School news 17th October 2014

The ‘new school building’ was opened twenty years ago on Tuesday 30th September 1994. While few in the school now knew the old building with it collection of huts, leaking roofs and poor facilities, those who did are still proud of the building we are fortunate to work in today.

The Mod – Several pupils did very well at the local Mod in Poolewe recently. Head Boy Innis Taylor was presented at school assembly with his trophy for achieving the Highest Overall Marks in the Fluent Oral competitions. Well done to Innis and the rest of the participants.

We are aware that a number of pupils are competing in the National Mod (Inverness) this year. This is the largest group of pupils participating from Gairloch High in a good many years. We hope to be able to report of their success in a future issue.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra Masterworks 2014 – S3-S5 Music pupils recently had a unique opportunity to take part in a project with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  Paul Rissman, a Scottish composer and educator, chose to work with our pupils on a piece by the Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist called “Arktis, Arktis!”  This piece was inspired by the composer’s participation in an Arctic expedition, and her music describes breaking through the ice and also the bleakness & beauty of the landscape.  The orchestra provided us with teaching materials, as well as a workshop for all the Highland Music teachers taking part, and a visit to the school by 2 members of the orchestra – a double bass player and a trumpeter.  Everything culminated in a visit, on October 2nd, to Eden Court Theatre to see the orchestra perform the piece.  Paul Rissman talked us through the important features of the music, and then the whole piece was performed in the second half.  Karin Rehnqvist came all the way from Sweden for this event, and she contributed to the discussions about her music.  Miss Hunter met and talked with the composer at the interval, and she was extremely positive about Scotland, and was very interested in our Comenius project; pupils and staff travel to Finland in December, and will visit the Arctic Circle as part of the programme.

Events such as this are invaluable in supplementing the pupils’ musical lives.  Our grateful thanks go to the SCO’s Connect Team, who gave us this fantastic opportunity.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – Deborah Connop (S5) was awarded with her Silver certificate and badge at assembly recently. Well-done Deborah!

Ross-shire School Seashore Art and Poetry Competition – Nadia Fenton (S1) was awarded with 1st Prize in a competition that took place before the summer. Nadia entered the competition when she was still at Shieldaig Primary.   Congratulations to Nadia who was presented with her certificate along with a gift voucher at school assembly.

Several other pupils from Poolewe and Shieldaig Primaries won prizes or were highly commended in the competition.

S4 Work Experience – In the week beginning 6th October all of our S4 pupils were out on Work Experience. Some of the pupils work locally with builders, shops, primary schools and nursery, local estates… but several head off to the cities across Scotland and may even venture across the border. We are very grateful for the support of every employer who helps us give the pupils this valuable opportunity. In school we thank Mrs Flora MacKenzie and Mr Milner. Without their hard work this week would not happen.

Jeans for Genes – On Friday 3rd October the pupils paid money to wear their jeans. Jeans for Genes is a charity that aims to improve the lives of children with genetic disorders, care for their families and invest in research. Pupils (and staff) had the opportunity to wear their jeans to school in return for a contribution towards this worthwhile cause. A total of £184.96 was raised.

Blythswood Shoebox Appeal – Please support the pupils and help them fill shoe boxes for Blythswood. Pupils have been issued with leaflets and shoe boxes should be brought to school in the week we return to school.

Golf Competition – On Wednesday 24th September thirty-two pupils from across all year groups took part in an inter-house golf competition. The event was organised by Ian Graham at Gairloch Golf Club and the schools Active Schools Coordinator, Martin Godwin. With the sun shining and two in-service days to follow directly after the afternoon of golf, all the pupils enjoyed a competitive but fun and friendly afternoon. It was great to see pupils who have never played golf before taking part and embracing the event, as well as seeing the more accomplished golfers playing some difficult strokes. In the end Tollaidh House was the winner of the event earning 15 house points, Kerry was awarded 10 points and Maree 5 points. The individual winner on the day was Joe Smith who scored an impressive 31 strokes around 9 holes and takes the individual trophy for the third year running! Well done to Joe and everyone who took part in this event. Our thanks go to Martin Godwin, Active Schools Coordinator, and members of the Golf Club (particularly Ian Graham) for helping arrange this tournament.

Golf Competition

Important Dates – Here are a few upcoming events. Please contact the school if you are in any doubt. More dates are also available here on the school website.

27th October – INSET day – staff only.

28th October – Pupils return to school.

31st October – Halloween Dress Day and evening Party.


Parent Council AGMNext meeting of the Parent Council is on Tuesday 18th November 2014 at 7.30pm. All parents and carers are welcome to attend. The meeting will take place immediately after the AGM at 7.30pm in the school.  There will be cheese and wine on the night. You can contact members of the Parent Council via email:

Kindness Certificate – Mr Hulme has been promoting kindness in the school recently. Daily quotes have been read out at registration for staff and teachers to contemplate at the start of each school day. Mr Hulme reports that this is just the beginning! As a result of our interest in promoting kindness the school has been presented with a certificate by Kindness UK.  Kindness Day in the UK is November the 13th this year!

School news 3rd October 2014

Comenius Trip to Turkey – On Saturday 22nd September our fifth Comenius visit of the current project began. Miss Hunter, accompanied by Mr & Mrs Port, set off with 5 pupils to visit a school in Turkey. Calum Nelson, Callum MacKenzie, Matthew MacLean, Gregor Vickerstaff and Cameron Tallach met up with the Turkish pupils that they have been in communication with during the project. A group of staff and teachers from eight countries met enjoying a range of cultural activities culminating in a final ceremony of music, dance and food.

Comenius Turkey

The school that we visited is in the town of Akyazi in district of Sakarya around 160km east of Istanbul. We arrived on the Sunday and crossed into Asia via the enormous Bospherus Bridge. Later in the week we had a tour of the shoreline under the bridge, exploring both the coast of Asia and Europe.

Comenius Turkey

Click on the photo above to see more images from the trip and watch a video

An extraordinary amount of work goes into arranging each of these trips and the boys made their thanks known to Miss Hunter on their return to Gairloch. Her efforts were much appreciated and the boys had the trip of a lifetime experiencing living with Turkish families and making friends from each of 7 other countries. They went shopping in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. The boys also visited Hagia Sophia, one of the most iconic and longest lasting structures in Europe, managing in its time to represent both Christianity as a church and Islam as a mosque. We also visited a museum commemorating an earthquake in 1999 that affected the region around the school killing thousands of people.

The boys experienced various traditional Turkish dishes during the week. In the historical town of Beypazari they visited a silver bazaar along the Silk Road between Istanbul and Baghdad and were entertained by an effusive tour guide who didn’t speak a word of English! Later in the year we plan to hold an evening presentation for the community to share our experiences of Comenius. Watch out for your invitation!

The group would also like to make known our thanks to Mr Andrew Bowker and Mrs Ann Fraser for helping with transport to and from Inverness train station. Another group of pupils will head off to Finland in December followed by a different group to Spain in February. The last event of the project will see representatives from each of the schools in Greece, Spain, Latvia, Finland, Poland, Portugal and Turkey arriving in Gairloch next April. So expect a ceilidh at the very least!

Slattadale Restoration Fundraising – A very great thank you to everyone who has responded to our appeal for funds so far. Recently Mr Milner has been encouraging you to donate online. The page on totalled £1250 by the deadline. We also received donations to the school not recorded on the website. We are constantly surprised and gratified by the support that we receive from the community. It is much appreciated and encourages us to develop extra projects that we believe will help the pupils.

Concussion as a result of sports injury – Concussion is a brain injury caused by direct or indirect force to the head. It results in a variety of non-specific signs and/or symptoms and most often does not involve loss of consciousness. Most people recover in a few days but recovery can take longer for children and young people. You can find information on the school website here made available by the Scottish Government and fully supported by the official football and rugby organisations. The message with regard to children is be aware and if in doubt get the children to sit out of the game. Always seek medical advice if you are uncertain.

Blythswood Shoe Box Appeal – Over 1.7 Million boxes have been donated and distributed through the years and this is the 21st anniversary of the Appeal. Gairloch High School pupils and parents continue to support this annual event.

It’s very easy to put some basic items together. Things we take for granted can often be luxuries for people living in desperate poverty.  Boxes will go to Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Pakistan, Romania and Serbia this year.

For Christmas delivery your shoebox should be at the school by the end of October. Leaflets have been distributed to pupils already. You can get more details of what to do on the Internet – just click here for Blythswood Shoebox Appeal 2014. By filling a shoebox you can share the true meaning of Christmas.

This is just one of the projects S6 prefects are tasked with supporting. They organise a range of fundraising charity events throughout the year involving all pupils.

Important Dates – Here are a few upcoming events. Please contact the school if you are in any doubt. Dates are also available on the school website.

9th September – S3 Monitoring reports were issued to parents.

3rd October – S4 Monitoring reports issued to parents. Pupils involved in Local Mod in Poolewe. Jeans for Genes Day in school.

6th October – S4 pupils on Work Experience for 5 days.

10th October – School Closes for 2 weeks break.


27th October – INSET day – staff only.

28th October – Pupils return to school.

31st October – Halloween Dress Day and evening Party.


Halloween Bash planned

School news 19th September 2014

Football report – Plockton vs Gairloch from Callum Mackenzie (S5) – Our Senior football team played Plockton on Wednesday 10th September in the first of a two-match friendly. The first half went well and we were 3 – 2 up with goals from Neil (S6), Kenneth (S6) and Kenneth (S4). At the end of the match we had conceded 7 more goals. We worked hard but the sun was beating down and we were not used to the harsh climate of Plockton. We look forward to the return game when the weather will be on our side!

Gairloch v Plockton Football

Click on the photo to see another 2 images from the game

Frozen! – On 28th November, Gairloch High School drama club will be debuting their very own interpretation of Frozen! All pupils in the drama club have been working very hard, meetings every lunchtime and even after school in order to make the best performance possible. Our cast and production team ranges from sixth year prefects to the very new first years, all working together. As well as having a daytime performance for the local schools, there will be an evening performance for all the community to enjoy including refreshments and a raffle. If you have any raffle prizes, it would be greatly appreciated. Please drop them off at the school office. We hope you can come and support us on the night. Holly Morrison (S6)

S1 Beach Clean – As part of the SMART course our new S1 completed a beach clean below the golf course on the 8th of September. There are some more photos on the website – you can see them by clicking on the group photo below.

S1 Beach Clean

Visit to Heritage Museum – On 10th September, our Higher History class visited Gairloch museum to learn about the impact of the Great War on our area. As part of their course, the pupils had already learned about the effects of the First World War on our county as a whole, such as the growth shipyard and munitions industries, the jute industry in Dundee, conscription and the changing position of women.

However, the exhibition in the museum complimented the course perfectly since it showed the personal stories of some families in our community during the war. The exhibition also had many interesting artefacts on display. We would like to thank Gairloch Museum for providing some quality learning outside the classroom.

Big Debate – Four senior pupils travelled to Glasgow to take part in the BBC Hydro Debate on the 11th September. Ciaran Alexander, Jamie MacLean, Innis Taylor and Jordan Gorman made their way to Glasgow and back in one day to have the opportunity to take part in the televised debate. The boys found the debate very interesting and the trip worthwhile.

Big Questions Day – On 12th September S5 and S6 pupils took part in our third annual philosophical and moral debate. This event is part of the curriculum for senior pupils helping them to address what they believe and why. It always provokes discussion and always results in positive feedback although many pupils are uncertain about taking part. We are grateful to help from Donnie MacRae, & Alasdair MacLeod, Gairloch. Alasdair MacLeod, Ullapool and Susan MacLean for assisting Mrs MacRae in running the event.

DofE expedition report from Luke Gorman – On the 25th August Isla, Siobhan, Sofie, Innis, Ciaran, Eilidh and I travelled to the Cairngorms to complete our Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition. We started in the Cairngorm car park and walked through the Lairig Ghru to Corrour bothy where we camped for the night. We woke up the following day to blue skies and a warm sun. We walked up to Devil’s Point then to Angel’s peak via Cairn Toul. On our 3rd day we headed east towards Derry lodge then up through Glen Derry finally reaching our campsite beside Loch Etchachan. Camping at around 900m was quite cold and we woke up on our final day unable to see the tents next to us due to the fog being so thick. We chose to head back the most direct way via point 1141 and down to the car park. We have all gained much experience as a result of our mountainous situations. The day we went to Devil’s Point and beyond was one of my best days ever and will stay with me for a long time. I hope other pupils in school take the Duke of Edinburgh’s award. Our Assessor was very impressed with our group and we all thank her, Mr Johnston and Mrs Bulmer for giving up their time to support us.  Click on the photo to see more images form the expedition.

Gold DofE Expedition

Parent Council Photography Competition – The Parent Council organised a photo competition for school pupils. We had several entries and local professional Gordon Harrison judged the competition. The winner was Iain Nelson (S3) who receives a £10 prize. Iain got first and second place. 3rd was Amy Tattersall (S2). A selection of 6 photos including one from Holly Morrison (S6) will be used by the Parent Council to create photo packs of cards for sale around the community to assist fund raising.

Parent Council Photography Competition

Click on the image above to see the six photos chosen by the Parent Council to include in the gift packs.  Read more about the Parent Council here on their own part of the school website.

Former Pupil Success – Abbie Spence has graduated from Heriot-Watt University with a BSc Fashion Technology with DIT. Congratulations to Abbie!  Read about other former pupils here and feel free to inform the school about what you are up to if you used to attend Gairloch High School.

School news 5th September 2014

Fundraising Appeal for Slattadale Renovation – UPDATED Mr Milner has been organising a variety of fundraising events for Slattadale and we must thank all who have contributed to this project. The school has had support from Julia at the Fundraising Shop, Poolewe Ceilidh, many former pupils and families in the community and beyond. Whether you donate electronically or personally we really do appreciate the support. The current electronic fundraising event is YIMBY on Just Giving. Thanks to your help we met our target much quicker than we expected! If you haven’t already then please help! You can find the link on the school’s Facebook page.

Staffing – We are fortunate to have two new members of staff this year. Miss Smith has replaced Miss Dean in Geography and Mr Avenel takes up Mrs Campbell’s classes in French. Both have got off to a good start and we hope that Gairloch High School pupils will benefit from their energy and skills. Mrs Campbell will retire shortly. Her last day will be Friday 19th September.

Gold DofE Expedition

Gold DofE Assessment – On June 8th a group of seven pupils (Sofie, Siobhan, Eilidh, Isla, Innis, Ciaran & Luke) set out from Gairloch accompanied by Mr Johnston and Mrs Bulmer. After a successful training expedition above Glen Affric all that remained was an independent assessment to complete the Expedition part of their Gold Award. This assessment took place in the Cairngorms during the last week of August. The pupils passed through the Lairig Ghru, swung round by Derry Lodge and then up on to the plateau in the area of Carn Etchachan. On the final day, as the weather deteriorated, they made a timely descent back down through the Northern Corries. The pupils now need to create a final presentation reporting on the bird survey they carried out as part of this expedition. Well done to all involved! Click on the image for more pictures of this expedition.

John Muir Award – S2 pupils were presented with their Discovery awards. These were actually achieved as part of their S1 SMART Course. Well-done S2!

John Muir Award

Exam Results 2014 – Gairloch High School pupils received their exam results in the post on Tuesday 5th August 2014.

In S5 and S6 the school has recorded improved grades in Maths and English attainment. The percentage of pupils in S6 achieving at least one Advanced Higher qualification has increased this year to nearly 1 in 4 pupils. In S5 nearly twice as many pupils achieved 5 Higher passes than last year.

In S4 new exams were introduced and sat for the first time this year. National 4 and 5 exams have replaced Standard Grade exams and it is difficult to make direct comparisons, as they do not align easily. However most teachers seem to have judged the new exams correctly and pupils in S4 have gained a good set of results. The statistics prepared by Highland Council indicate that the numbers of pupils achieving grades at specific levels has been maintained by Gairloch pupils. This is in spite of National 5 exams being set at a more difficult level. These results will be a relief to many!

In Assembly Mr Port congratulated all pupils and staff whose hard work has resulted in such good results. “While it is always the case that some pupils are disappointed with some of their results it seems that overall Gairloch pupils have again had a successful year. Most pupils with conditional offers have done very well attaining the qualifications required to go on to their chosen University or College.”

Over the next few weeks the school staff will be able to analyse national statistics and a much closer look at performance in each subject will take place.

Pupil Success – Sean Quinn (S3) followed up his recent theatre experience in Lord of the Flies by taking part in a workshop at Eden Court during the summer holiday. Sean spent a week working with Ballet Rambert. Eilidh Johnston (S4) has just finished some work experience at the Blair Atholl Horse Trials. It was good to read in previous issues of pupils benefiting from a wide range of experiences with the Air Scouts, ATC and other local organisations over the summer.

Rolls Royce Science Prize 2015 – Gairloch High School Science Department has reached the final of the 2014-2015 Rolls Royce Science Prize. Gairloch is the only Scottish School to progress to the final. Nine finalist schools will develop their projects and be judged in November 2015. The national winner of the £10000 prize will be announced during an event at the Science Museum in London. We have been awarded £6000 to progress our project over the next year. Mr. Andrew Johnston has developed the project proposal based on developing Broad General Education in S1 to S3 with the support of other staff and partners.

The project is a development of several strands of work at Gairloch High School. Students will work with Professor Dave Barclay, a locally based and eminent forensic scientist, to solve cases based on real events. They will work with former pupil and PhD student Jennifer Port (Beatson Institute & University of Glasgow) to improve their understanding of PCR and forensic DNA testing. Students will work with Mr Ranjan Thilagarajah, a consultant surgeon who is involved in using technology to advance medical education in the developing world. With his help, we will use information and communications technologies to stream our science sessions to other schools in real time and to archive them afterwards. We will build a bank of materials that will support the broad, general education of our S1, S2 and S3 pupils, all based around the need to properly examine evidence before drawing a conclusion.

As well as developing this work in school it is our intention to provide training for other Science teachers across Highland and make some of our new resources available for wider use in Highland Schools.

Rani Gill, Rolls-Royce, Project Manager, Science Prize, said: “Rolls-Royce has long advocated science teaching in schools. Now in its 10th year the Rolls-Royce Science Prize has encouraged teachers to improve science teaching and inspire children with exciting, intellectually stimulating and relevant science education. Gairloch High School has risen to the challenge and has put forward an excellent proposal. I wish them the very best in the competition.”

Read the official Highland Council press release here.

Biology Class

Corrections to the awards presented at prizegiving as printed in the July 11th School News within the Gairloch & District Times: Neil Wilkie Memorial Trophy – Gemma McLean & Donald MacKenzie: Junior School Trophy for Service & Achievement – Sara Johnston & Iain Nelson  Apologies for the mistake in the printed version!



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