Harris Academy Newsletter Winter 2019

Dear Parent / Carer

A message from Mr Millar, Head Teacher
Thank you to all staff, pupils and parents for your ongoing support of our school community.

Our School Improvement Plan is focused around raising attainment and achievement for all of our young people and I would like to pay a particular thanks to all of my colleagues for their hard work in supporting this agenda.

This has been challenging due to staff shortages but colleagues have stepped up to ensure young people get the best experience possible. In all of this, I would also like to thank the young people, for their patience and cooperation.

Thank you to all Parents and Carers who support our school's uniform expectations.

In preparation for our return in January, please encourage all young people to be in full school uniform. This topic will be a focus for us through assemblies and in all classes.

Please remember

School starts back on Tuesday 7th January

Finally, I would like to wish every member of our school community a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Music and Drama Department

Music Workshop

S1 and S2 pupils attended a workshop led by the Scottish Ensemble along with Glasgow Science Centre. They learned about physics and sound before exploring the Science Centre exhibition and then worked with the professional musicians from the Scottish Ensemble to compose a piece of music. A video of the day will follow shortly.

Rotary Musician of the Year

Grace Dobson (S6), Rosie Dignan (S6) and Sarah Mathieson (S5) took part in the Rotary Club of Dundee Musician of the Year competitions. Grace has been selected to go through to the next round and we wish her well. Huge congratulations to Rosie and Sarah who sang so well on the night.

Remembrance Service

The brass ensemble, led by Miss Bird, accompanied the carols at the annual Remembrance Day Service. Thank you to Frankie Duncan-Morris who played the last post and Luke Anderson who piped the lament.

Christmas Lights

Our string quartet provided some carols at the Menzieshill Christmas lights switch on. Thank you to Grace Dobson, S6, who took on a leading role in organising the musicians for this.

The brass ensemble played at the annual West End Christmas lights switch on in Dundee West Church.

P7 Open Evening

Our ceilidh group, led by Mr. Cannon, entertained parents at our P7 Open Evening. Thank you to our S1 pupils who also came along to demonstrate some of the work we have been doing in class.

Community Events

Community Events

A group of musicians, led by Mr. Haxton, provided some festive entertainment at Oaklands Day Centre. This was very well received.

Some members of the choir sang Carols for patients in Ninewells Hospital, which again provided some festive entertainment.

SQA Exams

Our senior pupils sit their performing formal assessment on Tuesday 7th, Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th January 2020. The final performing exam will take place between Monday 10th February and Friday 20th March. The exact date will depend on the visiting assessor’s availability.

The Music Department is available for all pupils who wish extra practice at lunch time.

SQA Music and Music Technology folio submissions will be due in March.

Extra-curricular activities next term

Monday lunch time Woodwind ensemble

Monday after school Brass ensemble

Tuesday lunch time Choir

Wednesday lunch time Ceilidh group

Thursday lunch time String group & Folk Group

Friday lunch time Musical Theatre Group (in collaboration with our Drama department)

Pupils are welcome to attend any of the extra-curricular activities on offer.


P7 Open Evening

A number of S1 pupils presented a scene from their Wild West Unit that they have been working on during class. Thank you so much to our production team and cast for representing the department.

S3 Panto – Land of the Lamp

All S3 pupils have taken part in preparing and presenting for the S3 Panto. Pupils have taken on several roles from acting to production. We are very grateful to the staff and pupils who have volunteered to help on during the performances. Over 200 primary 7 pupils from our associated primary schools will attend the afternoon performance. The evening performances take place on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th December at 7pm in the school atrium. Tickets are available from the Drama Department.

Christmas Carol Concert

A small group of young people from our Youth Theatre will perform a short extract from Scrooge at the service.

SQA Exams

Our senior pupils sit their practical formal assessment on Friday 7th February 2020. The final practical exam will take place between Monday 10th February and Friday 24th April. The exact date will depend on the visiting assessor’s availability.

Extra-curricular activities next term

Monday lunch time S1-S3 Drama Club

Tuesday lunch time Film Club

Thursday lunch time (S4 – S6) Senior Youth Theatre

Friday lunch time Musical Theatre Group (in collaboration with our Drama department)

N5 Drama candidates are able to book rehearsal space by arrangement in preparation for their practical exam.

Geography Department

On the 17th and 19th of September, pupils from the Higher Geography class and the Higher Environmental Science class, along with Mrs Leppard, Miss Quirk, and Mr McGowan, took a trip across the Tay to Tentsmuir in Fife. The aim of the trip was to carry out fieldwork on plant succession on coastal sand dunes for the assignment for both courses. The pupils worked in groups on the beach and sand dunes at Tentsmuir, measuring slope angles and distances, and recording information on landforms, vegetation and soils along a transect in order to test the theories of sand dune succession that they had been learning about in the classroom.

Higher Geography & Environmental Science Fieldtrips

We were lucky to get some dry, sunny weather on both days, even if it was a bit blustery down on the beach! The groups worked well together, learning to use instruments and fieldwork equipment they hadn’t used before and recording their findings as they moved through the dunes, from the sea to the forest. They rewarded themselves with crepes from the Crepe Shack while we took a break, before completing the fieldwork and heading back over the Tay Bridge to Dundee. The pupils have now taken their data back to the classroom, processed and analysed it and have completed their assignments ready to be sent off to the SQA. Hopefully, they will have found this experience particularly valuable in bringing the classroom alive, allowing them to see first-hand what they’ve been learning about and also bringing them together to work as a team and get to know their fellow classmates.

Higher Geography & Environmental Science Fieldtrips

Dynamic Earth Trip S2

On Friday 4 December, a group of eager S2 pupils set off on our annual trip to Dynamic Earth. S2 classes had been studying Earth Forces and a trip to Dynamic Earth is the perfect opportunity to allow pupils to gain a hands on experience in to the formation of our planet. As soon as we arrived at Dynamic Earth we went in to the “360° Showdome”, where we watched an exciting movie on Supervolocanoes.

As a group we became time travellers for the day and went back in time to the beginning of earth. We then witnessed how our planet changed into what we know today – we even had to hold on tight as the ground shook beneath our feet in our very own earthquake experience!! We were slightly disappointed that we were not able to see the giant iceberg as it had melted – that’s climate change for you! The end of our journey brought us in to the tropical rainforest, where we witnessed a thunder and lightning storm and learned all about the many different animals that make the rainforest their home. The pupils had worksheets to fill in as they travelled through the different exhibitions – their task was to find facts to “wow” their friends and family.

After all that time travelling, we stopped for a look around the fantastic gift shop and then boarded the bus. It was a great experience, the pupils were well behaved and thoroughly enjoyed their day as time travellers.

English Department

Climate Change Demonstration

Climate Change Demonstration Students in the English department demonstrated their passion for the environment by holding an in-school demonstration to support action against climate change. Students combined their language skills with technology skills to create eye-catching placards and banners to raise awareness of the important campaign.

Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt

The V&A Dundee welcomed Media students to the Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt exhibition. Students were able to take advantage of the fantastic resource to research their assignment. The different stages of creation and the place of videogames in society was of particular value.

S1 Literacy Highlanders Debate

S1 Literacy classes have recently completed a unit of work which focused on the communication of key ideas. Pupils investigated who was to blame for the Highland Clearances by reading a range of sources, analysing photographs and listening to reports. Pupils demonstrated their understanding of the topic and their ability to select key information by participating in a class debate.

Maths Department

Maths World of Work Departmental Visits

The Mathematics Department were fortunate to have two visiting speakers to the department during the recent My World of Work week.

Hannah from EQ Accountancy gave a presentation to two of our S3 classes. She spoke about what her job entails and how to become an accountant. She also spoke about how she uses Maths to work out income tax.

Dr Judith Halliday from Abertay University spoke to our Higher classes, Advanced Higher students and a very interested S1 Numeracy class about Civil Engineering, how Maths is used to help design massive projects, and possible careers within the field of Engineering.

Both presentations were enjoyed greatly by our young people and staff, and hopefully they may have inspired someone to pursue a rewarding career. Both Hannah and Dr Halliday have visited before and they are just as keen as the Maths department to nurture a partnership and to make this a regular occurrence. Our thanks go to them both for giving up their time and delivering such enjoyable presentations.


Primary 7 Maths Challenge 2019

Nearly 270 young people from our associated primary schools took part in our annual P7 Maths Challenge at Victoria Park Primary School. Primary 7 pupils worked together, as part of a team, to gain as many points as possible and win the challenge. The challenges included; tower building using newspapers, a variety of puzzles and the 24 game. Primary 7 pupils had their first opportunity to meet new friends before they start Harris Academy in August 2020. Our S6 pupils led this event and were a credit to the school – we thank them for their contribution and for ensuring P7 pupils had a thoroughly enjoyable and positive start to their transition activities.

P7 Maths Challenge
P7 Maths Challenge

S1 Outdoor Education

These are just some of the comments made by our S1 pupils who are currently approaching the end of their 6-week Outdoor Education Experience. Three groups of S1 pupils have already benefitted from this initiative with a further two groups due to start in early January 2020. Whilst the key aim of the programme is to help build confidence; emphasis is also placed on interpersonal skills such as listening to each other, showing empathy and working as a team. A variety of activities have been undertaken this term including: mountain-biking, caving, gorge-walking, archery and climbing walls. Many thanks to our partners at Ancrum Outdoor Centre and Community Learning Development for providing these opportunities.

S1 Outdoor Education


Book Week Scotland

Harris Academy S2 Team won 1st prize at the Dundee Schools Literature Quiz, held this year at Morgan Academy

Congratulations to Dominic Gunaratne, Ava Collins, Kate Mathieson and Emily Cruickshank.

Congratulations to Ellie Brankin for winning the ‘Book in a Jar’ competition and winning a book token.

Duke of Edinburgh

It has been another year of great progress with Harris Academy’s Duke of Edinburgh award. Our numbers continue to grow and at the time of writing stand at 38 Bronze and 19 Silver. There have been several after school training sessions so far in 2019 and the plan is to step them up in 2020 as we close in on expedition season. Pupils should listen out for announcements in the daily sheet regarding expedition skill sessions including map skills, first aid, expedition food and equipment, bag packing, tent pitching, and stove practice.

The Bronze group successfully completed a hugely enjoyable qualification expedition around Loch Ordie in May and Mrs Nicholson and Chris Wood from DofE took some of the Silver group out for a wonderful practice expedition in the area around East and West Lomond back in June. Time constraints have meant there will need to be several expeditions in 2020, the planning for which would surely give Shackleton himself cause for pause—we are greatly looking forward to them! There will be a list at the end of this article as a reminder to pupils.

We have been the beneficiary of some very generous funding in 2019. The Linton Family of Dundee displayed extraordinary generosity by pledging £1500 to Harris Academy’s D of E group which we plan to use for training purposes and necessary equipment. We also benefit from a generous award of £250 from ALPKIT which we plan to use to buy some new stoves.

Staff training wise Mr MacDonald underwent his Lowland Leader Training course in September and hopes to do the qualification course as soon as possible in 2020. Mrs Nicholson has as always been an enormous help and her dedication is much appreciated. If there are any members of staff or parents with an interest / experience in the outdoors or with any other relevant skills and who would be happy to help out please get in touch with Mr MacDonald (DDemacdonald479@glow.sch.uk).

Bronze Expeditions:

4th and 5th May for the after school group.

14th and 15th May for the S3 class group.

Silver Practice Expedition:

19th—21st April

Silver Qualification:

3 days during 15th—20th June.

Best wishes for 2020 from all at Harris D of E! (@harrisdofe)

Silver group on their practice expedition in the Lomonds in June

S3 D of E class getting to grips with map symbols

Bronze and Silver refresher course on map skills

Bronze group toughing it out in extreme conditions getting to grips with the stoves—December 2019

Dates for your Diary

School opens for Spring Term - Tuesday 7th January 2020

Parent Council Meeting- Thursday 16th January 2020

S3 Parents'/Carers' Course Choice Meetings - Wednesday 22nd January 2020

Music Instrumental Parents' Evening - Tuesday 28th January 2020

Course Choice Information Evening - Wednesday 29th January 2020

S2 Parents' / Carers' Evening - Wednesday 12th February 2020

Mid Term - Friday 14th February 2020

Mid Term - Monday 17th February 2020

In-set Day - Tuesday 18th February 2020

S3 Photographs - Friday 28th February 2020

S3 Immunisations - Monday 2nd & Tuesday 3rd March 2020

Non-uniform Day - Friday 27th March 2020

A full list of key dates will be available in our school calendar and year group calendars on the school website.

Follow us on Twitter @harrisacdundee



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