Inspector says Selkirk school still has room for improvement

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‘COULD do better’ is the verdict of the inspector carrying out a follow-up visit to a Selkirk primary school.

The HMIE officer praised improvements achieved under new Knowepark head teacher Cathy Mady, but said the inspectorate would be back within a year to see how the 286-pupil school and nursery was faring.

Inspector Sadie Cushley said: “There is evidence of some improvement since the original inspection of June 2008. More remains to be done.

She identified the school’s particular strengths as the children’s positive attitude; improved staff teamwork and commitment and better communication with nursery children’s parents.

Children are doing better in maths, English and writing, she found. And she reported: “Children are more actively involved in their learning. They are finding lessons more interesting and are more confident in talking about their learning. There is scope to develop this further.

“There are not always enough opportunities for children to be independent in, and take responsibility for, their own learning. Learning is still too dependent on textbooks. Staff have successfully started to develop learning through play. Teachers now need to increase the pace of change to implement Curriculum for Excellence. There is scope to improve approaches to meeting the needs of more able children and those with additional support needs. There are examples of improved approaches to learning and teaching, but this is inconsistent across the school.”

She went on: “Teamwork amongst staff is now more effective and staff are working together to discuss and share improved learning and teaching approaches. Staff are now more involved in school improvement and are beginning to share practice. They now need to take more responsibility for leading aspects of school improvement.

“Self-evaluation has improved at all levels. Staff now need to make more effective use of peer evaluation. This would involve teachers in observing and commenting on their own practice and on that of other teachers.”

She continued: “Teachers have maintained improved standards of children’s behaviour and now have higher expectations of children’s achievements. However, this is not consistent across the school. Children are more involved in setting learning targets and in evaluating their own progress. This needs to be built on to ensure a clearer focus on learning.”

She commented: “The head teacher has gained the respect of parents and has a clear sense of direction. She has worked hard to bring about a range of improvements across the school. However, promoted staff have not been able to work effectively as a team to ensure the pace of change is appropriate. As a result, improvements to the quality of learners’ experiences, the curriculum and approaches to meeting learning needs are not yet strong enough.

“The head teacher now needs to engage all staff in a robust evaluation of the quality of learning and teaching. The school will need further support from the local authority in order to improve.”

Miss Mady said: “I am very pleased with the report. It is a reflection of all the hard work put in by staff, pupils and parents.”