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New staff reflect on first term at 'aspirational' Milne's High School

By Alan Beresford

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THE saying that things are better by the dozen is certainly true at Milne's High School after they welcomed 12 new members of staff.

Rector Jemma Playfair (fifth right) welcomes some of the new staff to Milne's. (From left) Erika Stewart, Gemma Mitchell, Ian Fraser, Vicki Slater, Allan McRitchie, Alan Affleck, Raegan Fielding, Laura George and Jenna Ogg. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Rector Jemma Playfair (fifth right) welcomes some of the new staff to Milne's. (From left) Erika Stewart, Gemma Mitchell, Ian Fraser, Vicki Slater, Allan McRitchie, Alan Affleck, Raegan Fielding, Laura George and Jenna Ogg. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

At the start of the new school year the welcome mat was rolled out for 12 fresh faces in all: Erika Stewart (NQT music); Gemma Mitchell (history and modern studies); Ian Fraser (technical); Vicki Slater (PT Guidance Inchberry); Allan McRitchie (PT Guidance Tynet); Alan Affleck (PT business and computing); Raegan Fielding (PE); Laura George (business); Jenna Ogg (PT Guidance); Kirsten Macleod (school librarian); Nicky Bothoms (PT English); Helen Green (English); Georgia Kelly (ASN).

One of those delighted to greet the newest additions to the team was Milne's rector Jemma Playfair.

She said: "Having 12 new members of staff at the one time is quite a lot and I'm delighted that we've managed to fill every vacancy we have at Milne's.

"We were very lucky to get a new technical teacher, they're like hen's teeth at the moment.

"Having three new guidance teachers means we've added a third House at the school – now we've got Inchberry, Spey and Tynet.

"As the school roll has gone up by 10 per cent – from 425 last April to 485 now – it means we've been able to grow the number of staff here, including an additional English teacher.

"On the non-teaching side of things, we've got an inclusion co-ordinator and a school support co-ordinator.

"I think one of the things which attracts people to Milne's is the fact that as a smaller school you get to know the kids and staff better and quicker, plus the kids themselves are so lovely to work with."

With a term at the school now under their belts, some of the new staff on the block took some time to reflect on their time so far at Milne's.

Raegan Fielding: “I have had a great time at Milne’s High so far. The community in and out of school has been so welcoming, and the support around the school is amazing. Due to it being a smaller school I have quickly built very positive relationships with the staff and students, which make it a great atmosphere to work in.

"We have had a great first term, and I can’t wait to be a part of the many events and opportunities that are coming up around the school, including a St Andrew's Day IDL event which myself and Miss Stewart are organising.”

Erika Stewart: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my first term teaching at Milne’s and have really enjoyed seeing the pupils enthusiasm and progression in their learning. This coming term is a busy term for the music department and I am really looking forward to our upcoming events such as the Christmas concert and Scottish Interdisciplinary Learning Event. These are brilliant opportunities to see and showcase our pupil’s talent.”

Alan Affleck: “After teaching many years in Highland it is nice to be contributing to my own local area. I have found the community ethos of Milne’s High has made it easy to build relationships with pupils and staff in a short space of time. We have a busy term ahead with pupils in S2 engaging with local charities in their YPI project, and I hope to develop other links between the Business department and the local businesses.”

Laura George: “I have settled in well to Milne's High school due to all pupils and staff being so welcoming. It’s a great school to be a part of with lots of exciting opportunities and I can’t wait to get more involved.”

Georgia Kelly: “I started at Milne’s High in August this year after three years as a qualified primary school teacher. I had always been interested into going into ASN but wasn’t too sure of how to go about it. This opportunity has been the perfect chance for me to explore what is involved in this job.

"In term one, I had a great time! It was really interesting getting to know all of the students that I would be working with on a regular basis. The team in the department has also been such a big help and they are all extremely supportive. Looking forward to the next term and beyond, I’m really excited to create as many opportunities for the learners at Milne’s to develop their creativity and take part in a variety of activities that will build their skills for the future. I also hope that I can be a person that makes a difference in their life, whether it’s big or small.”

Gemma Mitchell: "Milne’s High School has been so welcoming since I began. The best thing about Milne’s is the pupils and the relationships that I am building with them all. As a smaller school, I have had the opportunity to get to know all pupils, even if I do not see them in my classroom. Now that I have found my feet at Milne’s, I am looking forward to bringing new curricular opportunities, exciting new topics and getting more involved in school wide activities. Milne’s is a brilliant school and community and I feel very privileged to be a part of it!"

Ian Fraser: “Since joining the design and technology department at Milne’s High School I have enjoyed the friendliness of pupils and other staff. There is an ethos within the department of encouraging creativity wherever possible, and I have enjoyed seeing pupils develop their own ideas and watch them turn these ideas into a final product. I am very excited about the upcoming Christmas Fayre where we can showcase some of the beautiful woodwork pieces created by pupils and hopefully we can sell a few.”

Helen Green: "I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first term as part of Team Milne’s. Pupils, staff and parents have made me feel very welcome and I’m proud to be part of the Milne’s community. The pupils are keen to learn and take pride in their school. A highlight for me was my S1 class writing spooky stories to share with each other on Halloween. I’ve enjoyed trying new ideas and I’m excited for term two!"

Kirsten McLeod: "My first full term at Milne’s High has been an absolute joy. I have had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful young people, and have even been lucky enough to gather some very enthusiastic pupil library assistants. The staff body at MHS have welcomed me warmly, along with my public library colleagues, and our local youth workers. It is such a vibrant community to be a part of.

"So far BGE students have enjoyed learning about different genres, gone book speed dating, and practised using Dewey numbers to find non-fiction books. The library has become a popular lunchtime destination for reading, playing games or taking part in our many clubs. Special events have included Revolting Readings for Roald Dahl Day, Drop Everything And Read for International Day of Literacy, as well as upcoming book gifting to our S5-6 students to celebrate Book Week Scotland.

"Senior students were also treated to a day in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at Aberdeen University, to gather resources for their Advanced Higher studies. Next we are looking forward to a visit from Storyteller Carol Scorer to help us celebrate St Andrew’s Day, in partnership with the Scottish Storytelling Forum’s Big Scottish Story Ripple. Promoting Reading For Pleasure, as part of the overall drive to improve literacy and raise attainment for all, is a huge part of what I do. My goal for the coming year is to help our students achieve their Scottish Book Trust ‘Reading Schools’ Accreditation."

Allan McRitchie: "Since joining the ‘Wellbeing Team’ at Milne’s High School, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the pupils, families and carers within the school and the wider community around Fochabers. It is clear to me that this is an aspirational school with the young person at the heart of everything we do and this is reflected in the exemplary and hardworking attitudes I see from our pupils every day! The introduction of our new school values has been well received and has given a sense of belonging to the whole school community. I look forward to fostering this further through learning, teaching and wider school experiences and events. #MilnesMakesADifference"

Jenna Ogg: "It is really good to be back working at Milne’s High School and being part of the school community. In my new role as a guidance teacher, I have concentrated a lot of my efforts on getting to know the pupils in my house, Spey. It has been great to build positive relationships with all of the young people and will continue to focus my efforts on supporting each and every pupil to succeed and fulfil their life ambitions."

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