Praise for Castlebay in HMI report

HM Inspectorate of Education has published a follow-through report on Castlebay school in Barra which has praised the progress the school has made since its report of 2008. The report is based on an inspection visit which was carried out in the school in March 2011.

The report highlights three particular areas of strength in Castlebay School:

Young people who are keen to learn and who respond well to broader achievement opportunities

Teamwork among senior managers and the developing culture of leadership at all levels.

The role of the youth council in developing young people’s ability to lead and contribute to the school and community.

The report notes an improvement in the manner in which pupils work together and learn from one another, leading to young people being more motivated to learn and achieve. Inspectors observed a better planned transitionbetween nursery, primary and secondary schools, and a broadening of the range of subjects available to Gaelic medium students through the medium of the language. Inspectors also noted that staff in the school now identify and support young people’s learning more effectively. They indicated a need for this information to be used more effectively in tracking progress and planning next steps in learning for young people from nursery to S6.

Inspectors noted an improvement in the manner in which the school works with others, and highlighted the importance of sustaining and building upon this in future. Partnerships with the community and working with other school were named as examples of this improved level of cooperation. Expectation of achievement is another area in which inspectors noted an improvement. They pointed to pupils’ achievement of Dynamic Youth Awards, and the Rionnagan na Miosa awards (Star of the Month), which award achievement, as examples of this.

The report states that staff now identify more clearly what is working well in terms of pupils’ learning and what needs to be developed further. Inspectors noted that the model of the primary-level pupil council could be built upon as a means for staff to take greater account of young people’s views on how to improve aspects of the school. The report indicates that the school now has a clearer sense of direction. Senior managers have built well on the mentoring and other support provided by the education authority.

In summary, the HMIe report states:

There is clear evidence of improvement since the original inspection. With continued support from the education authority, the school has the capacity to make further improvement. In doing so, it needs to continue to improve attainment and develop further its identity as an all-through school. In continuing to develop Curriculum for Excellence, teachers need to focus on planning young people’s broad general education to S3. In all that it does, the school should continue to engage positively with parents.

In response to the report, Morag Munro, Chair of Education and Children’s Services, commented:

“Comhairle nan Eilean Siar welcomes HMIe’s follow-through report on Castlebay school. The Comhairle is pleased that inspectors have noted improvements that have been made in response to recommendations in the initial report in 2008, and the follow-through reports published in 2009 and 2010. Inspectors have noted significant improvement in a number of key areas, demonstrating the commitment of staff, parents and pupils towards creating a better learning environment for children and young people in Barra.

“I would like to pay tribute to The Headteacher and her staff at Castlebay and to the Comhairle’s Education officers who have worked tirelessly to bring about this welcome improvement. It is imperative that these improvements are maintained and developed, and the Comhairle will continue to work with the school and parents to achieve good outcomes for all the pupils.”