Christmas Blog 2017

Dear Parent / Carer,

We have come to the end of yet another busy term here at school.  It was wonderful to have the whole school assembled at Morningside Parish Church to share in our end of term assembly earlier this week.  This year many children chose to wear their Christmas / seasonal jumpers and a steady stream of bobbing Santa hats could be seen making their way down Braid Road. We value these opportunities to come together as a whole school.  It was a sharing of the traditional Christmas message but also a time for reflection for the many different faiths and beliefs celebrated together here at SMPS.

In addition boys and girls from the Early Years performed in a special One-ery Nativity at Deanbank annex with a Strictly Come Dancing theme as well as Nursery pupils performing their own carols concert to proud parents up at Fairmilehead.  P2 pupils held a special concert for their parents but also sang a rousing 12 Days of Christmas at Assembly.

Primary 7 had a very enjoyable Ceilidh party with a range of Scottish traditional dances practised over the term. Kilts, party dresses and smart casuals in a beautifully decorated gym hall. Behaviour was impeccable, as was the dance moves,  and we were all very proud of our senior pupils.


We are pleased to hear that Mrs Morgan will be returning to school next term after her secondment as Acting Head Teacher at Prestonfield Primary School.


Ready for School:

Children will have returned home with their Gym kits for washing. Please check that gym shoes still fit to avoid any unnecessary injuries during lessons. If you are replacing school shoes for growing feet, please remember that we ask for black school shoes or non-branded black trainers.

If necessary please check for unwanted visitors in hair too!

Each term we have a huge amount of misplaced clothing, packed lunch boxes and water bottles left in Lost Property. You are welcome to look through the collection at any time.   Please check to ensure everything is named with a name-tag or permanent marker.

Hopefully you will have lots of relaxed family time over the holidays. During lunches we have been spending time reinforcing good table manners and cutlery skills and would appreciate if you could do the same over the festive period.



As I write this blog we are experiencing some un-usually warm winter weather.   However, for much of this term in the classrooms it has been closer to a Caribbean Christmas than a bleak mid-winter in Morningside.   With the school being over one hundred years old, the heating system is of a basic nature: either On or Off.

It means that while your child may like to walk to school with warm boots, leggings and a fleece: once inside the building this can be very uncomfortable and does not support good learning and teaching.

This year we are trialling wearing gym shoes/rubbers/trainers in class and it is very important that your child bring their PE footwear each day to school.   School shoes and or soft ankle boots can usually be worn for most activities around the school but all children may be asked to change in to PE footwear or kit at any time for a wide range of activities from dance practice to Drama or carpet time activities.

Following feedback from parents, we will amended the school website to give clearer guidance on the wearing of fleece jackets in class.  These jackets are lovely to wear as a coat in the Spring and early Autumn but are too warm to wear in the classrooms.  Please provide a sweatshirt or jumper and children can wear their fleeces for playtimes.

Environment for Learning:

Our Business Manager has been busy visiting local Edinburgh schools looking at taking forward the first stages of the playground development at Comiston Road.  All going to plan we should see some work taking place around Easter in the area surrounding the trim-trail.

New state of the art inter-active whiteboards were been purchased for all 3 P7 classes equipped with the latest Windows 10 technology.  These same whiteboards are also being fitted across all Edinburgh University sites.  Pupils in Second level ( P5-7) have all been issues with a personal 365 log-in where by  using a programme called OneNote, will be able to begin  accessing  personal targets and classwork in  school and to share at  home.

School Improvement Plan Priorities:

               Numeracy :

Staff have been using a new resource this year called TeeJay Maths in P 3 -7 and with our most able P2 pupils later in the session.   This core resource enables teachers to plan for coverage and pace of the expected Curriculum for Excellence outcomes to ensure that all pupils are suitably challenged, or supported in their learning. Shortly it is hoped to roll out homework opportunities, which support each unit being taught, on the website. These will be available weekly to parents to choose to do at home as a reinforcement activity.

As part of our Reporting to Parents priority (now in its second year), some classes are now posting to the website a pupil version of the weekly plan or Monthly Memo. At the end of each week, pupils are asked to review their learning: this is something that you may wish to discuss with your child, if like me, your son / daughter apparently did nothing, nothing was interesting and cannot remember what he learned!

Literacy :

Staff visited two schools in North Edinburgh looking at literacy programmes and an initiative called Word Boost.  Word boost aims to improve the vocabulary of our lowest attaining pupils through shared reading with some of our most able senior pupils.

Health and Wellbeing:

Mrs Richmond was asked to talk about Building Resilience programme recently at a conference on Health and Wellbeing. Primary 4 C attended with Mrs Ferguson to share a pupil understanding of resilience and how they are learning to use the different tools in ‘Skipper’s Toolkit’ to support them with the ups and downs of life. The conference was rockin’ to ‘find a way to keep the blues away!’


Staff have been looking at reviewing our Positive Behaviour Policy. As part of this, we will be embarking on a review and replacement of our policy and of Golden-Time arrangements.   Many schools across the city now have regular Pupils Groups and a Pupil Parliament.  This enables all children to participate in leading school initiatives and participating in groups such as ECO, Citizenship or Road Safety Officers to name just a few. Presently these are limited to one or two pupils from each class each year. I was horrified earlier this session when one of the House Captains implored me to consider his application, as he had been a model pupil for 7 years and never once had the opportunity to represent the school.   Mrs Morgan and Mrs Moore will be leading Parental and Pupil engagement events after the holidays to consider our next steps with this important development.


The One-ery continues to gain much interest from around the city and beyond. This term a Professionals Day was held at Deanbank with more than 100 colleagues joining us to hear of our journey to date.  A recent visit from the Care Inspectorate has generated much interest and they will be returning next term to look at how they can support schools across Scotland wishing to embark on similar developments.

A visit from John Swinney, Depute First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills is being proposed for next term.

Mrs Moore as Acting DHT 1st level has been supporting the P2 classes and next term we will begin exploring what the transition of Learning and Teaching approaches looks like from P1 to P2 and begin the process of including P2 pupils in to the wider-life of the school at Comiston Rd. Initially by joining in shared activities such as Assembly, Mix-up- Fridays and Pupil groups.


On behalf of all the staff at South Morningside Primary School, we wish you a very pleasant holiday, a peaceful Christmas and a happy New Year.

Please visit our school website tomorrow for a special Christmas video message from the staff.

We look forward to welcoming pupils back to school on Tuesday 9th January 2018.