As part of the inspectorate’s ongoing strategy for evaluating the educational provision of local authorities, a report is issued today (14 December) on the inspection by HMIe of the quality of education at Wick High School. The report from a follow-through visit is based on an initial inspection from 2008 and subsequent visits and describes the improvements that have been made since that original inspection.
In a very positive school report, HMIe highlighted as strengths of the school the continuing improvements to young people’s levels of attainment, and their achievements, the positive attitudes of young people to learning, their high standards of behaviour and the whole-school approach to tracking young people’s progress and attainment. The effective way that the senior management team had led the school since the previous Head Teacher retired was also commended.
HMIe reported that almost all young people are keen to learn and feel safe and well looked after in school. Young people are now experiencing some very imaginative learning approaches and are more involved in thinking about their own learning. Young people now have a wider range of opportunities to extend their achievements through lunchtime and after-school activities, with more sport and cultural activities available. HMIe noted that attainment has improved and, in most cases, is at its highest level for five years and that the school has made a good start at developing Curriculum for Excellence in the school. A good start has also been made at strengthening links with the primary schools to support uninterrupted learning as children move to the high school.
The inspectors also commended the active support offered by the Parent Council to the school and acknowledged the important steps that the school had taken to keep Parent Council members more informed about issues such as attainment. Parents were very positive about support they receive for their children when they need it. Staff continue to develop imaginative ways of involving parents more in their children’s learning as part of developing Curriculum for Excellence and in working with local businesses and partners to extend the opportunities open to young people.
Most staff are contributing to school improvement through involvement in working groups, including those for numeracy and literacy and this is helping them to improve their teaching practice. Young people also said that they valued the recent improvements to the school building, such as the new toilets and the canteen extension. Expectations for standards of behaviour continue to be very high and most staff now have higher expectations of what young people can achieve. This is contributing to raised aspirations amongst young people themselves which is helping to dive up attainment.
The work of the Senior Management Team was recognised in taking the school forward, increasing the pace of development of Curriculum for Excellence and ensuring that attainment improved. HMIe also stated that the staff as a whole are committed to improving young people’s learning.
As in all reports, HMIe suggest ways in which the school might sustain its agenda for improvement and has identified the need to find ways to monitor and record the achievements of young people more effectively and to continue to try to further raise attainment within the school particularly for boys. There is also a need to develop the Pupil Council; to make sure that it can contribute to improvements within the school and to consult more widely with parents. HMIe are sufficiently reassured by the improvements noted that they do not, at this point, plan to visit the school again but will request a progress report in a year’s time from the Authority.
The Parent Council continues to support the school well and have been actively engaging with the school Senior Management Team on ways of improving attainment, including the current project of purchasing school text books. There is every hope that this relationship becomes stronger to help the school to deliver the best possible educational opportunities.
Mr. Thomas McIntyre, Head Teacher for the school said: “I find this an excellent report and I’m especially pleased that it gives credit to the senior management team, pupils and Parent Council for the improvements made to date. It is my hope and intention to try to build on these good foundations to raise the aspirations, attainment and achievement for every pupil in Wick High School.”
Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee said: “The senior management team, staff, parents and pupils at Wick High School have worked hard to demonstrate steady but consistent improvement over the last couple of years. It is pleasing that these efforts have been recognised and that the level of improvement has been sufficient for HMIe to hand the ongoing monitoring over to the local authority. We intend to maintain the progress. Well done to all concerned and keep up the good work.”