Dear Parent / Carer


As the session draws to a close, I would like to keep you up to date with school news. As ever, the past few months have been really busy ones for the school.


This year’s SQA examinations are now at an end. We wish all the pupils involved the very best as they await results. I am happy to report that our Chief Invigilator, Alex Laird was very impressed with the behaviour and commitment of our pupils this year.


The SQA results will be delivered by first class mail on Tuesday, 5th August 2014. In addition to this, if pupils have registered with “MySQA” by Tuesday, 8th July 2014, results will also be sent by e-mail or text on Tuesday, 5th August 2014. To activate the account please log-on at www.mysqa.info


Pupils who wish a change of course in the light of results can attend a re-coursing interview with Mrs Dobson on Wednesday, 6th August 2014 from 09:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. or Thursday, 7th August 2014 from 11.00pm – 3.30 p.m.  Interview times can be arranged by telephoning the school office from Tuesday, 5th August 2014.  It would be beneficial if pupils were able to be seen on these dates to allow for a smooth start to the school session. Please note that the Appeals system has been replaced by a Results Service, detail of which has been shared with parents / carers.



Please can I make a big plea to parents / carers who will be buying school clothes over the holidays. The standard of school dress has slipped recently not so much with our male pupils, but with the female pupils. A fashion edge is leading to a range of tops which push the interpretation of school dress. A further problem is footwear, especially white and coloured canvas shoes which are not appropriate for school. I appeal to you as parents to support us by purchasing, plain black tops, plain formal trousers (NOT cargo trousers, black jeans or tracksuit bottoms) and skirts and black school shoes, rather than casual footwear. We genuinely believe that the wearing of school uniform impacts on the success of youngsters and the ethos of the school and we rely heavily on parental support.


Please note that the replacement cost of a school tie is now £6.


Our partners in the provision of uniform are Thompsons / Intersport.

They can be contacted on 556 3463 or on www.interkit.co.uk . Premises are at 53 Elm Row, Edinburgh.




Please could parents / carers inform us immediately when there are any changes made to telephone numbers, mobile numbers, addresses, emergency contacts and doctors.  It is important we have up-to-date contact in case of emergencies. Please inform the school by e-mail or letter. Pupil Data forms have been issued to all pupils – please ensure that these are returned to us for our records.


We have an email bank of parent / carer contacts that we use regularly to pass on information and to share news of the school. Please allow us to add your contact to this bank by providing an email address by completing the form which was enclosed with the Pupil ScotXed form issued a few days ago.



Please continue to contact us by 8:15 a.m on the morning of a pupil absence. The telephone line set aside for this is 657 9057. This number has a 24 hour answering machine. Punctuality of pupils is really important to us, please emphasise the importance of this at home.



It was such a pleasure to celebrate pupil achievements at the recent annual Awards’ Ceremony. The range of talent and the extent of pupil success, both academic and extra-mural was tremendous. Congratulations to all those involved and special congratulations to this year’s Dux – Jack Gargan. Special thanks to Tom Ballantine, Parent Council Chair who stepped in to present prizes and to address the audience at short notice when the guest speaker had to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances. Staff and parents / carers present were so proud of the achievement of our pupils.


S6 / S1

We enjoyed celebrating with this year’s S6 at their recent Prom which was a fantastic evening. As they head off for the next stage in their lives, we wish them well, and as always, we will miss them.


I would like to say a huge thank you to this year’s Senior Captains, Connor Brian and Elspeth Simpson and their Deputes John Ballantine, Michael Gibson, Rowan Simpson and Michaela Urquhart who have been excellent office bearers. They have offered time and support to the work of the school and we are very grateful.


Continuing this week we welcome our incoming S1 to the school. We look forward to the youngsters joining us in August.



Head Boy        Chris McColm

Head Girl        Lilidh Aveyard


Depute Head Boys      Hugh Brown and Leo Gibb-James

Depute Head Girls     Iona Hamilton and Alex Lauder



I am delighted to report that the S6, under the expert stewardship of Mrs Williamson and Mrs Young have led the school to raise over £4,000 this year for charitable causes. We had lots of fun as a school on the way to this total and recognise how important our charities’ fund raising work is, in terms of developing good citizenship. Some of the charities who benefited from our fund raising are:


Asthma UK                                                    Marie Curie

Sports Relief                                                  Orcadia

Water Aid                                                      CHAS

Edinburgh Young Carers Project               Poppy Scotland

Health Opportunities Team                        Muir Maxwell Trust



The Parent Council has met regularly this year and offered great support to the school. There will be a meeting of the Portobello Parent Forum on Monday, 1st September 2014. All parents / carers are welcome to the Annual General Meetingin the school library at 7 p.m. It would be appreciated if you could join us.



This year has seen some tremendous fund raising through regular raffles, our School Lottery, our Cabaret Night and our Annual Fashion Show.   Many thousands of pounds have been raised and some great resources have been bought for our pupils including books for the English department Reading Club, accelerometers for the Physics Department, books for the Library, free standing screens for the Drama Department, a xylophone, chess sets and radio microphones amongst other resources. The school is really grateful for this tremendous financial support.



The P.E. department, many other colleagues, a number of senior students and parents / carers have helped support our sporting extra-curricular programme this session and I’m so grateful for the many hours they have devoted to this. Our Active Schools’ Co-ordinator Mr Patience has also introduced a number of new activities and I appreciate his efforts to get young people involved in activity. Thanks especially to parents who support our teams. If you are keen to and able to support us in this way next session, please contact Mrs Inkster, CL of PE.



I never cease to be amazed by the range and depth of sporting talent at the school. Please see the Appendix at the end of this newsletter which outlines our recent successes.


Since the Award Ceremony there has been even more achievements.


At a citywide Commonwealth Games event our U18 rugby team won the overall title in Rugby and our U17 team were runners up. Lorne Russell came third in the Badminton and Craig McIntosh came third in the Bowling. Michael Swinton won bronze in the Triathlon and Ellie Gallagher won 4 medals for swimming.


Our S1 – S3 Portobello High Water Polo Team won the Scottish Championship at St Margaret’s Academy in Livingstone.



The Edinburgh Secondary Schools Athletics Championships were held at Meadowbank and winners were :


Kate Johnstone (3CD1) won the girls U-15 100M (beating the Scottish no 1 in the process) – an amazing result. Michael Swinton (4C1) won the U-15 boys 1500m and also took bronze in the 80m hurdles. Leo Robertson-Walker (4C1) took silver in the U-17 400m and Andrew Taylor (5C1) also took silver in the U-17 800m.


Andrew Irving (2D1) has been selected to play for Scotland U/14 football.


Hamish Bain has been selected to play for the U/16 Scottish Rugby Team.



Two Portobello High School students were honoured at the recent awards ceremony at the National Gallery of Scotland. Chris Fall (S6) received a Commended award at the Paolozzi Prize for Art Award Ceremony and Fred Kerr (S6) received a Highly Commended award. Schools throughout Edinburgh were represented and competition was tough. Well done!



On Thursday, 5th June 2014 five pupils from Portobello High School STEM club went to Murrayfield Stadium to represent the school in the annual Celebration of Engineering and Science. They competed against other schools from across Scotland in different challenges. They won the Ping Pong Pentathlon competition. The Ping Pong Pentathlon is a competition linking Science to the Commonwealth games. The pupils were challenged to make pieces of equipment to mimic different sporting events:


  • In Archery they made a launcher to launch ping pong balls at a target to get the highest number of points.
  • In Sailing they produced an elastic band powered boat to travel across a water tank in the fastest possible time.
  • In Football they designed a robot to push and pull a ping pong ball through a maze in the fastest possible time.
  • In Parachute Jump they made a parachute for the ping pong ball to fall as slowly as possible to a target.
  • In Javelin they made a paper glider to carry a ping pong ball as far as possible.
  • They also researched and produced a poster about the Science and Engineering achievements of a Commonwealth country.


The pupils received a medal each and £250 to be used for the STEM club for next year.


Pupils who took part were:    S2        Dexter Charlton         William Griffiths

Joachim Vanneste


S6        Hilde MetzgerRachel Walker



I am delighted to report that one of our pupils, Depute Head Boy, Michael Gibson (Session 2013/2014) was selected to carry the baton in recognition of his contribution to volunteering in the field of sports and the work he does for the school. Michael carried the baton from Portobello Pool for 200m to John’s Street.



Congratulations to Lizzie Marriott (4B1), Gonda Metzger (4A1), Haroon Anwar (3C1) and Michael Watson (3CD2), who won the poster prize at the Enterprising Mathematics in the Lothians competition. Their hard work in preparation for the event saw them beat off 30 other schools to claim top prize for the poster round. The poster will be displayed in the Maths department very soon.



The “Maths in the Pipeline” day at Heriot Watt involved a series of mathematical tasks that pupils had to attempt /solve that were related to the Oil industry. Rachel Lawson (4AB1), Scott Morham (4C2), Michael Swinton (4C1), Jacky Hao (4D2), Craig Melville (4C1) and Cameron Downing (4CD2) all participated and did very well.



Portobello High School participated in the final of the Edinburgh Schools Public Speaking Competition organised by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Although we had to hand back last year’s winning trophy, pupils Alexander Fraser and Georgie Heriot delivered an excellent performance.



Our school Rock Band “The Nomads” won the City’s Battle of the Bands competition at Easter time. This is the 2nd time the boys have entered the competition and the 2nd time they have won! The band comprises of Nicholas Haquin, Scott Harrison and Joe Dransfield, all of S6.



Ms Sharp and the Health Promotion Group organised and delivered the recent S3 Health Day which was well received by the pupils.  There were a range of events run by staff and outside specialists including Jammin, Fitness, Circuit training, Zumba, Football, Water-polo, Self-defence & the Glee Experience.  These activities were supported with sessions on alcohol awareness, healthy cooking, mental and sexual health, meditation, first aid, massage, nail and beauty.   It was a very successful day.



Developments are going well and we are really encouraged by the development of technology to support good learning and teaching.



There have been a number of iPad charger cables that have been broken in the past few weeks.  It would appear that this has happened in some cases as a result of the cable being wound around the plug when in school bags.  To prevent further damage to the cables, pupils should NOT bring chargers into school.  Instead, iPADs should come into school in the morning FULLY CHARGED.



Portobello High School can proudly announce we have been awarded a 6th Green Flag Award from Eco-Schools’ Scotland. The Eco Committee and subject departments have maintained Green Flag status since 2002 through whole-school activities, awareness campaigns and course content in pupils’ day-to-day learning. Particular commendation goes to the pupils who put effort each week into the work of the Eco Team and motivate school staff; without these pupils, no planning or delivery would be possible. Special thanks too, to Miss Bigg for her stewardship of this initiative.



I am pleased to report that we continue to progress our global citizenship work through a working partnership with the secondary school Kiurani High in Chogoria, Kenya. Unfortunately, having fund raised for over a year we have had to cancel a planned visit of staff and pupils to Kenya due to unrest in the country. It is hoped we can rearrange this visit for another time.



Details of opportunities can be accessed on the school website under Support / School Leaver Opportunities or from Miss Skedd (Pupil Support Leader).



I have kept you up-to-date with developments as regards the new school planned for Portobello High School. At present we are through all stages of the Private Bill other than the final stage which is a debate and vote involving all MSPs at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, 26th June 2014. We look forward to a decision later this month.



Our BBC Radio Scotland World War One Project is developing well and a series of programmes relating to the project is scheduled to be broadcast later this year. Historical research continues and pupils have also engaged in decoding in Maths, looking into rations in Food and Textile Technology and engaging in fitness drills in P.E. An important part of this project is the trip to the Battlefields with S3 – S6 pupils at the end of the session.



Parents and community members helped on Saturday, 26 April in a spring clean of our biodiversity garden. The garden, accessible from the east side of the school, beside the CDT department, is a fenced area containing flowerbeds, a bird feeder, grassland and stone and long piles. Pupils in the Eco Team maintain the garden as part of their responsibilities.

This event, running now for the third year, saw volunteers maintaining the paths and fence, weeding and planting and importantly, being rewarded with hot drinks and bacon/vegetarian rolls!




Six S4 Portobello pupils have been working with local primary schools to deliver an educational workshop around the life of Anne Frank and the theme of Human and Child Rights.


Representing and working on behalf of the Anne Frank Trust Scotland, the Anne Frank Ambassadors engage and work with pupils in Primary 6 and Primary 7. The Ambassadors initiate discussion and facilitate creative work around the value of human rights and human life, linking them to Anne’s story.


The six Ambassadors are a fantastic asset to Portobello, the city of Edinburgh and Scotland. You can find out more about the Anne Frank Trust at www.annefrank.org.uk



Edinburgh City Libraries have launched a new digital service called Library2go that allows members to download free e-books and e-magazines and access a variety of e-resources. The e-resources include free access to reliable reference sites such as Encyclopaedia Britannica, Literature Resource Centre and Issues Online.


We feel that Library2go could be of great benefit to our pupils but individuals must be a member of Edinburgh City Libraries to access the service.  We have arranged for all pupils to be given a username and password and these have been handed out to students in Key Adult Time and their English lessons.


If students have lost their membership details or need help with using the service they should speak to the Librarian, Miss Thow.



Our School Link Officer PC Ferry has settled in well with us and is proving to be a real asset in her support of pupils, parents / carers and staff. She has developed such positive relationships with all she has encountered.



Thank you to everyone who joined us for our fantastic School Show. I know that all the staff and pupils who were involved thoroughly enjoyed themselves even although they are exhausted as the end of term approaches. Thanks to everyone for their contribution. I am sure you will agree with me that the show made for an entertaining night’s experience.



Following our successful Cabaret Night we were approached by a board member of Edinburgh’s Jazz Festival. He was keen for our Jazz Band and senior singers to perform at the International Festival given the quality of musicianship he had heard at the Cabaret. Unfortunately, given that the Festival is during the school holidays we are not able to provide the school jazz band but a group of our musicians will perform alongside senior vocalists. This is a real accolade for the school.



We were delighted to be able to support the community through the staging of a litter pick by our S2 pupils in Figgate Park. I recognised that littering is one of the big issues for the community and it is good to be able to show community responsibility in this way.



S3 Biology students took part in the UK Biology Challenge. Over 30,000 students took part across the Country. Our S3 pupils did really well. Zaynah Akhtar achieved a Silver award. Lizzie Marriott (4B1) and Aimee Morgan each achieved a Bronze award. 18 other pupils received a Highly Commended or Commended (6 Highly Commended and 12 Commended).



As always, it is sad for us to have to say goodbye to staff who have completed their probationary year with us very successfully. I wish Ms MacMillan (History), Miss Boggon (Art & Design) and Ms Brown (English) well for the future.


Retirements, promotions and staff movement have led to recruitment for next session and I am pleased at the calibre of staff being offered permanent contracts. We have appointed the following staff:


Mr MacKenzie has become a permanent member of the History department


Ms Rose has joined us as a Drama Teacher


We have three Newly Qualified Teachers joining us for next session –


Physical Education           –                 Ms Hastings

English                              –                 Mr Lee

History                              –                 Ms Rea


The end of session will see 2 members of the teaching staff depart from Portobello High School:


Mrs Todd (Drama), is retiring at the end of August. I’d like to thank her for her many years of service to Portobello High and wish her well. Miss Mariani is moving on to another teaching post.


Mr McNair (Pupil Support Assistant) and Mr Patience (Active Schools Co-ordinator) are moving on to post-graduate Teacher Training and we wish them well. Ms Turner’s (Pupil Support Assistant) contract has ended and we wish her well.


Here is a quick reminder of key dates:-


Friday 27th June 2014 School will close at 12:15 for the summer holidays.

Happy holidays!


Tuesday 5 August 2014 SQA results will be delivered
Wednesday / Thursday 6 & 7 August 2014 Re-coursing Interviews
Monday / Tuesday 11 & 12 August 2014 Staff In-service Days
Wednesday 13 August 2014 Pupils return to school for 8:30 am


Should you have any pressing school concerns during the holidays, please contact the School Office in the first instance. There will be Senior Leadership cover during the holiday period, whom the office staff will contact as necessary.


Finally, on behalf of all my colleagues can I thank you for your continued support throughout the session and wish you and your family a most enjoyable summer break.


Yours faithfully




P Macarthur

Head Teacher