Letter from Camphill

Summer 2017

Dear parents and friends

It seems that every time I write the end of term letter I refer to the weather at the start; perhaps that is not surprising as we live on an island but again this term has seen some extremes, from sweltering heat at the end of May to wet and windy weather this week. Nonetheless life has gone on unabated with camping in the first week of June, the fire at St John’s, Sports days and Ascension Day walks being barely affected by the changing weather.

This year will see the first Festival of Learning which I hope some of you will have managed to attend. It began inside the Camphill Hall with a few short presentations, music and songs and then moved down around the Murtle schoolhouse where in the courtyard there were displays from school, workshops and the land, offering everyone the chance to see what has been learnt and achieved across the school and the young adult provision. This event replaced the traditional end of school festival, giving more acknowledgment to the growing number of young adults and their work.

At the other end of the spectrum, I am glad to be able to share that we are now licensed by Nature Nurture Project to deliver Nature Nurture early intervention programmes which provides early intervention programmes for children and young people, comprising the restorative effects of free play in a natural environment and closely attuned nurturing interactions with specially trained staff. This is an important development for us as it allows us to share the wonderful environment in which we live and work with some of the most vulnerable children from the locality.

This term we have also become ME2 providers for Aberdeen City and have been approached by two families on this scheme.

In early May, we had a visit from our new HMI link inspector. She looked through the School Improvement Plan and had a tour of the estates. The outcome of the meeting was that we were able to evidence our continual engagement with improvement planning; she will visit next in the new school year. In line with our School Improvement Plan, we have been spending time on our curriculum design and will soon have the initial elements ready for inclusion on our website.

The young adult team is implementing the new referral system for workshop placements across the school-age and young adult population, to be in place for the new school year timetables. This will allow children and young people to access the right experiences for their personal development as well as benefit from the breadth of opportunities that are available. We are also looking at the development of further ‘multi-use’ spaces to enhance the provision and offer much needed indoor work experience. And the newly refurbished Cairnlee House is now up and running with the young adults moving back there earlier in the week!

Work at the riding school has been completed; this will allow the horses to return to the stables, and activities for the children and young people will begin again.

The student council continues to meet regularly: class 10 has worked on videos about social situations and will soon begin work on a promotional video; we are grateful that £200 raised by the parent group has been donated to the student council to help with buying a new stock of CSA-branded hoodies and t‑shirts.

In regard to the aforementioned parent group, as you are aware from earlier emails this term, we are trying to re‑launch the group and a parent has come forward to facilitate this. To this end, a coffee/tea morning has been arranged on Tuesday 5th September, 10 am to 12 noon in St Hilda’s, Camphill Estate, which I hope you will be able to attend. (Tuesday was the most popular choice by those parents who replied.) Many thanks again to all of you who completed the parent questionnaire. We are very grateful, both for your support and for the feedback that you sent us.

Together with Newton Dee, we hosted the International Camphill Dialogue at the end of May which was attended by about 150 delegates from throughout the world. Many commented on the warmth of hospitability that they received from Camphill School; we also found places for 16 delegates to stay.

As part of this, all Aberdeen City Councillors were invited, both to Dialogue and CSA, and two have taken up the invitation to visit here.

Some of you will remember that, during the winter of 2015, we had huge problems with the electricity supply to Murtle; I am now glad to share that a new infrastructure will be put into Murtle during the next school term and that this will, by default, cause some disruption during August, September and October. We will endeavour to keep you as informed as possible about this.

At the end of term, and more especially at the end of the school year, there are always some people to say goodbye to, and this year I would like in particular to thank the many one-year volunteers who will be leaving now, but also to all others who move on. In addition, there are several youngsters leaving the school or young adult programme and we wish them all the best for their futures; as they leave we are looking forward to welcoming new children and young adults after the summer.

Finally, a reminder that we will hold our annual Open Day on Saturday 23rd September from 2‑5 pm on Camphill Estate, Milltimber; it is always one of the highlights of the year and planning will soon begin to ensure it continues to be a festival of family fun with donkey rides, face painting, puppet shows, craft sale and demonstrations, home baking, organic garden produce, café and much much more – so please do come and join us.  

With this, I would like to wish you all the best for the summer school holidays.

Laurence Alfred
Executive Director