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!


School news 11th July 2014

 The annual celebration of the success and achievement of all pupils took place on Tuesday 1st July.

Individual Trophies & Prizes 2014

Dux of School – Siobhan Vickerstaff

Dux of School

Elizabeth Matthew Memorial Trophy – Isla MacKenzie

Lauder Memorial Trophy – Luke Gorman

Harry Valentine Memorial Trophy – Carla MacLean

Neil Wilkie Memorial Trophy – Gemma McLean & Donald MacKenzie

Junior School Trophy for Service & Achievement – Sara Johnston & Iain Nelson


John MacGillivray Gaelic Trophy – Ainslie MacKenzie

June Davis Miller Award for Art – Holly Morrison

MacKenzie Targe for Creative Writing – Sofie Banister

Doctor Hunter Cup for Piping – Fraser Wotherspoon

Lauder prize for Music – Nessie Gearing

Albert Roux Languages Cup – Jamie MacLean

Sheona MacDonald Memorial Quaich – Annie MacLennan

Mathematics Achievement Trophy – Alfie Gudgeon

Science Achievement Trophy – Calum Street

Technology Achievement Trophy – Gemma McLean

Social Subjects Achievement Trophy – Laura Ridehalgh

Peter Saggers History Prize – Isla MacKenzie


Clan MacKenzie Golf Trophy – Joseph Smith

Football Player of the Year – Kenneth MacKenzie (S3)

Basketball Players of the Year – Sara Johnston &  Jordan Gorman

Cross-country medals – Laura Russell & Mark McLean (Junior)

Cross-country medals – Sofie Banister & Innis Taylor (Senior)

Widdows Shield for Swimming – Isla MacKenzie

Junior Boys Athletics Champion – Charlie Ross

Runner Up – Kai Pickering

Junior Girls Athletics Champion – Morven MacLean & Emily Morrison

Intermediate Boys Athletics Champion – Sebastian Robertson-Turner

Runner Up – Kenneth Mackenzie

Intermediate Girls Athletics Champion – Laura Russell

Runner up – Andrea Wood

Senior Boys Athletics Champion & Martin Blackley Memorial Cup – Jordan Gorman

Runner Up – Connor Moore

Senior Girls Athletics Champion – Charlotte Kelman

Runner Up – Sofie Banister


Click on the photo above to see more images from the event

Certificates of Perfect Attendance were awarded to Matthew MacKenzie, Anna Cameron, Eilidh Johnston, Deborah Connop, Charlotte Kelman, Joseph Smith and Innis Taylor.

A number of pupils throughout S1 to S4 received Certificates of Personal Achievement for consistent effort and care in all of their work throughout the school over the whole of last session. Many pupils also received 5 by 50 certificates.

Thanks to Revd Jeremy Ross for blessing the event. Thanks also to the Parent Council and the Hospitality staff and pupils for providing refreshments at the end of Prizegiving. Thanks to Mrs Brown and Miss Thistlethwaite for the flower arrangements in the Hall. Special thanks to Dr Caley without whose meticulous organisation this event would not run quite so smoothly.

Senior Prefects 2014/2015

Head Girl & Boy – Bethan Townsend & Innis Taylor

Deputies – Holly Morrison & Justin Claydon.


The following senior pupils have been appointed to lead the three houses.

Kerry House – Girls House Captain for this year is Ann MacLean. She will be assisted by Eilidh Owens. The Boys House Captain for this year will be Justin Claydon and Ciaran Alexander will assist him.

Maree House – Girls House Captain for this year will be Siobhan Vickerstaff who will be assisted by Catherine Wyatt. The Boys House Captain will be Kenneth MacKenzie and Calum Street will assist him.

Tollaidh House – Girls House Captain for this year is Holly Morrison who will be assisted by Sofie Banister. The Tollaidh Boys House Captain for this year is Jake MacDonald and Jordan Gorman will assist him.


Overall House results for the sports competition:

Kerry 1st with 356 points

Tollaidh 2nd with 349 points

Maree 3rd with 339 points

When other events and credits were taken into account the House Shield went to Kerry this year! Maree came second overall and Tollaidh third. Well done to Kerry although the Trophy for gaining most individual credits in the school was presented to Hannah Wood of Maree.


YES/NO Referendum – Senior pupils organised presentations at assembly on Wednesday 2nd July with the help of Ms Velt. Two spoke on behalf of the YES vote for Scottish Independence and two spoke for Better Together. All pupils were encouraged to vote throughout the day. The result was very close with 56 voting NO and 51 voting YES.

Mod Ionadail Inbhir Nis – Congratulations to Alasdair MacDonald and to Sandi MacLean who took part in the Inverness Provincial Mod on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st June. Alasdair won the age 13-u18 Accordion competition and Sandi won the age 13-u16 Traditional Singing competition.

World Cup Football

World Cup Football – Tournaments were held for boys and girls on the last day of term. Over one hundred pupils took part with Brazil winning the boys’ competition and Germany winning the girls’ competition. The most influential players on the day were Connor Moore, Max Conway, Beth Townsend and Laura Russell. Thanks to all the staff who organised and helped in the running of the competition particularly.

World Cup FootballClick on the photo to see more team photos

Staff Farewell – The staff and pupils bid farewell to Miss Dean. Since coming to Gairloch in 2006 Miss Dean has taught pupils Geography, climbing, outdoor education and taken part in many activities including the S1 residential weeks and mountain biking. Miss Dean has now left to take up a post at Dollar Academy and the whole school gave her a rousing send off at the final assembly on Thursday 4th July. Eilidh MacDonald and Carys Townsend presented Miss Dean at assembly with a map of the area signed by all the pupils and staff. Miss Smith will take her place teaching Geography after the holidays.

Fundraising Donation – Many thanks to Julia Alexander for donating £1000 towards the Slattadale Renovation Fund.   Julia’s work at the shop continues to benefit all groups and we greatly appreciate this contribution.

Important Dates – Exam Results delivered to pupils by the postie from SQA on Tuesday 5th August. Pupils return to school on Tuesday 19th August. Have a good summer and the school news will return next term.

School news 27th June 2014

Gold DofE Expedition 2014 – On June 8th a group of seven intrepid pupils (Sofie, Siobhan, Eilidh, Isla, Innis, Ciaran & Luke) set out from Gairloch accompanied by Mr Johnston and Mrs Bulmer. Our intention was to complete our gold practice expedition for the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme. Over the duration of four days we walked through Glen Affric to Morvich, scaling four Munros en route. Everyone involved had a great time and are all looking forward to our qualifying expedition, which will take place in the Cairngorms this August. A big ‘thank you’ to all the staff that made our participation in the award possible. (Sofie Banister)

Gold DofE - Glen AffricClick on the photo to see more images

Independence Referendum and Debate –S4 and S5 pupils were involved recently in a discussion and debate about the pros, cons and uncertainties of Independence. Organised by Ms Velt, the pupils heard from outside speakers from both sides in the morning and debated amongst themselves in the afternoon. The pupils, many eligible to take part in the referendum, after a spirited and well-argued debate voted for independence.

Inspire – Aspire – Eilidh MacDonald and Iain Nelson were invited to attend the University of Glasgow on 16th June to each be presented with a silver medal and certificate for work they produced in school under the guidance of Dr Caley. All S2 pupils had to discuss and illustrate why and how a particular individual had inspired them. Five were sent to the organisers and two chosen as winners. Well done Eilidh and Iain! The work submitted can be seen on the school’s Facebook page by clicking here.

Graduation – Miss MacAllister graduated from Dundee University on June 20th 2014 with a Diploma in Spanish. The necessary study and work was completed in her own time at weekends and during holidays. Miss MacAllister is currently qualified to teach German and French but has been developing her skills in Spanish for several years. Well done!

Visit to Ullapool Harbour – Mr Gorman took his Engineering Science class to Ullapool recently to look at the construction of the harbour extension. The class got a tour of the site and found out how the various sub-contractors work together to complete the project. Thanks to Angela Rae our STEM ambassador from RJ McLeod for organising the visit.  You can read Jack McCruden’s report of the trip on the pupil pages by clicking here.

Engineering Science Field TripClick on the photo to see more images

Ready Steady Cook – The new S3 Hospitality Group had a challenge on Friday 6th June. Each pupil had to bring in one ingredient of their choice, and then work in groups to incorporate their ingredient into a dish. The groups worked well together, taking on the roles of Head Chef, Sous Chef, Kitchen Manager and Kitchen Porter and the results were a very mixed bag of dishes! The panel decided Caitlin’s group as the winners with Ian’s group coming a close second and Jasmine’s group 3rd. Details and photos on the website!

Ready, Steady, CookClick on the photo to see more images

Lab in a Lorry – This interactive mobile science lab staffed by practising scientists and engineers visited the school and allowed our pupils to take part in experiments and discussion throughout the day. The project is a joint initiative between the Institute of Physics and the Schlumberger Foundation.

Comenius Evening – On Tuesday 17th June pupils involved in trips this year to Portugal, Poland and Greece gave presentations of their experiences. Afterwards parents, staff and guests joined pupils to sample foods from each country.

Sports Day – Staff and pupils had an enjoyable day on Thursday 19th June. Weather was perfect and everyone present participated in 5 events either for Championship points or House Points. The results will be posted in the next issue of the G&DT and on the website which also has lots of photos.


Sports DayClick on the photo to see more images and video

Naidheachdan Gàidhlig / Gaelic NewsAs t-earrach, ghabh cuid de sgoilearan pàirt ann an co-fharpaisean labhairt Comann Gàidhlig Lunnainn. Bhuannaich Ceitidh Alice Hulme co-fharpais nam fileantach agus fhuair Callum MacCoinnich teisteanas airson cho adhartach ’s a bha a chòmhradh. Ann an co-fharpaisean nan luchd-ionnsachaidh, chaidh còmhradh Sheumais MhicIll-Eeathain a mholadh gu mòr.

In the spring, several pupils were entered into the Gaelic Society of London’s annual speaking competition. Ceitidh Alice Hulme won the Fluent Speakers’ competition and Callum MacKenzie gained a merit. In the Learners’ competition, Jamie MacLean gained a merit.

Bho chionn ghoirid, rinn Dòmhnall S. Moireach, ùghdar cliùiteach, bùth-obrach ann an sgrìobhadh cruthachail airson fileantaich anns a’ chiad agus anns an dàrna bliadhna. Chaidh stiùireadh feumail a thoirt dha na sgoilearan a thaobh mar a bhios iad a’ leasachadh nan sgilean sgrìobhaidh aca.

Donald S. Murray, a famous author, recently led a workshop in creative writing for fluent speakers in S1 and S2. Pupils gained valuable advice on how to develop their short-story writing.

Entry to university or college 2015 – The UCAS website is the best place for parents and guardians to get the support they need – There is information to guide you through the different stages of the application process. Parents may have many questions and the four top ones appear to be about the application process, UCAS deadlines, student finance and Clearing. All these are covered on Any potential applicant to HE courses in the UK should be thinking about: Which career? Which subject? Which course?

We will be visiting Glasgow University Open Day in early September, but the onus is on each pupil to visit other university and college open days and get a feel for each place.

We also encourage any pupil going into S5 in August to start doing research now to make themselves aware of their options.

Important Dates – Prizegiving takes place between 1.30 and 3.30pm on Tuesday 1st July in the school hall. Results in the next edition of School news. On Thursday 3rd July we will host our annual football competition. School will close at 1.30pm on Thursday 3rd July.

School news 13th June 2014

Community Flower Displays – The Rural Skills group have now planted up the 20 Community tubs around the village with a mixture of 12 annual plants. Last stop was Strath Square where Neil Brady kindly gave the boys a well-deserved cup of tea and biscuits. The plants were ordered on line before Easter and the boys have lovingly grown them on to a stage where they are large enough to take their chances. We will continue to feed the tubs and hope they are a success.

Community Flower Tubs

Comenius Trip to Greece – As half of our 2 year Comenius project draws to a close, pupils and staff headed off in May to sunny Greece.  Pupils involved were Leonie Baptist, Hannah Wood and Eilidh MacDonald.  Staff accompanying them were Ms. Hunter and Ms. Velt.  After a lovely day sightseeing in Athens, they travelled north to the seaport of Volos, where our fellow Comenius school is situated.  All the other countries’ pupils and staff were reunited – from Finland, Poland, Portugal, Latvia, Turkey and Spain.  The lovely weather was obviously a bonus, but the excursions and activities were all very interesting and informative.  They visited a mediaeval town overlooking Volos, as well as climbing high up into the mountains (by bus!) to visit the monasteries perched precariously at the top of the peaks.  Ancient Greek archaeology was explored in their visit to the local museum, where pupils were given the chance to make little replica Greek urns.  Our pupils were welcomed by amazing host families, and they were able to experience Greek home life, as well as the wonderful Greek food on offer.  On the way back to Scotland, they again spent the day and another night in Athens, visiting the famous Acropolis and Parthenon, as well as the new Acropolis Museum, designed to “float” over ancient archaeology discovered beneath the ground. A wonderful week was had by all; the next trip is in September to Turkey.

Comenius Evening – This takes place on Tuesday 17th June, in the multipurpose hall, at 7pm.  This is the community’s chance to see presentations from our visits to Portugal, Poland and Greece.  Refreshments, themed from these countries, will be available, as well as displays of our souvenirs from each of the countries.  We are also holding a raffle (for which donations would be most gratefully received!) as we have to do a lot of fundraising to ensure that as many children as possible can go on the trips next year.  Your attendance at the evening will be most welcome!

Gairloch v Plockton 2014 – As reported in last issue the second leg of the MacPherson Cup was held in Gairloch on Friday the 23rd of May.  Click here for the full report.

Gairloch v Plockton 2014

The football team is in need of a new set of strips. We hope to take part in the Highland Small Schools’ tournament as well as playing some friendlies next session. It may be that a local business would like to sponsor the team. This would enable us to purchase a new set of strips. Please contact the school if you can help us.

Staff Retirement – Our Active School Coordinator (ASC) Dr John Shearer has retired. Since taking over as ASC John has run the lunchtime inter-house activities, transported pupils to events and helped fund and organise some coaching courses.

John is also responsible for getting basketball started in the primary schools, which has led to some of our pupils having the opportunity to play at the highest level including National.

John has worked at the school on and off for many years as a Maths teacher, supply cover and even Home Economics!   When we lost our last HE teacher, he developed a Lifeskills course that included welding and eventually some cooking!

As ASC he has made a valuable contribution in supporting transition for the P7 pupils over the last few years. It goes beyond this though and last week’s ASG Sports Event on the field was indicative of his hard work. It was a great event blessed by lovely weather. Staff recognised John’s effort with a presentation and we all wish him well for the future.

Primary 7 visit – The Primary 7 pupils completed the second of their transition visits to the High School on the 6th June.  For two days they followed the timetable that they will become familiar with after the summer. Pupils were also presented with their Gairloch High School ties.



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