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The partnership approach;School Management

St Modan's High School in Stirling has integrated the two departments most concerned with vulnerable pupils - guidance and support for learning - into a single "pupil support department", following a comprehensive school survey involving pupils, parents, staff, the school board and the pupil council.

"This means that a child's academic and social needs can be dealt with together by one specialist teacher," says May Sweeney, depute head at St Modan's.

"A child is integrated, so the system should be too," she says. "We encourage a partnership approach with parents and we listen to what pupils say. Parental contact, for example, is no longer crisis-led."

The new integrated "partnership approach" began with the setting up of the pupil support department in August 1997. Attendance procedures have been revised, and the new school aims speak of "love", "compassion" and "Christian values".

Pupils who are away from school are contacted at home, and one-day seminars for staff, pupils and parents are held regularly.

Although headteacher Frank Lennon is cautious about building too much on one year's statistics, they make interesting reading. In 1997-98 the number of S4 pupils attaining five or more Standard grades at levels 1-2 rose from 26 per cent to 39 per cent. An average, since 1984, of nine Standard grades at level 1 in English and 15 in maths was increased to 31 and 36 respectively.

The percentage of pupils attending school for less than 70 per cent of the time fell from 23 per cent in 1996-97 to zero in 1997-98. Overall attendance has risen from 83 per cent to 97 per cent.

"You can only improve attainment if you improve attendance," says Frank Lennon. "There is no doubt they are related."

Welcoming the figures from St Modan's, Tommy Brookes, chair of the council's Children's Committee, says: "We encourage a partnership approach and we will learn from the good practice that is currently developing in schools like St Modan's."

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