In a very pleasing and positive school report, HMIe highlighted as strengths of Golspie High School the:
• leadership and sense of direction provided by the head teacher;
• commitment of staff to improve the quality of learning, teaching and young people’s achievement;
• positive attitude of almost all young people towards their school and their work; and
• the commendably wide range of opportunities and activities that help young people to learn and achieve.
HMIe reported that young people’s learning experiences continue to improve. Young people now learn more actively, take greater responsibility for planning and reviewing their own learning and have more opportunities to work and learn together. Young people’s attainment in reading, writing and mathematics at S1/2 has improved significantly over the past three years and young people are now achieving better in key subjects, but there is still scope for further improvement.
Young people have more opportunities to contribute to improvements and the pupil council is consulted regularly on a number of important developments. HMIe commended the allocation of a budget to the pupil council as particularly noteworthy. Young people have more confidence and pride in their school and almost all wear school uniform.
The inspectors also reported that parents have more confidence in the school and about their children’s learning and achievement. Parents also contribute to school improvement through membership of working groups, aimed at school improvement activities, as well as through the supportive Parent Council.
Mrs Sarah Whealing Chair of the Parent Council said: “We are pleased to receive the latest report from HMIe which validates the hard work and commitment of pupils and staff to effect the improvements which have been made at Golspie High School. Parents will be much encouraged by this report. The Parent Council remains committed to working with the Rector and staff to raise standards still further for the benefit of pupils.”
HMIe commented that teachers are now better at identifying young people’s strengths and learning needs, which results in a more consistent quality of pupil work. Staff continue to work effectively with a range of partners to support young people’s learning and development and have further strengthened links with primary school colleagues. The Associated Schools Group in Golspie meet regularly to develop important aspects of a Curriculum for Excellence in support of children as they move from Primary to Secondary school. Staff are clear about the next steps to further improve the school. They work more collaboratively and consistently to improve the quality of learning and teaching and young people’s achievement.
HMIe commended the work of the new Head Teacher who has quickly established high standards, set high expectations and given the school a clear sense of direction, correctly identifying the areas where improvement is most necessary. Senior managers, including faculty managers and principal teachers, have benefited from clearer and more manageable remits and all staff are more willing to take on leadership responsibilities to further improve the school.
Dr. James Vance, Head Teacher said: “I am very pleased that this report acknowledges the effort of staff, pupils, parents and partner agencies in bringing significant and sustained improvement in Golspie High School. It is a fair reflection of a school which is good and getting better and I hope it gives all concerned the confidence that we have the energy, direction and personnel to keep moving forward, as all schools must.”
As in all reports, HMIe suggest ways in which the school might sustain its agenda for improvement and has identified the need to bring more consistency to the setting and effectiveness of homework as well as maintaining a strong focus on the continued improvement in attainment in national examinations. HMIe are sufficiently reassured by the improvements noted that they do not plan to visit the school again but will request a progress report in a year’s time from the Authority.
Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee said, “The head teacher, senior management team, staff, parents and pupils at Golspie High School have worked hard to demonstrate steady and consistent improvement over the last couple of years. It is a great tribute to everyone’s efforts that these improved impacts have been recognised and that there is sufficient and clear improvement for HMIe to hand the ongoing monitoring over to the Highland Council. We will maintain the progress. Well done to all concerned and keep up the good work.”
The original inspection report (published 28/06/2008) and the first follow-through report published (23/03/2010) can be found at the HMIe website, http://www.hmie.gov.uk/ and search secondary.