soon, and we’ll have the Signup Genius form going out asking for parent helpers at the fair! Start dusting off those face paints and look out your left over tokens!

Clubs
A hot topic for us at the end of last year was Clubs and the fact no clubs could run in the main school. Massive thanks to the clubs team especially Lisa Fletcher and Louisa Dall for their hard work and dedication to clubs over the past few years. Despite the difficulties we now have 15 out of 22 clubs running thanks to them and their team, and with support from Greenbank Church, Morningside Library and The Open Door. Thank you to them too. There is still a lot of work to be done, especially with the transition of these clubs back to the main school next year. Our Clubs team need help though, and they appreciate “clubs” seems like a huge task to sign up for so they will be advertising smaller “bite-size” jobs, so keep your eye out for these and if you think you could help please get in touch with them – clubs@sm-pc.org.

Accomodation
We had representatives from the accommodation group come along and give us an update on the progression of the new school… although there isn’t technically an update! The plan had been that Oakland’s Nursing Home would be demolished over the summer but the Nursing Home is still very much there! Mr Urquhart is having a meeting this week to find out more about it, so watch this space! We do know, however, that the new school will share the St. Peters field and a new group is being formed called “Friends of the Field Committee” which they hope will have members from the local community and from both schools to help look after and coordinate the sharing of the field.

Morningside Community Council Did you know that the Parent Council tries to send a representative to Morningside Community Council meetings? There are lots of interesting snippets of information about what’s happening in our local area, and it’s good to have a voice from the school there. If you fancy going to one of these meetings and feeding back to us, we’d love to hear from you. The next meeting is on 16th October at the Open Door so please email us if you can help!

Transport
Our Transport team have been working on making the walking buses from the main school to Deanbank work. The route has been agreed, it has been risk assessed and the next step is to confirm parent interest and get a parent rota set up. An online survey will be coming soon so if this is something that would be of interest, please keep an eye out for it. Parent helpers will need to be PVG’d which leads me to the next topic which was our Lead signatory for PVG desperately needs help. If you could spare a couple of hours a month to get involved (especially if you have any experience with PVG, child protection or being a co-signatory), please contact the Parent Council.

Playground
Last but not least…..the playground! Mrs Richmond has new parents joining her on the playground committee and as all the allocated funds for the playground have been spent, we are now focusing our fundraising efforts on the Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) and astroturf surface for the main school. A rough estimate of cost is an eye-watering £25,000. We think this is totally achievable though! We have our amazing fairs, but if you have any good ideas to fundraise please get in touch, or just start your own initiative! The fundraising team are more than welcoming of ideas that you can bring and take forward. Currently a parent is working on a fab new school wall calendar, which will have key dates and our children’s art work on it! What about a sponsored sports event, cinema evening, fashion show or all of the above?! All ideas welcome!

All email addresses for the subgroups can be found on our website, and please remember to like us on Facebook!

Pre-order your SMPS Calendar here!

Next Parent Council Meeting
Our next meeting is November 25th, 18:45 at the main school.

Have a very happy and restful October break

June Update

The last Parent Council meeting of the academic year saw quite a large turn out, probably thanks to the recent clubs announcement!  The estimated profit from last weekend’s Summer Fair is £6,600-7,000!A massive thank you to all who helped and all of you that braved the pouring rain to come and support the school!

 Accommodation
The big news is that the main school is receiving £450,000 for many building improvements, in particular refurbishment of the windows, a new heating system and an electrical rewire. This is fantastic news for staff and children alike!

 Clubs
So the burning question… what’s happening with our clubs?! Well our clubs admin team (parent volunteers) came along and filled us in. They, along with Mrs Morgan, have been working exceptionally hard on this for some time and are working through several scenarios to sort this out. The main issues are:Due to refurbishment the school at Comiston Road will be closed every evening from 3.25 pm for the entirety of next school year. Note: after school and breakfast clubs are NOT affected.After next year the council intend to charge for clubs use in the school. Helpfully, councillor Mandy Watt was present and she is keen to meet with clubs admin to understand the issues and hopefully secure non-commercial rates.If alternative accommodation is found for next year, this raises insurance issues and complications with moving kids from after-school club to the new venue. Paying for room lets, insurance, minders to transport kids all costs money. Hopefully these charges will be shared across the clubs and not be too financially onerous but it will likely mean a reduction in revenue from the clubs to the PC.It really is incredibly complex but thankfully we have some dedicated, hard working, amazing parents on it. They could always do with more parents to help out though, so please do get in touch (clubs@sm-pc.org) if you’d like to get involved. 

Playground
This year the playground works at the main school have finally been completed which is an amazing achievement but it has left our funds depleted. Basically every year the PC commits to many recurring spends (around £14,000) and our current funds for next year cover this with only a very small surplus, so we really need a big push on fundraising. The school and PC would like a multi-use games area (MUGA) for the main school playground – this is not cheap so it’s something we’d really like to focus our fundraising efforts on! 

Fundraising
Speaking of which… most of our fundraising team are retiring having raised a staggering amount (over £100k!) through fairs over the last few years! We need some new, amazing people to get involved and start a new fundraising movement! Our school community needs it so please, if you have fundraising ideas or you want to help with organising and promoting events, please email fundraising@sm-pc.org! We’d love to hear from you, it will make such a difference! 

Comms
Keep an eye on our website as we are hoping to update it over the next couple of months and make it more relevant. If you are a whizz with WordPress, Google Docs or email and you want to volunteer a bit if time for our very friendly Comms group, please get in touch (comms@sm-pc.org). 

New roles!
Lastly a few role changes. Our wonderful chair Brian Sharp is stepping down and we have Olly Headey and Brendan Paddy taking on co-chair roles. Chris Hebden has managed to pass the treasurer baton to Jill Dallas, and Fiona Kippax signs off from fundraising. THANK YOU all so much!   

AGM
Our AGM will be taking place on September 2nd at 6:45pm, at Deanbank. It’s an important event and we encourage as many parents to come along as possible, to hear about the brilliant things our parent volunteers do and how you can help! Please put the date in your diary. Have a wonderful summer everyone! 

April Update

IT refresh

There have been 20 new laptops purchased for pupils to use and an upgrade to windows 10 for the teachers.

Building work

Currently the main school is having some ceilings strengthened as part of a £450,000 building refresh by Edinburgh council.

Playground works

Playground hedges will be put in shortly along the Comiston Road boundary, paid for by parent council fundraising, and our next funding goal is to raise money for a multi-use games area (MUGA) for the playground.

Deanbank building works

Safety concerns raised regarding the building of the new school have been passed on to Edinburgh council and we are hoping for a more formal response soon.

Transport survey

Following the transport survey we are hoping to start walking buses next year.

Grants
Funding was approved for ski club kit, buses to theatre productions and more!

March update

Funding

We approved additional funding for Nursery, P1s and P2s at Deanbank. We also approved an additional £10,000 to complete Phase 1 of the playground improvements at Comiston Rd (exciting!). Once these works are complete, we will be consulting the parent body again on plans for Phase 2 (including sports facilities) – also VERY exciting!. Watch this space!

Deanbank works

Concerns were raised about provision for health and safety at the demolition site for the new school – mainly access and noise levels. There may be more to follow on this.

PVG checks

We discussed some of the teething problems and solutions with securing PVG status for all adults involved in our school’s clubs – a mammoth task. All in all, a very productive meeting!