Interim follow-through inspection of Helmsdale Primary School

As part of the inspectorate’s ongoing strategy for evaluating the educational provision of local authorities, the report is issued today (30 June 2009) on the inspection by HMIe of the quality of education at Helmsdale Primary School.  The follow-through report is based on an inspection visit which was carried out in May 2009 and describes the improvements that have been made since the original inspection in 2008.

In a positive school report, HMIe highlighted as strengths the courteous, motivated and well-behaved pupils, a good approach to active learning and purposeful play in the nursery and the early stages and the positive impact the head teacher had made in leading school improvement.

HMIe noted that, in the nursery, children are achieving success across all areas of their learning and they are becoming increasingly independent, developing good social skills and growing in confidence. The majority of children from P1 to P7 are making good progress in listening, talking, reading and mathematics. Children are showing good skills in music and physical education and that across the school enjoy working together.

Children now have regular opportunities to take responsibility for their learning and teachers work closely with support staff to provide well-judged help to individuals and small groups of children. The report further notes that the school has improved procedures to ensure children’s safety and encouraged staff to visit other schools to observe different teaching methods and share what other schools are doing. These initiatives are helping to improve the quality of children’s learning.

As in all reports, HMIe suggest ways in which the school might sustain its agenda for school improvement and identified that the school needs to continue to develop more challenging and enjoyable learning activities and continue to help children to understand how they can improve their work, but overall, the school now performs better and shows a strong capacity to continue to improve.

HMIe acknowledge that the school is taking forward improvements and is making progress. The head teacher has a sound understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement. He has recognised the need to continue to improve the good start he has made in meeting his vision for the school. 

The school is well supported by an active Parent Council. Chairperson Mike Parsons said: “Helmsdale School is really starting to show the benefits of the good leadership it had been lacking previously. With continued and improved support from staff and parents, I have no doubt that the school will continue to progress and provide a broad and effective education for our children.”

Head Teacher, Mr Glenn Paton said: “Some good progress has been made as a result of a lot of hard work on the part of a developing and talented school team, but there is still some way to go before we will consistently achieve the high standards we have set ourselves.”

Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee said:  “Helmsdale is making pleasing progress that has been noted in this report.  The continued efforts of the head teacher and all staff will ensure that the school provides a good learning environment that meets the needs of all pupils.”

The inspectorate will continue to engage with the school and education authority.  A further follow through visit to the school will be planned and a report to parents on the extent of the improvement that has been achieved will be published in another year’s time.

30 Jun 2009