Work to do but school is praised

BALMORAL primary school in Galashiels got a ‘could do better’ report from school inspectors.

But HMIE officials, who visited the 118-pupil primary and nursery in November, also praised the staff’s strong commitment to the children’s welfare and noted the “well-behaved and polite” youngsters were proud of their school.

Headteacher Gillian McKenzie said: ‘We are pleased the report reflects the pride the children have in their school and the commitment of staff to the children’s care and welfare. We are now in a strong position to develop the Curriculum for Excellence and provide a challenging and stimulating learning environment.”

The inspectors said they were confident the school could make the improvements they suggested.

They said Balmoral should develop its classes using the Curriculum for Excellence while noting: “The curriculum is becoming more responsive to children’s interests and staff use local amenities such as the library, woods and swimming pool to further extend children’s learning opportunities.”

They said the school should improve achievement levels: “Staff need to raise expectations of children’s attainment across the school.”

And teachers need to increase the pace of learning and ensure the tasks they set and approach they take to children’s learning should meet the needs of all their charges.

The inspectors added: “The headteacher should work with staff to create a culture of self-evaluation and develop systems to monitor and evaluate the quality of education.”

But there was praise too. For the officials said: “The recently-appointed headteacher has made a positive start in gaining the confidence of staff. She has a clear vision for the school and has identified appropriate priorities to improve the school.”

And they found: “The school is central to the local community and is held in high regard. Staff know children and their families well. They support the care and welfare needs of children successfully. Children feel proud of their school and behave well.”

Parent council chairperson Gillian Shepherd said: “The report has a very positive outcome and the parent council will look forward to helping our new headteacher in her aims for improving Balmoral primary.”