Comment: ‘Castlebrae hard work has just begun’

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THE News reports today that pupils of Castlebrae High School are to be the first in Edinburgh to be given an iPad as part of a move to transform the way they learn in the classroom.

While other schools have taken part in trials, the Craigmillar school is the first where every pupil has been given the new kit.

New technology, by itself, will not effect a transformation at Castlebrae, a school whose educational outcomes have been so poor that it is among the worst in Scotland. But it is a positive sign.

The most obvious manifestation of its current failure is that Castlebrae has just 130 pupils, despite having a capacity of 900. In other words the school is only 14 per cent full because parents are voting with their feet and sending their children elsewhere. This year’s S1 intake was only nine.

Edinburgh City Council ultimately voted to keep Castlebrae open, against a strong recommendation earlier this year by officials that it should be closed.

Placing Castlebrae at the front of the queue for new technology is a start, but it is an improvement in exam results that will ultimately persuade parents to place their faith in the school.

And such changes are most likely to come about through the energy, commitment and skill of the teaching staff, including new headteacher Derek Curran.

They are the ones who will have to raise the horizons of pupils and parents and urge them to work harder and achieve more.

These changes will take time, many years in fact, but having decided that Castlebrae has a future the local authority and everyone who has a stake in the Craigmillar community must do what they can to support its 

The new iPads are a useful tool, but the hard work has only just begun.