3 December 2013 Dear Parent/Carer ’s school. During

3 December 2013
Dear Parent/Carer
Grange Academy
East Ayrshire Council
Recently, as you may know, my colleagues and I inspected your child’s school. During
our visit, we talked to parents and young people and worked closely with the
headteacher and staff. We wanted to find out how well young people are learning and
achieving and how well the school supports 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
opportunities for young people and staff to be creative, innovative and lead
improvements. We also had a particular focus on how well the school supports young
people in their learning as they move from primary to secondary. As a result, we were
able to find out how good the school is at improving young people’s education.
How well do young people learn and achieve?
Almost all young people have very positive experiences when learning and achieving
in and beyond the classroom. Most young people enjoy school and feel that they are
treated with fairness and respect. Their views are listened to and acted upon. For
example, they have helped to design the school uniform and have worked with
teachers to develop a new learning policy. Young people’s learning has a clear focus
on preparing them for future ambitions. Almost all young people are very well
motivated by group tasks, practical work and discussions that are based in relevant
contexts. Young people are creative in their use of information and communications
technology (ICT) to design and produce a range of products. Learners’ experiences
are strengthened further by activities outwith class such as clubs, visits and
excursions. Some of these are led by the young people themselves. The young
people who are hearing-impaired have assisted with teaching British Sign Language to
their peers and staff. The school’s significant international links help foster an
appreciation of other cultures in young people. Staff have made a good start to
discussing with young people how to improve their work. A more detailed approach
across learning, including better use of ‘mentor time’, would help young people know
how to improve further. In a few cases, teachers need to continue to ensure that
learners’ experiences are consistently strong.
Young people are developing a broad range of key skills for life and work by
participating in enterprise, cultural, musical, sporting, volunteering and leadership
activities and events. Their many achievements are recognised through school, local
and national awards and trophies. National awards include Sports Leaders UK
Education Scotland
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Transforming lives through learning
Awards, John Muir Award, Saltire Awards and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Young people also have their talents recognised in international competitions such as
those in mathematics. The young people in S6 are developing skills in business by
having a shop for which other year groups make and source products. From
involvement in such rich learning opportunities, most young people feel that the school
is helping them to become more confident. A few are developing specialised skills in
football, rugby, Mandarin and Gaelic from the school’s dedicated provision in these
areas. However, the young people continuing with Gaelic Medium Education would
benefit from having more opportunities and qualifications to improve their fluency.
From S1-S3, young people are making secure progress in subject areas, as well as in
literacy, numeracy and aspects of health and wellbeing across learning. By the end of
S6, young people’s achievements in national examinations have increased
significantly in the last five years. As a result, young people are achieving much better
than those in schools serving young people with similar needs and backgrounds.
A high proportion of young people leaving school progress onto higher education.
Young people’s achievements in S4 are positive, and teachers are now having a
closer look at improving them further.
How well does the school support young people to develop and learn?
The school provides high-quality support to help young people to develop and learn.
Across the school, staff are proactive in checking young people’s progress. They plan
learning tasks and activities at the right level for most young people. Lessons are
mainly well-paced. Specialist support staff liaise very effectively with teachers, families
and a range of partners to ensure that those who need support in their learning are
making good progress. Staff assess young people regularly and this enables them to
target support more effectively. From this, attention has been given to improving
literacy, numeracy, behaviour and initial fluency for those for whom English is an
additional language. The inclusive approach to young people with a hearing
impairment is commendable. Young people support each other very well in classes.
They also make a valuable contribution in supporting the children in the other schools
on the shared campus.
The curriculum enables young people and staff to be innovative while also preparing
young people for their future aspirations. Notable features include business and
international partnerships and developing young people’s enterprising skills. At all
stages, there are a wide range of subjects and opportunities to motivate and engage
learners. Themed projects help young people link and apply their learning across
contexts. Some of these projects are planned and led by young people. The focus on
Scotland helps young people’s understanding of their culture and appreciation of
learning Scotland’s languages. The development of literacy, numeracy, global
citizenship and health and wellbeing across learning is well established. At the senior
stages, young people benefit from options to study vocational courses. There are
particularly strong links with primary schools to help build on young people’s prior
learning. This includes teachers of physical education, science and ICT delivering
primary lessons through the medium of Gaelic and English. Overall, the success of
the curriculum is underpinned by the school’s commitment to review learning, teaching
and assessment continuously to reflect Curriculum for Excellence.
How well does the school improve the quality of its work?
The senior management team make very effective use of arrangements for improving
the quality of the school. An important factor is the strong, consultative and very
purposeful direction given by the headteacher. He has a thorough understanding of
what works well, where improvements are needed and the steps to be taken. The
headteacher has very successfully given high priority to developing leadership skills
amongst staff, and their skills in evaluating their own work. There are very good
opportunities for staff to have active roles in taking forward developments. Staff put to
good effect their involvement in a significant number of national developments, for
example, their work for national qualifications. As a team, senior managers and
principal teachers take forward their remits very well. Almost all staff are clear about
their role in ensuring continuous improvement. The school has undertaken a detailed
consultation process on its plan for implementing Curriculum for Excellence. Many
parents would now welcome more frequent communication and consultation on other
areas of the school.
This inspection found the following key strengths.
Overall quality of leadership at all levels, particularly that of the headteacher.
The school’s welcoming and inclusive ethos.
The overall quality of young people’s learning experiences.
The school’s success in improving young people’s achievements, including
attainment in national examinations.
The school’s progress in developing and improving the curriculum.
The impact of the school’s approaches to improving its work through very effective
We discussed with staff and East Ayrshire Council how they might continue to improve
the school. This is what we agreed with them.
In partnership with young people, parents and community partners, the school
should continue to implement the priorities set out within the school’s well-judged
annual improvement plan, including provision in Gaelic Medium Education.
What happens at the end of the inspection?
We are satisfied with the overall quality of provision. We are confident that the
school’s self-evaluation processes are leading to improvements. As a result, we will
make no further evaluative visits in connection with this inspection. During the
inspection, we identified aspects of innovative practice which we would like to explore
further in order to share the practice with others. As a result we will work with the
school and East Ayrshire Council in order to record and share more widely the
innovative practice.
Joan C. Esson
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
If you would like to receive this letter in a different format, for example, in a translation
please contact the administration team on the above telephone number.
If you want to give us feedback or make a complaint about our work, please contact us
by telephone on 0141 282 5000, or e-mail: complaints@educationscotland.gsi.gov.uk
or write to us addressing your letter to the Complaints Manager, Denholm House,
Almondvale Business Park, Livingston EH54 6GA.