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
24 April 2012
Dear Parent/Carer
Bellshill Academy
North Lanarkshire 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 approaches to
improving attainment, partnership working and how well the school is developing personal
support for all young people. We also considered the school’s work to improve the ethos of
the school and its profile within the community. As a result, we were able to find out how
good the school was at improving young people’s education.
How well do young people learn and achieve?
Across the school, young people learn and achieve well. Overall, levels of attainment,
particularly at S4 to S6, are not yet high enough. The school recognises this and has taken a
number of important steps to improve attainment at these stages.
Almost all young people enjoy their learning and feel safe and well cared for in school.
Relationships between staff and young people are very positive. The purposeful learning
environment fostered by staff enables young people to apply themselves confidently and
responsibly to their work. Most are well behaved and keen to learn, particularly when given
challenging tasks and stimulating activities. In a few lessons, activities are too teacher
directed and young people do not have sufficient opportunity to lead their learning. Staff give
helpful explanations, clear instructions and increasingly plan tasks which engage young
people actively in their learning. Young people work well and enthusiastically with others to
discuss and share their learning. They use information and communications technology (ICT)
often and well. At all stages, young people evaluate their strengths as learners and set
targets for improvement with their subject and tutor teachers. They would benefit from better
feedback on what they do well and what they need to do to improve.
The school promotes young people’s achievements very well. Young people are proud of
their school and willingly take responsibility and contribute well to the wide range of school
events and activities. The very active eco-group have transformed the school grounds and
social areas and strengthened links with the local community. Many young people support
others through working with younger people in classes, extensive charity work, volunteering
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and competitive inter-house challenges. They also gain valuable skills for learning, life and
work through a range of enterprise activities. Senior pupils and the S4 XL class are
developing leadership skills by leading tasks with P7 children in science and internet safety.
Young people participating in the Skillforce course are improving their self confidence and
gaining important skills for life and work. School Captains and prefects are developing well as
leaders and are positive role models to their younger peers through their informal and
pastoral support. Staff make extensive use of award schemes such as Millennium Volunteers
and the John Muir awards to recognise and celebrate young people’s achievements.
At S1 and S2, the school continues to improve its performance and the attainment of young
people. Almost all young people are achieving appropriate standards in mathematics and
most in reading. Recent results show improvements in writing at these stages. Young people
are making good progress across all curriculum areas. From S4 to S6, young people’s
attainment, overall, has been consistently well below national averages. By the end of S6,
attainment is notably poorer in most aspects than in schools serving young people with similar
needs and backgrounds. The school’s rigorous monitoring and tracking of young people’s
progress is beginning to impact on young people’s success in national examinations. For
example, by the end of S5, the school’s performance at five Higher awards is in line with the
national average and better than schools which serve young people with similar needs and
backgrounds. At all stages, young people with additional support needs are making good
How well does the school support young people to develop and learn?
The school supports young people well to develop and learn. All staff, particularly Pupil
Support and Support for Learning staff, know the young people in their care very well.
Teachers provide interesting tasks and activities which meet the needs of most learners in
class. Many use ICT well to support learning. More challenging work is given to higher
attaining young people in S1 and S2. For example, those in S2 are working well towards
achieving a CREST award in science. The pace of learning is appropriate in most lessons.
Teachers need to ensure that tasks are pitched at the right level of difficulty for individual
learners. Young people speak highly of their teachers’ willingness to provide extra support
when needed. The school effectively identifies, reviews and evaluates the needs of learners.
There are particularly effective arrangements to support young people in moving from P7 to
S1. Partnership working with parents and a range of agencies is very strong. As a result, the
needs of young people who require additional support in their learning are well met.
Staff are developing the curriculum to reflect the principles and purposes of Curriculum for
Excellence. New approaches such as the S1 Connect programme are helping young people
make connections across their learning. Staff should develop further their arrangements for
linking learning across different subject areas. Across a number of curriculum areas, staff
work closely with their primary colleagues to share standards and ensure courses build well
on young people’s prior learning. Teachers need to take a more joined up approach to
developing young people’s literacy and numeracy skills. The school should build on the good
start made by projects such as ‘Reading Together’ to improve young people’s skills further.
From S3 to S6, young people experience a broad range of subjects and opportunities. These
include a range of courses delivered in partnership with local agencies, schools, and colleges.
Courses such as XL, hairdressing and Skillforce support young people to develop a range of
employability skills. The school should continue to develop ways of engaging those young
people at risk of leaving school without a positive destination.
How well does the school improve the quality of its work?
The highly skilled headteacher has successfully led and inspired staff to work together to
improve the work and life of the school. She is held in high regard by staff, parents, partners
and young people. Depute headteachers play an effective role in encouraging and
challenging staff and young people to take responsibility for improving their school.
Approaches to self-evaluation are used consistently and effectively across the school. Staff
use the tracking and monitoring system well to check the progress of individuals and groups
at risk of underachieving. Very thorough subject examination reviews have been effective in
improving practice. Well-managed lesson observations by senior managers and Principal
Teachers encourage teachers to think about their own practices and make improvements
where necessary. Members of the school improvement planning group make good use of
evidence from surveys and analyses to set priorities in the school improvement plan. Staff
actively seek young people’s views about their learning and make changes as a result. This
focused approach to school improvement is having a positive impact on young people’s
learning experiences and achievements.
This inspection of your school found the following key strengths.
Courteous and friendly young people who are proud of their school.
The positive school ethos and sense of community.
Approaches to improving young people’s achievements.
Staff commitment and their active involvement in improving the work of the school.
Outstanding and inspirational leadership of the headteacher.
We discussed with staff and the education authority how they might continue to improve the
school. This is what we agreed with them.
• Continue to raise attainment.
• Ensure the pace of learning and activities set meet the needs of all young people across
the curriculum.
• Continue to develop the curriculum in line with Curriculum for Excellence to meet the wide
range of learners’ needs.
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
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.
Fiona Robertson
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 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: