‘If they can do it, other schools can follow suit’

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There are stark and enduring differences in the levels of attainment between state schools across the Lothians. Many of the schools which perform the poorest bump along the bottom year after year. Our story today about Wester Hailes Education Centre should give all 
parents hope.

Since it opened in 1978, the WHEC – as it is affectionately known – has struggled to make its mark educationally. Its catchment area has one of the highest level of free school meals and it is among the highest for rates of absenteeism and exclusions.

In 2007 and 2008 not a single S4 pupil at the WHEC achieved five or more Standard Grades at Credit level. In 2011 that jumped to nine per cent and in 2012 to a massive 21 per cent.

A number of significant changes have helped bring this about: a focus on improving attendance levels, the sharing of best practice among teachers and a new mentoring system. Ultimately, of course, this is about the hard work put in by staff to effect change.

Significantly, the school now wants to push ahead and improve on its Higher results, which historically have not been an area of success for it.

While this is great news for WHEC parents and pupils, it is also significant for other schools in the region which have struggled. The message is loud and clear: if WHEC can do it, so can you.

Transforming our weakest schools is among the most difficult jobs – but also the most important and the most rewarding.

Huge credit must go to all the staff, pupils and parents at the WHEC for their work, and for showing others the way forward in improving performance. Long may it continue.

Paralympics

for two-and-a-half weeks this summer we all marvelled at the achievements of the athletes at the 2012 London Olympics. Now get set to be even more 
impressed.

Everything that made us stand in awe of the Olympians – their bravery, their dedication, their humility – applies ten times over to the Paralympians who will grace our television screens from Wednesday onwards.

The heights they have reached while overcoming the obstacles which life has thrown at them are truly humbling.

These are sure to be another Games to savour. Good luck to one and all.