Shetland’s main secondary school has received a glowing report from inspectors, achieving “very good” in all five of the quality indicators now used to assess education in Scotland.
Staff at the Anderson High School in Lerwick were also praised for the way in which they helped pupils from the secondary department at Scalloway Junior High School, which was closed by the SIC last summer, integrate.
Inspectors from Education Scotland, formerly HMIe, paid a visit to the school last month at short notice and talked to parents, some of the 894 pupils, head teacher Valerie Nicolson and members of the 86-strong staff.
The school was evaluated for learners’ experiences, improvements in performance, meeting learning needs, the curriculum and improvement through self-evaluation and was awarded “very good” for all five.
In her report, which is being circulated to parents, inspector Fiona Robertson said: “Young people from Scalloway Junior High School feel included and able to progress their learning in their new school.”
The report identified the core strengths of the school as:
* Well-behaved, responsible young people who are keen to learn and actively support their school and community;
* A safe, caring, supportive and inclusive environment for all young people;
* High-quality support from specialist staff for young people with particular learning needs;
* Staff’s enthusiasm and dedication to enhancing experiences for young people;
* The strong lead and direction from the head teacher, ably supported by the depute head teachers.
The report said young people, including those with additional support needs, learn and achieve very well.
“At S4 to S6, young people’s results in national examinations have been consistently above national averages over a number of years.”
Attainment figures published with the report said 87 per cent of S4 pupils gained five Standard Grades last year (the national average is 78 per cent) and 39 per cent gained three Highers (national average 35 per cent).
Beyond academic study, pupils are developing “important skills” in leadership, teamwork and creativity, with the school netball team (winners of the Scottish school championships), the ASN pupils in the Rising Stars musical group and the senior pupils acting as buddies and putting on the Beanfeast receiving special mention.
“The school provides a broad and enriched curriculum from S1 to S6 which meets the different and varied needs of learners well.”
The inspectors identified “aspects” of unspecified “innovative practice” that they said they would like to explore further to share with other schools in Scotland.
The inspectors said no further visits would take place but that staff should continue to “provide high-quality and improving education for all young people in line with the principles of the Curriculum for Excellence” and continue to build on the “existing practice in self-evaluation involving pupils, parents and partners more fully in the process”.
Chairwoman of the council’s education and families committee Betty Fullerton said: “This is an excellent report and one that compares very well nationally with any large secondary school in Scotland.
“I was particularly heartened to see the report highlight that young people from Scalloway Junior High feel ‘included and able to progress their learning in their new school’.
“The fact that Education Scotland want to share the innovative practice found at Anderson High with other schools in Scotland has got to be the ultimate complement and speaks volumes for the quality of teaching. All the staff and pupils deserve praise for this exceptional report.”
Meanwhile Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart has used a parliamentary motion to ask the Scottish Parliament to note and congratulate the school on the report.
She said: “The Anderson High School consistently delivers education of the very highest order … The head teacher, staff, pupils and parents can all be very proud of what the school is achieving.”