Mackie Matters - Start of a new school year

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The return to school here at Mackie Academy has been a very smooth one and the last week has been a great return for all of our pupils.

Our new S1 pupils have been a delight and taken to Mackie like ducks to water. I think this is partly due to the excellent transition programme that has taken place for them over the past year and we will look to work and develop a similar programme for P7 pupils this year. In addition to this all other year groups have returned with a renewed vigour for learning and I think it is fair to say that the ethos around the school is one of “work hard, play hard”.

Part of this general ethos change is due to the excellent set of exam results achieved by pupils at Mackie Academy this summer. The new set of examinations in the Senior Phase are well under way and our S4 pupils built on the success of last year to improve the percentage of pupils achieving five or more qualifications at National Five despite the fact that the number of subjects that pupils were sitting reduced from eight to six. This is a fantastic achievement and one that we are really proud of. Overall, 33 pupils achieved A grades in six or more of their subjects at National 5. In S5, 13 pupils achieved A grades in all of their Higher qualifications – the most of any school in Aberdeenshire. In addition to this the school improved further on last year in terms of the number of pupils gaining three or more Higher qualifications putting Mackie Academy in second place in Aberdeenshire. Finally, and by no means least, our S6 pupils improved results significantly on last year in terms of Higher and Advanced Higher results means that the majority of our pupils gained their chosen progression pathways. As Head Teacher I could not have asked for any better from our pupils and the support of our parents and carers is very much appreciated. Staff have worked very hard all year and what is most pleasing is that our estimated grades for pupils were within 1% of what we achieved which means that we are getting it right for each and every one of our pupils. It is also great for our younger pupils to see such high levels of attainment whilst seeing all the different pathways our pupils go onto whether they leave us in S4, 5 or 6. I could not be more proud of our pupils and what they have achieved this summer.

This term we welcome a whole host of new faces to Mackie Academy after a plethora of retirals this summer. I also need to make mention of the success of Lizbeth Paul, formally Depute Head Teacher at Mackie Academy, who was successful in gaining the Head Teacher’s post at Kemnay Academy for the new academic year. We wish her the very best in her new post. The Pupil Support and Attainment Team (formally known as Guidance) has seen a significant number of changes as we welcome Mrs Elaine Davidson and Mrs Jill Black to the team. We have one final appointment to make here and until that has been done Mrs Cruickshank has returned to help out for which we are very grateful. In addition to this we welcome new staff in English, Maths, Science, Humanities, Social Subjects, Health, Technologies, Expressive Arts and Support for Learning which is very exciting in terms of the levels of experience and expertise that we are adding to the teams.

Despite the term only being a week or two old already the accolades for our pupils are rolling in. This week we have already had two visiting speakers to our Science pupils in S4 and S6. Lecturers from Aberdeen and Dundee have spoken with our National 5 Physics and Advanced Higher Chemistry groups on relevant topics to their courses and career pathways. We would like to thank Dr. Fergus McKiddie and Dr. David Foley for their time and efforts this week at Mackie Academy. Our S3 Modern Studies pupils have also been out and about in Stonehaven this week carrying out surveys in relation to their course.

It was great to receive positive feedback from some of the residents of Stonehaven whom they interviewed who said that their enthusiasm for their subject, polite manner and neat appearance is to be commended. Great feedback for any Head Teacher to hear in the first week back.

For some of our pupils the summer holidays have been a very busy time as well. In the sporting arena many pupils continue to excel but this summer has been a major one of achievements for Patrick Young. After winning the U14 doubles competition at the Nike Junior International Event in Edinburgh Patrick qualified for the HSBC Road to Wimbledon finals held at the All England Club. Patrick, along with his doubles partner Connor Thomson were fourth seeds and won the final over the top seeds. Patrick also made it to the singles final which he lost. His fantastic win resulted in him receiving his doubles trophy from Tim Henman and his efforts this summer have seen him rise to No7 in the British rankings for his age group.