Barrhead High School

East Renfrewshire, United Kingdom

Location: East Renfrewshire, United Kingdom
Type: Mainstream School
Phase: Secondary
Funding status: State
Gender: Mixed
Age range: 11 - 18 years

About Barrhead High School

Barrhead High School is one of 7 secondary schools within East Renfrewshire and is the six-year, non-denominational, comprehensive school serving the town of Barrhead.

East Renfrewshire is a forward thinking authority which is committed to continuous improvement for its customers, and in the case of Education, increases in attainment and achievement for its learners. Its vision statement “Everyone Attaining, Everyone Achieving through Excellent Experiences” captures the aims of the department and schools to ensure we deliver excellence and equity for all working in and using our services. To deliver on this pledge, we offer support and challenge to our schools and the outcomes achieved by our children and young people are reflective of the ethos of high expectations we have for all our staff and pupils.

Barrhead High School works within the context of the Local Improvement Plan of East Renfrewshire Council’s Education Department and the Key Priorities of the National Improvement Framework.


Barrhead is the main town in the Levern Valley (pop 17000) on the western side of East Renfrewshire. It is situated 8 miles south-west of Glasgow city centre on the edge of the Gleniffer Braes.

There are a number of major businesses within the town including Barrhead Travel, Kelburn Brewing Company, and JM Murdoch & Son, among others, but the town's largest employer remains East Renfrewshire Council and the public sector. In October 2016 Barrhead businesses voted in favour of becoming a Business Improvement District (BID), called 'All About Barrhead'.

There is significant housing development in the town of Barrhead with more than 1000 houses planned over the next 7 years and a further 700 houses proposed post 2026.

Barrhead High School

Barrhead High School is the non-denominational secondary school for the town of Barrhead. It has 3 associated primaries – Carlibar Primary School, Cross Arthurlie Primary School and Hillview Primary School – and the schools work together as a cluster team to ensure cohesion and continuity in the curriculum from 3 – 18.

Barrhead High School has a current roll of 609 pupils. 35% of the pupils reside within SIMD 1-3 areas (55% within SIMD 1-4). Over 16% of pupils are in receipt of free school meals and 8% are care experienced.

There is a teaching complement of 56.25 FTE with a promoted post structure comprising

1 Head Teacher,

3 DHTs,

8 Curricular PTs (Faculties),

6 PTs Pupil Support,

1.5 permanent and 4 temporary PTs Development.

and Support Staff comprising

5.5 FTE Admin/Clerical,

8.6 Pupil Support Assistants,

1.5 FTE Technicians (plus a shared area Senior Technician),

1 Manager (Social Justice and Inclusion),

3 Janitors,

0.5 FTE Librarian,

Catering staff and Cleaning staff.

The Building

In August 2017, the school moved into its new ‘state of the art’ premises on a site adjacent to the former building. The school is situated on the edge of the town, immediately adjacent to Cowan Park and has its own direct access to the wetlands leading to the Dams to Darnley Country Park. This has given outstanding potential for the development of outdoor and sustainable education.

The new building offers the highest standards of accommodation, supports the inclusive ethos of the school, is purpose-built to meet the demands and opportunities of Curriculum for Excellence and includes bespoke facilities for vocational education; a council-wide resource which offers vocational courses and experiences delivered in partnership with City of Glasgow College, Glasgow Clyde College, Glasgow Kelvin College, South Lanarkshire College, West College Scotland and the Greenhouse café.

The school is an atrium design with classrooms spread over 3 floors around a central social / assembly area (the Big Steps), dining facilities, a ‘Drama Box’ and an open-plan library. The Drama Box is immediately adjacent to the Big Steps, and can function as both an additional Drama teaching area and, when opened to the Big Steps, a smaller performance area.

There are 8 computer suites and there is wifi throughout the building, allowing the council’s ‘bring your own device’ policy to be fully implemented. We possess a high number of laptops, chromebooks, tablets and ipads for use with wifi.

The PE facilities consist of a large Games Hall as well as a Gym and Dance Studio with 2 MUGA pitches, one with a running track, adjacent to the school. There is an outdoor hard-court games area immediately outside the PE block. The Games Hall has bleacher seating which can be brought out easily to allow an assembly / performance area with a 330 seating option and also lighting, sound, staging and curtains if required.

Ethos / Culture

The Rights Respecting Group led the school community in establishing a common vision and set of values with RESPECT at the core, as well as a related Classroom Charter. An extensive Merit Scheme, recognising and rewarding positive behaviour and contributions, has contributed significantly to establishing the highly positive ethos, which is characterised by excellent staff and pupil relationships, and has made a real impact across the life of the school. As a result of these and other initiatives focussing on the rights of the child, the school attained the Gold Level Rights Respecting School award in November 2017.

The school promotes high expectations and standards for all, in an inclusive environment and all are encouraged to strive to achieve their full potential. Staff expect pupils to achieve to the maximum of their potential, both academically and socially. The vast majority of pupils respond positively in the classroom and in their participation in school activities.

Continuous improvement through self-evaluation is seen as both a process and a goal and we encourage leadership at all levels as a means to achieving this.

Barrhead High School is noted for its caring ethos. All pupils are respected and supported. Pastoral, learning and behaviour support provision is strong. We have an inclusive ethos and across the school, we look for all staff to adopt a nurturing approach within their classrooms and relationships. A number of specific nurture groups and other initiatives operate on a regular basis to ensure all pupils are provided with the appropriate support.

The Pupils

Pupils increasingly are making an impact leading learning across the school. An active Pupil Council, highly representative of the social mix of the school, has taken a lead in a number of initiatives to give pupils a real voice. Pupils regularly attend the Teaching and Learning Group and lead presentations to staff on inservice days.

There is a high level of participation in a wide range of activities - sporting, cultural and educational. Last session, we saw an exceptionally high level of achievement across a number of sports with individuals or teams achieving at authority, district or national levels in football, gymnastics and dance, among others. Every Friday, up to 25% of our pupils attend the weekly Friday Club which offers an informal and non-competitive opportunity to mix with other pupils and the large number of staff who attend.

The Staff

The school has a healthy balance of experienced and recently appointed staff who have developed and maintained close working relationships within a strong sense of teamwork. All staff in the school are seen as integral to its ethos and success as an inclusive school which ensures all contributions are valued.

We value innovation, creativity, enterprising approaches and risk-taking in the interests of our learners. The school encourages staff to take on leadership roles and a number of Improvement Groups, which all staff participate in and some lead, have resulted in some exciting new developments. The Teaching and Learning Group aims to encourage the sharing of good practice and sees more than 30 staff join together voluntarily on a regular basis with pupils and at times parents to motivate and inspire each other.

Many of the recent outstanding developments in STEM, DYW, raising attainment, pupil participation and leadership have been coordinated and led by our team of PTs Development. However our unpromoted teachers have also made a significant impact on many of these initiatives.

Staff support and participate in a wide range of activities - sporting, cultural, educational, including a number of trips, at home and abroad. Staff in the main will support and run the 47 regular clubs in the school and 15-20 staff will attend the Friday Club on a weekly basis. Barrhead pupils have abseiled in Lochgoilhead, summited Goatfell, skied in Italy, canoed in France, helped in Malawi, attended shows in London and New York, ‘hot-spring’d in Iceland and walked on the Great Wall of China, all in the last few years.


The school is also fortunate in having strong parental support. Many of our parents were former pupils of the school and show a high degree of loyalty in their support. Parents have high expectations of the school and most of them provide encouragement and support for their children.

We have a strong Parent Council which plays an active role and offers sound backing to the staff, including advice, support for school projects, encouragement and financial support. A number of events have become well-supported annual features including a very competitive staff-parent Quiz Night and an outstanding community fund-raising hillwalk when staff, parents and pupils set out together to conquer Conic Hill and raise money for an agreed charity. Recent fund-raising has seen the provision of a number of extras for the school including this year a laser cutter. Our Parent Council operates its own social media accounts.

An increasing number of other partners make direct curricular links with departments and faculties to bring real life and work into learning; for example Malcolm Logistics, CGI, Morgan Stanley and the Dalmeny Park Hotel.

We maintain close links with a number of colleges and East Renfrewshire Education Department offers a vocational programme for all secondary schools that is relevant to the needs and experiences of our pupils and helps provide them with appropriate skills for learning, life and work. A joint approach to timetabling across the authority enables pupils to mix vocational and academic courses in the senior phase. This approach secures parity between academic and vocational education, builds skills and knowledge through a broad curriculum pathway, and better prepares our pupils for their post-school destinations.


As a result of the work referred to above, the school has recently achieved the Digital Schools Scotland award (Jun 2019) in recognition of the embedded use of digital technology, the Vision Schools Scotland award (Jun 2019) in recognition of good practice in Holocaust education and the Sports School Scotland award (Sep 2019) recognising our approaches to continuously improving physical education (PE) and school sport opportunities.


The attainment in the school has seen a marked and continuous improvement over the last 10 years with the proportion of S4 pupils attaining 5 or more National 5 (or the equivalent) awards more than double to over 60% over that period. Similarly in the last few years, we have seen new record numbers each year attaining 3+ or 5+ Highers, both in S5 and by S6.

Over 97% of our S3 pupils have attained 3rd Level in the BGE for each of Reading, Writing, Talking & Listening and Maths in recent years and 60–70% will normally attain 4th Level.


Our achievements, and much more besides, are communicated through extensive use of social media. The main school Twitter feed has over 1800 followers and further Twitter feeds are operated by faculties or for specific activities / trips. The school website is a source of further information and key documents like the School Handbook, Standards & Quality Reports and School Improvement Plan can be found there.

School website:  

School Handbook

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Address: Aurs Road, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, G78 2SJ, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 141 577 2100


Positions available at Barrhead High School