Spring / Easter Holidays update

Dear Parent / Carer,

Once again it has been a busy term at SMPS. I cannot believe that the forecast is still predicting snow for the Easter weekend. At least the chocolate eggs will be easy to find in their brightly coloured wrapping papers.

It was nice to see all of the younger boys and girls in their Easter bonnets this morning at our whole school assembly held in South Morningside Parish Church. The Primary 4 pupils spoke so clearly and with great confidence.

It is a real strength of our community that we all come together to celebrate and learn about the many faiths and traditions enjoyed by our multi-cultural community. Those who follow a particular faith or are of no faith, learn together about some of the traditions around the new beginnings of Spring and the celebrations of  Pessach, Holi and Easter.


Last Friday the children at Deanbank had a fun morning in aid of Sports Relief. We are all very pleased with the opportunities our approaches to a One-ry are making possible across the Early Years. The Nursery, P1 and P2 took part in four sporting activities during the course of the morning

1.       Run a half-mile (though we were impressed by how many ran the full mile; some wanted to keep going at break time and ended up running for 2 or 3 miles!)
2.       The Fitness Challenge (we can assure you it was really was tough!)
3.       A Dance-a-thon (with dances ranging from Flamenco to Bollywood)
4.       Yoga for Kids (phew, time for relaxation was definitely required)
They all had a great time while managing to raise money for Sports Relief. Well done to everyone at Deanbank for their tremendous effort, particularly the Nursery who managed to keep up with their friends in P1 and P2!
Congratulation also to the P7B pupils who held an very entertaining Assembly at Comiston Rd. We were all very impressed with the range of sporting activities the pupils and staff take part in. One of our key targets in Building Resilience.
Together the school raised £643
Snow Days:

The snow fall this term was quite unexpected as the ‘Beast from the East’ wrecked havoc across central Scotland.

I was very pleased as a Head Teacher to be given such early advice from the Head of Schools about school closures.  I know that many of you had to make alternative arrangements, not only for your own work places but also child-care.

7 years ago when similar snow conditions prevailed, initially many schools opened only to subsequently  close due to staff shortages. This proved extremely difficult to manage with parents having to leave work to collect children and staff needing to be sent home before conditions worsened. At SMPS a large number of teaching staff travel each day considerable distances from the Borders and even to the West Coast and while a system is in place to allocate staff living nearby to attend their local school, a prompt decision ensured the safe care and welfare of everyone.

Staff were instructed to work from home and we put our 365 developments to work with resounding success. Staff at SMPS have been involved this session in developing what is called a ‘Practitioner Enquiry approach’: This is where they try something new and evaluate its impact on quality learning and teaching: We call it out ‘itch’!

Staff using 365 accounts had full access to all our school improvement information and have devised a wide variety of ‘itch’ interventions for next term ranging from attitudes to maths which has been in the national news recently to the importance of children’s voice being head in 1-1 discussions about their learning.

The emotional health of staff is important too and at this time of year it was also a good opportunity for them to refresh the batteries and have some quality family time.  I know I certainly enjoyed the odd snow-ball fight even though I lost badly and had to rest and defrost for some considerable time afterwards !

The Snow Party at Deanbank and Comiston Rd was a resounding success. You may have seen us mentioned in the Evening News and BBC Scotland reports. Between both sites more than 100 parents and staff came to support the re-opening of the school. Thank you so much. A fantastic community effort.


Now that Winter is finally leaving us can I remind parents that we will be reinforcing our Dress Code  to pupils at assembly.

We expect that all pupils will return to wearing suitable school shoes or black non-branded type trainer shoes.

Pupils can wear dresses, shorts or trousers, but for  any pupil who wishes to continue to wear tights or leggings can they please ensure that a skirt or shorts is also worn.

Parents Evenings and Reports:

We have concluded all of our parent consultations at Comiston rd and those at Deanbank will follow shortly after the break between April 17th – 1st May.

For those who could not attend a meeting we will be contacting you to arrange a suitable date and time.  *( please see also Groupcall appointment bookings below)

It was lovely to see the main school so busy with parents and pupils sharing their learning together along with the class teachers.

This year we hope to trail sending out a number of reports electronically using 365 profiles with a secure parental log in.


Many of you have already downloaded the app for Groupcall . The app ( Xpressions) enables you to receive the messages from school directly  to the app folder. That way you can see and store all of the communications about each child you have in school..  I know that as a parent I will find this valuable as I seem to miss many of the comuncation when they appear in my daily email down loads.

If you do not wish to use the app then that is fine. All of the school communications will be distributed to your email account automatically.

*One aspect of Groupcall which we hope to make good use of is the opportunity to make parent consultation bookings on-line.  The sample I have seen allows you to select which day and time you wish to see a particular teacher  from a range of dates.  I think that this will be a very useful feature which we hope to use next session.

OneNote on 365:

Did you know that by accessing 365  at home you have  the opportunity to use the full suite of Microsoft office tools ? These are available through your child’s personal log in details for P5 to P7 pupils and continues with them on to High School.

This year we have been trialling 3 different strands across the 2nd level.

P5s –  have regular home learning published to support Mathematics and Numeracy.  This follow-up work relates to the unit they are covering in class which should be completed in the homework jotter.

P6s –  have been using 1-1 conversations with a number of pupils and their teachers to look at  progress through the 2nd Level Benchmarks for Mathematics.  A Benchmark is used to assist with assessing progress through expected learning for this age and stage. Pupils are encouraged to reflect on their learning and to identify next steps . They do this by discussing with their teacher and/or a peer how they are getting on with their learning, what they needs support with and what they need to do next.

By using a simple traffic light coding system they can identify targets and prepare to discuss their learning with an adult who helps them.

Blank :     I have not covered this yet ( the benchmark is for P5-P7 across the 2nd Level)

Red:          I do not understand  / I need support with this.

Yellow:    I’m working on this /  This is my target.

Green:      I feel confident that I understand / I can do this independently.

P7s –  have been sampling a range of activities from Literacy and Numeracy as well as a number of German tasks aimed at developing their 1 + 2 writing skills.   Pupils are also creating their  personal transition profile which captures the key moments, skills and successes achieved  during their time here at SMPS.

If you have not yet shared this learning record with your child could you please take some time to explore the content of their OneNote.

Learning Environment:

The first stage of a number of improvements are taking place across Comiston Rd this Easter break. New Teaching Walls are being installed in some of our smallest classes to increase the available floor space and improve the environment for learning. Modern Learning and Teaching requires a flexible use of space and to be able to move and re-arrange furniture to meet learning needs: Pupils learn best in groups, pairs and individually .

Each new Teaching Wall will be installed with the latest Interactive Whiteboard as fitted already in to our P7 classes. These new boards run on Windows 10 and support our Digital Strategy  ahead of Edinburgh Council’s I.T. refresh programme next session.


Blog posts / tweets/ emails/ website ;  …..confused ???????

The Communications Group from the Parent Council met recently with staff to discuss simplifying the range of communications coming from the school.  While it is pleasing to see so many classes engaging with social media to communicate directly with parents, we are aware just how confusing this can be.  We will be working hard next term to simplify this and make it easier for parents to manage  communications and locate important information.

Pupil Feedback:  Ensuring Wellbeing, Equality and Inclusion

Q :      You may have noticed that teachers are not bringing in the lines each morning: Why is this ?

A :     This term we have been proactive in promoting positive relationships in the classroom. Staff are greeting each pupil by name as they enter the classroom. Research has shown that such a positive engagement can greatly improve the outcomes for learners.  This week at Bingo-ball we asked the pupils how they felt this initiative was going. Here are just some of the pupil responses….

“If I’m feeling sad it puts a smile on my face”……………..  “gives you a good start to the day”……..” I like seeing my teacher at the door in the morning.It’s friendly and I like it”……..”In the morning when I walk up the stairs in to my classroom my teacher always says hello and smiles. It makes me feel happy and it’s a good start to the day”


Happy Holidays:

On behalf of everyone at South Morningside I wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday. School will recommence for all pupils and staff on Tuesday 17th April.