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Prestonpans Infant School Newsletter December 2013

… to all of you for being so generous at Christmas Shopping Night. We raised £1520 for the School Fund, which pays for the subsidised trips the children go on like the panto and for play resources for children etc. The School Fund was getting quite low so this ensures we can develop play and learning for your child. An enormous thank you to Laura Manson and the fundraising team who organised the entire event so well and to Mrs McBirnie who led the event for the school team. A special mention to Debbie Finnigan who seemed to live in the school, doing preparations all week. Your child should bring these to their classroom on Tuesday morning. You are invited to see all the decorations including the winners of the competition on Tuesday afternoon IN THE DINING HALL from 3—3.20pm. The Parent Council Fundraising Group continue to work so hard to give the children fun by running the Christmas Disco on Friday 6.12.13 from 6-7.30pm in the Community Centre. They will sell tickets on Tues 3rd & Wed 4th Dec at the office in the morning. Dads, granddads, male carers—another event just for you and your kids from DADSWORK. Sun 22 Dec at 2.15pm in The Fraser Centre, Tranent. Contact Dadswork for tickets. Give the mums some peace before Christmas. Enjoy time with your sons and daughters.

I am delighted to tell you that Place2Be will be continuing in our school until December 2014 and likely beyond that. We have now appointed Susan Kennelly, an experienced Place2Be counsellor as our School Project Manager to start in January 2014. We welcome back Mrs Rhona Wood, P1 Nursery Nurse this week, working on Mondays and Tuesdays. We will be appointing another P1 Nursery Nurse this week for Wed/Th/Fri. Meanwhile Mrs Playfair continues with P1s. We also welcome back Mrs Nicolson to P3/13 this week and say thank you to Mrs McCreery for teaching the class since September. We welcomed Mrs Copeland (who many of you remember as Miss Stirling) back last month and said a fond farewell to Mrs Bhebhe, who dressed up in her African clothes on the last day. In the nursery, Mrs Stella Ellis is going to work every Wed/Thurs and Mrs Katie Traynor is going to work every Mon/Tues/Fri. In P1/4 Mrs Ann Mackenzie is going to work part time on Mon/Tues/Wed from 6 January. Mrs Susan Pirie (currently teaching P2/10 and P1/6) will teach P1/4 on Thurs/Fri from 23 January. Mr Andrew Hardie will teach P1/4 on Thur/Fri until then. Mrs Angela Ross joins us as an Additional Support Needs Auxiliary today. She has years of experience at Ormiston Primary so we said thank you and goodbye to Mrs Anne Eadie on Friday. Stuart Williamson joined us last week as our new Community Sports Leader, supporting children in their learning and play. This is funded by the Pennypit Centre. The children love these young people and fondly remember Amy Jane and Jordon, who were placed with us before so we are delighted to welcome Stuart. Finally, we are beginning to put our new office structure into place when Mrs Susan Calderhead joins us on 9 Dec as our new Business Support Administrator. Mrs Calderhead is a highly experienced office manager who will help us make significant changes to further improve our service to you and to the staff around customer service and finance procedures. We are hoping to employ a Clerical Assistant to complete our Office Team early next year.

We are also about to benefit from several volunteers who will support children learning in class and in their outdoor play. We have Sam, Sarah, Erin and Steff from Preston Lodge. Lin, a Chinese post-graduate student from Edinburgh University plans to support P3/12 until Christmas. We will also have 3 teaching students placed in classes from Edinburgh University next term. They will be teaching in the Nursery, P2/11 and P3/14. We really appreciate all these placements as they enhance the children’s learning experiences. Thank you everyone.

A more unusual volunteer will be joining us next term. Hugo is an Australian Labradoodle, who is part of the ‘Pets as Therapy’ charity. He also visits elderly folk to bring them a bit of comfort and joy. He is going to be coming to school for a group of P2 children to READ to him every Tuesday next term. It has been shown in research that children who read to dogs can gain confidence and skill in their reading. We have been looking for a suitable dog to read to for a while after Mrs Mowatt, our Support for Learning teacher read about this. Then Mrs Angela Thompson who lives locally approached us to offer Hugo as a reading pet. The charity has insurance and Hugo’s involvement is risk assessed. The risk assessment includes hygiene and allergies. Labradoodles do not shed hair so Hugo has been chosen as he does not set off allergic reactions as much as other dogs. If your child is chosen to read to Hugo, your consent will be sought. It’s very exciting. If you have children at Preston Lodge, you will know that they send groups of staff and young people to Columba 1400 for leadership training and personal development. This year they invited 2 teachers from local primaries to join them and our very own Mrs Susan Graham was invited to join them. It was an exciting and challenging week and the group still meet to plan how they will now work to be involved in their community.

On 31 December 2013, you can enjoy a day and night of family activities to mark the end of 2013 at the Brunton. Lantern Making, Puppets, Sonsie Stories, Drumming, a Family Ceilidh and Fireworks add up to a great day. More information on a leaflet in the schoolbags today or on

Around 85 families designed and bought their own child’s Christmas Cards with us this year through Cauliflower Cards. It was a LOT OF WORK for the Parent Council to process the cards. Thank you to Debbie Finningan for doing most of this work. The profit to the school was £84 so it wasn’t a good fundraiser but your cards look really good. Please let the Parent Council know if you like the cards and if you would like us to do this again.

As you know, we are legally obliged to teach RME in schools. This session, we are teaching children ABOUT WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE in December and early January. We will hope to take P1s to look at Prestongrange Church, P2s to look at St Andrew’s Church and P3s to look at St Gabriel’s Church. We will be teaching the children ABOUT another world religion later in the session. This year, we are going to tell the children a little about Judaism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Then the children will vote on which religion they would like to learn more about. It’s going to be interesting to see what they choose and why. The Pupil Council will organise the voting. You have the right to withdraw your child from Religious & Moral Education and we will provide pupils with alternative learning experiences. However, we hope you will see the benefit of children developing tolerance through understanding what some people believe as this helps them to develop their own world view.







We are working hard at making our woods and field more interesting places for the children to use their imagination in play. The children play so much more co-operatively when they are on the field. Last year they went out there on Wednesdays but we have decided that they will play on the field as much as possible at lunchtimes. Bear this in mind when you buy school clothes and shoes. Welly boots are great outside, canvas shoes are not really suitable. At Prestonpans Infants, we also believe that it is very important for children to learn in our outdoor environment. We encourage the children to use their imagination to use sticks, branches and other natural materials to build dens, to climb trees, to dig in the sand and mud. We teach children to assess risk by thinking about not climbing too high, not carrying sticks in a way that might hurt other children, not using string or rope or skipping ropes to tie onto other children. If children learn to think about risk as they are playing, this is a great life skill that will serve them well in the future.

So what is new in the woods? Snowdrop Cottage and the children LOVE it. Each child will soon be planting a snowdrop nearby. Now as well as the sandpit families built in the summer, we have a wee mudpit for digging about in.

We have also bought 2 sheds to store our new denbuilding equipment that is going out this week. We’ve bought tarpaulins, tentpegs, rope, tent poles, bungee hooks and waterproof rugs. We’re looking forward to seeing what the children work together to create.

Today P3s are going to Cockenzie House to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which features the Battle of Prestonpans and other great events in Scottish History. P3s are learning about Scottish Inventors so they’ll be looking out for some of those too. On Wednesday P2s will be visiting Dynamic Earth to learn about Scotland’s geology. P3s will go on 8.1.14 and P1s on 15.1.14 Last week P1/2 and P1/6 were the lucky classes whose names were drawn out the hat to meet Debi Gliori at Prestonpans Library on Friday. On Tuesday 5 December at 2.15pm P1 families are invited into their child’s P1 class to see the presentations of this year’s BOOKBUG bags to their child. The 3 books chosen this year are outstanding books to the children are really lucky to be getting 3 high quality books each from the Scottish Book Trust. Sue Carr has been chosen as a Book Week Scotland Reading Hero in the Most Inspiring Reader category for her long standing dedication as a teacher to encourage children in their enjoyment of reading. Sue was nominated by parent Donna Duff. Congratulations Sue.

We have been invited to take part in a new project called ‘Families and Schools TOGETHER’ by Save the Children. The project runs for 2 years and aims to bring families, school staff and folk in the community closer together to benefit the children and strengthen families and the community. Every part of the programme has been researched by Middlesex University to contribute to making communities stronger. The programme operates in many countries You can read more about it on The basic idea is that 30 families will come together on Friday afternoons from late January to March (8 weeks). The whole family comes or at least one parent and all the children. The 30 families are divided into 3 groups. Each group of 10 families has 3 leaders, 1 from the staff, 1 from the community and 1 parent of an older child. On the Friday afternoon, there are a variety of fun and interesting activities for families to do as a family. For part of the time, the children are taken away to play games by the school staff so the parents/ carers can talk. For 15 mins, each parent gets to have 1:1 time with ONE of their children using special playboxes. Every week one family wins a hamper to take home and in that hamper is £35 for the family to make a meal for their group of 10 families to share for the next week. At the end of the 8 weeks, families get certificates in a graduation ceremony but they still meet after that because they get a healthy sum of money, with which they work together to improve life in the community. We are very lucky to be invited to take part in this project, so have a wee think if this would be a good thing for your family. Everyone is invited to take part but we can only take 30 families the first time round. We will run another 8 week group in September 2014.

Have a think—could your family take part?

Last week we had a visit from another teacher from CDC School in Mae Sot on the Thai Burma border. Liberty Thawda spoke to all our children and told them about life for refugees and migrants, who have escaped Burma. Burma is on the road to democracy but the families in CDC School still don’t feel safe to go back to Burma. Ask your children about what they learnt from Liberty.

We have been having difficulty setting up our texting system this session because we have been short staffed in the office. We have only been able to send out texts since November. If you haven’t had any texts in November, please contact the office to let them know. If your partner is getting the texts instead of you, please also let us know. Thank you.. Remember you can also hear from us on our website, twitter or facebook. @WeePans Prestonpans Infant Parent Council (Fb)

The children are loving our new tasty tuck range— spicy mix, garlic sticks, popcorn, raisins/ cranberries/apricot, but the surprising favourite was sunflower/pumpkin, raisins and all for 30p.

December 2013 newsletter