Rural primaries win praise from inspectors

TWO of the smallest schools in the Borders have been given glowing reports from government inspectors.

With six and nine pupils respectively, but with capacity for 50 at each site, Ettrick and Yarrow primaries share head teacher Mo Brown with the larger Kirkhope at Ettrickbridge.

And both were praised by the experts from HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) who visited in October and released their reports last week.

At Yarrow, key strengths included “courteous, well-behaved children who are keen to learn” and “highly effective support from all staff to help pupils with their learning”.

In Ettrick, the inspectors discovered “highly motivated children who were keen to learn” and “exceptional support by all staff” while also acknowledging “children’s achievements in music and other aspects of expressive arts”.

In addition, both schools were extolled for their partnership working with parents and the local community and the use of the outdoor environment to enhance the curriculum.

Mrs Brown told us: “Both inspections proved to be very positive and supportive experiences and the resulting reports have highlighted the excellent collaborative work with value being given to our creative innovative practices and their impact on pupils’ learning experiences.”

The head teacher said she was pleased the inspectors had highlighted the value of Yarrow’s art and design project – Boogie Woogie in the Yarrow – and the musical talents of the Ettrick pupils.

Sarah Cross, chair of Yarrow parent council, commented: “It’s very reassuring to parents to get such positive feedback and it gives us continued belief in the future of our children’s education at Yarrow.”

John Davidson, her counterpart at Ettrick, told us: “I’m delighted with the report and look forward to passing on the good new to other parents. I want to thank the teaching and other staff at Ettrick for their hard work and inspirational teaching.”

Mrs Brown said both schools were developing “appropriate priorities” in their improvement plans and taking forward recommendations from the inspectors.

These include a need to continue to involve children and parents more in personal learning planning and further improving monitoring to evaluate the work of the schools.