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

Return to School FAQ

SMPC Return to school FAQ

Last update – 9:50pm, 25.08.20 (changes to: scooting & cycling to school, clubs, what to do if you child has Covid-19 symptoms and driving to school)

South Morningside Parent Council has worked with the school to try to answer some of the questions parents and carers are asking most often about the return to school. 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.

STAYING SAFE AND WELL

How at risk are children from coronavirus and how likely are they to spread it?
There is some evidence that primary aged children may be less likely to catch the virus and it is certainly true that fewer than 1% of all confirmed coronavirus cases in Scotland have been amongst children under 15. Part of the reason for these very low numbers though is that children with coronavirus almost always have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, so they are much less likely to be tested. Even though over 2,000 people have sadly died of the virus in Scotland, there have been no deaths amongst those under 20. There is some evidence that children have a limited role in transmitting the virus – but the evidence is still developing.

What precautions will the school take to keep children safe?
The school has undertaken a series of detailed risk assessments developed by Edinburgh council and the Scottish Government, and will continue to monitor changes affecting these risk assessments. This process is part of the government guidance on reopening schools in a way that will keep pupils and staff safe. The school has been thoroughly cleaned and will be cleaned more often than uusual after it reopens. Everyone will be washing their hands much more regularly. Children will initially stay within their class groups. Classrooms will be well ventilated and pupils will have more time for outdoor learning.

What if my child or someone in our household develops Covid-19 symptoms?
If anyone in your household displays any of the recognised symptoms you should immediately self isolate and seek medical advice.  The symptoms are:

  • new, continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste

What happens if my family have to be tested for Covid-19?
If a test is recommended for your child but comes back negative, your child can return to school once they have had no fever for 48 hours and are feeling better. Siblings can return to school immediately once a negative result is received. The return to school only applies, of course, if everyone else in the household who has had symptoms has been tested and found negative. Please show the teacher your child’s negative test result. This helps monitor cases and keeps the school community safe and reassured.  If you or your children have a positive test result, please inform the school as well as working with the relevant public health and medical authorities.  As always, if your child has any vomiting or diarrhoea they must remain at home for 48 hours after all symptoms have cleared before returning to school.

Will staff or children be expected to wear masks?
Children and staff will not be expected to wear masks but can choose to do so. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will only be used where there is close contact between adults or between adults and children for more than 15 minutes. School staff may need to be near children to provide intimate care or where coronavirus is suspected and pupils require supervision while they are in isolation, awaiting collection by parents or carers.

Will children be required to physically distance from each other?
In line with advice from the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues, children will not be required to physically distance from their classmates but staff will stay 2m away from children and each other wherever possible. Particular care must be taken by parents and carers around school drop offs and pick-ups, where physical distancing between adults, and between adults and children from different families, must be observed. You can help create more space around schools by avoiding taking children to and from school by car wherever possible. If you must drive, please do not park anywhere near the school gates. Please follow the specific advice you have received regarding dropping off and collecting your children to minimise mixing between households, with the exception of mixing between children in the same class. Parents should not enter the school grounds unless they have been specifically asked to do so in the written instructions they have received from the school. Visits to the school will be by invitation only and you should contact the school by email or phone in the first instance.

Will children be in a ‘bubble’ with a limited number of children and staff?
Children will stay mostly in their class groups ‘bubbles’ and will be taught and supervised by the same small group of staff to minimise the risk of infection. This approach will also ensure any infections that do occur can be contained with a minimum of disruption to other pupils and their families. Passing other children briefly, even indoors such as in a corridor, is considered low risk based on scientific advice.

Must all children return to school?
All children should return to school, including those who have been shielding. If your child cannot return for any reason you should contact the school.

What extra cleaning arrangements will be in place at the school?
Normal daily cleaning will take place as well as increased disinfection of common touch points. Plans are being discussed to introduce an ongoing programme of electrostatic disinfection which is sometimes known as spraying, misting or fogging. The intention is for this to be undertaken each month to ensure the school environment remains virus free.

Will there be more outdoor play and learning to reduce the risk of transmission?
There will be a significant increase in the use of outdoor space in all but the very worst of weather. Care will be taken to limit the number of children in the same outdoor space from different classes, for example by staggering access to the playground, particularly at lunch and play times. The school will also be using local outdoor spaces which have been risk assessed.

What extra personal hygiene measures will be in place?
There will be regular handwashing by staff and pupils, and hand sanitisers will be widely available throughout the school. Pupils and staff will be required to wash their hands and/or use sanitiser on entering each classroom or shared space.

Should I wash all my child’s clothes every day after school?
Scottish Government advice is that this is not necessary and parents can continue to with their normal laundry arrangements. The school has suggested children come to school in ‘play clothes’ for the youngest children at Nursery and Deanbank, and joggers or shorts that can be easily washed for the upper stages.

What will the arrangements be for children and families that are shielding?
With the Scottish Government pausing the arrangements for everyone who has been shielding, any pupils who have been shielding or whose families have been shielding, will be able to return to school. Parents from shielding families should contact the school to discuss any additional steps that may be required to ensure their child returns to school safely. Normal arrangements for Health Care Plans are in place.

What happens if a child or staff member develops COVID-19 symptoms while at school?
Please let your children know that if they begin to feel unwell while at school they should inform a member of staff immediately. A space has been identified within the school where anyone developing symptoms can isolate until they can leave safely. The key initial step when coronavirus is suspected is the self-isolation and rapid testing of all symptomatic children and staff. The school will then arrange for the appropriate level of additional cleaning, in line with Health Protection Scotland guidance. The contact tracing service will identify the close contacts of anyone testing positive and advise them and their households to self-isolate while they are tested. Other children, their families and staff members at the school will not be required to self-isolate. If the school has two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 14 days, or an increase in background rate of absence due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, they may have an outbreak. In this situation the school will work closely with the local health protection team and local authority to take the necessary steps and decisions to keep everyone safe. A detailed risk assessment for infection control has been conducted and shared with all staff.

Will the impact of reopening schools on the prevalence of coronavirus be monitored?
In addition to Test and Protect – Scotland’s test, trace, isolate, support strategy – a surveillance programme is being developed for schools, where regular testing and survey data will identify symptoms and infections in the school population. This will allow regular reporting on incidences of infection and inform the ongoing development of guidance for schools.

Mental health and wellbeing
Scottish Government advice is that the wellbeing of all children, young people and staff should be the central focus when preparing for the reopening of schools at a local level. Edinburgh’s mental health and wellbeing resources are sector leading, there will be a briefing to senior education leaders and headteachers on the support available before schools return. There will be strong emphasis during the early weeks of the return to school on wellbeing because until all children feel safe and happy, effective learning cannot take place.

Can children cycle or scoot to school?
Children are encouraged to cycle or scoot to school and can now leave their bikes and scooters in the playground during the day.  Bikes and scooters should be walked through the playgrounds to to be parked.  Children should observe social distancing when parking, so please remind them they should wait if the stands are busy to avoid crowding.

LOGISTICAL ARRANGEMENTS

Why aren’t children allowed to bring bags, pencil cases, books and other items from home?
To create space for physical distancing and to make regular cleaning easier, classrooms need to be kept as clutter free as possible. These measures are initially for the first few weeks and will then be reviewed. Each class teacher will discuss with their class how personal items will be managed. Due to the curriculum we are following over the first few days especially, there is little need for any equipment to be brought to school initially.  During the first few days back, full water bottles can be carried to school and used in the classroom.

Isn’t there a risk of bottlenecks at school gates?
There is a risk of bottlenecks around the school gates and we would ask parents to follow the year, house and site specific guidelines that the school has sent to all families. If you are dropping your children at the school gates then please do not loiter and in particular do not stop to talk with adults or children from other households. Think about whether older children are ready to get to and from school unaccompanied, or if you could drop them and collect them at an agreed point near the school rather than at the gates.

Can I drop my children to school by car?

You can help create more space around the school by avoiding taking children to and from school by car wherever possible. If you must drive, please do not park anywhere near the school gates. The school has emphasised again that no parent or carer should ever stop illegally on the double yellow lines and zig zags around the school to drop their children off. This is selfish and grossly irresponsible as it creates road safety dangers that put all children and parents at risk. The Parent Council has supported a proposal by the council’s Spaces for People programme to close Canaan Lane to motor traffic and this change is likely to take effect very soon.

Would there not be more room for distancing if parents could drop off to the playground?
Although there is more space inside the school grounds, Edinburgh council has decided that allowing more parents and carers into these spaces would greatly increase the risk of prolonged face to face mixing between households.

What are the arrangements for dropping off and collecting children from school?
These vary by site, by school year and by house – please refer to the email you have received from school. If you are dropping children at the school gate please do not stop at the gate, particularly to talk to other adults. Please do not park at the school gate when dropping off but on nearby streets and walk the remaining distance

In the original letter from the school it says pupils will ‘Attend full day’ on Friday – what exactly does this mean?
On Fridays all children at Comiston Road and Deanbank will attend school in the morning only.  They should be dropped off at the times set out in the subsequent email sent to all parents/carers.  Collection times are staggered to enable one parent or carer to collect children from both sites.

Is there a timeline for future changes including drop offs/pick up?
Arrangements will be reviewed after the first full week back at school but any changes will involve decisions by both Scottish Government and Edinburgh council. At present, changes to the staggered drop off and collection process seem more likely than a decision to allow parents back into school playgrounds.

What should my children wear to school?
Please send your children to school in clothes suitable for outdoor play but wearing school shoes and a school sweatshirt. Children should also bring in a plastic bag on the first day with footwear suitable for outdoor play such as walking shoes/boots or wellingtons and a pair of gym plimsolls or shoes.

How can we bring in gym and outdoors shoes without a school bag?
Please bring them in a plastic bag for now. 

Do children need to bring in their PE kit?
This is not necessary as the guidelines around clothing and footwear will ensure children are dressed appropriately for indoor and outdoor activities. All PE lessons for the foreseeable future will take place outdoors.

What if I need to come into the school?
Please contact the school office who will try to deal with things remotely if possible but will arrange an in person appointment if necessary. The school office is not open for visitors or receiving any items during the school day.

How can parents whose children require medication arrange for this to reach the school along with any paperwork that is still required?
Please send your child in to school with all their medication in a sealed bag. Mrs Hughes and Mrs Kuryluk will check all bags and medication and either call or send home to parent’s appropriate health care forms. It is important that all back up medication is held in school as soon as possible, in order to enable outdoor learning to commence. If you require a new Health Plan please inform the school via email and or phone call.

What arrangements will be made for children who need a laptop for written work or other equipment to support their additional needs? Should this be brought from home or supplied by school?
The school will ensure that children with additional needs continue to receive the support they require, including any additional equipment they need. Digital equipment distributed during lockdown will be recalled for in school use.

Will children who receive additional support from specialist staff at the school continue to receive this support?
The school will prioritise ensuring that children with additional needs continue to receive the support they require, subject to necessary measures to limit the risk of spreading the virus. Initially the focus will be on health and wellbeing and appropriate measures to address learning needs will be communicated with parents once diagnostic and formative assessments have had suitable time to be carried out.

When will parents be informed about arrangements regarding the reopening of the nursery?
The Deanbank and Comiston Road school sites were only opened to staff on Monday 10 August. As yet the necessary arrangements, risk assessments and cleaning has not taken part at Fairmile Church Halls. Parents have been advised when their child and new starts will be re-enrolled into the Nursery Classes. There is no Nursery in the week beginning 10 August but it is hoped that staff will gain access to the site by Wednesday 12 August to begin preparations for reopening.

Why was the final decision that children would not require a full school uniform communicated long after most parents had already purchased new uniforms?
Children can wear school uniform if they wish but the school have advised that a large part of each day will be spent outdoors and traditional uniform will be less suitable for some of the planned activities. Up until the final days of last term, there was no expectation that the school would return fully in August. Following subsequent guidance from Scottish Government, including the decision on 30 July that schools would return full time, the school has had to adapt how it plans to deliver the curriculum, greatly increasing the use of outdoor learning, and issuing advice on the most suitable clothing for children to wear.

The letter to parents refers to ‘wet weather’ lunch arrangements – what does this involve?
Wet weather arrangements is what the children refer to, and understand, as a day when the playground is not in use. As part of these measures children will eat a packed lunch and have some scheduled time outside in the playground in a designated area. This will allow the supervision of children both within and outside the school by pupil support staff yet maintaining class and year group bubbles.

Should I send my child with a packed lunch or can lunches be ordered?
If you have ordered a lunch for this week your child will receive a packed lunch to their class, all other children should bring a packed lunch to school.  Lunch orders are now open to book but as always this must be done well in advance.  For the moment all school lunches will be packed lunches.

Should I send my child in with a water bottle?
Please send your child in with a full water bottle, this is particularly important at Comiston Road where the water in our classrooms is not drinking water from the mains.  At Comiston Road, jugs of drinking water will be available if a child forgets their water bottle.

Might blended or remote learning be needed if coronavirus cases start to rise in the community or if there is an outbreak at school?
The return to school has been arranged in such a way as to minimise the risk of the virus spreading within the school. This will help minimise the risk of an outbreak that would require the school to close again. Contingency plans are in place to introduce blended learning or even full remote learning if the prevalence of the virus within the school or the wider community requires it.  The parent council is continuing to look at ways it can help support families without adequate devices or internet access in the event that a return to home or blended learning is required.

ACADEMIC & EXTRACURRICULAR ISSUES

What are the learning priorities in the first days and weeks back at school?
The first priority will be to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all the children, as well as staff and the wider school community. There will be far more outdoor play and learning than usual, both to support children’s wellbeing and also to help manage the risk of infection. The wellbeing of our children is important not only in its own right but also an essential prerequisite to any effective academic work taking place. There will be a series of mostly informal assessments to understand what children have retained, what they have learnt at home and where any gaps may have opened up. All these assessments will be conducted in a way that minimises stress for children, including those who may have struggled with home learning. When more formal teaching resumes, there will be an emphasis on literacy and numeracy in the first instance.

How will the school make sure children who have fallen behind are identified and supported?
Following lockdown, children may have developed gaps in their development in wellbeing, literacy and numeracy. Teachers will look to establish a baseline of where individual learners are and will work with the information shared by the pupil’s previous teacher. The school will be putting in place interventions to provide suitable challenge and support, as required, across extended bubbles or year groups.

When will clubs restart?
There are no dates set yet for the restarting of Active Schools activities or for recommencing the council letting processes that allow parent council clubs to use the school premises out of hours.  It is very unlikely there will be any movement in these areas before the October half term. The parent council and our excellent clubs team are working hard to identify processes that would allow interested clubs to restart online where possible, including following an appropriate online children protection policy.  Work is also underway to look at the strict requirements and procedures that would need to be in place before any interested club could safely restart in-person activities off-site.

NEW SCHOOL AND THE DEANBANK SITE

What is happening with the council’s proposal to shut Canaan lane to motor traffic?
Under its spaces for people programme, the Council has proposed to close Canaan Lane to all traffic except for residents. The South Morningside Parent Council has supported this proposal and also asked the council to consider whether pavements on Comiston Road around the school could be widened on a temporary basis. The deadline for comments on the spaces for people proposals was 12 August and it is likely to be several weeks before the proposed changes are finalised and implemented.

Will the building works for the new school at the Deanbank site be completed on time?
The council are still hopeful the building of the new school will be complete for August 2021 and are awaiting final details of the revised schedule from the contractor. Refurbishment of the existing Deanbank building will not however be completed by August 2021 so this will require management within the affected school communities.

Suggestions for additions, updates or corrections to the FAQ?

Email us

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

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!