Progress made by community learning service in Kelso area

Kelso High School.
Kelso High School.

EDUCATION inspectors have reported that improvements and progress have been made on the work of community learning and development in and around Kelso in the 12 months since a previous inspection.

HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) says there has been increased partnership work between Scottish Borders Council’s Community Learning and Development Service (CLDS) and Kelso High School.

There has also been a strong focus on working to lessen social isolation, especially among older people living in the rural villages that surround the town.

The ongoing development of the Town Heritage Initiative (THI) and the FutureKelso group was also noted, and the inspectors reported progress on how well participants learn and achieve; on work with young people – where CLDS has continued to increase its work in Kelso High School; on adult learning programmes – where staff are now focused more clearly on working with parents and family learning; on how well communities are developing and achieving – where CLDS is now working more effectively with a range of partners in Kelso; and on how effective providers are in improving the quality of services – where CLDS staff demonstrate a better understanding of the role of self-evaluation for improvement.

Councillor Vicky Davidson (Selkirkshire, LD), the local authority’s executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities, welcomed the report.

She said: “I am pleased that the HMIe inspectors recognised that improvement has been made across all areas since their earlier report in January last year.

“We will continue to work with HMIe to ensure that the Kelso CLDS builds capacity and continues to improve further in advance of a return visit in one year to review progress within the learning community.”

It was back in January last year that inspectors published a report on the learning community surrounding Kelso High School, setting out its key strengths and areas for improvement.

This latest engagement report is based on an inspection visit which was carried out in November and tells of improvement since the original inspection into the quality of learning opportunities provided.

Kelso learning community includes the town itself, together with nine small rural villages.

The CLDS has been involved in a major council-wide review which concluded in autumn 2012. As a result, the CLDS has made a number of changes to the staff team in the Kelso area, with many taking taken on new roles following the review.

Work in the Kelso area has been refocused on priority areas. However, much is still in the early stages of development and, as a result, inspectors noted that most of the targets set by CLDS are not yet being met.

However, overall, inspectors say the CLDS has made an effective start to redevelop and redesign its work in Kelso.

The deployment of experienced staff from other areas has brought more focus to the work of the CLDS and has added value to the good work of existing staff.

But inspectors added that, while much of this is positive and the focus of CLDS service in Kelso has improved, much of the work is at an early stage of development and that dialogue needs to continue between partners within the learning community to establish that sense of direction.