Mackie Matters - Getting ready to welcome new pupils

Mackie's Youth Theatre Group last week performed at the Inspiring Aberdeenshire event at Haddo House.

Mackie's Youth Theatre Group last week performed at the Inspiring Aberdeenshire event at Haddo House.

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I was delighted to be able to attend a short awards ceremony on Monday, June 8 to see our senior pupils who had achieved their bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Eight pupils from S4 and S5 gained their bronze awards whilst nine S5 pupils gained their silver award. The Stonehaven DofE group is run by volunteers, predominantly parents, who give up their time to be trained and take our young people out on their expeditions and guide them in the other elements of the award. At the same time our colleagues from Community Learning Development provide support to the volunteers which allows the scheme to run smoothly. Special thanks must go to Suzanne Harper at CLD for her work in ensuring it all goes to plan.

senior pupils who had achieved their bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh awards.

senior pupils who had achieved their bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Our Senior Phase induction days went very well with external provider, Tree of Knowledge, providing a focus for our pupils on their return from study leave. In addition to this other staff, including myself, ran a number of sessions to inform pupils around the expectations of them as they return for the most significant phase of their education so far. One of S4 pupils, when asked what they would take away from their sessions said “a lot of your success is based on your attitude”. I don’t think you get much better feedback than that.

Last week our senior pupils were out and about at our feeder primaries supporting the “Aiming for High” days as part of our primary transition programmes. The aim of this is to develop their leadership skills whilst engaging Primary 7 pupils with their move up to Mackie Academy. We know that our new S6 pupils are some of our strongest yet and the feedback from these days only goes to strengthen this opinion.

One of the comments I received from a primary head teacher was “they are one of the best years ever”. In addition to this I received a lovely email from one of the primary school administrators to say how smart, well mannered and helpful our pupils had been and that it had been commented on by other adults working on the transition days. This is exactly what we are all about at Mackie Academy – building young people who are excellent role models in our local community.

Our Youth Theatre Group last week performed at the “Inspiring Aberdeenshire” event at Haddo House. This is an event to celebrate the people of Aberdeenshire and it was great that Mackie Academy was represented at the event. The group is a recent creation with the arrival of Mr Ed Allen into the team at Mackie Academy and it is fantastic to see them going from strength to strength.

This year, as part of the BT Student Tutoring Scheme, we have had 3rd and 4th year university students in school with our pupils so that they can benefit from their experiences. We have had students in Art, Science, PE and RMPS to great effect. Feedback shows that these individuals have had a very positive impact in the classroom whilst gaining relevant work experience for future career pathways. It has been great to work with our local Higher Education providers as well who support this scheme wholeheartedly. We very much look forward to taking part in it again next academic year.

Finally, as we move towards the summer break, we continue the good work with our community police officers to make sure that our pupils understand the importance of behaving responsibly in their local community. Our new S2 pupils will be involved in sessions with our local PC, Russell Crawford, around vandalism and anti-social behaviour and the consequences of such actions. As I have said previously we work closely with the police on such matters and will take a proactive approach with pupils and parents where such issues are having a negative impact. It is only in taking a group approach like this that we can make those young people who engage in such behaviours see that it not only impacts negatively on them but on those around them. We are very lucky at Mackie Academy that these issues are few and far between but we cannot let the actions of a few tarnish the school community.

I write this column on the eve of our three days of induction for new S1 pupils. I have no doubt that it will be a great three day experience for all 243 pupils joining us in August. I know – it sounds like a lot but we are genuinely looking forward to welcoming them all.