Their talent makes it cool to study

YOUNG asylum-seekers at St Roch's Secondary in Glasgow have made it "cool to study", Chris Nairn, the school's head, says. "They are highly committed, friendly, determined to succeed, incredibly focused and self-disciplined. They are talented at sport, music and dance and have become local heroes because they are so talented."

Seventy children come from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, Afghanistan and Turkey and most live in the nearby Sighthill estate.

Most of the first group to arrive went into third year and this year many left to study medicine, law and engineering. When the first cohort sat Standard grade exams, all achieved level 1 or 2 and in this year's Highers most had four or five passes at level A or B, including two pupils from Kosovo and Somalia who passed Higher Italian.

Four of them were the first pupils in Scotland to sit A-level Arabic and another seven were credited with grade 1 in GCSE Arabic.

Hassan Hassan, head of the school's English as an Additional Language (EAL) unit, believes coping with the handicap of living in a foreign country and of learning in a foreign language can be an inspiration to Scottish peers.

"They are highly motivated and appreciative of the opportunity they have to achieve what they want to achieve academically. When they settle down in the school, they have good interpersonal skills and we find it extremely important to get them in touch with the mainstream pupils," Dr Hassan says.

At St Roch's, staff and pupils are living up to their school motto - "Alios Adiuva" (Help Others).

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