In light of this week's press coverage on the exam results of Kirkcudbright Academy pupils who sat their Standards grades a year early, I would like to offer a different perspective.
Our HMIE report, published this week, rated the school highly for the commitment of staff, the positive ethos and range of opportunities, sound management of curricular change, the leadership at senior management level, attainment in S4, S5 and S6, and partnerships with parents and the local community.
The report praises staff for their commitment, pupils for their achievement, parents for their support and leadership, especially in the area of curricular innovation and development.
This is particularly significant given the academy's programme of curricular change. With additional funding support from the Scottish Executive, the school has been undertaking major changes to the curriculum.
This includes reorganisation of S1, early examination presentation in S3, a combined timetable for S4-S6, the extension of subject choices and the introduction of a wider range of vocational courses into the senior school.
Inspectors took a positive view and complimented the school on its management of change.
Significantly, the school has just been successful in obtaining a second award of funding for phase 2 of the project - which will further extend choice for pupils, involve local employers and promote skills and qualifications to suit local needs.
As part of our curriculum flexibility project, S3 pupils at Kirkcudbright Academy sat Standard grade and National Certificate examinations in May of this year. Pupils have achieved results that are impressive - meeting or exceeding expectations in every case. Eighty-eight per cent of pupils achieved five or more awards at level 4 and one third achieved five or more awards at level 5.
These results compare well with the national average results for pupils in S4, who are a year older than the Kirkcudbright Academy pupils. Comparisons with S4 attainment in a year's time will give a better measure of gains.
The most important factor here, however, is the longer period of study now available for more advanced study or for a wider range of subjects, as pupils prepare for the world of work or for further study at college or university.
The acid test of the school's curriculum flexibility project will be the overall quality of qualifications and experience that are achieved by pupils during their time at secondary school, whether that is four, five or six years.
The project is being closely monitored by a team of researchers from Glasgow University in one of the most detailed pieces of research undertaken in a Scottish school.