Editor's comment

22nd December 2006 at 00:00
We have no doubt that Jordanhill is a very fine school, which is why so many parents are so determined to buy into its catchment - which is one of the reasons it has topped the league of exam performance in the past three years. The relationship between the chicken and the egg in that equation is, as always, difficult to assess. The contribution of aspiring and involved parents to a school's fortunes can never, of course, be under-estimated.

None of this is to detract from the contribution teachers make. Just as we have no doubt that Jordanhill is a very fine school, we also have little doubt that teachers must be a factor in making it so. But the relative influence of parents and teachers is simply more obvious there. When schools tilling in much less fertile soil than Jordanhill's are pilloried for their exam performance, the teaching may be of an even higher standard and many parents may be just as committed as those in more advantaged circumstances.

The one factor we should not get too hung up about is the fact that Jordanhill is the only "independent" state school in Scotland, funded directly by the Scottish Executive and run by its management board. No doubt that gives them freedom from some bureaucratic council controls, but there is no evidence that the way it is governed plays as large a role in its success as the factors already mentioned. The "education experts" who suggest that it does turn out to be no one other than Fred Forrester, former leading light in the Educational Institute of Scotland, who has seen many new lights since his retirement.

As ever, the exams statistics conceal more than they reveal, and the story behind some of the statistics from Smithycroft Secondary in Glasgow (p10) are a telling case in point. The health warnings will never go away.

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