Education Scotland Foghlam Alba

Education Scotland
Foghlam Alba
Education Scotland, 1st and 2nd Floor, Endeavour House, 1 Greenmarket, Dundee DD1 4QB
t 01382 576700
f 01382 576701
Textphone 01506 600236
e [email protected]
17 January 2012
Dear Parent/Carer
Kelso High School
Scottish Borders Council
Recently, as you may know, my colleagues and I visited and inspected your child’s school.
Throughout our visit, we talked to many parents and young people and we worked closely
with the headteacher and staff. We wanted to find out how well young people were learning
and achieving and how well the school supported young people to do their best. The
headteacher shared with us the school’s successes and priorities for improvement. We
looked at some particular aspects of the school’s recent work, including the approaches
teachers are taking to increase the effectiveness of lessons, the extent of staff collaboration in
school improvement and the way in which young people are able to contribute to the life of
the school and make their views known. As a result, we were able to find out how good the
school was at improving young people’s education. I would now like to tell you what we
How well do young people learn and achieve?
Overall, young people learn well and are achieving very well.
Almost all young people engage well in lessons and show confidence when responding to
questions and giving explanations. They show particular interest in tasks which let them be
active in their learning through collaborating with each other or which require them to think for
themselves. Teachers give clear explanations and use questions well to monitor
understanding but need to be more consistent in sharing learning intentions and in giving
young people choices about aspects of their learning. They involve young people well in
evaluating aspects of their own progress in subjects and are beginning to extend this
approach when considering their personal achievement in school and in the community.
Young people at all stages benefit from participation in the school’s very wide range of
sporting and cultural activities. School sports teams regularly compete with success. The
school show and other musical performances involve large numbers of young people and are
well attended by parents. The school readily responds to requests for young people to
contribute to local events and has developed strong links with local sports clubs. Young
people at the senior stages are involved in the school committee system and in peer
education with P7 children. This helps them develop an important range of life skills and
attributes including confidence and taking responsibility. So too does their buddying of young
people at S1 and their volunteering to assist teachers in classes in a range of subjects. More
opportunities for young people from S1 to S4 and for the pupil council to take increased
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leadership roles would further strengthen the development of important life skills. The school
regularly recognises and celebrates young people’s achievements but should consider
enabling more of these to be accredited by awarding bodies.
At S1 and S2, most young people are progressing well with their broad general education and
making progress in developing their literacy and numeracy skills across subjects. Staff are
actively working on developing appropriate ways of evaluating and recording their progress
across the curriculum. In examinations at almost all levels, and particularly at Higher in S5
and S6, the school performs better or much better than schools serving young people with
similar needs and backgrounds. Almost all school leavers progress into further education,
higher education or work.
How well does the school support young people to develop and learn?
Overall, the school supports young people to learn well. Some aspects of the curriculum
need further improvement.
In most classes, staff provide tasks and activities which are matched well to the needs of
learners. In a minority of S1/S2 classes, however, the pace of learning should be greater. At
times learners would benefit from more active and challenging tasks and more effective use
of information and communications technology to enhance lessons. Principal teachers of
pastoral support and support for learning use their knowledge of young people and their
families well to respond to their needs. Along with members of senior management, they
collaborate effectively with staff from partner agencies and engage promptly with parents
when necessary. Support for learning teachers and additional needs assistants provide
valued support. Staff are aware of the need to improve further the school’s approach to
planning and reviewing individualised educational programmes for those requiring additional
support in their learning.
Young people in S1 and S2 are beginning to benefit from a more varied range of learning
experiences. Increasingly, they are having more opportunities to make meaningful links in
their learning across subjects and to develop numeracy skills across the curriculum.
Teachers are also beginning to develop effective approaches to developing literacy across
the curriculum. They now need to strengthen the emphasis on health and wellbeing and to
improve progression in learning from associated primary schools. Staff are currently
reconsidering the structure of the S1/S2 curriculum and are beginning to develop a coherent
rationale for delivering the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence. From S3 to S6, the
curriculum is a broad one which meets the needs of most learners for courses at Standard
Grade, Intermediate 1 and 2, and Higher. A more coherent approach across the curriculum
for developing skills for life and work, including vocational learning, needs to be developed.
How well does the school improve the quality of its work?
Overall, we are confident that the school will continue to improve the quality of its work.
Staff have in place a number of effective approaches to monitoring and improving aspects of
the school’s work. For example, examination results are analysed very carefully and action
points for further improvement identified. The school has a well established and effective
system for monitoring young people’s progress, particularly from S3, and uses this well to set
individual targets for performance in SQA examinations. Programmes of lesson observation
have encouraged staff to be self-critical and open to adopting new approaches but have yet to
lead to sufficient consistency of practice across the school. There is also scope for all
aspects of self-evaluation to be used more consistently across faculties. The headteacher,
who took up post earlier this year, has made an accurate evaluation of the strengths and
improvement needs of the school. She is strengthening the school’s approach to
improvement planning by making it more focused. Staff already cooperate well in several
aspects of school improvement within their own faculties and in whole school groups such as
the pro-active numeracy committee. The headteacher, very well supported by her senior
management team, is encouraging all staff to take on greater levels of responsibility for
improving aspects of the school’s work. The recent formation of an extended management
team is an important step in achieving this aim. This is now enabling principal teachers to
contribute to setting the strategic direction for the school. The need now is for all staff to
cooperate in agreeing and taking forward key school priorities, including the implementation
of Curriculum for Excellence, taking full account of the views of young people, parents and
other partners.
This inspection of your school found the following key strengths.
High levels of attainment and a wide range of achievements in sporting and cultural
Young people showing confidence, enjoyment and interest in their learning.
Very positive relationships between hard-working staff and learners.
The school’s very positive contribution to the life of the local community.
The new headteacher’s clear vision for involving all staff and partners in taking forward an
agreed improvement agenda.
We discussed with staff and the education authority how they might continue to improve the
school. This is what we agreed with them.
Ensure all staff work together, in collaboration with partners, to agree and implement a
clear programme for continued school improvement, with ongoing evaluation of the
progress being made.
Continue to improve the curriculum taking account of Curriculum for Excellence to ensure
that the full range of young people’s needs are met.
What happens at the end of the inspection?
We are satisfied with the overall quality of provision. We are confident that under the
direction of the new headteacher the school’s self-evaluation processes will lead to further
improvements. As a result, we will make no further visits in connection with this inspection.
The local authority will inform parents about the school’s progress as part of the authority's
arrangements for reporting to parents on the quality of its schools.
Grant Mathison
HM Inspector
Additional inspection evidence, such as details of the quality indicator evaluations, for your
school can be found on the Education Scotland website at
Please contact us if you want to know how to get the report in a different format, for example,
in a translation. You can contact us at [email protected] or write to us
at BMCT, Education Scotland, Denholm House, Almondvale Business Park, Almondvale
Way, Livingston EH54 6GA.
If you want to give us feedback or make a complaint about our work, please contact 01506
600200, or write to us at the above address or e-mail:
[email protected]