End of Term Address – 3rd July 2020
This is the last week of this school session. Normally, during this week, we would be ending the term with our annual Prize Giving and we would be treated to some excellent music from our talented musicians, speeches from our School Captains and, of course, a chance to applaud each other as awards are issued. Sadly, we have had to deliver our Prize Giving virtually and mark this end of term a bit differently. My thanks to Mr MacGregor Mrs Ewen and Mrs McKenzie for their work preparing for today’s virtual Celebration of Achievements. I always find it an enjoyably difficult task to write my end of term address. So much happens in a school it is hard to do justice to it in a short speech at the assembly and there is always so much that must be missed out. Of course this end to a school year is like nothing we have ever seen before and it makes it even harder to find the right words.
Looking back over the last few months, no-one could have predicted school the school year we would experience! I am sure I am not alone in feeling all a bit unsure at some points over the past few months when all of the usual events of a school year- SQA exams, P7 Transition Week, School Prom, leavers lunch to name just a few – have not been there. So much has been strange for all of us and we have had work closely together in partnership to find our path through for our young people, Staff, families and community. It is important to take a moment to reflect on the losses people have experienced during this time. Some of our school community have suffered bereavement. Some have lost their jobs or worry that they are likely to over the coming months. Weddings have been cancelled and milestone birthdays or anniversary celebrations put on hold. Many of us have desperately missed seeing friends and family over the past few months and have found lockdown to be challenging and stressful at times.
As I thought over how to speak about this, there is a tendency to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. We need to focus on the positive aspects that have been created because of our circumstances. All the acts of kindness (big and small) and the efforts to
stay connected with each other. As a school community, we have looked out for one another in so many ways. Our school staff have moved to online meetings and have seen each other’s homes, families – and met each other’s pets! Our Guidance teachers, Active Schools Assistant and MCR Pathways Mentors have adapted to a new way of working with our pupils. Our Parent Council have embraced MS Teams meetings. All staff from across our school community have given up countless hours to support colleagues improve their ICT skills in order to allow them to be able to deliver online learning for pupils, even Mrs Reid has improved her ICT skills! Pupils have shared what they are learning at home – displaying tremendous creativity and resourcefulness.
Many staff have been involved in creating resources to support our new P7 pupils prepare for secondary school. Pupils and staff have been involved in volunteering in the community. We are also taking a little more time to think about each other and our circumstances. I have noticed that almost every email we send to each other begins by asking after each other’s families and end by wishing each other good health. Colleagues who have been phoning parents and families have shared their own experiences of home schooling during the calls and there has been mutual relief to know that all parents are getting through as best they can! These are just some examples of how we have worked together to support each other in the past few months. At the heart of this teamwork is the desire to do all we can for our pupils. At St Machar Academy we often say that pupils are at the heart of all we do in our school. We need only consider Rachel one of our School Captains advice to fellow students based on her experiences.
If I were to list everything you do that makes us proud you would be reading this for so long you would not get a summer holiday! Thank you to everyone for your work, support and kindness this term and this year.
Best wishes to those staff and pupils who leave us today for new adventures. Keep in touch with us and let us know how you are doing.
Finally, I wish our whole school community a restful and healthy summer. It is truly a privilege to be on this journey with you all.