Mackie Matters - Prelims in full swing

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This week the prelim examinations for our senior pupils have been in full swing.

The prelim exams no longer take up as much time as they have done in the past, due to changes in the exam system, and our pupils have not had any formal exam leave. Pupils are therefore back into lessons more quickly which means we can maximise their learning time before their final exams in May. It is hard to believe that pupils are only a few short months away from this really important time in their education and we aim to make the most of their time with us to ensure the highest attainment possible for every pupil.

In preparing our pupils for their final exams, the Science team are developing a very profitable working relationship with colleagues at Aberdeen University, especially in terms of our commitment to Advanced Higher pupils and their ability to undertake complex experiments as part of their courses. This week, the chemists received confirmation of a resource called “Spectroscopy in a suitcase” which will allow the pupils to undertake experiments that would otherwise be impossible.

In addition to this, staff from the Biology team will be training with university colleagues on one of our in-service days next month to benefit pupils when the new Advanced Higher courses come into play next academic year. It is this type of partnership working that will ensure that our pupils gain the best experience possible at this level of study.

In addition to this we met this week with Bill Kirton from the Royal Literacy Society who is going to run a five-week course for our Advanced Higher pupils in 2015-16, at the start of the academic year, to prepare them for the demands of academic writing, whether that be a dissertation or scientific report. These skills are crucial in the transition from school to Higher Education and I have no doubt they will be of use to pupils.

In the Modern Languages team, we will soon be welcoming a Mandarin teacher as part of the Confucius Project to Mackie Academy on a weekly basis.

We have Han Shu with us until the end of the academic year and it is an opportunity for pupils at Mackie Academy to experience a new language which, given the population and growing importance of China as a global economy, can only be of benefit to them.

Mackie Academy’s twitter account continues to generate significant interest. As of last week, the school’s account had 689 views with our tweets about the prelims, BBC’s Winterwatch and our support staff heading to an Education Scotland conference being of particular interest to many.

As Head Teacher I find Twitter an excellent medium for us to celebrate the achievements of many at Mackie Academy, as well as being a very interesting forum for discussion about all things educational and beyond. I have no doubt it will continue to be a very important tool for us in communicating effectively the impact of Mackie Academy here and further afield.

This week our Parent Council played host to a presentation about the Stonehaven Community Sports Hub. Andrew Watson and Fraser Govan from Aberdeenshire Council along with Donna Agnew, Faculty Head of Health, explained the principles behind the Sports Hub as well as how Mackie Academy can provide a base for this development.

Further information on this will follow as the year progresses, but I think it is a real chance for the school to play a key role within the development and support of community sport.

You may remember that in November the Stonehaven Rotary Club held their Young Chef competition. The winner, Heather Nisbet of S2, has now moved onto the District final which will take place on February 7, 2015. One of our business partners, the Compass Group, have sponsored Heather’s chef uniform, sourced her ingredients and all the equipment required. This is a fantastic boost for Heather in advance of the competition and a continuation of a very productive working relationship with the Compass Group.

Our S3 netball team continue their domination of the local area with a 20-5 win over Portlethen this week. Thanks must go to Ms Keenleyside for all the work that goes in to getting this team to and from their destinations.

Not always requiring physical activity but definitely mental activity the Chess Club are under way with their preparation for the UK Chess Challenge. I have no doubt that Mr Hewitt and the team will be successful.

Finally, our primary school visits came to a close this week. It has been great to get out and about meeting our prospective S1 pupils and their parents. Our transition programme is in great shape this year and in partnership with our colleagues from Community Learning Development we are looking forward to welcoming both pupils and parents to Mackie Academy for many activities between now and August.