News

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

A letter from Mr Graham, Principal

As we approach the end of another challenging academic year, I have been reflecting with some pride on the continued successes of both Pupils and Staff at FHS. We have all experienced difficulties in the past year associated with the Coronavirus and the impact it has had on daily living.

It has meant that we have had to be creative in our approaches to the support and learning that we offer. Some of the development initiatives that we had been working towards have had to accelerate as our usual partners and venues for activities have not been available.

I am particularly proud therefore of the progress we have made in introducing more Outdoor Learning and activity to our children and young people. Particular mention must go to Mr Shaw for the work that has gone into providing the initial Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition experiences, a steep learning curve for all involved, with many of the boys showing great resilience in trading their comfortable wi-fi enabled bedrooms for a night under the stars.

Another very successful initiative has been led by Mr Robb as he has introduced the Young Leaders programme. This involves some of the older pupils working with Mr Robb to develop the skills they need to support him in delivering outdoor learning to the younger pupils. It has been hugely encouraging to witness some pupils we thought might never tear themselves away from the computer screen approach Mr Robb and ask for inclusion in the project. A huge well done to Mr Robb, the initial trainees, and the boys asking to join the process. I look forward to this initiative expanding and being even more inclusive.

By the end of the school year our new playframe will be complete. Located on the rear lawn, the play frame, designed in consultation with Climbwired the main contractor, provides us with a much needed resource. The playframe has been designed to meet basic sensory movement needs, as well as lend itself to team development, but most importantly it will provide some simple fun for children of all ages.

As a Senior Leadership Team we have created some time to consider our approaches and the culture we aspire to. The start of this process involved consideration of the school’s Core Community Values. Through a process of consultation and reflection we have agreed on the five values below, which will underpin and inform our practise and behaviours over the coming years. These values will support our discussion with the pupils, but are also a charter for the children to hold all staff to account. I thank everyone who has engaged with the agreement process.

  • Respect
  • Resilience
  • Kindness
  • Positivity
  • Aspiration

This is an important part of the developments we have made in our behaviour support policy which has been rewritten during the course of the last academic year to reflect a key message of relationships before rules.

It is my sincere hope that next year sees a return to ski trips and activity weeks, cinema trips and swimming – all of the things we had taken for granted, if we can’t, however, I am confident that we are much better placed than we were a year ago to offer the boys fun, rewarding experiences in and around the school.

We wish you all a relaxing and safe summer and hope that we can return to hosting physical events in school next year. As ever, if you would like more information on anything mentioned or to suggest ideas for further development and initiatives, please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards

Kenny Graham

DofE award activities underway

The Duke of Edinburgh programme is now well underway. The twelve students involved have embraced the programme and impressed us all with their determination and perseverance during recent training and practice expeditions. 

As part of their training the boys have covered map reading and route planning, rucksack packing, cooking safely outdoors, choosing a site, setting up a tent and clearing the camp ground afterwards.

For some of the boys, the practice expedition was the first time they had experienced camping, let alone hiking and outdoor cooking.

Duke of Edinburgh coordinator, Mr Shaw, has commended the boys for their excellent performance on the hiking segment of the expeditions despite the adversity of carrying 65 litre backpacks containing all the necessary equipment for an overnight camp. Some of the boys surprised themselves by what they were able to achieve.

All the boys did well setting up camp and enjoyed making their own dinners on a gas burner -with mixed results. As Mr Shaw rightly pointed out, at least with outdoor cooking, there is no need to worry about setting the fire alarm off!

For almost all of the boys, the overnight camp was the most challenging part of an experience which placed them well outside their comfort zone. Mr Shaw is hopeful, however, that once they reflect upon their adventure, they can build upon this experience and rise to the challenge.

We’re still in the training phase, but the next step will be the expedition assessment, which will take place after the summer holidays. The five boys working toward the Silver Award will cover approximately 22 miles over three days/2 nights camping, and the seven aiming for the Bronze Award will cover 15 miles over two days walking/1 night camping.

Good luck to all those taking part!

 

End-of-year excursion to Blair Drummond Safari Park

FHS English Teacher, Mr Stewart, reports on the whole school, end-of-year trip to Blair Drummond Safari Park

Following a year of restricted opportunities, we finally managed a whole school outing to Blair Drummond Safari Park on June 9th.

By 9:15am all boys and staff were ready to depart, armed with snacks, drinks and Mr Melville in charge of the money.  The weather was overcast but a few staff and pupils were optimistic, having decided upon shorts, t-shirt and sunglasses.

The journey through was so uneventful that one of the boys remarked “I’m disappointed by the lack of cows in the fields.”  Despite the earlier optimism regarding the weather, it started drizzling as we neared the Park.

Tickets sorted, we drove into the “wild”, stopping to see a rhino at close quarters. Some of the boys noticed a sign that read if the rhino starts walking towards you, you should drive away slowly.

This caused a bit of a panic in the Juniors’ car as the rhino started to walk towards them and their car couldn’t go forward due to the car in front of them not moving! They were very relieved when the rhino changed direction!

We moved on, deciding that our vehicles would be no match for it, and headed for the safety of the lions. Some were sensibly sheltering under trees while others showed they were true Scottish lions as they braved the drizzle.  We continued our drive through the animal reserves, seeing bison, antelope, monkeys and camels before stopping for a snack in the car park.  It was at this point we realised this was Scottish drizzle; the kind that soaks you right through! 

Undeterred by the weather, the boys headed off to enjoy the park.  Some opted for some “teacher bashing” on the dodgems, delighting in bumping into each other but mostly bumping into Mr Stewart.  The mighty fort adventure playground was enjoyed by all and the paddle boats were also a great, if wet, success.

Although there were certain areas of the animal park not open due to Covid restrictions, there were still lots of animals to see, ranging from giraffes, elephants, penguins and monkeys, to more domesticated animals in the petting zoo.  Dinosaurs roared and moved, delighting the boys as they moved round the Dinosaur Safari.

By 12:30pm the weather had improved and the boys dried out over lunch. They were able to pick from food stalls selling pizzas, burgers, wraps and sandwiches and they also had the opportunity to sit down in the restaurant to choose from the menu there.

To finish off the day, the boys had ice cream cones or ice lollies before heading back to school in extremely quiet cars! Overall, it was an excellent day, with the boys representing themselves, the school and their families well.

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope you are well and coping with this new normality we find ourselves in. In a bid to improve communications I have committed to producing a regular update on the machinations of school life and the developments and focuses with which we are engaging. I hope that this will bring clarity for you all and lead to a greater understanding of what we are doing on a daily basis.

It has been a very positive beginning to the academic year. We are now three terms in and appear to have made up the academic ground we lost during the lockdown earlier in the year. In response to this we will be reintroducing the electives programme into our timetable on Thursday afternoons. We have already had some excellent suggestions from pupils and staff and our provision will be bolstered by the addition to the team of the new Outdoor Learning Workers.

We continue to re-assess the regimen and routines we have put in place to mitigate against COVID-19 transference. Our risk assessments are informed by the most current Government Guidelines. Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to maintain a rigorous approach to keeping the school community safe and healthy.

On the staffing front we are currently advertising for the post of I.T. teacher. This is something which has been requested by pupils and will hopefully capture their interests and progress their learning in the digital field.

Through the good work of our Outdoor Learning Worker, Kevin Robb, we have created a partnership with ‘Our Bright Futures’. As there are parameters for age, we are trialling this with four of the senior pupils and hopefully, if it proves successful, we will continue to engage with the initiative in future years. I am sure there will be plenty of updates to come.

In line with developing skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work, we have developed some work experience opportunities within the school setting. Initially this will happen in the School’s Kitchen. Applications were made and interviews commenced, with three successful candidates now accessing the kitchens on a weekly rota. I am sure they will gain invaluable skills and knowledge, and have an insight into the reality and expectations of working with a dynamic and hardworking team. We are aiming to provide more, similar, opportunities by reinvigorating the School’s contract services company and creating opportunities for horticultural skills development by utilising some of the land next to the Log Cabin to grow consumable produce. This will also link in to our health and wellbeing targets and Healthy Schools Award.

It will be another challenging year for teachers and senior pupils as we navigate a path through the required changes for SQA courses and qualifications. I know that the pupils are in capable hands and, having personally completed the course submissions for the year, it looks like this should hopefully be another very successful round of qualifications from National 3 to Advanced Higher.

Staff training continues as always with staff having had the opportunity to complete training in CALM, outdoor first aid and online Autism training courses. I hope to be able to deliver ever more appropriate, valuable and effective training as we regain our liberties after COVID 19.

As always I would like to thank you all for your continued support of the school through what has been an incredibly testing year for everyone. Let us look forward to a brighter new year and revel in the brilliance of our medical and pharmaceutical scientists who are offering the potential light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Morrison
Head of Education

Walking 500 miles for Ben

Ben was a pupil at FHS for nine years and a prominent and popular member of our school community. When Ben passed away suddenly in April, his fellow pupil and friend Luca decided he wanted to create a fundraising campaign in Ben’s memory.

It was important to Luca that all the money raised would go to a charity or organisation that had touched Ben’s life in a significant way. For this reason Luca decided to divide donations equally between Epilepsy Scotland and Beeslack All Stars Sports Club, where Ben showcased his athletic prowess for many years,

One of Ben’s favourite songs was ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ by The Proclaimers. So what could be more fitting than setting a goal to walk 500 miles over the coming months. Staff and pupils at FHS are supporting Luca in this challenge he has set himself.

Luca has created a ‘Just Giving’ page where you can make a donation or simply follow his progress in this admirable endeavour.
www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/falklandhouseschool-ben

In honour of Ben’s passion for football and the amazing progress he made during his time at FHS, we’ve also created a new annual award for proficiency in the game. Callum is the the first recipient of the trophy that carries Ben’s name.

Our Bright Future Partnership

‘Our Bright Future’ is a UK-wide programme that supports young people to make long-term environmental improvements to their local area.

As part of this programme, four of our pupils are taking part in a project run by the Centre for Stewardship that sees them carry out a variety of conservation activities on the Falkland Estate.

Not only is the project a great way for the boys to connect with their local area and community, it also gives them the opportunity to gain skills and experience that they’ll be able to take with them into the world of employment or further training.

A special mention goes to Shaun and Ross (in the photo above) for their commitment, initiative and commendable work rate, and for following instructions to a tee. Keep up the good work, boys!

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Many of the skills the pupils are developing during our Outdoor Learning sessions are helping them prepare for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme that will start in early 2021.

The DofE programme is about personal challenge and development, and can be adapted to each participant’s interests and abilities.

There are currently 12 boys signed up for the challenge. Eight will work towards the Bronze Award and four are aiming to achieve the Silver Award, which includes a two-night expedition.

The boys have explored their activities, skills and volunteering options, and have come up with a long and varied list. In the coming months they’ll be developing their chess, driving, piano, coding, animal care and electronic music/composition skills, to name just a few.

For the Physical section they’ll be seeking to improve their fitness and achieve a healthy lifestyle by hiking, bowling, cycling, skiing, kayaking, weight training and playing basketball. Their volunteering efforts will include dog walking, conservation/tree planting, and helping out in local shops and cafes.

Confidence, independence, resilience, focus and motivation are just a few of the many benefits the boys will gain by participating in the programme.

With the support of staff at FHS, we’re sure they’ll accomplish everything they set out to do.

Outdoor Learning Programme

There are only benefits to being outdoors, so we’re taking more learning time outside with our new Outdoor Learning programme.

Led by Mr Shaw and Mr Robb, the boys have been looking at navigation and basic survival skills. They’ve been using maps on walks through Fife, and have been kayaking on the tidal pools in Cellardyke and at Lochore Meadows

In the Bushcraft project, the boys excelled at Den Building, creating a large Den Fort and Lean-to with very little guidance from staff.

What’s more, they’ve been finding out about tree identification and conservation, and taking cuttings from indoor plants and planting them.

And among a variety of other options to choose from, they have fishing on the river Eden to look forward to when the season starts in February.