School’s progress to be discussed by councillors

MONTROSE Academy’s mixed results from an HMIe inspection earlier this year were due to be discussed by Angus councillors yesterday (Wednesday).

The school’s action plan arising from the report, drawn up in November as well as its improvement plan were to be examined by members of the council’s scrutiny and audit sub-committee.

The report highlighted a number of weaknesses within the school, although overall it was ranked as “satisfactory”.

HMIe inspectors visited the school in June and found that the pupils experienced a broad and balanced curriculum. The report said that in S1 and S2 the majority of pupils are reaching appropriate national levels in reading, writing and maths.

They also found, however, that pupils in S4 to S6 performed less well than in other school serving people with similar needs and backgrounds.

National exam results had shown little improvement although performance in some key measures was improving. The report also states that the quality of courses taught across the school varied.

The school had taken positive steps to implement Curriculum for Excellence including the development of whole-school approaches to literacy, numeracy and health and well-being.

Staff had conducted a successful project on rural Angus for S2 and S2 pupils to make connections in their learning across a range of subjects while Skills for Work courses in S3 and S4 had provided good opportunities for the development of skills for life. Inspectors also found that the curriculum at S5 and S6 level did not provide clear routes of progression for all learners beyond S4 although the school did provide effective approaches to support children making the transition from primary to secondary school.

The reports stated: “At all stages, young people could attain and achieve more. Overall, the pace of learning is too slow and young people are capable of making better progress.

“At times, teachers do not take sufficient account of young people’s prior learning and tasks and activities are not demanding enough.”

The school worked with a wide range of partner organisations to help broad pupils’ learning and is developing a clearer overview of partnership working and the contributions partner services could make to learning and achievement.

While parents felt the school dealt promptly with problems, the report states that arrangements for consulting with parents on sensitive aspects of relationships and health education were not consistently effective.

The school had identified appropriate areas for improvement, but progress was slow and it did not have a rigorous system in place to monitor and track young people’s progress across the curriculum.

The inspectors also said leaders at all levels had to be clear about their responsibilities in implementing improvements and that examples of effective teamwork need to be implemented more consistently.

Particular strengths include support for children making the transition from primary to secondary school; staff contributions to an inter-disciplinary project; partnerships with other agencies and local companies and pupils’ involvement in charitable and fund-raising activities.

Areas for improvement agreed with the school and Angus Council’s education department after the report included improving the quality of learning, teaching and meeting the needs of all pupils; raising attainment and ensuring that there are effective approaches to tracking and monitoring young people’s progress and implementing more rigorous arrangements for evaluating the quality of the school’s work.

While the education department and HMIe agreed the report’s recommendations, education director Neil Logue disputed its accuracy.

He said that “detailed concerns” about the inspection had been the subject of “extensive” correspondence and discussion.

Mr Logue added that he felt the terms of the report did not accurately capture the school’s current performance.