Castleview Primary hailed after climbing ranks

New head teacher Mr Dimeck celebrates with pupils. Picture:  Greg Macvean
New head teacher Mr Dimeck celebrates with pupils. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Its teachers have battled to give children a decent start in life – and now their hard work has really paid off.

In a believed first for the Capital, Castleview Primary, and its nursery class, have emerged as one of the country’s top schools after Education Scotland inspectors awarded “unheard of” excellent ratings following a rigorous inspection.

Isis Ferraz, four, with a welly boot planter that she made. Picture: Julie Bull

Isis Ferraz, four, with a welly boot planter that she made. Picture: Julie Bull

The “excellent” stamp of approval was given for curriculum delivery and meeting the needs of pupils, while “very good” pass marks were afforded to every other assessment category, in a move that now ranks Castleview among the very best schools in Scotland.

What is more remarkable is the fact eight years ago the school – which caters for children from one of Edinburgh’s most deprived districts – was effectively on its knees. With one of the city’s highest exclusion rates, many have attributed the dramatic change in fortune to the hard work of headteacher Lindsey Watt.

She has brought in a system of hands-on education where pupils are encouraged to get out into the community. As such, pupils can be found offering tours to visitors at Craigmillar Castle, helping out at Bridgend community allotments and creating a “wall” of concrete panels which has become a local landmark.

She, however, is modest about her part in the school’s achievement. She said: “The inspectors said the children at Castleview are some of the luckiest in Scotland because of the quality of the education that they receive – and that’s because of the incredible team we have here at the school.”

Craigmillar Castle tour guides. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Craigmillar Castle tour guides. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Traditionalists can take heart too from the fact inspectors hailed the “outstanding” work teachers have been doing in the key areas of literacy and numeracy.

Managers at Craigmillar Castle, where the kids act as tour guides, say it is clear something special is happening at Castleview.

While Education Scotland – the body which carries out inspections across the country – is clear it has found an example of best practice... one other Scots schools could learn from.

Chief executive Dr Bill Maxwell said: “This is clearly a school which has fully embraced the opportunities which the new Scottish 
curriculum now offers.

“I know our inspectors were impressed with the quality of leadership from the headteacher, Ms Watt, and a skilled and committed set of class teachers was also singled out.”

With the successful school now preparing to receive a ministerial visit in recognition of its achievement, we can reveal expertise gleaned from its turnaround will be pumped into Castlebrae Community High, which faced closure over poor exam results, and for which Castleview is a feeder primary.