News

Model railway project

A number of pupils have expressed an interest in Model Railways, so Falkland House School has decided to transform the wood store into a Model Railway Room.

This is progressing nicely and the pupils continue to show a strong interest. For example, Cameron has been shown how to plaster and prepare the walls for painting and Ross has helped clean up the window sills. Some of the senior pupils will then paint the room white: this will act as a foundation coat onto which a scene can be painted.

Looking for inspiration, a visit to the Model Railway Exhibition at the SECC in Glasgow was arranged at the end of February.

During a recent meeting, the boys were asked to think about themes they would like to plan the railway around. They were also asked to think about which gauge of train they would like to feature in the project as well as planning the lay out of the track.

We look forward to hearing all their ideas after the April Holidays!

FHS Ski Trip 2018

FHS Independence Workers, Ms. Johnston and Mr. Gannon, give us this report:

Following the success of our four previous ski trips to Glenshee and to Pila in Italy, this year the school organised two separate trips to Glenshee, one for beginners and the other for more advanced skiers.

As part of the school’s Independence Programme, the pupils were closely involved in the preparation and delivery of the trips. This provided them with the opportunity to practice a range of skills that promote independence and resilience. The boys had the task of sourcing, pricing and organising accommodation, transport, appropriate clothing, ski equipment hire, lift passes, evening activities, and meals and the budget for groceries, before calculating the overall cost.

The first group left on Monday 26th February and included Bradley, Hugo, Robbie, Ryan and Lewis. We arrived at the Compass Centre, situated not far from the Spittal of Glenshee in the Cairngorms National Park, where we were warmly greeted by Annie who gave us a tour before the boys got settled into their bedrooms prior to dinner.

Before heading to the slopes on the Tuesday morning, we collected our ski equipment. The pupils were responsible for ensuring they looked after their equipment for the duration of the trip. Mr Graham provided ski lessons and by lunchtime all of the boys had made excellent progress. They continued to practice their skills in the afternoon and by the end of the day were all skiing competently. This created good morale within the group, with the boys feeling a very positive sense of achievement and looking forward to getting further up the mountain and progressing.  At the end of the day, we returned to the Compass Centre where we were well fed and went on to have a relaxing evening playing various games, including the infamous ski trip card game “Loot”.

Unfortunately on the Wednesday due to “The Beast from the East”,  the ski centre was stormbound. Unable to go skiing. the pupils spent time outside enjoying playing in the snow instead. Later, it was agreed that due to the worsening weather conditions, we would return to the school for the safety of pupils and staff. Although all of the boys were extremely disappointed, they handled the decision maturely and packed up and got ready to leave quickly and without any fuss.

The pupils were commended for their behaviour and maturity throughout. To make up for their disappointment at the trip being cut short, they will be going back to the Compass Centre for a residential experience with some of the other pupils at the end of this month.

The second trip left on Monday 5th March and included Aaron, Ben, Dylan, Hugh, Luca, Lucas, Lewis and Kieran. We returned to the Compass Centre where once again we were well looked after. We had an early start on the Tuesday morning and thanks to the weather the week before, the skiing conditions were absolutely perfect. We skied together as a group with some coaching from Mr Graham before the boys were given the freedom and responsibility to explore more of the resort.

By the end of the week they were able to tackle the entire range of slopes and runs, with three of the more advanced skiers taking on the terrifying “Tiger” run. Unfortunately this didn’t quite go to plan, and the three adrenaline seekers, who wish to remain anonymous (Aaron, Hugh and Kieran) ended up sprawled across the hill with their equipment scattered halfway up the slope. Fortunately, Ben (who was on his very first ski trip with the school) saved the day and majestically slalomed his way down the “Tiger”, collecting the boys’ skis and poles on the way… not all heroes wear capes!

In the evenings we enjoyed making use of the games room and gym hall at the Compass Centre. During one extremely competitive football match, the staff proved to be more competitive than the boys at times! The boys also spent time playing card and board games as well as relaxing within the communal lounge.

In line with ski trip tradition, each evening before dinner nominations took place as to who deserved to wear the infamous Unicorn headband for the remainder of the evening. Funny/ silly stories from the day were shared before a vote took place. It soon became clear that the boys had grown attached to the Unicorn horn, with some choosing to carry their embarrassment onto the slopes!

On our way home after a fantastic week, we stopped off for dinner in Perth and reflected on the trip. We enjoyed an excellent meal, and the boys represented themselves and the school exceptionally well, as they had done during the whole trip.

As well as being a fun and enjoyable holiday, the overall experience provides the pupils with an opportunity to develop their confidence and resilience by being away from their usual surroundings and by trying new experiences. It also brings the boys together to work as a team, and is an excellent context for them to build relationships with their peers and staff.

A very agreeable and memorable time was had by all. We can’t wait for our next adventure!

Click here to see the photos

Towards independence and independent living

Falkland House School’s shortlisting for a TES Independent School Award is thanks to the success of its innovative independence programme, which focuses on teaching pupils the skills they’ll need for independent living.

Having autism or learning and attention issues like ADHD can make it difficult to acquire certain basic skills that we commonly believe are simple enough to be learned without direct teaching and guided practice. Mastering these skills bolsters our pupils’ confidence and their willingness to try new experiences, increasing their chances for future success in all aspects of life.

Over the last year, the school has taken a number of steps to develop its independence programme, including appointing two independence development workers whose task it is to work with class groups and individuals, planning and delivering learning experiences linked to the FHS independence programme.

Pupils, parents, keyworkers, teachers and associated professionals are all involved in determining where individual pupils require support, and in setting short- and long-term targets for them. Thus the programme is personalised and focuses on specific areas that are relevant to each boy’s needs and requirements.

The independence skills are split into 12 areas:

  • Domestic
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Job Skills
  • Life Management
  • Managing Money
  • Nutrition
  • Safety
  • Self-care
  • Social Media & Internet Skills
  • Time
  • Travel
  • Miscellaneous

Skills are learned in real life situations where more than one skill may be needed to achieve a positive outcome. Problems and difficulties are introduced in a supported setting to eliminate meltdowns and develop self-regulation.

Over recent months, the pupils have looked at the following topics in class:

  • Internet safety
  • Learning about the facts and harmful effects of alcohol and smoking.
  • Raising awareness of anti-bullying week.
  • Treating others equally regardless of their gender, race, culture, religion or sexuality, whilst learning about how discrimination can affect people.
  • Encouraging pupils to have the confidence to voice their thoughts and opinions on topics whilst listening to their peers and being respectful of others’ views.
  • Learning about the background of the Poppy Appeal.
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Learning how to take turns and be good team players.

Meanwhile, beyond the classroom and on a more practical level, the boys have been busy with the following projects:

  • Independent travel.
  • Budgeting skills and shopping trips, developing their ability to manage money and increasing confidence in their interpersonal skills.
  • Planning a trip to the pantomime, which has involved researching suitable dates and times, restaurants and menus, travel and purchasing tickets, then making telephone calls to make bookings and reservations.
  • One of the pupils has applied for his provisional driving licence; he has been studying for the theory test and achieving good percentages.
  • Planning the next school ski trip to Glenshee in March 2018. This has required them to research and price transport, accommodation, ski equipment hire etc.
  • Learning about food hygiene and nutrition whilst working on developing their cookery skills. This has involved researching recipes for healthy balanced meals whilst sourcing the ingredients within a set budget, then cooking the meal and cleaning up afterwards.
  • Learning how to do their own laundry, including using a washing machine, reading labels, stain treatment, hanging clothes to dry, using a tumble dryer, ironing, folding and putting clothes away.

The independence development workers commented on their role:

“The Independence Programme focuses on building confidence and resilience in the pupils and it is rewarding to see them progress in a variety of settings both in and outwith the school. Our role is to encourage and support the pupils to complete tasks and deal with situations they will encounter when living independently. It is very satisfying to see them managing situations outside their comfort zone, whilst also developing practical skills they will use throughout their life.“

Here are some of the comments they have received from the pupils:

“We are learning life skills in fun and practical ways”

“I have become more socially confident”

“I’m looking forward to learning to travel independently”

“I can’t wait to go on the ski trip that we have been planning in class”

TES Independent School Awards 2018

The shortlist for the TES Independent School Awards was announced last Friday, and we’re delighted that Falkland House School is on that list!

The awards recognise outstanding examples of best practice in the independent sector, and a total of 97 schools from all over the UK have been shortlisted across 14 categories, with Falkland House one of only two Scottish schools to reach the final stages.

This is the third time in four years that the school has been a contender for a prestigious TES Schools award.

This year, the school has been commended for its innovative Independence Programme, and is one of four finalists for the Special Needs Initiative of the Year Award.

The school’s director, Stuart Jacob, said: “Research has shown that one of the most important predictors of positive outcomes in adulthood is the mastery of a variety of self-care skills. With this in mind, Falkland House School has developed an independence programme which runs alongside the school’s Personal & Social Development curriculum and offers an innovative approach to daily living skills and preparing the pupils for their future. The skills taught bolster the boys’ confidence and their willingness to try new experiences and, as a result, increase their chances for future success in all aspects of life.”

Winners will be revealed during a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 8th February, 2018.

Fundraising Fun

Every year, the Events Committee at Falkland House School organises two fundraising events. One of these is our Wear It Pink Day, when the whole school is involved in a pink bonanza to help raise money for the Breast Cancer Now charity and the life-saving research projects they fund.

Once again, the day was a great success. The event is always a lot of fun and the pupils look forward to it every year. Their expectations were high and they weren’t disappointed!

The school’s assembly hall was awash with pink, and the pupils threw themselves into the spirit of things, donning everything from pink hats and wigs to sunglasses and tutus! The staff didn’t let the side down either, sporting various hues of pink too. With a small donation the boys could roll the penny, try their hand at Hoopla, take a hit at the piñata, guess the name of the cuddly toy or the number of sweets in a jar, browse the book stall or buy some delicious homemade goodies on the cake stall. And as always, the Tombola stall with its fantastic selection of prizes donated by staff and parents drew the biggest crowd.

Our thanks to everyone who helped us raise a total of £340 for this very important cause.

Click below to see our photo album.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1427437467370947.1073741846.278758555572183&type=3

 

Good Citizenship Award

Every year, a Good Citizenship Award is presented to one of the pupils. A selected panel from the school considers a number of guidelines before choosing the best candidate for the award.

Before presenting the award at this year’s ceremony, PC Whittaker explained to the audience the reasons behind the panel’s choice:

“Looking back at this school year we have seen this pupil grow and make some extraordinary changes. His aim was, like most young people, to try and do well at the school and make some friendships along the way. He has achieved all of this and much more. Along with his educational, sports and community attainments which have been mentioned earlier, there have been notable acts of kindness and empathy. For example, we observed him helping new pupils settle in when they arrived at the school, noticed him being polite and friendly when meeting people and giving up his own time to feed and take care of the school’s chickens even during the cold winter days.

He is a highly respected member of our school community because he thinks and puts others before himself. The effort and attitude that he has shown throughout the year and his enthusiasm to learning is remarkable.

Community Police, along with the school, would like to present the Good Citizenship Award to Bradley.”

Very well done, Bradley!

Wishing Ruairidh and Marcus all the best

With staff, pupils and their families gathered at FHS for Celebrating Success Day, this was the perfect occasion to salute two of our pupils – Ruairidh and Marcus – who are leaving the school at the end of this academic year.

Mr. Storrie looked back at their time at Falkland House School:

“There can be no doubt that Ruairidh’s time at Falkland House School has been a resounding success. Over a period of five years we have witnessed Ruairidh grow into a confident young man who has worked hard to earn his place at college and to live independently when he leaves the school.

Ruairidh did particularly well when he gained entry to the Computer Games course at Fife College two years ago. It is a particularly difficult course to get in to and requires a set of well-developed mathematical skills. Although a challenge, Ruairidh’s application and hard work ensured that he would be successful.

Ruairidh made the switch from school pupil to college student well, largely because he was settled and secure within his Falkland surroundings and had the support of a dedicated team of care workers to help keep him on track. A highly popular pupil, his infectious enthusiasm is apparent to everyone he meets.

We, at Falkland, wish him every success as he commences NC Level 6 in Interactive Design and Digital Technologies at Edinburgh College. An integral member of the Falkland Family, we will, of course, miss him though we fully expect to hear from Ruairidh frequently when he comes back to visit us and to anticipate further success when he eventually throws the books away and enters the world of work in the not-so-distant future.”

 

“Marcus is another of our long-standing students who, this year, makes the critical transition from school to college. Ever since Marcus took up a post on the school’s Grounds Maintenance Programme, he was set for a career in Horticulture. A successful in-fill at Perth College quickly led to the offer of an unconditional place on the Access to Horticulture Course and this year will see Marcus commence his journey towards a career in local authority environmental services, or with a private landscaping company.

Renowned at Falkland House for his fierce competitive spirit in sport, Marcus is a bit of an all-rounder and it will be no surprise if he distinguishes himself as a rugby player, runner, boxer or footballer in the years to come. We wish him every success and trust that he too will come back to visit us and help to inspire those younger pupils at the school he knows well to go on and achieve similar success.”

Throughcare at FHS

Over the last year, we’ve been developing the processes we use to support positive transitions for our pupils, and we can happily report that these developments have led to excellent results. When the new term starts in August, five of our pupils will be attending NC level 5 courses which will run alongside an academic programme in school, as well as ongoing independence development work.

The school provides the boys with all the support they need to engage successfully with further education. Coordinated by FHS English teacher Mr. Storrie, and working in conjunction with Mr Thomson of Skills Development Scotland, the boys use software and discussion groups to explore their interests and aptitudes. They then research options for education, training and employment. The school also offers them varied work experiences to allow them to make informed choices about future pathways, and organises college visits so they can learn about college life as well as find out more about course options.

A number of new courses have been accessed over the last few months, including some highly competitive ones such as the coveted NC 5 Music Course at Perth College. We are delighted that Hugh has been offered a place on this course after sailing through a demanding interview involving an individual performance, numeracy assessment and impromptu band performance.

Moreover, next term Kieran will be attending NC Sport and Fitness at Fife College Stenton, Lucas NC Business, Hospitality and Tourism at Fife College Kirkcaldy, Alfie NC Computing at Stenton Campus and Aaron Photography at Fife College Dunfermline.

The range of courses they’ll be attending is testimony to the truly individual and tailored support each pupil gets at FHS.

Our heritage heroes

Towards the end of May, staff and pupils at FHS were given a chance to connect with the past when they were invited by the Centre for Stewardship at Falkland Estate to take part in an archaeological dig on the East Lomond Hill. They unanimously agreed it was a great experience.

During the day-long dig, they learned a lot about the hills, local history and the archaeological heritage of the Hillfort and surrounding area. What’s more, they helped to unearth a number of important artefacts as well as the structural remains of a Bronze Age cairn which housed an ancient burial box called a cist.

The boys once again proved to be great ambassadors for the school, impressing everyone with the energy and effort they put into their trowelling, recording and sieving.

As a follow up to the dig, they then took part in a number of workshops held at the school and organized by OJT Archaeology and Archaeology Scotland. The workshops gave them a better understanding of what the working life of an archaeologist involves. Again, the activities were greeted with great interest and enthusiasm. The workshops allowed them to apply some academic skills such as map reading, mathematics and functional literacy to practical tasks like plane table surveying, map regression and monument recording.

These events have given the boys an insight into Scottish history, and hopefully piqued their interest in the heritage on their doorstep as well as further afield. Moreover, all those who participated have gained an Archaeology Scotland Heritage Hero Award at Explorer or Detective level.