Children’s education in Glasgow rated ‘outstanding’

Inspectors praise determination to raise children’s aspirations and the use of data to inform classroom practice

Henry Hepburn

Children’s education in Glasgow rated ‘outstanding’

The education services in Scotland’s largest local authority have been rated “outstanding”, in large part because of success in closing the attainment gap between more and less affluent pupils.

The inspection report on Glasgow was published today, with highlights including the “outstanding” way the city uses data to inform classroom practice.

Education Scotland’s findings come after Glasgow last week posted its highest-ever “positive destination” figures for school leavers (92.3 per cent).

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Key strengths in Glasgow highlighted by inspectors include:

  • The very strong council-wide vision focused on reducing the impact of poverty on children, families and communities.

  • The relentless drive of the executive director of education in improving outcomes of students living in poverty.

  • Exceptional progress made in reducing the impact of poverty on educational attainment and achievement.

  • Outstanding approaches to career-long professional learning and leadership, which have strengthened the skills and knowledge of staff and, as a result, improved attainment.

  • Strong promotion of long-term sustainability in universal and targeted approaches to permanently reducing the impact of poverty.

Education Scotland inspectors spent two weeks in Glasgow as part of a new model of inspection of local authorities.

Chief inspector of education Gayle Gorman said: “This report is a real tribute to the teachers and support staff for their outstanding commitment to improving learning, raising attainment and reducing the impact of poverty on learners.

“I’m very pleased to see that staff are well supported and challenged to own and deliver the aspirational goals they have created for all children, young people and families across the city.

“Outstanding approaches to career-long professional learning and leadership have further strengthened staff skills and knowledge.”

Janie McManus, Education Scotland's strategic director of scrutiny, said: “What stood out in this report were the approaches to targeting, selecting and evaluating the impact of initiatives.

“This is particularly well illustrated by the fact that headteachers are now confidently using data to make decisions on how additional funding can have the greatest impact for children in their local context.

“In fact, school staff across the local authority are overwhelmingly positive on how the quality and use of data has improved their work.”

'Nothing short of remarkable'

The report incorporates comments from school staff, pupils and parents in the city.

One headteacher commented: “We’re now all talking more about learning and teaching.”

A “challenge leader of learning” – a number of Glasgow schools have appointed people to this position to lead work related to the Scottish Attainment Challenge – said: “The expectation is that we will make progress for all learners – there are no excuses.”

Chris Cunningham, city convener for education, skills and early years, said: “The improvements in the learning and teaching in our schools over the past 10 years are nothing short of remarkable and the report today is proof of these achievements.”

He added: “This is despite the fact that almost half of our pupils live in the 10 per cent most deprived areas in Scotland.

“No one in education uses this as an excuse – we don’t hide behind these barriers – we tackle these challenges head-on and, as highlighted in the inspection’s key strengths, our children and young people are reaping the benefits in our pursuit for excellence.

Mr Cunningham also highlighted that “Glasgow’s attainment, achievement, attendance and positive destination figures are the highest they have ever been – our schools are constantly raising the bar”.

Key figures for education in Glasgow:

  • 81 per cent reduction in exclusions since 2007

  • In 2007, 28 per cent of students achieved one or more Higher by the end of S5 – in 2018, it was 56.2 per cent

  • In 2007, 5 per cent of students achieved five or more Highers by the end of S5 – in 2018, it was 13.5 per cent

  • 34.8 per cent of care-experienced pupils in Glasgow achieved one or more Highers by the end of S5 – this compares with 24.8 per cent of care-experienced pupils nationally

  • In 2013, 50.5 per cent of school leavers had one or more Higher – in 2018, this was 64.4 per cent

  • In 2013, 20.7 per cent of school leavers had five or more Highers – in 2018, this was 28.2 per cent

  • 38.9 per cent of all leavers go onto higher education – in 2007, it was 21.7 per cent

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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