Castlebrae High super head ‘will help save school’

Derek Curran is the current headteacher at Castlebrae High. Picture: Julie Bull
Derek Curran is the current headteacher at Castlebrae High. Picture: Julie Bull
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A SINGLE “super head” will be put in charge of embattled Castlebrae High and its feeder primaries in a bid to transform the schools.

The Craigmillar secondary – which faced closure last year as a result of falling rolls and poor exam results – is also to become a city-wide centre of science excellence for senior pupils from across Edinburgh, after a group of education specialists and community representatives backed the plan.

It is hoped that the plans will make it easier for pupils to make the jump from primary to high school.

Opportunities for Castlebrae’s specialist teachers to work with upper school groups at feeder primaries would be increased under the plans. A primary head, acting under the direction of the Castlebrae “super head”, would also be handed extra responsibility for S1-3 pupils at Castlebrae to help manage the move into secondary edcuation.

The step up from primary to high school has been identified as a problem area where pupils can fall behind. Education experts say this joined-up schooling will provide more continuity in learning and enable pupils to benefit from best teaching practice.

The new headteacher will be appointed in August 2015.

It is being proposed after the 900 capacity school – where the roll is just 138 – was criticised for low pupil attainment in a recent follow-up inspection by Education Scotland.

Headteacher Derek Curran, who was parachuted in to Castlebrae earlier this year to help turn it around, said: “The issues that were identified in the inspection report were, in many cases, connected with the lack of strategic direction for the school, and the quality of learning and attainment in key academic areas such as literacy and numeracy.

“This plan provides that direction. But it’s also important that we go out and engage with the community – the feedback we’ve been getting so far has been very positive.”

The proposals are contained in the first strategy document by a working group of teachers, community representatives, councillors and education experts from across Scotland, who have been tasked with revitalising Castlebrae before the area gets a new secondary.

Councillor Cathy Fullerton, working group chair, said boosting pupil numbers is key to the school’s success, adding: “We have anecdotal evidence that parents are changing their minds about Castlebrae.”

P7 pupils to be given iPads

ALL P7 pupils at Castlebrae High’s feeder primaries are to receive an iPad as part of moves to promote increased collaboration and a “sense of community” among the schools.

The decision to issue iPads, which will be managed and supported by staff at Castlebrae, comes after the secondary school became the first in Edinburgh to provide the devices to all its pupils.

Headteacher Derek Curran said the move would help change local attitudes to Castlebrae.

He said: “We’re extending our iPad project from the secondary to the P7s – this is about talking to parents and easing fears about the school’s closure.”