Balwearie High School

Fife Free Press - June 2018

Fife Free Press – Balwearie News June 2018

 Spotlight on Staff Feature

We hope you enjoy finding out a little more about our inspiring staff here at Balwearie! This issue, we would like to introduce our Principal Teacher of Modern Studies and Global Citizenship, Miss McFarlane.

Miss McFarlane - Principal Teacher: Modern Studies and Global Citizenship

I had always considered being a teacher on and off from primary school. I realised during work experience in a local primary school in S4 that primary teaching wasn’t for me. Modern Studies was always my favourite subject at high school. I therefore studied Politics and International Relations at Dundee University before going to Aberdeen University to do teacher training. I did student placements at Peterhead Academy and Mackie Academy in Aberdeenshire before embarking on my probation year at Glenrothes High School. I was extremely lucky to get a permanent full-time job there at the end of my probation year which I was delighted about. I gradually took on more responsibilities during my time there. I supported a Geography and Modern Studies probationer, was the coordinator for the

St Andrews University First Chances Project and was part of the Unicef Rights Respecting School Award Steering Group. I was successful at interview for the post of temporary Principal Teacher SQA and as a result I was the school’s SQA Coordinator for two sessions. I really enjoyed this post as it was different. The role suited my meticulous organisation skills, allowing me to create colour coded spreadsheets.

When the permanent post of Principal Teacher of Social Subjects and Global Citizenship was advertised at Balwearie High School I had to apply because I am passionate about global citizenship and I saw it as a new challenge. I was delighted when Dr More awarded me the job but I was also very sad to leave the pupils and staff at Glenrothes High School as I had built up good relationships during my time there. I have just finished a practitioner enquiry in global citizenship and hope that the work that I have undertaken is enough to gain GTCS Professional Recognition in this area.

 I am very lucky to work in a great faculty. My colleagues are fantastic and all work really hard for the benefit of the pupils. I have taught lots of keen, interested and conscientious pupils who display a real love for Modern Studies and for learning. I was lucky enough to accompany a group of S5 pupils to South Africa in October 2015 to work with our link school, Welcome Primary on the outskirts of Cape Town. This has been the highlight of my teaching career to date. The trip I organised to Washington DC and New York City in October 2017 is a very close second! 

During my time at Balwearie I have strived to improve global citizenship, as well as improve learning experiences in Modern Studies/Social Subjects. My S6 Global Citizenship classes have done great work raising awareness of issues/charities, as well as fundraising, over the years. I am enhancing the Global Citizenship elective this year by participating in the WE Schools programme and facilitating pupils to get a Saltire Award in recognition for their efforts. This year I supported one of my S6 pupils, Alice McCreadie, with her application for the Rotary’s Euroscola programme. Alice wrote an impressive essay on prisoners’ voting rights which won over the judges and she was awarded a place on the week-long experience at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. More recently I have initiated that the school work towards becoming a Unicef Rights Respecting School and I have been leading this in the school, along with staff and pupils on the steering group. We hope to submit our paperwork for the Bronze Award very soon and hopefully achieve our Silver Award by December 2019 at the latest. 

I enjoy developing new ways of teaching topics and when pupils respond well to the lesson I have spent a lot of time preparing for. I wish I had more time for curriculum development.

Miss McFarlane’s Quick-fire Questions:

What is your favourite film? The Pursuit of Happyness

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I would love to live in Edinburgh.

What is your favourite music genre? Indie. My favourite band is The Killers.

What is your favourite sport? Despite what some of my Higher pupils would say I’m not into sports.

Are you a morning or a night person? Probably an afternoon person. I am very sleepy first thing in the morning and very sleepy at night!

What is your best childhood memory? Being Sea Queen Attendant during the civic week in the East Neuk village where I grew up.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? The ability to stop time.

If you weren’t a teacher…you would be a…. Parliamentary researcher for a MP or MSP (hopefully).

Best piece of advice you've ever been given... Always be nice as you don’t know what other people are going through.

 Balwearie Awards Evening 7 June 2018 – Special Awards Winners:

 Our Dux and Runner-up Dux for this year are: 



Dux Litterarum



Proxime Accessit

 We are proud to also announce success for the following special award winners this session along with the award categories. Awards were given by our guest speaker, Carrie Lindsay, Executive Director - Education & Children's Services. 



Oli McLauchlan Prize for Design

Design talents



Community and Learning Shield

Voluntary Work in the Community


De Soyza

Bee Family Trophy

DAS Best Student



Norman Fraser Award

Drama talent



Dave Ritchie Award

Overall contribution to the school



Lewis Greig Award

Most positive attitude to learning



Adam Vallot Cup

Outstanding contribution in Sport



Bosch Rexroth Trophy

Enterprise and Creativity



Norrie Stenton Trophy

Most improved beginner in Badminton



The Raeburn Construction Award

for Engineering



Enid Allan Trophy

Outstanding contribution in Sport



Enterprise Trophy

Citizenship or Enterprise



Myrtle Award

DAS Sports Personality of the Year



Jim Simpson Award

Poetry talent



Matthew Rocks Award

Courage in the face of adversity



Olive Finlayson Cup

Best Sports Team



Olive Finlayson Cup

Best Sports Team



Ewan Gordon Memorial Award

Best Prose

Computing Science Success!

The Balwearie Computing Science Team beat 14 others from across Scotland to win this year’s Strathmore Trophy. Creating a graphic means of fighting phone thieves allowed tech savvy school pupils to claim a top University of Dundee prize on 18 June 2018.  The ingenious system utilises pictures to log on to a device, requiring anybody attempting to access the system to pinpoint information within the images that would only be known to its owner.

 The Strathmore Trophy was donated by Mary, Dowager Countess of Strathmore, in 1996 as part of a drive to encourage young people to develop computer technology for the benefit of others. Having been given no information relating to their task prior to arriving at the campus’ Queen Mother Building on Monday morning, Dr Iain Murray, of the University’s Computing department, said, “Once again the whole judging panel has been hugely impressed by the ingenuity of Scotland’s school pupils.

 “This year’s task was particularly challenging and the variety of solutions that were proposed by our competing schools demonstrated great creativity. However, the team from Balwearie High School developed an idea that significantly bolstered the security of a device while also being simple to understand, and that is the sort of thinking that top technology firms really admire.”


 Shown in the photo (L to R) are Daniel Carr, Owen Plimer, Rebecca Thomson and Alma Reid accompanied on the day by Computing Teacher, Mr Shearer.

Balwearie Cluster Primary Maths Challenge

On Thursday, eight teams of Primary 6s joined us in the assembly hall for the Balwearie Cluster Primary Maths Challenge. Led by Mr Soltesz, they enjoyed a variety of creative and exciting activities and challenges which showed how fun maths can be, with the help of some Advanced Higher pupils.

 Everyone had a really good time, and ultimately the two teams who went through to the next round were Kirkcaldy West 2 who finished 2nd with 63 points and Burntisland 2 who finished 1st with 64 points.

 The first task that the Primary 6s were given was the poster challenge. This was completed in eight small groups and not only tested their mathematical knowledge, but also their ability to work as a team as well as their artistic capacity and time keeping skills so as not to go over the 45 minute time-limit. Shortly after their completion, the pupils were then given the round table challenge. This task differed from the previous one as it required the pupils to complete 10 different mathematical challenges in five minute intervals. The S6 buddies would efficiently mark each groups task with the answer sheet provided and record the score before the groups moved to the next table and challenge. After having a little break the pupils returned for yet another challenge. The team challenge asked the groups to work through a booklet for a total of 40 minutes, testing their endurance and problem solving abilities.

Soon after a well-deserved lunch, the groups were put against one another in the head to head challenge. This involved two teams on desks 1/2 to 7/8 with instructional and detailed paper provided. The groups then went on to complete three rounds of the ‘square it’ game. One team would then move to the next desk while the other stayed. The S6 Buddies kept score on their sheet. Team on one side would start, then team on the other side went and this would continue for 4 goes unless enough time then an extra 2 goes would be accomplished. The timer would sound after 20 minutes and finish the task. The final challenge of the day was the Relay challenge. They paired up with the S6 buddies who had the questions and the answers; a pupil from each group had to run to their buddy to collect the question, bring it back to their group and attempt to solve it. They would then bring their answer back to the buddy and if correct they received the next question, but if incorrect they can either receive another question or try again.

After a long day of hard work the competitors had learned a lot and had plenty of fun but were certainly ready to say “calc – u – later!”.

Music Department

Jazz Ensemble

The Balwearie Jazz Ensemble performed at the Active Schools Awards Ceremony last Wednesday. The evening was a terrific success and a number of people commented on the night and via twitter about how good the music and the band were. It was so much more personable having a live band play especially when the award winners were collecting their trophies.

Pipe Band Competitions

Shona Briers, Lucy Gardiner & Ellie Gibson have recently competed with their pipe band and gained 2 1st places at Markinch Highland Games & Strathmore Highland Games at Glamis Castle. They won Best Band and Best Drums at Markinch Highland Games in the Novice Juvenile Section at Strathmore Highland Games they gained 1st Place as a band and 3rd for drums in the Adult Grade 4 competition, Beating 9 Adult bands on the day.

They are now practicing for their next competition at Lochore and the European Championships in Forres on 30 June.

Trinity College London – Music Workshops

On Tuesday 12 June, S3 music pupils attended a workshop led by Trinity College London. The afternoon consisted of performances from a specialist band and workshops led by professional musicians. Pupils took part in workshops for guitar, keyboard and drum kit and the feedback was positive from all.

The pupils were challenged to be able to sight read music and to be able to play as part of a large group. They were introduced to several pieces of music offered through Trinity exams which they would be able to use in their own learning in the music classroom.

The event was a huge success and gave the pupils an insight into the different pieces available for their instruments. It also encouraged many pupils to think about taking part in Trinity exams to further develop their performing skills.

Balwearie Parent Group – Come Along!

The Parent Group are planning an evening networking event on 5 September 2018 – it is hoped that we can bring together parents/carers from across the Kirkcaldy area to work together to increase parental engagement. The event will be supported by Connect Scotland – more to follow!


Medals Galore – National and Fife Level

SDS Junior Athletics Championship – Grangemouth

DAS athletes travelled to Grangemouth to compete against peers from all over Scotland at the recent Scottish Disability Sports Athletics Championships – we had a number of personal bests and individual medallists. Amazing team and very positive sportsmanship all round.

DSF Athletics Championships – Pitreavie

Balwearie DAS swept the boards at the Disability Sport Fife Athletics Championships on 13th June. We took a huge team of pupils who ran; threw and jumped their way to success and had by far the biggest medal haul to take home – incredibly proud of all efforts and sportsmanship once again – a super finish to the sports season. Delighted to see some pupils representing the school for the first time – it won’t be the last!

Star Athlete

Rosalind Penman, one of our DAS senior pupils has had a remarkable year in athletics winning an astounding accolade of trophies:

  • Russell Hogg Trophy for Senior Female Athlete of the year awarded by Disability Sport Fife
  • Myrtle Trophy for DAS Sports Personality of the Year
  • Balwearie High School Senior Girls’ Sports Champion 2018

We are very proud of her achievements and delighted to share her joy at being the first DAS pupil to have won the Balwearie High School Championship!

Kids Out Day

DAS pupils and staff all travelled to Cluny Clays for the annual Kids Out Day thanks to the Rotary Club. We had a fantastic time, transport was arranged for us to travel there, a Barbecue lunch was provided with ice lollies as dessert and a variety of fantastic activities;  shooting range/archery/adventure play park/golf range/birds of prey display/small animal display.  Many thanks to all Rotarians for offering us this opportunity – we all love the annual Kids Out Day!

Safety Day

DAS pupils will be well prepared for the summer break following input from partner agencies at our Safety Day. Pupils had a range of presentations, activities and tasks relating to: Road Safety; Fire safety; Safety in the kitchen (thanks to Mrs Taylor for giving us all a fright with a stuffed cat asleep on the draining board!!!); Internet Safety (Police Scotland); First Aid and Water safety.  Pupils impressed us with their questions and enthusiasm.  Many thanks to those who offered their time and expertise to lead this very important focus for our vulnerable young people.

There’s no escaping it!!

The last few weeks of term are spent on an IDL topic in DAS. This year we chose Russia/World Cup 2018.  Staff have been very creative in matching pupil interest to the international interest on this major sporting event.  From circus skills to ballet to Babushka – it’s all happening in DAS in parallel to the football!

Health and Wellbeing Day

We are all geared up to have a full day of learning outdoors as we prepare to choose from some exciting options on the last Wednesday of term. We have usually been blessed with good weather to allow us to make the most of these opportunities and have fingers crossed for the same this year.  We also have some activities based in school for those who choose the Dept options.

Pupils will make a choice from the following: Swimming at Perth pool; Wii-fit; Outdoor skills at Wemyss Firs; Coastal walk; Kirkcaldy swimming pool; Yoga; Healthy cooking; Boxing; Outdoor gym and cycling; Boogie Bounce; Mindfulness with dogs; Relaxation; Walk in the woods.  Whew! Good practice for being out and about in the holidays!

Preparation for College/Adult Life

Twelve of our DAS senior pupils are currently preparing for their first taste of college life and independent travel. They have been lucky enough to gain a place on the Fife College New Directions Future Pathways school/college transition programme in 2018-19 and will attend college for one day per week beginning in September.  As a group pupils will be practising the bus journey to and from Stenton Campus in Glenrothes with the aim of being able to make the journey independently when the college term begins. All look forward to this opportunity to develop this very important life skill.

Positive destinations

With one exception DAS pupils who left at the end of May will go on to take up a place on a full time college programme with the Supported Learning Department at Fife College. Two pupils will attend the Life skills programme; one will begin a mainstream Child care course at St Brycedale Campus and the others will attend Stenton Campus on the Future Pathways programme, one of the latter will be combining an apprenticeship at a hairdressing salon.  We are delighted that they have a positive future ahead and know they will be excellent ambassadors for Balwearie High School. We look forward to them visiting us and sharing their new ventures with pupils and staff.


Tennis Academy – Sam Whitton


Sam attended the Soto Tennis Academy. It was fantastic and they were very impressed by his attitude, commitment and desire to improve, so much so that they have asked him if he would be able to attend on a full-time basis.  Whilst the cost of this is prohibitive at the moment, it is hoped that he will be able to continue to attend regularly throughout the year for periods of a week or two.

As well as benefitting from the coaching programme he would receive over there, as an Academy player there is a chance that he would be able to play tournaments in Spain if they coincide with his visits.

Sam says “I have just returned from a week-long training camp trial at Soto Tennis Academy in the South of Spain and have been invited to attend on a full-time basis. Being a full-time student would mean combining school at the Sotogrande International School and tennis at the Soto Tennis Academy, participating in their collaborative ACES programme.

The School and the Tennis Academy work seamlessly together to give students the opportunity to combine their high-level sporting ambitions with an academic education. My ambition is to attend a US College to gain a degree and then eventually become a professional tennis player.  I believe I have the attributes to be able to give myself the best possible opportunity to achieve this outcome - I am hard-working, committed and dedicated to my sport.

I also understand the importance of achieving the highest possible academic standards and I believe that the opportunities which would be available to me in Sotogrande make this the best place for me to be able to achieve this. Scholarships are not currently available so the only option is to secure financial sponsorship if at all possible”.

There is a “GoFundMe” page set up if any individuals would like to contribute. The shortened link is -

Sam also won the 14u Road To Wimbledon County Finals for East of Scotland on Sunday. This means that he has qualified to play on the grass courts at Wimbledon in August against the winners from all of the other counties in the UK.  This young man certainly has a bright future in tennis!

Balwearie Sporting Champions 2018

After very strong competition on the track and field at the Annual School Sports, we are pleased to announce the Sports Champions for all age groups as follows:

S2 Girls                                              Points             S2 Boys                                  Points

1st       Claire Scotland                        87                     1st       Louis Christie                77

2nd     Abbie Thomson                       76                    2nd      Jake Sandilands            71

3rd      Jennifer Allen                          69                     3rd      Jaden Duchain               61

S3 Girls                                                                      S3 Boys

1st       Emma Nield                            119                  1st       Ryan Morrison                105

2nd     Hannah Finlayson                 102                  2nd      Piotr Wallat                      92

3rd      Neve Mitchell                          82                  3rd       Callum Hand                    91

S4 Girls                                                                      S4 Boys

1st       Layla Zuill                                108                  1st       Peter Scott                      97

2nd     Lula Stewart                           100                 2nd      Charlie Foy                      83

3rd      Fiona Sinclair                          64                   3rd       Harris Robb                    63

Senior Girls                                                              Senior Boys

1st       Rosalind Penman                   87                    1st       Gavin Hugh                    87

2nd      Samantha McNeil                 81                    2nd      Iain McWhinnie            85

3rd       Ceanna Harley                      67                    3rd      Cameron Lewis             75

House Champions

1st       Tyrie                1844 points

2nd      Kilrie                1701

3rd       Piteadie           1385

4th       Raith                1347

5th       Grange            1302

New Records

S4 Layla Zuill in Long Jump, 100, 200, 300, 800

S4 Ben Sandilands in 400, 800m

S4 Bartek Nowak in Long Jump

Diary Dates

29 June 2018 (Noon)              End of Term

13/14 August 2018                  In-service days

15 August 2018                       Start of New Term

22 August 2018                       Parent Group AGM

27/28 August 2018                  School Photographs

30 August 2018                       UCAS Parents Information Evening

5 September 2018                  Connect Scotland Parents’ Information Evening