News of the weekend meant that a sporting theme to Monday morning’s assembly was inevitable.  We paid tribute to Freya and Angus, who both ran 5km of the Edinburgh marathon course, and their mum and dad, who ran the half marathon and a leg of the four stage full marathon relay respectively: a considerable family achievement, totalling 31 miles!  Equally impressive is their attempt to raise money for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, a most worthy cause.
Parent Fraser Harkness is coming to the end of a distinguished 7s rugby career, and he had been given the honour of organising a South of Scotland 7s team, for which he was player-manager.  The team competed in the Newcastle Falcons 7s competition, and was captained by Mr Mill. Both Fraser and Mr Mill are to be congratulated as their side finished runners-up to Ireland. 
On Tuesday morning, three representatives of Education Scotland arrived as planned to conduct a two and a half day inspection, though they would prefer it to be referred to as a “visit”.  We have fully embraced this process, and thank you for your questionnaire and interview contributions which, alongside pupil questionnaires and interviews, staff questionnaires, and an intense period of two day lesson observations, have left the inspection team with a very favourable impression.  Mrs Bell and Ms McRae are to be congratulated for ensuring our paper processes support the sterling work of all staff at the school.  Though we await final details of their findings, the representatives of Education Scotland departed paying particular note to how happy and engaged your children are at school.  You will hear more in a letter from Education Scotland, which mentions how motivated your children are, the high standard of courtesy and manners, how proud your children are of their school, and how opportunities with which they are provided are “outstanding”.  I have debriefed the staff, who are rightly pleased and proud, but recognise we have points to consider before we can be described as the perfect school! 
Amidst the intense inspection phase, fixtures took place on a sunny but cool Wednesday afternoon.  Please see website for individual match reports. 
This morning, I thanked the pupils for their questionnaires and interview contributions, and for being themselves throughout the week.  They have every right to feel proud of the positive remarks made above. 
I then went on to reiterate that exams have a place in an academic year, and that they are a checkpoint for teachers to ensure pupils are achieving.  Results will give us a picture of what we need to do next.  They are not a matter of life and death.  As ever, we have had to reassure too many pupils throughout the build-up that we as teachers are best placed to judge how hard they are working and measure their ongoing successes.  Some worry far too much, a few worry less than they should, but the vast majority understand the process and place an appropriate value on it.  Please continue to support us in our quest to provide a balanced approach to this “necessary evil”.
Good luck to our Common Entrance candidates who start their exams in earnest on Monday.  We are very pleased with their focus and the maturity they have shown over the last few weeks.
Meanwhile, enjoy the sunshine at the weekend, and well done to everyone for their contributions in allowing our visitors to see what a fabulous school St. Mary’s is.

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