Road safety risk to children highlighted in Western Isles nursery report

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The Comhairle has been ordered by the Care Inspectorate to provide a ‘suitable outdoor play area’ for children at Tong Nursery School.

A report into the quality of the service and its facilities found a risk that young children could easily open the main entrance to the school and noted: ‘there is nothing to stop them running into busy and fast-flowing traffic’.

The report states that money had been ring-fenced for work on an outdoor playing area to begin, and gave the Comhairle six months to comply with the requirement, but found that the same requirement in the previous report on the school not been met by the Comhairle.

The Inspectorate concluded that the nursery class was adequate in its care and support of children, the quality of the teaching environment, and the quality of staffing and management.

A report by Education Scotland gave a mixed-picture in its report on Tong Primary School.

The inspection team found ‘emerging improvements’ that the headteacher is beginning to make to the school in identifying what the school needs to improve. Staff, concludes the report, are showing a commitment to taking forward priorities.

Education Scotland found that the children attending the school were articulate, capable and keen to learn, and were benefitting from ‘caring and respectful relationships with staff’.

The development of Gaelic-medium education was praised and children were found to be making ‘good progress from being immersed in the language’.

But, overall, quality indicators for both the primary stage and nursery class were assessed as ‘weak’ in terms of leadership of change, and weak in learning, teaching and assessment. But both were marked as ‘satisfactory’ in terms of ‘raising attainment and achievement and ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion’.

The report on the primary school found ‘major weaknesses’ in the leadership of the curriculum, which would require ‘immediate action’.

The school will, states the report, ‘need support from senior managers to address this in a timely fashion’.

Among its recommendations, the report stated that the primary school should: ‘Continue to develop a clear direction to guide well-paced change and leadership at all levels of the school. All staff should be making robust and regular use of self-evaluation’.

Further, the school should ‘give very prompt attention to developing the curriculum to meet national expectations, initially prioritising the planning of literacy, numeracy, and health and wellbeing. This should ensure that children build appropriately on their knowledge, skills and understanding as they move through the school. Children need to be aware of their own progress and next steps in learning’.

The report recommends that the School: ‘Include the further development of GME in the strategic planning of the school. The learning of Gaelic, as a second language in English Medium, needs to result in children making better progress. Children would benefit from an increased use of Gaelic in the daily life and learning of the school’.

Tong Primary School, concludes the report, ‘features supportive relationships and a caring ethos, founded on respect. Across the school, children learn in a calm and caring environment. This, together with the pastoral care provided by staff, provides an ethos in which children feel valued and supported’.

The role of Gaelic medium education was also highlighted. The reports states: ‘In GME, these relations are central to children feeling confident to use the language that they are acquiring. Across GME and EME, the majority of children feel that their views are listened to and taken into account. Most feel they have trusted adults with whom they can discuss worries or concerns, and they feel safe and cared for.’

The attitudes of school staff was also highlighted, with the report saying: ‘Across the school, staff demonstrate a commitment to the care and welfare of all children. They understand the importance of promoting the wellbeing of children in the school. Staff feel valued and supported as part of the school. On the whole, there is a culture of teamwork amongst staff. Partner agencies are positive about the supportive way that staff engage with them’.