Grammar school progress not good enough, says inspector

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Campbeltown Grammar School has made ‘insufficient progress’ to tackle problems which were highlighted at its last inspection, Education Scotland said.

After a follow-up inspection, parents received a letter this week from HM Inspector Bill Geddes, who said there would now be liaison with Argyll and Bute Council to speed up improvements and another inspection will take place within one year.

But Mr Geddes admitted: ‘Many of the steps being taken to improve attainment in the school have had too little time to demonstrate their impact.’

Weak performance in numeracy remains a concern, and for senior pupils,there has been no substantial improvement in attainment since the original inspection was carried out.

‘The school has achieved only limited success in developing a clear sense of direction,’ the report said, noting inconsistencies in teaching, but adding: ‘Staff now have a clearer understanding of the priorities in improving young people’s learning successes and achievements.’

Senior leaders should improve communication with all principal teachers as ‘parents and others involved feel that communication is not currently a strength of the school’.

The report also draws attention to some expressions of ‘significant concerns about poor behaviour in the school with no apparent formal, agreed procedure for dealing with behavioural issues’.

A few parents said they are concerned about the lack of response when they contact the school with a query about their child’s wellbeing.

School staff came in for some criticism: ‘Major inconsistencies remain in teachers’ practice,’ the report said, ‘young people do not consistently experience appropriate pace or challenge in their learning’.

After receiving this report Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘We are committed to driving forward these improvements and delivering an education service that gives our young people the support they need to secure and sustain positive destinations and achieve success in life.

‘Whilst areas for further work have been identified, it is important to recognise the positive changes that have already been put in place since the initial inspection.

‘Working together, our pupils and school staff are achieving success, often award-winning.

‘Campbeltown Grammar is no exception, having been recently recognised at an event in the Scottish Parliament for its good practice in Holocaust education. These are the type of achievements we want to build on.

‘Figures also show that almost all school leavers in Campbeltown progress to positive destinations upon leaving school.

‘This reiterates the message that Campbeltown Grammar has young people to be proud of and we will continue to make any improvements required to support them in developing their aspirations and achieving their ambitions.’

The HM Inspector’s report also highlighted where success has been achieved.
  • ‘The Learning Support Department is particularly well appointed and situated. Young people enjoy attending and staff know them and their needs well.’
  • The senior leadership team has been strengthened with the appointment of an additional depute head teacher.
  • Staff have introduced improvements in the quality of learning and teaching since the original inspection.
  • Pupils are better motivated and engaged in their learning.
  • English department’s strong lead in delivering literacy across the curriculum.
  • Staff continue to make improvements to the curriculum in broad general education across S1 to S3.
  • S4 to S6 can now take six courses instead of five.
  • There are more opportunities for achievements beyond the classroom; pupils are taking on roles as sports leaders and volunteering in the community.
  • ‘Almost all school leavers progress to positive destinations when they leave the school’.
  • A wide range of work placements and internships with local businesses.
  • Young people can choose from a range of Skills for Work programmes and Foundation Apprenticeships.