What would you like to learn?

Adult learning

Adult Learning Survey in Inverurie/Huntly/Peterhead/Westhill/Alford

Aberdeenshire Life have just released a survey to engage with five of its Communities to identify interests in Adult Learning Classes. If you live in the above areas please take time to complete the Adult Learning Survey and share the link throughout your Community on Facebook and encourage your friends and families to complete this. Survey here

Life is for Learning & Learning is for Life……

Learning is for everyone and goes on throughout our lifetime, it can be fun, inspirational and challenging – having the right opportunities in your area, opens doors to step out and gain new skills, expand your abilities, meet new people and can transform your life.

Some of these interests could be – upholstery, computing/internet, languages, fitness, photography, calligraphy, creative writing, cookery/baking, dance, table tennis, family history/tree, painting and drawing etc

Hopefully some of these have sparked you into thinking of other activities you would like to participate in – possibly an old interest being rekindled or a totally new one that you have never tried before. If it has or if you’re slightly interested why not complete our Adult Learning Survey to identify interests in your area so that classes can be started up there (the more people who complete the survey and can identify interests in classes the more opportunity there will be to establish new classes and meet the needs you’re Community).

Classes normally run from late Aug early Sept through to April or summer the following year and are held in various locations within your community.

Please share this link throughout your Community on Facebook and encourage your friends and families to complete it. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/AberdeenshireLife

If you would like a paper copy please ask for one in your local Library.

The survey has been compiled by Aberdeenshire Council Leisure Learning, for further information please contact Leslie Murison 07795252445 or leslie.murison@aberdeenshire.gov.uk


Going to the “big” school

westhill academy logo

It’s always a pleasure to attend Parent Council meetings to meet with both school staff and parents who form a large part of our communities. Tonight Westhill Academy Parent Council hosted a joint meeting with Parent Councils from the primary feeder schools. Parents were able to ask questions about the transition programme for their P7 children moving up to the “big” school. Staff talked through the programme and gave an insight in to the ethos of the school for newcomers. Head Teacher, Derek Thompson, gave a staffing update as well as a briefing on management plans for leavers’ day next Friday.

Westhill school re-zoning moves forward

school uniform

Following on from the public meeting held at Crombie Primary back in September 2015 and before that, the public consultation launched in August 2015, councillors are now being asked (on Tuesday 12 January at the Garioch Area Committee meeting) to consider the formal report on the consultation regarding the review of Westhill Network Primary School Zones. Further, we are being asked to make a recommendation to the Education, Learning & Leisure Committee (they meet next on 4th February) that the Council adopts the proposals.

Officers have carefully considered all of the responses to the consultation and have made a recommendation in their report. The recommendation is that the Council should adopt the proposed changes, but with some minor amendments to them. All of the Broadshade housing development should be zoned for Crombie Primary, ensuring Skene School keeps its rural identity. To compensate for the Westward expansion of Crombie School, the area around Morven Drive in Westhill should be re-zoned to Westhill Primary. In addition, Crombie Primary may need to be extended to cope with all additional pupils, the cap at Elrick School can be lifted, and it may ultimately be possible to remove the temporary accommodation at Skene School.

The full report can be accessed here (item 12).

Long awaited celebrations as Alford Community Campus comes to fruition

Alford campus 2 (640x640)

Aberdeeenshire Council Liberal Democrat Group welcomed the opening of the new Alford Community Campus. Some of the group who attended today were delighted to meet up with former chair of Education Richard Stroud as he joined in the official event at the campus. As a local councillor Richard had special pride seeing this amazing £37m project come to fruition. Cllr Isobel Davidson former chair of education and now opposition education spokesperson said: ‘This is a real community campus, primary and secondary schools and community access all on one site – a true school built for the future’.
Cllr Iris Walker added: ‘As a former pupil of Alford Academy I am thrilled to see this project come forward thanks to the Aberdeenshire Alliance. A great number of my constituents’ children are zoned for Alford Academy and it will make such a difference to the pupils’ learning experience as well as the staff’s teaching environment’. Guests were treated to a wonderful performance by the school choir and a VIP guest appearance by global singing superstar and former Alford pupil Emeli Sande. A fabulous day for those of us who were able to attend and thanks to all staff and pupils who made it so memorable.

Personalise your library account with new online service from Aberdeenshire


Aberdeenshire library users will benefit from a new and improved online service when it comes into force later this month.

As part of the changes to the electronic library management system, customers will be able to manage their library accounts from home, build a profile of their favourite authors or genres and receive recommendations when new books are added to library stock.

The service will be available from Wednesday, October 28 although data transferral will begin on Wednesday, October 21.

During that week, although libraries will be open and function as usual it will not be possible to place reservations. Access to computers through the People’s Network will be unaffected as will customers’ ability to download e-books, magazines and music. This is an exciting step that will allow library users to manage their profiles in a way that suits them, with extra benefits such as book recommendations based on a reader’s favourite author. School libraries will now also be fully integrated thanks to new system. This will allow pupils and teachers to borrow materials from both school and branch libraries throughout Aberdeenshire with a single library card.

To view the selection of books, audiobooks and ebooks available through the council please visit http://bit.ly/shirelibrarybooks

To access the council’s free music download service visit http://bit.ly/shiremusicdownload

Better still, pay your local library a visit and browse!

Westhill schools set to be re-zoned

school sign

The statutory stage of the Westhill Re-zoning consultation commenced yesterday (Friday 14th August) and runs until Friday 9th October 2015

The purpose of the re-zoning exercise is to change the catchment areas of the four primary schools in the network so that current and future pupils can be educated in suitable school buildings with sufficient space.

As part of the consultation, there will be a public meeting at Crombie Primary on Thursday 10th September at 7pm.

Consultation documents showing the proposed changes can be viewed here and written comments should be addressed to rezoning@aberdeenshire.gov.uk




What are your views on the future of Education & Children’s Service in Aberdeenshire?

The future direction of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Service is being consulted on.

The Service Plan 2015-2018 sets out the priorities for the future in the delivery of a wide range of services including schools, nurseries, cultural services, family-centres, leisure and community learning.
This plan highlights the successes of the service as well as detailing the future focus of a range of areas.
This is the first service plan since the incorporation of areas of social work within the service and reflects national and service priorities.

The council is asking for feedback on eight improvement priorities to help shape the wider aims of the service across Aberdeenshire to:

•    Improve learning and teaching and the quality of the curriculum in schools, early years and other learning establishments.
•    Improve performance and raise levels of attainment and achievement.
•    Provide more flexible early years and childcare services equitably.
•    Further develop effective integrated working to ensure that children and families receive the support they need, when they need it, and as far as possible, within their local communities.
•    Ensure that the learning estate is maintained and developed in order to support and facilitate strategic objectives.
•    Ensure that business processes and procedures are effective and efficient and deliver value for money.
•    Fully develop leadership capacity at all levels across the service. Invest in learning and development of staff to build capacity and improve leadership.
•    Support economic development by working with communities and by ensuring that young people are ready and able to take up positive and productive post-school destinations.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee recently discussed and welcomed the service plan (Thursday, May 28).

Councillors heard that the plan also reflects the current inspection of Children’s Services that is taking place in Aberdeenshire.

To comment on the Service Plan 2015-2018 priorities visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ECS_SP2015

The consultation will run until Friday, July 3 and printed copies are available from: Sarah Godfrey, Education and Children’s Services, Woodhill House, Aberdeen, AB16 5GB.


Westhill schools re-zoning consultation launch

Next Thursday, 28th May, members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning & Leisure Committee will be asked to authorise both informal and statutory consultations on a re-zoning exercise for Westhill schools. Feedback from the consultations will be reported back early next year with any proposed changes being implemented later in 2016. All schools should now be displaying details of an upcoming public session.

The full report (Item 8) can be read here.

Teaching, transition and togs!

Last night I attended Westhill Academy Parent Council meeting. The parent council had invited members of the four feeder primary school parent councils to their monthly meeting. This gave parents of primary 7 pupils due to move up to the academy a chance to meet with teaching and guidance staff prior to the extensive transition programme that staff have put in place. Head Teacher Derek Thompson and deputy Jason Fitzgerald explained that the transition programme starts well before the 3-day visit by pupils in the summer. The work actually begins in January of each year when the prospectus is updated, out-of-zone placing requests are processed and a whole raft of work in between finishing with the evaluation process in August. The forthcoming primary school re-zoning exercise was discussed (I’ll post separately about this). Parents were updated on the very successful consultation held back in 2013 regarding school uniforms. This was carried out by the parents themselves. The outcome of the consultation was that 75% (including 6th year) of pupils now own a Westhill Academy hoodie and are proud to wear it outside the school when attending events!

Derek Thompson provided positive feedback on how the Curriculum 4 Excellence was enabling pupils far more flexibility in subjects and learning outcomes.

At present, the academy has “live” adverts for teachers of Art & Design, Computing and Technical with closing dates in early May. Staff are particularly concerned about finding computing staff and have written to parents of pupils who have chosen Computing alterting them to the possible problems. Pupils may have to re-choose if staff cannot be found.

Parent Councils are a great way to interact with school staff and for parents to play an active part in their child’s education. I hope that more new parents are encouraged to join. Westhill Academy has a great website for pupils and parents to find out about what goes on at the school (well almost…… you really have to be there to get the full story!) http://www.westhillacademy.org/

‘App’y pupils at Echt Primary!

Echt Primary School is the first school in Aberdeenshire to provide pupils with an iPad and teachers are using software applications to record and set homework to educate, engage and connect children beyond the classroom.

Every child, from P1 to P7, has their own iPad Mini which they take home each afternoon and bring back to school the following morning.

Homework is assigned using an app called Showbie which allows staff, pupils and parents to share work seamlessly.

P5 Kaylee Mitchell, 9, said: “It’s easier to get your homework in Showbie.”

The school is currently part of a pilot scheme called ‘Reporting to Parents’ which provides opportunities for parents/carers to be involved in the on-going process of reporting throughout the school year.

Pupils and teachers are using a Book Creator app to report on various aspects of learning in the school.

P5 Morven Findlay, 8, said: “You can video what you’re doing in P.E. or Music or anything and show your parents.”

P2 Darroch Ferries, 5, said: “You can do games which help you learn like Sumdog and Toc and Roll for learning notes in music.”

Head teacher Ruth MacDonald said: “Using ICT to enhance learning and teaching across the curriculum, the devices are used indoors and out, presenting the children with real life contexts for learning”.