HMIe Inspection Report on Upper Achintore Primary School, Fort William

Upper Achintore Primary School, Fort William, has received a very positive report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, who highlighted the following key strengths:

The report highlights how the children learn and achieve in a number of ways, describing the children as being highly motivated and enthusiastic about their learning and achievement. Children talk about their school as having a culture of ‘togetherness’ in which they are respected and valued.  A strength is the way that children’s play in the nursery encourages them to explore and investigate. It goes on to highlight that at primary stages, children are benefitting from a wide-range of learning activities including working in pairs and groups to discuss their learning, learn through games and solve challenges. Children recognising the importance of a healthy lifestyle and being aware of the benefits of taking part in lunchtime and after-school clubs was also highlighted.

Children are developing important skills including leadership, personal skills and managing money through participating in a range of activities including the John Muir Award, drama, dance, music and a range of sports. In the nursery, children are making good progress in early language and mathematics. At the primary stages, children now find writing more enjoyable, interesting and purposeful.  They are extending the range of situations in which they write. In maths children are  strengthening their use of strategies for mental calculations and in tackling real-life mathematical problems. Language and mathematics are improving although there is potential for children to make further progress. 

The report notes there are important strengths in the way that staff support children to develop and learn.  Staff show very high-quality care and support to children.  Children who need extra help with their learning are making appropriate progress. 

A particular strength was the curriculum which is identified as well planned and based on a sound rationale for inspiring the children of Upper Achintore to be successful learners. All staff have embraced Curriculum for Excellence very well and are continuing to improve programmes for literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Effective Partnership working to support the curriculum was highlighted as helping children make connections in their learning. Examples included the ‘Go with the Flow’ project, working with Lochaber Fisheries, the ‘Tapestry Project’ and the contribution of the Forest Ranger which are all very effective in bringing a real-life dimension to children’s learning and an opportunity to apply their skills.

The report goes on to outline how well the school does to improve the quality of learning, highlighting that the Head Teacher has skilfully built teamwork with staff, parents, children and partners leading to continuous improvement of the school. The staff are very committed to further developing the Curriculum for Excellence in their school. The report noted that the school has a range of appropriate approaches for self-evaluation in place, which are leading to many improvements and this should continue to be developed.

The Inspectors made only two recommendations to the school, continue to monitor progress across all areas of learning and to improve children’s attainment further, especially in writing and improve the consistency and level of challenge within learning, and continue to develop Curriculum for Excellence. HMI are satisfied with the overall quality of provision and are confident that the
school’s self-evaluation processes are leading to improvements. As a result, they will
make no further visits in connection with this inspection.

Commenting on the report, Mr Nick Thomson, Head Teacher, said: “I am delighted with our inspection report. It clearly recognises the hard work, commitment and dedication of staff, pupils and parents, all working together to successfully deliver a Curriculum for Excellence. The report accurately describes our very motivated and enthusiastic pupils who respond so well to the wide range of learning experiences on offer at Upper Achintore and this has been key in achieving our aim of Learning, Achieving, Succeeding Together.”

The Chairperson of the Parent Council, Mrs Sharron Rydings, said: “As Chair of the Parent Council and on behalf of the parents at Upper Achintore, I am delighted with the findings in our report. HMIe highlight the very high quality support that helps children to develop and learn at Upper Achintore through an exciting and rich curriculum. This is testament to all the hard work of everyone in school. I am confident the school will continue to make further gains in the future through its work with parents, pupils and partners.”


30 Aug 2013