Call to action as schools struggle to make grades

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EDUCATION chiefs today vowed to prioritise efforts to improve exam results in the Capital’s poorest-performing schools, as it emerged grades in some areas are getting worse.

New figures reveal exam results in Standard Grades, Highers and Advanced Highers in some of the city’s most deprived areas have fallen, while those in affluent areas continue to outperform the rest of the country.

A breakdown of the city’s 23 high schools showed the best results being achieved at James Gillespie’s, St Thomas of Aquin’s, Boroughmuir, Firrhill and the Royal High.

However, some schools are still struggling to meet city and national averages.

The three schools consistently achieving low results are Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC), Castlebrae in Craigmillar and Craigroyston in Muirhouse – all areas of deprivation. City education chiefs say they will target the use of specialist support staff to drive up standards in these schools while also reducing class sizes in maths and English at early stages of secondary. Craigroyston also has an extra deputy headteacher who is focused on improving attainment.

City education leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren said: “The council is experiencing difficult financial restrictions but we’re committed to prioritising education by targeting support at schools that really need it and by building new schools and improving existing ones.

“We have made savings but we’ve protected high-quality teaching and we’re seeing improvements as a result.”

At the top of the scale, Boroughmuir saw a jump in the number of pupils gaining three or more Highers by the end of S5, from 48 per cent last year to 57 per cent this year, making it the city’s best performer in Highers.

Firrhill made improvements in the number of S6 pupils gaining at least one Advanced Higher, from 25 per cent last year to 33 per cent, while Royal High’s results went up from 28 per cent to 35 per cent at that level.

City-wide, Standard Grade results also improved, but pupils failed to beat the national average.

The number of pupils achieving three Highers by the end of S5 fell at both Castlebrae and WHEC, while Craigroyston saw a small increase. Those pupils gaining general level results at Standard Grade dropped from 37 per cent to 21 at Castlebrae. Craigroyston rose from 35 per cent to 45 per cent, while the WHEC increased from 45 to 52 per cent.