City’s worst performing schools are on the mark with exams

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SOME of Edinburgh’s poorest performing schools are enjoying soaring exam success – helping keep city-wide results above the national average, figures have revealed.

Blighted by a zero per cent pass rate among its S5s sitting at least three Highers in 2012, Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) is leading the charge and this year saw the number of pupils who made the grade leaping to nine per cent.

At once-struggling Craigroyston Community High, the proportion of S5 pupils scoring three or more passes at Higher level jumped from two to seven per cent over the same period with the school’s overall Higher success rate doubling.

Across the city, nearly a third of youngsters in S5 – 31 per cent – achieved at least three Highers, maintaining last year’s strong performance and sitting ahead of the 28 per cent figure recorded nationally.

At top-performing Boroughmuir High, the proportion of youngsters leaving S5 with three or more Highers stood at 60 per cent.

Sheila Paton, headteacher at WHEC, said: “Last year we saw the green shoots – now we’re moving into sustained improvement across the board.”

The boost in exam performance at nearly all levels across Edinburgh emerged in a detailed, school-by-school breakdown released by education bosses.

Signs of a turnaround also emerged at Castlebrae Community High as the proportion of youngsters scoring five or more passes at Standard Grade credit and intermediate two levels rose from 12 in 2012 to 14 per cent this year – marking a near-tripling of the five per cent pass rate in 2011.

Across the Capital, pass rates among S4 pupils aiming for five or more credit or intermediate two passes increased from 39 to 40 per cent – ahead of the Scottish average of 38 per cent.

And 51 per cent of the city’s Higher candidates scored a pass in at least one subject – three points ahead of the national figure.

The analysis is the last to be produced under the now defunct Standard Grade system, which has been replaced by the new National exams.

Edinburgh’s schools are also set to come under renewed scrutiny as the Scottish Government today prepares to publish its own performance statistics.

Headteachers welcomed signs of improved exam results and said they were determined to ensure the progress is not squandered.

Steve Ross, headteacher at Craigroyston, where around half of the pupils leave in S4, said he had set a target of ensuring every youngster stays on until S6.

He said: “Things are better but they’re still not where they should be – I’m going to keep on raising the bar.

“Our main vision for the coming session is that we have to meet the needs of every pupil in the senior phase of their schooling from S4 to S6.

“So rather than just the academic courses, we’ll be offering courses such as mountain bike maintenance and even cake decoration.

“I want every single kid to stay on and get a portfolio of qualifications, skills and experience so that by the end of their sixth year, they’re ready for the wider world.”

Education convener Councillor Paul Godzik said: “I’m delighted at the successes achieved by Edinburgh schools this year. In many exam result areas we are better than the Scottish average which is testament to the commitment of all our teaching staff and hard work by our pupils. To have nearly 60 per cent of our pupils get a Higher by the end of S6 is a real achievement and our drive to improve literacy has also proved successful.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com