Saturday, 20 December 2014


Proposed Experimental Traffic Regulation - Prohibition of Vehicular Traffic (During School Travel Periods)


A public consultation is now live as part of a new pilot School Streets initiative for the Capital, running from 15th December 2014 to 27th February 2015.


Whatever your views about School Streets, as a parent, resident or driver, City of Edinburgh Council wants to hear from you. We are particularly keen to get your views on which streets should be included in the pilot project.

Click to view

A total of 31 schools expressed an interest in taking part in the pilot, which is designed to improve the environment around schools and encourage safer and healthier ways for pupils to travel to and from school.

The Local Transport Strategy 2014-19 contains a commitment to pilot School Streets at up to five schools.

However, given the volume of interest from schools across the city, a list of ten pilot schemes covering 11 schools was drawn up and was agreed by councillors in October.

These locations have been experiencing on going road safety issues caused by too many drivers bringing their vehicles too close to the school gates.

The pilot schemes will prohibit traffic on streets outside or around school entrances at specific times of day.

The benefits of implementing school streets are:

          Increase in walking and cycling and active lifestyles for pupils and parents/carers
          Reduction in traffic speed, congestion and pollution around the school gates
          Responding to demand from parents and residents

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener, said: "There's a huge appetite out there for this initiative and our next task is to finalise the details of how the schemes might work. We're looking for as much feedback as possible from people in each of the 11 school communities, including local residents. Please have your say in our online consultation or pop along to one of the many drop-in sessions we've got planned early in the New Year."

An online consultation went live earlier this week and will run until Friday 27 February 2015.

In addition, a series of drop-in information events will be held in each of the school communities during January and February 2015.

School Streets Drop-in Sessions Diary

January 2015

8th - Clermiston Primary School, 3-6pm
13th - Buckstone Primary School, 3-7pm
14th - Duddingston Primary School, 3-6pm
15th - Sciennes Primary School, 3.30-7pm
20th - Abbeyhill Primary School, 3-6pm
21st - Cramond Primary School, 3-6.30pm
27th - St Peter's RC Primary School, 4-6.30pm
28th - Towerbank Primary School, 3-6pm

February 2015

3rd - Bonaly Primary School, 4.30-7pm
4th - St John's RC Primary School, 3-6pm
25th - Colinton Primary School, 3-6.30pm

Katie Spence, Transport Communications Manager
0131 529 2427



Friday, 19 December 2014

Happy Holidays!

Our traditional Carols on the Stairs takes place on Friday 19th December and term ends at 12pm. Remember to wear something festive and bring a torch!

We look forward to welcoming pupils back to Sciennes on TUESDAY 6th JANUARY 2015 when free P1-3 school lunches begin. (Please remember to book lunches in advance using Wisepay if you have not done so already.)

Wishing all our families a safe and restful holiday.

Carols on the Stairs
Mr Howie - MASTER of Ceremonies

Mrs McVicker

Mrs Ford
Mrs Noble, Mrs McVicker, Mrs Ford
Ms Anstruther
Staff traditional rendition of A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Mrs Aileen Nimmo, Chair of the School Council, joins in the fun

End of Term Christmas Assembly

Mrs Noble led the P4-P7 Christmas Assembly on Wednesday 17th December at St Catherine's of Argyll. Ms Anstruther led the P1-3 Christmas Assembly earlier in the morning. Mrs Campbell led the School Orchestra while Mrs McVicker accompanied on piano and we were treated to some lovely singing from the Vocal Acapella group. Mrs McVicker was thanked for her tremendous contribution to the School Choir and we gave Mrs Johnston our fond farewells. The Woodwind ensemble, led by Mr Ironside, played to welcome pupils, staff and parents to the Assembly and the House Captains confidently provided readings.

Mrs Noble leads the Christmas Assembly
Woodwind Ensemble
Vocal Acapella
School Orchestra

Mrs Noble told the story of a WW1 truce to play a game of football at Christmas
Fondest wishes and lots of love to Mrs Johnston as she takes up her new post at JGPS  in January

A message of peace and best wishes for a Happy Christmas holiday to all our families.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Oh What A Night!

Sciennes staff were on their feet to give P7 pupils a standing ovation for their magnificent performance at the James Gillespie's Christmas Concert in the Usher Hall on Thursday 18th December. The whole event was a wonderful celebration of the superb achievements of JGHS Music Department and their pupils, led by Mrs Deirdre O'Brien, and the evening was a remarkable achievement in itself, testament to many months of planning and rehearsal. Great to be able to see so many former Sciennes pupils perform, too. We are very grateful for being invited to participate in such a memorable occasion at such a prestigious venue and Sciennes staff prepared the children perfectly.

Every single P7 pupil sang their heart out to give an outstanding account of themselves and were impeccably behaved on stage throughout. How lovely to end the term with such a tingly glow, so very, very proud. Wow, P7!

Fond Farewell to Mrs Johnston

Mrs Vivienne Johnston has been a Class Teacher at Sciennes for nineteen years and was given a presentation by staff and a special mention at our Christmas Assembly on Wednesday 17th December. Today was her last day at Sciennes and we all wish her well in her new post at James Gillespie's Primary School, delighted that she is not moving too far away and that we will still see her through our Cluster links. We will also see Mrs Johnston at the P4 Scots Night in February. P4C enjoyed some farewell hot chocolate as a special treat! We will miss you, Mrs Johnston!

Lost Property Thursday 18th December from 2.30pm

Lost property will be put out on tables near the main school gate on Thursday at 2.30pm. (We also have a number of unwanted DVDs and CDs - please help yourself to these.) Anything left over after Friday will go to charity.

Parent Survey Closes Thursday 18th December

To zoom in on the draft Playground Plans (on an iPad or computer), click in the top right hand corner to reveal a magnifying glass then use the slider to zoom in without losing resolution.

Please remember to complete the Parent Survey by Thursday 18th December. We really value your time in sharing your opinions.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Free Festive Swimming for Primary School Children

Thanks to funding from the City of Edinburgh Council, the free swimming intitiative will be on offer at all Edinburgh Leisure pools from 20th December until 5th January (inclusive)*. As before, Primary School children can swim for free during ANY listed Public Swim session. Remember that children under 5 swim for free all year round at every Edinburgh Leisure pool.
When is the free swimming available?
We've created a handy at a glance guide to all Public Swim sessions over the holidays, so you can see when open swimming is available for families.
Plan ahead
The earlier you get there the more fun you can have; we recommend arriving no later than half an hour before the Public Swim session's finish time. It's important that children are safe whilst in the swimming pools. To make sure they enjoy their swim time and stay safe, our normal adult/child ratios will be observed (see below).
*Please note - the free sessions are only available at the venues and Public Swim times mentioned. Venue opening times may vary because of the festive holidays.
Adult/child ratios
  • Under 5 years old: one adult to one child (with or without armbands), or one adult to two children with armbands
  • 5 to 8 years old: one adult to two children (with or without armbands)
  • Mixed ages: one adult to one child under five with armbands, and one 5 - 8 years old (with or without armbands)
  • Over 9 years old: children can use the swimming pool on their own
As always, if you have any queries contact the centre on the number listed. We hope you stay active over the holidays and enjoy your swim!
Our swimming pools:
  • Ainslie Park Leisure Centre (0131 551 2400)
  • Dalry Swim Centre (0131 313 3964) 
  • Drumbrae Leisure Centre (0131 312 7957
  • Gracemount Leisure Centre (0131 658 1940)
  • Leith Victoria Swim Centre (0131 555 4728) 
  • Portobello Swim Centre (0131 669 6888)
  • Queensferry High (0131 319 3222) - please note that due to the school closure, the pool will not be available 24th Dec until 3rd January inclusive
  • Royal Commonwealth Pool (0131 667 7211)
  • Warrender Swim Centre (0131 447 0052)


Track Santa

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.

The tradition began  after a newspaper advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have volunteered their time to respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world and now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa's whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.

If you want to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus as he makes his flight preparations, log onto the NORAD Tracks Santa website starting at 12:01 a.m. on Christmas Eve.

Google also provides a Santa Tracking website.

Gold Fencing Medal for Milenka!

Congratulations to Milenka for achieving gold in a recent national Youth Development Series  (YDS) Fencing tournament at Broughton High School.

JGHS Concert Thursday 18th December

A reminder to P7s to bring a santa hat/reindeer antlers etc for the ‘We Wish You…’ which is traditionally sung after the finale item, and to look out white shirt, tie and black trousers/skirt.

There will be a final rehearsal at the Usher Hall beginning at 11.00am on Thursday.

The P7 choirs will meet JGHS staff in Dressing Room 1 between 6.30 – 6.45pm, but no later than 6.45pm.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Natural Play - Grounds for Learning Video

This Grounds for Learning video about the value of natural play provides insight into the rationale behind our playground plans. Thank you to everyone who has responded to the Parent Survey and there is still time to contribute your views before Thursday 18th December.

JGHS Concert Rehearsal at JGPS

Thank you to JGPS Headteacher Mrs Anthea Grierson for hosting a cluster primary school rehearsal for the forthcoming JGHS Christmas Concert. On Monday 15th December P7 pupils from Sciennes, JGPS, Tollcross, Royal Mile, Preston Street and Taobh na PĂ irce gathered to practise together, led by Mrs Deirdre O'Brien, Miss Rachel Millar and Mr Richard Dearsley from JGHS Music Department. It was lovely to have so many former pupils in the S1 Choir join us. There will be one further full rehearsal on Thursday at the Usher Hall during school hours before the big night!

Playground Plans Zoom

To zoom in on the draft Playground Plans (on an iPad or computer), click in the top right hand corner to reveal a magnifying glass then use the slider to zoom in without losing resolution.

So far we have had 80 responses. Please remember to complete the Parent Survey by Thursday 18th December. We really value your time in sharing your opinions.

Thank you.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Extension of Free School Meals for P1 to P3 – Question and Answer

You may be aware that from January 2015, children in Primary 1 to 3 across Scotland will have the option of taking a free school meal every day. City of Edinburgh Council has put together some questions and answers to address some of the questions you may have.


What and When
Who is entitled?
* All pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 are entitled to a free school meal
When does this start?
* Tuesday 6th of January 2015
I know some pupils are entitled to free milk in school; does this apply to all P1 to P3 pupils from January?
* No, only those currently entitled to Free School Milk will continue to receive milk
Will there be hot meals on a Friday?
* No, we will continue to provide a packed lunch option on a Friday only. This has been checked with Scottish Government and they are happy with this provision. In schools where a hot meal is currently served on a Friday this will continue.

Do I need to sign my child up for school meals?
* No, all pupils in P1 to P3 are automatically entitled
Does my child need to take a meal every day to qualify for free school meals or can I choose which days they go?
* You can choose to go every day or just a few days each week, whatever suits your child, as long as you inform the school
I know the school dining room is already busy, how will you manage to feed more children?
* We have carried out surveys with all schools to assess their capacity. Many schools do not need to make any changes, however where required, we are putting arrangements in place to accommodate the increase in numbers. These include changes to serving counters to increase speed of service, additional seating and increasing the number of sittings.
* If there are changes these will be communicated on a school by school basis.

Pre-Ordering Lunch
Some schools already pre-order their choices for lunch in advance and we are hoping to implement this in all our schools prior to January 2015. (At Sciennes, lunches are already booked online using Wisepay.)
Why do I have to order in advance?
* We are implementing a pre-order system for school lunches in all our schools to help us manage the process and ensure that all pupils receive their first choice of main meal when they come for lunch.
My child won’t remember what they ordered, how is this managed?
* Schools have a note of each child’s choice and issue coloured bands or tokens to identify what choice each pupil has made. This means that pupils don’t have to remember what they have chosen and also speeds up the service.
* For example; red token for the hot meat choice, green for the hot vegetarian choice and blue for the baked potato choice.
* Each school manages this slightly differently and details are available from your child’s school.
What if I forget to order, will my child still get a meal?
* On these odd occasions we will still be able to provide a meal however, we encourage everyone to ensure they have ordered their meal in advance.
* In some instances it is the school's policy only to provide a baked potato for those who have not pre-ordered. Those who have pre-ordered will have first choice.
How can I order at school?
* Our school has a pre-order system called Wisepay for school lunches. This allows the catering team to produce the correct number of meals so pupils receive their first choice of main meal, speeds up service and helps reduce food waste. If your child/ children have not taken meals before, please see detailsa about ordering using Wisepay here:

WINTER LUNCH MENU runs from after the October break until the Easter holidays.

Special Diets
We have a special diet policy in place and if your child requires a special diet or has any allergies then you should complete and return a special diet request form from the school office.
Do you cater for special diets?
* Where possible we can provide information on our meals to allow pupils to take school meals. For example: Carbohydrate information for diabetic pupils
* Some adaptations can be made to some dishes to ensure they are suitable for pupils with special diets. For example: coeliac
My child has allergies – will they be able to take school meals?
* From December 2015 we will be providing information on each of our menu choices to indicate where the 14 identifiable allergens are present.
* This information will be available on the council website, school website and also in the school kitchen.

City of Edinburgh Special Diet Policy 


Dietary requirement guidelines
The City of Edinburgh’s Children and Families Department, in partnership with our catering providers Direct Catering and Cleaning (DCC), Amey and Mitie recognise the need to provide special diets where required on the basis of religious requirements, cultural/ethical reasons or on the basis of medical conditions (as recommended by a doctor or dietician). Please note, requests for certain items not based on the reasons above will not usually be catered for.

Parents/carers, young people, staff from the Children and Families Department and catering each have a role and responsibility in ensuring awareness and provision of a special diet. These can be identified as follows:

Responsibilities of parents/carers or young people
The parent/carers or young person should request a special diet form from the school where available or put a request in writing to the appropriate establishment.
All completed forms or written requests should be given to the establishment as soon possible.
In the case of a request based on a medical condition, a letter must be attached from a registered dietician or doctor.

Responsibilities of Children and Families Department staff
Staff within Children and Families establishments should ensure that information relating to the dietary requirement policy is contained within any relevant information literature available for where a food service is provided.
Staff should ensure that supplies of the special diet form are available.
Staff should ensure that on receipt of a completed form or written request that a photocopy is made and sent to the kitchen and catering head office, where applicable. A copy should be retained by the Children and Families establishment.
Where necessary other staff within the establishment must be informed of severe food allergies.

Responsibilities of Caterers
Catering provider must have documented policy and procedures in place relating to special dietary provision.
On receiving the special diet referral form from the school/ parent the provider should record details of special dietary needs and follow company procedures.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Playground Consultation

Sciennes Primary School is consulting with parents to gather feedback about the first draft of our playground plans. We would really value hearing from you. Please look at the plans online and complete the parent survey at A larger copy of the plans is up on the noticeboard in the playground. A letter of commentary (which has been emailed to all families) from Alison Noble, Head Teacher, appears below to provide some context and additional information.

We ask that you fill in only one survey per household. All responses need to be in by Thursday 18th December.

Pupils and staff have been asked for feedback at school. Mrs Noble had already welcomed staff consultation through verbal feedback and notes made on the paper plans and has now also circulated a link to an online Staff Survey. Mrs Noble discussed the plans with the Pupil Council on Friday 12th December and these pupils will assist their teachers in conducting feedback sessions in class next week. (All 200 P1 families attending the P1 Nativity on Friday 12th December have been given a special homework task from Mrs Noble to review the plans and complete the survey!)

The Playground Improvement Group will be reviewing all feedback and will make recommendations to our Playground Architect. Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.


Dear Parent / Carer, 

The initial designs prepared by HarrisonStevens Landscape Architects aim to improve the quality of the playground environment as a whole and to raise the expectations, opportunities and levels of stimulation available to our children across all ages and groups, through a programme of active play. 

It is envisaged that the scope of the project will include the south playground and landscape strip south of Sciennes Road, with potential future design development extending to the existing covered shed areas. 

With a mix of textures, materials, varying heights and enclosure the play landscape has been designed to offer greater variety and interest than is currently enjoyed. Through the introduction of loose, unbound, surface materials the design also seeks to reduce playground speed – often the primary cause of collisions and accidents. 

The proposals will fully support the curriculum for excellence in providing a canvas for taking the classroom outside. The playground will also provide a backdrop for the integration of ‘loose play’ items such as tyres, timber, drain pipes, etc. that will encourage imaginative play, den building, collaboration and social integration. 

The play environment will be appropriately challenging, aiding physical development within a landscape of natural materials that the children can traverse and explore, climb, step, hide, slide, run, crawl and jump. 

The design exemplifies best practice in play strategy, extended outdoor learning and active play and aims to deliver clear benefits not only to learning, but also to the physical & emotional health and wellbeing of our children. 

Our ambitions for the playground reflect the Scottish Government Play strategy and the City of Edinburgh principles for developing playgrounds. 

Kind regards,
Alison Noble, Head Teacher

JGHS P7/S1 Choir

All P7 pupils will attend a rehearsal at James Gillespie's High School on Monday 15th December and a rehearsal at the Usher Hall on Thursday 18th December, during school hours, ahead of the performance there in the evening. Pupils should wear dark trousers/skirt and dark shoes and should also wear something festive such as tinsel or a Santa hat. (So many pupils are taking part this year that we had asked pupils to wear P7 blue school sweatshirts because we were unsure if we had enough school ties but will try to establish this week if we can manage to have all in white shirts and ties.)

Please contact with any enquiries.

Tickets are still on sale, available directly from the Usher Hall box office or website.
These are priced from £6 - £10.

 Pupils who are performing do not need to pay for their tickets.

The concert will start at 7.00pm, and finish by 9.30pm.

P7/S1 choir will perform in the second half of the concert, and will be seated throughout the first half in the upper circle. We therefore do not expect any pupils to be picked up at interval!

Pupils must arrive at 6.30pm on the evening of the concert at the backstage doors. (They will know where this is from the rehearsals that day).

A member of JGHS staff will be allocated to each primary, and will take them to the upper circle where they will be seated throughout the first half. They will not be allocated a dressing room, and therefore can leave coats etc in the upper circle when they come down during interval to be seated. Pupils should not to bring any valuables. Although staff will be seated with the choir during the first half, coats may be unattended during the second half.

Pupils can be picked up at the backstage doors after the concert JGHS staff will supervise the exit of all performers and ensure that all children are safely picked up.

Deirdre O'Brien, Performing Arts Faculty Leader, James Gillespie's High School

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Team Sport at Sciennes

At Sciennes we grasp every opportunity to take part in Team Sport throughout the year. The school is a member of Edinburgh Primary Schools Sports Association (EPSSA) and we benefit tremendously from the great skill and expertise of our two P.E. and Swimming Specialists Beth Walker and Cynthia Berry in preparing pupils for all the annual EPSSA citywide events (which are organised and co-ordinated for the entire city by Beth Walker):

P7 EPSSA Sportshall Athletics
P7 EPSSA Interscholastics
P6/7 EPSSA Cross Country for South Area, at the Meadows
P6/7 EPSSA Cross Country Final at Duddingston Playing Fields
P6/7 EPSSA Swimming and Dive Gala at RCP

Our fantastic parent run Football Club (with 215 registered players - more than a third of the entire school population!) enters local tournaments as well as all EPSSA events:
EPSSA Soccer Sevens
EPSSA Girls' Football
EPSSA School Board Cup
EPSSA Hamilton Cup
EPSSA Inspectors' Cup

We are ably supported in entering all citywide Active Schools team sport tournaments by our Active Schools Co-ordinator, Jonathan Wallace:
P6/7 Triathlon Event
P7 Basketball
P7 Team Golf
P6/7 Rugby Festival
P6/7 Netball Leagues
P6 Racquets Tournament
P6 Kwik Cricket
P5 Clubgolf
P4 Cricket Festival
Paralympic Experience Event
P6 Games at the Hub 

Parents began supporting pupil participation in the Lothian Schools Cross Country after school events two years ago, and we have seen numbers involved swell this year, partly as a result of the very successful Active Schools lunchtime Running Clubs.

We also support pupils who wish to take part in national events outwith school hours:
National Schools Swimming Championships for club swimmers
Scottish Schools Athletics Association (SSAA) events

and participate in the Boyd Anderson Ski Race. (P4 and P5 pupils undertake curricular ski-ing lessons.)

Active Schools morning, after school and lunchtime clubs ably led by Jonathan Wallace (Tennis, Judo, Hockey, Badminton, Diving, Athletics, Fencing, Tae Kwon Do, Basketball, Netball, Cricket, Running Club, Rugby) - at Sciennes and various local venues - provide pupils with additional opportunities to participate in tournaments and festivals. Our recently strengthened link with Blaze Basketball via Active Schools has enabled the formation of a Blaze Girls' Under 12 Basketball team.

In addition to providing breadth and progression in curricular P.E., we encourage all our pupils to participate in the array of sporting clubs available at school and we are most fortunate to be able to provide very high quality Dance sessions for our pupils. Jonathan Wallace provides additional coaches to support our curricular P.E. in, for example, rugby, fencing, cricket, basketball, enjoy-a-ball, mini-Kickers and shinty. Through a programme of curricular cycling proficiency and swimming lessons, as well as targeted lunchtime swimming sessions, our ambition is to ensure that each of our pupils can swim and cycle. (We are grateful for financial support received annually from the Parent Council in helping us to achieve this ambition.)