Special measures to welcome new high school pupils

Secondary schools in Inverclyde are ensuring new-starts who missed out on their induction because of the coronavirus lockdown are still being given a warm welcome.

Staff at each of the area’s six high schools have had to think outside the box to connect with current primary sevens who will be joining them next term.

The special measures include welcome videos and virtual tours to allow pupils and their families to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings when they eventually reopen.

Teachers at Inverclyde Academy have produced two short films introducing themselves to the next intake of first years and showing the young people around the building.

School staff will also be delivering over 120 welcome bags to each of the new S1 pupils to make sure they have the essentials they need to hit the ground running with their secondary education.

Each bag contains items such as a school tie, polo shirt, stationery, comic book and the bag itself can be used as a school bag.

Denise Crawford, Inverclyde Academy head teacher, said: “The children who have been coming to the key worker childcare hub here at the school have been helping to make up the bags along with our pupil support staff because they will be the first point of contact for the new first years at the school.”

P7s who will begin their secondary education next term would normally attend each of the six Inverclyde high schools for an induction before the summer break.

The coronavirus lockdown put paid to that but staff across the district have been working on alternative measures, including welcome videos.

Videos have been posted online on YouTube and school social media channels for all to see and the response so far has been extremely positive.

Gordon Livingstone, who is Inverclyde Academy depute head teacher and in charge of the new S1s, said: “Although it’s a real shame we can’t welcome students into the school as normal this month, we’re using technology, along with traditional methods, to reach out to pupils in different ways that we wouldn’t have been able to do before.

“The young people have been responding really well to the videos. It was the idea of science and ICT teacher John Harkins and by putting them on YouTube has allowed us to reach a bigger audience, including parents and grandparents. The virtual tour video alone was viewed over one thousand times in just four days.

“We’ve had great feedback.”

Depute council leader Jim Clocherty, Inverclyde Council’s Convener of Education & Communities, has praised staff for coming up with different ways to welcome pupils.

Councillor Clocherty said: “Staff and pupils have embraced technology and used it to their advantage to continue teaching and learning at home during lockdown.

“These welcome videos are an extension of that and a clever way to connect with current primary sevens to help with their transition into high school after the summer.

“Well done to everyone involved.”