City that punches above its weight

29th November 2002 at 00:00
GLASGOW took a characteristically upbeat approach to its annual experience of "dominating the lower reaches" of exam performance, as a report to councillors put it this month.

"We don't use levels of deprivation as an excuse for the performance of our schools and we never will," Richard Barron, depute director of education, says.

The 41 secondary schools showing the highest incidence of free meal entitlement (FME) - the most widely used indicator of poverty - include 24 in Glasgow. "Many of our schools have been punching above their weight and are continuing to do so," Mr Barron says.

Bob Gray, education convener, said: "Forty per cent of the city's 29 secondaries have improved their Standard grade Credit awards compared with last year. At St Andrew's, for example, 29 per cent of youngsters received five-plus Credit awards - an improvement of 12 per cent."

Castlemilk High (with 60 per cent of pupils entitled to free meals) does better than similar schools at Standard grade as does Drumchapel High (63 per cent FME), which does well in converting Standard grades to Highers.

Other secondaries score better than similar schools in the number of pupils with five or more Highers - Hillpark Secondary and Shawlands Academy are examples (12 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, against a Glasgow average of 4 per cent in S5).

Indeed Glasgow was singing the praises of one Hillpark pupil, Amie White, who not only got five Higher A passes but scored band one in all of them.

The vagaries of Glasgow's comparisons, however, can seem to penalise schools which are doing well by one measure but not by another. Notre Dame High, for example, is seen as a Standard grade success using the FME factor.

But it does less well in converting Standard grades into Highers (45 per cent of last year's fourth year gained five-plus Standard grades 1-2, but only 22 per cent went on to emerge with three or more Higher passes this year).

This because it is now being compared with a new group of schools.

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