News

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.

 

 

FHS Ski Trip to Italy

In the early hours of Sunday the 5th March 2017, 8 pupils and 4 staff members from Falkland House School set off on the first foreign holiday undertaken by the school. For the last three years an annual ski trip to Glenshee has been on offer to the boys. This has been in preparation for our most ambitious excursion so far, a week-long trip to the resort of Pila in the Aosta Valley in Northern Italy.

To be considered for a place on the trip, the boys had to be in S4 to S6 and had to have previously successfully completed a ski trip in Scotland. The Ski Trip is provided by the School for a number of reasons. It creates an opportunity to deliver units of the Personal and Social Development Award which is administered by the SQA. This involves the boys considering their skills and abilities in a range of situations and setting targets for their personal development. It also provides them with the opportunity to practise a range of skills that we promote in the school related to independence and resilience. Moreover, relationships between pupils and staff are strengthened.

The boys have to make a personal financial contribution towards the cost of the trip. This can be done through engagement with the schools Contract Service Company which provides employment opportunities. In doing this we hope to make a connection between effort and reward.

And of course there is also the simple but no less important reason that it creates the chance for them to experience a fun holiday.

The boys each had tasks allocated to them prior to leaving which related to some aspect of the planning and organisation. This may have been preparing an equipment list for the group or searching for the best Euro exchange rate. They also had to take some responsibility for organising themselves, such as ensuring their passport was in order and applying for a European Health Card.  Moreover, they contributed to the risk management process and were involved in discussions about what to do if problems occurred and what they needed to do to stay safe. Whenever possible, all of the boys were actively engaged in the preparations. Regarding the trip to the Bureau de Change, for example, one pupil could have completed this task, but they all went so that they could learn what to do and where to do it.

The flight to Geneva left Glasgow at 08.00. We made sure that we were in Glasgow in plenty of time to go through check-in, again taking the time to explain each process to the boys. This did not prevent at least one lad trying to get some Irn Bru through security! Landing in Geneva we then had a two-hour transfer through France to Aosta via the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Often the transfer is considered something to be endured, but the scenery made the journey both enjoyable and memorable. The boys were excited by the fact that they had visited four countries in one day. Passing through the Alps, seeing and then traveling under Mont Blanc all added to the excitement and anticipation of the week ahead.

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On the approach to the airport over Lake Geneva

We arrived in Aosta in the early afternoon. Aosta is a town with a population of over forty thousand. The Interski offices and stores which are next to the cable car that leads to Pila are located in a fairly industrial and rather unattractive part of the town. This created a poor first impression. However, once we arrived at the Roma Hotel, any concerns we had were quickly overcome. The Hotel is situated next to the ancient Roman Wall which formed the town’s defences when it was first established as a community for retired legionnaires. Stepping through the wall transported you back in time. The town has beautiful architecture and a real sense of Italian style. The boys got to experience and enjoy the shops and cafes of the town and spent many Euros in the various ice cream parlours.

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Dylan and Miss Nicol outside Aosta Town Hall

Ski school on the first day involved the boys being split into three groups. Joe H made excellent progress on the first morning and he was quickly moved up a group. This meant that the boys were skiing in two groups of four for the rest of the week, each with its own dedicated instructor. Prior to our arrival and on the first two days of the trip it snowed in Pila, so 50cm of fresh snow ensured that all of the runs were in top condition. This was lucky because by our last day, Saturday the 11th, the temperature in the resort was 20°C.

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Day one and fresh snow

All of the boys exceeded expectations in relation to the progress they made in their skiing abilities. The environment was definitely an inspiration. When the snow cleared after the first two days, the skies were blue and we were able to fully appreciate the stunning views of Mont Blanc – or Monte Bianco as we were corrected by our Italian host – to the north-west, Monte Rosa to the north and the Matterhorn, or Monte Cervino to give it its Italian name, to the north-east.

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The groups got to experience skiing on a range of runs, from wide open red runs to tree-lined blue runs. The group made up of Kieran, Joe R, Hugh and Aaron progressed so well that their instructor proudly announced that they had skied every run in the resort, including all the black runs. This was something that he had never achieved before.

The days passed quickly and the evenings were filled with a range of après-ski activities laid on by Interski. The highlight was Pizza Night, which involved a trip to the old town and a visit to a traditional pizzeria. The boys could eat as much as they wanted, which turned out to be a considerable amount judging by the pile of empty pizza plates and anxious expressions on the faces of the waiting staff.

A presentation ceremony was held on the final evening. The instructors awarded the boys with a certificate and badge related to the level they had achieved throughout the week.

The last day was spent skiing before an early finish and transfer to Geneva for the homeward flight. The boys were genuinely upset to be leaving and some expressed surprise at how sad they were to say goodbye to the ski instructors and the team who had helped to look after them throughout the week.

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The team and instructors on the last day

I believe that this first foreign trip was a great success, and it is a very clear expression of the school’s commitment to developing the boys’ aspirations, independence and resilience.

A full evaluation of the experience will take place over the coming weeks, and we welcome support from all in this process. Following that we will consider where to next ….

Mr. Graham

Here are some of the boys’ comments:

“I had never been on a plane before so it was a new experience that I enjoyed thoroughly” (LB)

“The high point for me was doing a black run” (AH)

“We stayed in Hotel Roma and the staff that worked there were very friendly even though they all spoke mostly Italian but they all had a really welcoming attitude towards us all and made us feel really welcome” (DM)

“The highlight for me was the food. I’ve never tasted food so different from what I am used to. I had pasta, soups, real ice cream and lovely stone-baked pizzas. It was brilliant” (HB)

“The skiing was a lot of fun, but nothing could beat at the end of the day when I got to take the boots off” (LW)

College Q & A with Lucas

Three of our students started college this term. Marcus is studying Horticulture at Perth College, Joe is attending The Prince’s Trust Course at Stenton College in Glenrothes and Lucas is taking a Professional Cookery Course (Foods of the World) at St Brycedale Campus in Kirkcaldy.

Lecturers have described Lucas as a “model student”. We did a Q&A with him to see how he is getting on.

Q: What was your first day at college like?
Great! Everyone was very friendly and supportive.

Q: Tell us about your tutors and classmates.
They’re all friendly and easy to talk to.

Q: What new skills are you learning on the course?
Cooking and admin work.

Q: Is it fun?  Hard work?
It’s a mixture of both.

Q: What has been the best bit until now?
I’ve found catering my favourite part.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge/most difficult bit?
Most of the admin work!

Q: Has it given you any idea of what you would like to do after this?
Yes, I’d like to continue the course at the next level.

Work experience with 4M Accountants

Pupils from Falkland House School will gain valuable work experience in 2017 thanks to a new partnership with FourM Chartered Accountants in Dundee, headed by Director Iain McBride.

One of the ways the school supports its pupils in making choices about their future is to provide them with work experience opportunities. These placements bridge the gap between school, college and work. They not only provide the boys with basic employment skills. By giving them an insight into the world of work and the challenges they will face there, they gain confidence from the experience.

HITACHI HDC-1499E

In recent years, FHS pupils have completed placements at the Scottish Parliament, Pillars of Hercules Organic Farm, Bells Sports Centre in Perth and the Falkland Estate, to name a few. The school is currently seeking other opportunities throughout Scotland that will offer the boys vital work experience and improve their employment prospects.

work experience 4

Based in Broughty Ferry since the original firm was established almost 30 years ago, FourM is actively involved in training school leavers and graduates towards professional accountancy qualifications in the context of a busy professional working environment. Every year for almost two decades, the firm has supported local schools by providing senior pupils considering careers in finance and administration with short work experience opportunities, as well as offering seasonal summer work to school and university students pursuing careers in accountancy or business.

Following on from this enormously positive and mutually beneficial experience, the FourM directors see the potential benefits that this new partnership will bring to Falkland House pupils, giving them a work experience and personal development opportunity that will help them build confidence outwith the school.

Awareness of Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and other related conditions is improving, and receiving increasing attention in the Press.

FourM Chartered Accountants is one of a growing number of companies and organisations recognising the skills and abilities that neurodiverse employees can bring to the workplace.

My five-day trip to Kailzie Bunk House

Joe is currently attending the Prince’s Trust Course at Stenton Campus in Glenrothes. The twelve-week personal development course improves confidence and motivation. Moreover, Joe is gaining valuable life and work skills as well as qualifications that will increase his employability or help him secure a place on another college course.

In February, Joe took part in a team building residential trip to Peebles. It was an activity-packed week, and another big challenge which he handled just as well as he handled his transition from school to college.

Joe described the experience to us:

I went to Kailzie Bunk House with eighteen people and we travelled by bus. The bunk house had four or five rooms, a kitchen, living room and four bathrooms. We cooked our own meals in teams. Out team cooked bangers and mash. I thought it was really challenging to cook for so many but we got there in the end.

On my first day we went food shopping to get provisions for the week and we also played games. The other activities we did during the week were a blindfold walk, walking in the woods, lava tile, rock climbing, kayaking and archery.

For me the best thing about this experience was the rock climbing because I had to overcome my fear of heights. The most challenging activity was walking in the woods because we had to cover eight miles.

I got on well with all my classmates and I got to know them better. At the end of the trip I felt amazed that I managed to complete the week, I was happy, thrilled and tired. I would definitely be keen to do this again.”

Principles of Good Transitions 3

Pupils at FHS receive on-going throughcare support and preparation to ensure a good transition from school and/or college to adult life.

The aim of the ‘Principles of Good Transitions 3’ pamphlets, compiled by the Association For Real Change (ARC Scotland) and the Scottish Transitions Forum, is to improve the experiences of young people with additional support needs going through transitions.

The publication was launched in January, and a number of our pupils appear in it. During a reception at the Scottish Parliament they were presented with a framed copy of their photo by Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt MSP.

Transitions 5Transitions 4

The photos used in the pamphlets are now part of a photography exhibition that has been touring Scotland and will continue to do so throughout 2017 to raise awareness about transitions.
Transitions 2

Transitions 1

Download the 7 principles plus Autism Supplement

http://www.autismnetworkscotland.org.uk/files/2017/01/Principle-1.pdf

http://www.autismnetworkscotland.org.uk/files/2017/01/Principle-2.pdf

http://www.autismnetworkscotland.org.uk/files/2017/01/Principle-3.pdf

http://www.autismnetworkscotland.org.uk/files/2017/01/Principle-4.pdf

http://www.autismnetworkscotland.org.uk/files/2017/01/Principle-5.pdf

http://www.autismnetworkscotland.org.uk/files/2017/01/Principle-6.pdf

http://www.autismnetworkscotland.org.uk/files/2017/01/Principle-7.pdf

http://www.autismnetworkscotland.org.uk/files/2017/01/Autism-Supplement.pdf

 

Getting the right support – BBC interview

BBC Scotland education correspondent, Jamie McIvor, visited Falkland House School at the end of January to talk to former pupil Kieran, who spent six years at the school and is now at college. Kieran is a great example of what can be achieved with the right support. Kieran’s mum and the parent of another pupil currently attending FHS spoke to the journalist about the battles they faced to get their sons the support they needed. Click below to watch the interview and read the article.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-38768485