A report issued last week by HM inspectors has concluded that Calderhead High School in Shotts is showing “clear signs of improvement”.
In 2010, the school’s inspection indicated there was room for improvement across several areas.
Last January’s follow-up inspection reported that things were moving in the right direction, although it concluded that “much remains to be done to raise young people’s attainment”. Last year Calderhead achieved the lowest percentage of Standard Grade passes among schools in the area and was second-bottom in the Higher category.
Since the last report, pupils and staff have moved into a brand new, ultra-modern school building at a cost of £21million. This represented the biggest single capital investment in Shotts for 40 years and the inspection earlier this month highlighted a number of positives that the move has created.
A letter from inspector Aileen Monaghan sent to all parents states that: “There is clear evidence of improvements in aspects of the school’s work since the follow-through inspection”.
The letter complimented the school’s pupils, calling them “friendly and keen to learn”, with most “behaving well”. The inspector goes on to explain how proud the pupils are of their new school, highlighting their keenness to follow the dress code as demonstrating a strong identity with the school, which in turn, with all the new facilities available, offers them a much improved environment for learning.
Staff were commended for their commitment, while head teacher Linda Park was singled out and praised for being “an effective leader with an appropriate vision for the future of the school”.
The letter concluded by stating that a further follow-through visit to the school will be carried out within the next 12 months – Calderhead’s fourth inspection since 2010.
Head teacher Linda Park said: “We are delighted the recent inspection report highlights the many positive changes at the school since the initial inspection in 2010.
“The hard work of pupils and staff is recognised in the report along with the improved culture and ethos of the school.
“Inspectors noted that, since we moved the move into the new building, pupils are proud of their school and are happy to become involved in the life of the local community. All of this clearly demonstrates how far the school has moved on.
“We are well aware of the challenges which face us in continuing to improve attainment so that our results in S4 and S5 match those our young people achieve by the end of S6.”
She continued: “We have a number of strategies in place in school this session, but we are heavily reliant on the support of parents.
“Since the beginning of this session, we have welcomed a 50 per cent increase in parent members sitting on the Parent Council.
“The new school has also afforded us further opportunities to invite parents into school, through open nights in addition to annual parents’ evenings. Our recent S1 parents’ information evening saw 84 per cent of our first year pupils represented.
“However, in order to truly make an impact on attainment, we need parents to become even more involved in the life of the school. For example, information events to discuss changes in the curriculum, or sessions on how we can support our young people saw disappointingly low turnouts.
“The school will continue to work with the parent council to develop ways in which we can engage a wider section of our parent forum.
Mrs Park added: “The overall picture remains very positive and I would like to thank pupils, support staff, teachers and parents for their commitment to achieving a school which everyone is proud of.
“We will continue to expect and demand the highest standards for all our pupils to give them the best possible start in life.”
Part of the inspection report detailed surveys carried out among staff, pupils and parents.
A particular point of interest was the extremely poor completion rate of questionnaires by parents and guardians. Of 200 issued only 36 were returned – a response rate of just 18 per cent, down more than 8 per cent from the 53 completed in 2010.
A whopping 63 per cent of teachers said parents were not involved enough in their children’s learning.
Of the parents who did respond, the vast majority were satisfied with Calderhead’s performance, with 92 per cent stating overall, they were happy with the school.
Pupil surveys showed – despite the new canteen facility at Calderhead – 25 per cent didn’t think they were encouraged to make healthy food choices. The number of youngsters who felt there was an adult at the school they could approach if worried about something was over 80 per cent. Teachers noticed a marked improvement in pupils’ behaviour.