West Lothian education: Fauldhouse school wins rare 'excellent' rating from inspectors

Headteacher keeps promise of raising attainment at school
St John the Baptist Primary School and Nursery Class in Fauldhouse won a rare 'excellent' rating for raising attainment.St John the Baptist Primary School and Nursery Class in Fauldhouse won a rare 'excellent' rating for raising attainment.
St John the Baptist Primary School and Nursery Class in Fauldhouse won a rare 'excellent' rating for raising attainment.

A West Lothian primary headteacher has lived up to her promise of raising attainment when she took over at a Fauldhouse primary school.

An inspection at St John the Baptist Primary and Fauldhouse Nursery has taken the school’s rating from just “satisfactory” to awarding it a place as one of the best schools in the country.  

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Angela Gardner told a meeting of West Lothian's Education Quality Assurance Committee, that had been her main area of focus from her first day at the school.

And following a visit from Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate, St John the Baptist was given a rare “Excellent” for raising attainment and achievement at the school. The school also got a “Very Good” for learning, teaching and assessment.

Since 2017, less than 1 per cent of Scottish  primary school inspection evaluations have received an ‘excellent’.

Mrs Gardner told the meeting: “In November 2017, my first day in post at St John the Baptist, I attended this committee with an evaluation of satisfactory in raising attainment, and at that time I promised the committee that a raising attainment strategy would be our main focus for improvement.

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"I am proud of the work we have completed now to the highest evaluation of excellent category from our recent HMIE Inspection."

The chair of the committee, Councillor Peter Heggie, said: "It's a great report."

Mrs Gardner said: “I am incredibly proud of our school community. As a staff team, we work to ensure both the school and nursery settings are fun, compassionate and nurturing environments where our children can learn and grow to achieve their potential. Our pupils are amazing and we are delighted with their achievements. They really are a credit to our school, their families and the wider community.

“We will certainly take the positives from this report and reflect on what we can do to further develop our practice, ensuring that we are inspiring success for all our learners.”

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Executive councillor for education, Andrew McGuire said: “I am thrilled for the pupils, staff and wider community connected to St John the Baptist. This report showcases the excellent work in both the school and nursery settings and I’m sure this will only inspire staff to further develop their fantastic approach to education.”

The report, initially published in November, presented findings from inspectors following their visit earlier in the year. Education Scotland Inspectors assessed the school against key quality indicators during their visit .

A number of outstanding aspects were highlighted in the report including the sustained, outstanding levels of attainment in literacy and numeracy at the primary stages. Together, the headteacher and all staff are successfully raising attainment for all children and consequently are closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

The quality of children’s learning experiences was noted and staff were observed as being highly skilled in ensuring that all children’s learning needs are met exceptionally well.

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Inspectors were also taken by the pupils' extremely positive attitude to learning, remarking that they are “rightly proud” of their many achievements within a community where everyone’s rights are respected.

The  inspectors found a strong ethos of inclusion, nurture and support across the school and nursery with positive and respectful relationships helping children to feel safe, cherished and happy in the secure, family environment.

The work of nursery staff in creating a vibrant and stimulating nursery environment was pointed out with the report stating that practitioners have worked hard to create superb learning space.

Meanwhile the Nursery School also fared well in the feedback from the Care Inspectorate, being assessed as ‘very good’ for play and learning and ‘good’ for quality assurance and improvement and nurturing care and support.

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One area for improvement was identified and discussed with the head teacher and council representatives.  They recommend that in the nursery class, that the approach to record keeping and quality assurance needs to be strengthened to make sure children’s individual plans are up to date with relevant information.

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