Renfrewshire Council

Photo shows front row (l-r): Matthew Du Pon (P7, Cochrane Castle Primary School); Beth Compston (S5, Linwood HS); Melanie Mahoney (S4, Linwood HS) and Ben Cunningham (P7, St David’s Primary School)  Back row (l-r): Pam McDowall (Headteacher, Cochrane Cast

Praise for Renfrewshire's school attainment progress

Pupils, parents, politicians and education experts have been reacting to the news Renfrewshire Council has achieved an 'excellent' rating for its progress in improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap.

Renfrewshire is one of nine 'challenge authorities' in the Scottish Government funded Scottish Attainment Challenge, to close the attainment gap between those living in Scotland's least and most deprived areas.

Education Scotland published its inspection report today finding significant year-on-year improvements in listening, talking, reading, writing and numeracy, with the attainment gap closing across all measures.

Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader Jim Paterson, Convener of Renfrewshire's Education and Children's Services Policy Board:

"This is an exceptional endorsement from Education Scotland and testament to the innovative way Renfrewshire is raising attainment for all children and young people while also closing the poverty related attainment gap. We are delighted that significant progress has been shown in both measures.

"Our success is down to a collective approach. Children and young people have gained belief in themselves and I want to thank them and their parents and carers for their effort and commitment to learning. Our Children's Services team has, through outstanding governance and leadership, also provided the right support and created the space to allow schools to deliver high quality learning and teaching.

"And staff in schools have once again shown their commitment to doing the best for our children by committing the energy and drive to deliver innovative approaches which are changing the opportunities for Renfrewshire children both during their school years and for their choices when they leave school."

Deputy First Minister John Swinney:

"Improving the education and life chances of our children and young people is the defining mission of this government. Central to this is the Scottish Attainment Challenge which is supporting hundreds of schools to develop approaches to improve literacy, numeracy and health and well-being that help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

"I would like to congratulate Renfrewshire Council on becoming the first local authority in Scotland to be rated 'excellent' for their progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap. It is clear that the close collaboration between their dedicated and empowered workforce and their wider school communities is having a significant and positive impact. 

"These results are extremely encouraging and I look forward to seeing how the local authority builds on this momentum to truly ensure that every child in Renfrewshire is given the best possible start in life, no matter their background."

Gayle Gorman, Chief Inspector of Education for Scotland:

"Closing the attainment gap is vital for a modern, successful Scotland and that is why, since late 2017, Education Scotland's Inspectors have been working in partnership with Audit Scotland with the goal of reporting on the progress made by local authorities in improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap. 

"These reports are vital to learn and share how well local authorities are doing and it is an absolute delight to see Renfrewshire Council's report. Everyone should be delighted to see the impact of their work on children and young people. The clear and consistent focus on improving aspects of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing is helping to meet more effectively the specific needs of individual pupils.

"No doubt this is in part to a number of strategic approaches, in addressing the impact of poverty on the outcomes of children, young people, their families and the community. Addressing this impact has also been key and the improvement plan reflects very clearly the council's strong commitment to early intervention together with the council's very successful strategy of using universal approaches to raise attainment for all, alongside targeted interventions to close the poverty-related attainment gap.

"The commitment and focus of Renfrewshire Council on developing high-quality learning and teaching and leadership at all levels has led to improvements in children's and young people's learning and progress. I am particularly pleased to hear of the work being undertaken to listen to the voice of children and young people to help shape improvement in the authority. I am also very aware of the hard work that will have been undertaken by teachers, support staff and communities to achieve this success and would like to thank all of them for their commitment to improving the life chances of Scotland's children." 

Steven Quinn, Interim Director of Children's Services:

"The additional resource from the Scottish Attainment Challenge has enabled us to increase the pace and widen the scope of our work to deliver high quality learning and teaching. This is improving attainment and achievement in all Renfrewshire schools, reducing inequalities and improving health and wellbeing for children and supporting young people into positive destinations after school.

"This excellent inspection report reflects the incredible work taking place in our schools and by the central education team to achieve these goals. We have invested heavily in our teachers and in our support staff, recognising the incredibly important role they have in shaping children and young people's lives. We will now build on this progress and ensure we have the plans in place to continue this great work." 

The different initiatives were delivered and evaluated in partnership with experts at the University of Strathclyde while the Council's education team also worked closely with the Robert Owen Centre at the University of Glasgow to co-ordinate work that delivers the maximum impact.

Professor Sue Ellis, from the University of Strathclyde's School of Education:

"The Renfrewshire Literacy Approach is evidence of the successful partnership between the University of Strathclyde and Renfrewshire Council and has addressed real-life, complex problems of practice and led to improvements year on year.

"It has made a real difference to the children of Renfrewshire by raising attainment, improving learning and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. Everyone from academics, head teachers and teachers, local authority staff and classroom assistants, worked on introducing a diverse range of children's literature, as well as learning and teaching activities that engaged children on all levels. That valuable work has generated knowledge about effective literacy teaching and project implementation, as well as assessment and leadership, that can now inform policy and practice across the whole of Scotland."

Professor Chris Chapman, Director of Policy Scotland at the University of Glasgow and Co-Director of the Robert Owen Centre:

"The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change has been working with key local authority leaders to develop a shared vision and understanding of the complexity and challenges of closing the poverty related attainment gap.

"We supported the development of Renfrewshire's strategic approach, working with key partners to optimise the impact on children and young people's outcomes. We're delighted Renfrewshire's approach and commitment to the major challenge of our time has been recognised in this inspection report."

Cochrane Castle Primary School pupil Matthew Du Pon:

"I like all of my teachers and all of the support that they give me. I enjoy learning with my friends and my favourite subject is language. My writing has improved this year because we are using a new programme called 'Dive into Writing'.

"My handwriting is much better and my teacher says my descriptive language and vocabulary is outstanding! We also have Miss Cameron, our transition teacher, and she encourages us to 'have-a-go' and produce our very best work. I feel really good about my writing now and enjoy writing extended stories."

Linwood Parent Council member Lesley Compston:

"I have been involved in Parent Councils within Renfrewshire Council for the past 16 years and I have seen massive changes over the last three years in particular.

"I truly believe that working in partnership is finally taking shape and this is due to the ownership that the local authority is taking and this is encouraging and empowering parents to act as the voice and most importantly being listened to, resulting in positive action. I can only see this positivity growing and with it identifying proactive ways in further improving attainment in Renfrewshire."

Linwood High School pupil Beth Compston:

"I got six National 5s last year and I'm proud of myself. I learned how to be far more positive when I was in Arran on the leadership weekend and to deal with things better. I gained confidence to perform in front of people and I definitely think it helped me to go to my exams believing that if I try my best and work hard, I can do well. Now I'm hoping to fulfil my ambition and study midwifery."

Published on Tuesday 19 February 2019

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