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Winning strategy

At Mallaig High, results have followed a similar trend after S3 pupils sat their Standard grades for the first time in 2006

At Mallaig High, results have followed a similar trend after S3 pupils sat their Standard grades for the first time in 2006

Martin Sullivan, the headteacher, said: "In that year and each subsequent year, we have seen remarkably consistent attainment rates in S3, with 35-37 per cent of pupils gaining Credit passes in five or more Standard grades and, for 2008 and 2009, we have dramatically improved Higher attainment at the end of S5."

At Mallaig, the number of pupils gaining three-plus Highers in S5 rose from 14 per cent in 2006-07 to 46 per cent in 2008-09; for those gaining five-plus Highers, the increase was from 4 per cent in 2006-07 to 23 per cent in 2008-09.

Mr Sullivan added: "There's a major caveat in that we're a small Highland school with natural advantages, but with this level of improvement, achieved with no additional funding, it's hard to dismiss the strategy."

He added that by presenting some of the more able pupils for up to four Highers in S4, some were now attaining seven, eight or even nine Highers by the end of S5, which meant that the breadth being demanded under CfE was being achieved.

However, the Government's diktat that early presentation in S3 should end under the new CfE model meant that Mallaig was having to make new plans, said Mr Sullivan. "It is with some concern that we are doing that," he said. "The model has worked for us and we have a lot of faith in what we are doing just now."

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