26th May 2017

Monday morning marked the two-week point until assessments. This usually defines the beginning of the “flapping” season.  I spent time reminding pupils that though important, a sensible perspective of assessment and examinations must be maintained. Very few pupils care too little, and we have skills and expertise to help them overcome such lethargy. Most pupils understand that the assessment process is as much a checkpoint for staff as it is of the pupils’ progress. As in any school, we have a small number who worry too much about this process, and I call upon the support of you, their parents, to help us manage this disadvantageous mindset. 
Form 2 headed off to Gunsgreen House in Eyemouth as part of their study on pirates. Mrs Fresle was delighted with their adventure and the follow-up work completed since. 
On Tuesday, Form 4 headed off to Springwood Park for the Countryside Day. Mrs Scott Aiton, Mrs Redmond, Mrs Gordon, Mrs Lewington and Jessie all reported that the class had made the most of their educational excursion, and that they had happened upon several St. Mary’s parents running various exhibitions.
On Tuesday evening, a team of staff met with Form 7 parents to discuss next year’s scholarship programme. The evening was designed to share information about the various scholarships senior schools advertise, and how it is decided which pupils go forward. Parents expressed how supported they felt on receiving clarification of this process, and of the main emphasis being on the Common Entrance programme. Staff were confident that a strong sense of collaboration between parents and school should assist in getting the best out of all our final year pupils.
Having warned the school about an impending heat wave on Monday, the sun finally shone on Wednesday and has continued to do so ever since. An overcast Tuesday saw Jessie, our Gold Coast GAP student, ask me, with a twinkle in her eye, if this was a Scottish heat wave?  I am pleased to say our northern hemisphere summer has since surprised her!
First thing on Wednesday morning, I took the opportunity to visit forms in the senior school to gain a sense of whether breaking news of the deplorable terrorist act in Manchester the night before had affected any of our pupils beyond the normal and understandable level of shock. Form teachers and assistants were keen to ensure a calm and composed start to the day, which I commend the pupils for achieving. Our thoughts go out to all those families affected by the tragedy. 
Many fixtures took place in the gorgeous sunshine on Wednesday, with match reports being available on the website, and the boarders headed for a paddle in the Tweed later that afternoon. Miss McRae and Mrs Smith were extremely grateful to ABRSM examiner, Fiona Morrison, for coming in to assess 22 of our budding musicians on Thursday. An extensive programme of assessment ran like clockwork and Ms McRae was particularly grateful to Mrs Morrison, for her gentle and sympathetic manner during the rigorous assessments of pupils playing various instruments.
Form 8 had the privilege of a visit from Loretto Head of Sixth Form, Dr David Adamson, who came to teach a history lesson on Richard III. Form 8 were grateful to Dr Adamson for his informative session, and for helping them consolidate their knowledge of how to handle evidence questions, not just in Common Entrance History, but at GCSE level in the future. 
This morning, Form 3 performed an assembly on several science topics they have been covering throughout the year. Being on stage, demonstrating work they have been doing at such a young age can prove quite daunting, but the science lesson with which they provided the assembly hall will have been of use to all our pupils from Reception through to Form 8.
Meanwhile as I write, From 6 have headed off with Miss Ellis, Mr Brown and Mrs Bell to Melrose Abbey as part of their studies. We wait to hear what they have learned from the most wonderful monument on our doorstep.
Huge thanks go to the Friends of St. Mary’s for selling cakes, and more appealing was the ice lollies on sale outside the Gannochy.  I hope you benefited from the wonderful array on offer.
Finally, it has been a joy to see a busy and vibrant boarding house throughout the week, and well done to Mr and Mrs Rawson and their team of evening tutors and GAPS for providing so many enjoyable activities.
Have a good weekend.

Jules Birdsall, 26/05/2017

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