Glasgow vows to raise its game

John MacCalman

Lack of leadership in some Glasgow schools may be a factor in the city's depressingly poor exam results.

This was the view expressed by Charles Gordon, Glasgow council leader, in response to despair expressed recently by members of the council's education committee about a situation they feel is jeopardising Glasgow's regeneration (TESS, last week).

Among the problems they highlighted were a serious deterioration in discipline, with Hanzala Malik, the committee's vice-convener, claiming that hard-working teachers had to put up with "a lot of crap" from pupils.

Patricia Chalmers, a former teacher, complained of a culture of low expectation in some schools.

Mr Gordon said he did not necessarily endorse all these views. "What strikes me about the figures is that some schools with a similar social mix have done better than others, and that suggests to me that there could be a leadership issue in some schools."

He agreed with his colleagues that levels of attainment were "unacceptable", given that the city's education budget had been increased substantially in recent years, providing state of the art secondary schools and ICT facilities. Teacher salaries had benefited from substantial hikes under the post-McCrone agreement.

Mr Gordon pledged his full backing in identifying ways in which Glasgow could "raise its game" as an education authority.

Sharing the view of his colleagues that attainment levels in education were a pivotal influence in plans to regenerate the city, he declared: "When it comes to the future of Glasgow and the Glasgow economy, such as our high hopes to have many more quality jobs in the knowledge economies, then clearly being 11 per cent below the national average for attainment is unacceptable.

"We are having a fair degree of success in sending young people down a vocational road, but there is nothing inherent in Glasgow youngsters that says their educational attainment should be lower than the rest of the country."

Meanwhile, two Glasgow headteachers have been ticked off for making a direct plea to the Scottish Executive for extra funding for asylum-seeker children.

Chris Nairn, headteacher of St Roch's Secondary, where 110 of the 800 pupils are from asylum-seeker families, told Peter Peacock, Education Minister, that these "new Glaswegians" would be unable to fulfil their potential without more support.

Mr Nairn was backed by Tom McDonald, headteacher of All Saints Secondary, where around 10 per of the 909 pupils are from asylum-seeker families.

However, the approach to Mr Peacock at the annual conference of the Catholic Headteachers' Association of Scotland in Crieff last week (page four) has not gone down well with their political masters.

Mr Gordon said: "I was raging about this. Both headteachers have been written to by the director of education. When it comes to asking politicians for resources in Glasgow - that's my job."

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John MacCalman

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