Drive to boost boys pays off for top scorer;News;News amp; Opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
THE "overall winner" for a six-year council comprehensive is Mearns Castle High in East Renfrewshire which came top of the three-plus Higher table and second to Mid Yell Junior High in Shetland in having 75 per cent of pupils with five or more Standard grade Credit passes.

But Mid Yell is a four-year secondary with only 51 pupils and had just 13 in last session's fourth year. "We were lucky because we had two or three very good, hard-working pupils," Linsey Nisbet, Mid Yell's acting head, says. "But with such very small numbers statistics don't mean an awful lot."

Ian Climie, head of the 1,100-pupil Mearns Castle High, commented: "We have been deliberately targeting attainment throughout the school, putting the focus on boys in particular to push up their performance to come nearer to that of our girls.

"We have done that by insisting that pupils who commit themselves to five Highers see that commitment through, while we also emphasise the importance of homework, effective study and coming to school regularly."

As the Mid Yell results show - top Standard grades up from

45 per cent to 77 per cent - the schools with the greatest volatility in performance in the past year are, as always, the smallest secondaries where minor changes in the abilities of fourth and fifth-year pupils produce wild fluctuations.

Hence the sharp increases in Standard grade Credit awards notched up by Mid Yell and its fellow island school of Scalloway Junior High are mirrored by the steep decline of five Highland secondaries - Ullapool, Glen Urquhart, Farr, Kinlochbervie and Gairloch - whose total rolls ranged from 69 to 206.

There are contrasting fortunes, however. Ullapool High saw its three-plus Higher passes soar by 20 per cent, the result of a strong fourth year last year which was weaker this year.

Similarly, although Stromness Academy's key Higher result gives it top billing with Mearns Castle High, it is a different

story for Standard grades 1-2 which dived from 59 per cent to 43 per cent.

Even the larger and most prestigious schools are not immune from annual roller-coasters. Jordanhill, with 570 pupils who include the Education Minister's children, saw the numbers with three or more Highers drop by 20 per cent and those with five-plus Highers fall by 9 per cent.

Pupils with five or more Standard grades 1-2 are 7 per cent behind Jordanhill's 1997 figure.

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