News

Busy Ewe!

In May Dylan started a placement with Lucky Ewe, a charity that rents land locally to run a small flock of dairy sheep.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for Dylan to experience and learn about farming, animal husbandry, maintenance and food production.

But that’s not Dylan’s only extra-curricular activity: he’s an active and enthusiastic member of the FHS Ground Care Team and our Eco-Schools Group, he takes part in the Falkland Community Gardening Club, he willingly offers assistance in the school kitchen serving drinks and clearing trays, and he regularly gives the school maintenance team a hand with small tasks like painting.

Keep up the great work, Dylan!

Leavers 2022

Two of our senior pupils, Cameron and Shaun, are about to move on to life after Falkland House School. Their achievements are too many to list here, however their keyworkers Ben Gannon and Kerry Nicoll have attempted to sum up their time at the school:

Cameron joined FHS in 2014 and over the years we have taken pleasure in watching him grow in confidence and maturity.

Cameron is well-liked around the school for his humour and banter, and as a Peer Supporter he has demonstrated compassion, patience, and the ability to be a positive role model for the younger pupils in the school.

Cameron will be sorely missed at FHS, his humour and presence will have a lasting effect on those fortunate enough to spend time with him over the years. Memories of trips to Manchester to watch a champions league football match and a residential trip, alongside his insightful knowledge of football, ice hockey and capital cities will last for us all.

Cameron’s many achievements at Falkland House School include holding the title of first pupil at FHS to pass his theory and practical driving tests (first time!) to gain his driver’s license.

Cameron has made good, consistent academic progress during his time here, and has worked hard to achieve an impressive SQA profile. He has expressed a desire to work in Social Care, and with this goal in mind he has been studying Social Care at Perth College this past year. He plans to continue his studies there next year”

“Shaun has been a pupil at FHS since 2017 and has gone from strength to strength during his time here.  One constant throughout this time has been what a respectful, kind and witty young man he is. This has allowed him to build strong relationships with peers and staff alike.

Shaun’s passion for sports and physical activities remains strong. During his time with us he has participated with great enthusiasm in everything from downhill mountain biking to kayaking. He continues to play basketball within his home area, and he was recently selected to train for the under 18s national team.

Shaun’s ever-increasing maturity and positive regard for those around him has seen him being selected to train as a Young Leader within the Outdoor Learning Team, and secured him a job as kitchen assistant within the school as well as a place on the Ground Care Team.

Shaun has worked hard to achieve the goals he set for himself and has recently applied to go to Army Training College at Harrogate – an aspiration he has had since he first started at the school.

We are very aware that the changes he has made during his time here have required a lot of work on Shaun’s part and this cannot be underestimated. We are proud of all he has achieved and know that he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do in the future.”

We wish them both every success.

Young Leaders’ trip to Glentress

Callum and Shaun successfully carried out their final practical assessment for their National 5 Leadership Award recently. On a day out at Glentress they led a group of cyclists (pupils and staff) on an off-road trail ride, demonstrating key leadership skills.

Both boys were commended for their confident and thorough approach during their assessments, good awareness of others whilst leading the trails, and their enthusiasm and commitment.

Earlier this term, the Young Leaders, whose number has been boosted by the recruitment of Lewis, learned about different leadership styles and gave a presentation demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of leadership.

Our Young Leaders also organised Falkland House School’s Junior Badminton Competition. They called the order of play, upheld the rules, kept scores, helped the competitors with generalities such as warm up, and provided them with quality feedback.

A very well done to the boys for the effort and attitude they have put in, and for their levels of maturity and responsibility which will serve them well in the future.

Embracing the great outdoors

Over the past year our Outdoor Learning programme has offered the boys a variety of activities, all geared towards promoting an active lifestyle and stimulating their enthusiasm for nature and discovery.

Those who opted for a series of short walks found themselves tackling challenging hill trails while discovering some of Fife’s hidden gems, and they learned some useful navigational skills along the way.

Another group took part in introductory kayaking sessions at Lochore Meadows and Willowgate Outdoor Centre, learning lots of kayaking skills and rescue techniques. And great fun was had by all during some water confidence sessions where the boys could experience the water in lots of different ways.

The Falkland Estate is the perfect training ground for Mountain Biking – another of our Outdoor Learning options this term. In order to assess their level, the boys first took part in confidence- and skill-building games such as ‘King of the Ring’, ‘Hi Fives’, ‘Pass the Bottle’ and ‘Bike Limbo’.

They also did some guided rides around the local trails, before having the opportunity to lead the group along sections of the trails. All the boys took their turn and encouraged one another, making for a really positive atmosphere.

Our OL Coordinators, who work hard to enhance the boys’ outdoor experience, report that it has been great to see them develop and increase their confidence over the sessions.

New initiatives & developments at FHS

This year has seen some brand new projects get underway at FHS, offering exciting opportunities for our pupils.

Firstly, we’ve introduced the National 5 SQA Award in Leadership, which enables participants to build self-confidence and self-esteem while developing leadership skills.

Four boys are presenting for the qualification this year, which is being delivered through our Outdoor Learning programme. After an introductory theoretical unit, they’ll put their learning into practice and organise a multi-day outdoor activity event in May for the younger pupils, where they’ll be responsible for organisation, risk assessment and bookings as well as leading some of the activities.

The second exciting new project we’re delighted to tell you about regards the development of an FHS enterprise initiative. We’re creating a small business within the school, which will involve the boys producing oils and dressings. They’ll be responsible for branding, production and packaging, and will build a website for online sales. They’ll work in partnership with the estate, and some of the shops in the village will sell the produce. The project will be a real work experience for them and they’ll take a range of valuable employability skills with them when they leave school.

Moreover, in the longer term we’ll be introducing National 4 and 5 Business awards to run alongside and enhance this learning opportunity.

Finally, there’s one more project we’re excited about, which we’ll be making a more formal announcement about in the new year. In recent months, we’ve been working on a growth project. Our Principal, Mr Graham, will invite all our current families and parents to a Teams meeting in the new year, when he’ll fully introduce the project and explain in greater detail. In the meantime, we want to reassure you that this will not change our current provision but will offer greater options for all of our children and young people in the coming years.

A few words from Care Manager, Mr Gannon

As we move towards the end of another year, the now common medical discourse that we had hoped to leave behind remains very much common. However, isolations and circuit breakers have not stopped the praiseworthy progress of the young people here at Falkland.

The past few months have seen a number of notable developments. We have rolled out our Community Values and have begun integrating these into our everyday practise. The five values of Kindness, Positivity, Respect, Aspiration and Resilience are now regularly referenced in conversations with the young people when reflecting on behaviours, choices and actions. Furthermore, to reinforce these values, the young people can now achieve a reward if they demonstrate all five values over a given period.

There have already been many outstanding examples of these values, with the young people excelling in external activities and socially inclusive initiatives. With the latter, links have been established with the Centre for Stewardship and the Falkland Gardening Group, which sees a handful of our young people engaging in a positive way with the local community, developing their social and life skills. On the former, the standout activity has been the rock climbing, with a large number of the boys developing a passion for the pursuit and progressing markedly with their positivity and resilience towards a new challenge.

Moreover, these values can also now be demonstrated in a homelier atmosphere, with significant investment and upgrading of the young peoples’ communal living spaces. This was done in consultation with the young people and has certainly provided a facelift to many of the areas. Here’s hoping that the values displayed by the community here at Falkland persist through another Covid Christmas panto and that 2022 brings a lighter touch.

Wishing everyone a great holiday,

Paddy

Scary Times! Short story competition

As part of our Literacy across Learning initiative, the school ran a Short Story Competition in the first two terms, open to all pupils.  The rules were simple; write a scary story, full of suspense in less than 300 words. The deadline was appropriately the 31st October.  This captured the imagination of the boys, with most entering the competition.

The stories themselves ranged from the truly macabre and gory to strange and otherworldly!  Each entry was judged according to age and stage.  The winning entry was by Lewis (see below). He put a lot of effort into his story and he stuck to the brief admirably. Lewis has won a substantial prize, to be discussed with Mr Morrison.

Prey

“RUN!” she screamed. As my good friend’s voice ricocheted through the forest, I looked over my shoulder only to see a mangled, contorted humanoid figure chasing its prey, my only assumption was that we were its Prey.

I woke up with a startle, the familiar powerless feeling overtook me. I got up slowly only to suddenly collapse to the ground.

 “W-why am I so scared?”

 I looked down at my clammy, shaking hands, feeling even more helpless than before, I quickly clenched my hands into a fist to ease the shaking, only after five minutes did I finally regain my composure thus the shaking stopped.

I carefully stood up from my collapsed position and made my way to the kitchen, where I was greeted with the unruly sight of dishes being left uncleaned. To top it off was the fowl stench exuding from the bin.

 “My life is truly falling apart” I sighed and hastily made my way towards the fridge, where I bent down and opened it. But what I saw made me horrified. There was a vast array of body parts along with blood splattered across the walls of the fridge, making out the words “found you”.

I was scared senseless at this point. I started frantically looking around my kitchen for any sign of the individual that had done this. My eyes finally landed on this shaded spot in the corner of my kitchen.  I swear I saw the silhouette of something, squinting my eyes to try and get a closer look, I was shocked to see the same mangled monster lurching closer. I merely collapsed to the ground while my throat dried up while there was a sudden sensation of a cold hand firmly grasping my neck as a snapping echo resonated through the kitchen. 

 By Lewis Y.

Our Eco-schools Green Flag journey

Reinforcing our commitment to promoting environmental awareness and responsibility among our pupils, we’ve started the next Eco-schools Green Flag cycle, taking us through this year and next to June 2023.

Following a very positive response from the pupils, FHS’s Eco Committee now has seven members. Here’s what two of them had to say about their involvement:

I wanted to take part to try and make the school environment better, and to do our bit to make the world more liveable for future generations” (Archie)

The eco initiative is a good way to educate us on sustainable living and to encourage young people to do their bit to make the world a better place. I am excited to try and achieve the targets on our action plan” (Connor)

The Green Team undertook an environmental review of the school and surroundings. Then, after much deliberation and well-thought-out arguments, they identified Litter, Biodiversity and Transport as their three chosen topics, and Life on Land as their Special Development Goal. They drafted an action plan and sent off an application to the Eco Schools Team. After receiving glowing feedback (see below), they are moving on to the next phase of their Eco Journey with a spring in their steps.

“Thanks Falkland House School for submitting your Eco-Schools draft Action Plan for approval. It is fantastic to hear from you so early in this new journey and to see you on your way to your 4th Green Flag Award! It is lovely to hear that nearly a third of you wanted to be part of the Green Team for this Eco-Schools journey, and that you have a fantastic representation of each class, category and house. You seemed to have done a fabulous job with your Environmental Review and it is very inspiring to see how the discussion of your findings led to very interesting conversations. I really liked how these didn’t just include what you have done well, areas of improvement, your dreams and ambitions, but also included your limitations. This is key in making sure that any goals that you set for yourselves can be achievable and help you move forward. You have identified an excellent range of actions across your topics, with relevant and clear aims and good links both to your chosen SDG of Life on Land and to your community. Your planned measuring and monitoring of your actions are also in the right track, as they are designed to collate information that will enable you to evaluate if your actions helped towards achieving your aims or not, and that is exactly what we hope to see. Your plans for electric vehicles for the school seem extremely inspiring and I really hope you succeed in this. As you say, any improvement that we make towards lowering our carbon footprint is of vital importance. I really hope that the Green Team and all pupils see this experience as an opportunity for learning about the positive aspects of switching to electric vehicles and the impacts of fossil fuels. We will be eager to hear what happens! Best wishes with these and all the other exciting actions that you have planned.”

A message from Mr Gannon, Care Manager

In the same spirit as last year, I’d like to salute first and foremost the children and young people on the tremendous courage they have shown in navigating the past 12 months. I would like to then extend this to all families for their support and understanding over what has been a tumultuous period. It is with sincere hope that you have all valued the stability that the team here at Falkland House School have offered over the course.

This past year more than any has highlighted the importance of mental health, personal and social growth. A change in culture has reflected this, with more structured outdoor pursuits and activities coming to the fore.

The boys have greatly benefitted from this vision through a number of new initiatives, including the roll out of the Duke of Edinburgh Award with Gordon Shaw, the Young Leader programme with Kevin Robb, Outdoor Learning and the Bike Club to name a few. We have been conscious to include day boys in these offerings where they exist out with the school hours, and it is our expectation that this will continue.

Managing the mental health and wellbeing of the children and young people, alongside a range of other therapeutic interventions, has also been at the forefront of our initial engagement with the group’s clinical services team, and in order to structure and put into action the array of strategies and programmes on offer we will be soon be appointing a wellbeing coordinator to lead in this area.

Another area of focus has been in promoting the independence of the boys, with work ongoing around budgeting, cooking, washing, and soon the creation of imitation bills. This in turn promotes interdependence with the boys learning how to work together as a group to manage their living area and meet their needs. In this area, we have also appointed a designated Throughcare Coordinator, Aimee Findlay, in order to more effectively prepare the young people for their next steps and ensure smooth transitions to their varied destinations.

Looking forward to next year, there is hope and anticipation for us all that the vestiges of lockdown and levels recede and we can engage the young people in more socially inclusive activities: clubs, volunteering and external work experience. We will also look to embed a variety of other initiatives, including a new set of values which will inform all aspects of our organisation.

Finally, all fingers will be crossed that the only waves encountered will be those on outdoor learning.

Patrick Gannon

A word or two from Mr Morrison, Head of Education

As we draw to the close of another academic year, it is worth noting what has been lost, what has been gained and what we can look forward to a return to next year.

Firstly, we will be losing four of our senior pupils, who will be moving on to life after Falkland House School. We wish Luca, Ryan, Sol and Harris all the best for their future as they consider the world of work, college and independent adult life.

We have also had a change of staffing within our education team as the delivery of Art has been seamlessly handed over from the capable hands of Ms Davie to the equally capable hands of Mrs Stewart.

Even in this testing year we have been able to continue learning in a consistent manner, which has allowed us to submit a substantial amount of pupils for SQA course awards, from National 2 to Adv Higher.

Next year we will be looking to further embed our Outdoor Learning curriculum and Duke of Edinburgh awards. We will also be developing entrepreneurial activities within our Contract Services Company. Congratulations must be given to Thomas and Robbie for both successfully being awarded the position of manager with the company. They will have the joint responsibility of managing their fellow pupils while producing creative ideas for improving the grounds of the school.

It will be buoying in the New Year to be able to return to normal routines within and around the school. The pupils recently enjoyed an excursion to Blair Drummond Safari park. Now that we finally have the green light to visit farther afield, we will be planning more learning experiences out with the school building.

Within the school building we are continuing to look at developments both physical and educational. In the New Year we will be introducing collegiate working groups which will focus, amongst other things, on the development of a social and emotional curriculum, whole school literacy and numeracy and interdisciplinary learning.

For the Education Team, this will involve further investment in technology and improving the aesthetic and functionality of our environment with Autism in mind.

We have reintroduced our Skills Development Scotland worker with a return to face-to-face interviews and group work. We will hopefully have more opportunities to allow our senior pupils to experience college and work experience. Two of the boys have taken advantage of the opportunity to receive work experience in the kitchen. Full thanks should be given to Mr Fearful and Mrs King, our School Cooks, for their help in making this a very positive and fruitful experience.

As we approach the end of term, we look forward to a slightly low-key Celebrating Success Day when compared to previous years. However, there are still lots of academic, whole school and personal awards to be received by pupils.

I finish by recognising that there must be a blanket praise for the fact that our young people have all navigated an uncertain and inconsistent year, which will no doubt impact upon everyone’s collective memory for years to come, but will hopefully highlight the freedoms that we all cherish but sometimes take for granted.

Paul Morrison