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Don't waste your talents

"Only your best is good enough" should be the motto of every pupil, teacher and headteacher, according to the head of one of Scotland's most successful state schools.

James McVittie, who steps down as head of St Ninian's High in Eastwood at the end of this session, told Catholic secondary heads that the task of schools, in line with the biblical parable, was to encourage "all the talents" - academic, social, emotional, physical and spiritual.

Mr McVittie said: "So I, for one, have no problem signing up with the agenda for attainment and achievement. They are indispensable allies of the most important national priority, inclusion. If young people are to grow in self-esteem and acquire the skills that will enable them to be fully included in and contribute to society, we cannot ignore attainment and achievement.

"Of course, it is not helpful to have league table comparisons made between schools with very different catchment areas. And it is indefensible for a school in a more favoured area to coast along complacently on the basis of comparisons with schools in deprived areas. Such a school is failing its pupils and is selling its pupils and community short."

Mr McVittie told heads to look to Christ's example as inspiration for their own leadership - "being there" for their schools, practising humility and committing themselves to a life of service. "Our own style of teaching and leadership, and the kind of learning that we promote, should have the capacity to transform lives," he said.

The same approach should be taken with parents and pupils, particularly those from chaotic families. "We must never lose sight of the dignity of these children and their families. If we truly believe in the values we preach, we must regularly revisit and refresh our partnership with parents."

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