News

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

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