Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Alan Russell - June 2023

In this month's blog, Alan discusses his recent visit to two of our schools, where he caught up with pupils and colleagues to hear about some of the great work taking place to achieve the best outcomes for our children and young people.

I had the privilege of visiting two of our schools last week, Trinity High School in Renfrew and West Primary School in Paisley. Since being appointed as Chief Executive, I've been keen to meet more of our employees working across the council to see for myself their work in providing all the different public services we're responsible for as a local authority.

Alan school Trinity High

On Monday morning, I visited Trinity High School with our Head of Education, Julie Calder, and met headteacher Paul Marshall who walked us round the school. I also met Darren Barnes, assistant facilities manager and members of his team who support our children with a range of school services which include helping to keep our schools clean and tidy, and the provision of school meals. We talked about the challenges of recruiting staff in a competitive marketplace and discussed the new three-week school menu soon to be introduced, giving our children and young people a more varied range of healthy lunchtime options.

I also visited the school's nurture base, which provides a range of support for pupils of all ages. It's a friendly, welcoming and informal space where staff and pupils get together in a more relaxed setting which helps support pupils with their learning and wellbeing. We also met with pupils from their Pupil Voice forum who shared their positive feedback on how they felt able to make improvements to the school with the full support of their teachers. It was a great tribute to the work of all our employees at the school who create such a welcoming, inclusive environment and work so hard to achieve the best outcomes for all our children.

In the afternoon, we visited West Primary School in Paisley and met headteacher Lynne McGinn and her teaching team as well as Soft FM, and additional support needs colleagues. The school is the first in Renfrewshire to offer a Gaelic language education and while the class this year is small, we watched an assembly where dozens of young children were all singing along together in Gaelic, showing how much they have managed to integrate the language into everyday activities, - it was really heartening to see. We sampled the school lunches, and I can report the chicken curry was pretty good!

Alan school visit kids 2

After lunch we visited pupils in their classrooms where they were taking part in STEM activities and learning how to code. We also joined a class outside who were developing a bug hotel and heard a very interesting talk from one of the pupils about the history of Paisley. Pupils at West Primary have enjoyed spending time with the new Paisley Museum outreach staff, and it was great to see the enthusiasm among our youngest residents with the new build site just a short walk away at the top of Paisley High Street. We want to ensure all children in Renfrewshire will get the same opportunities through our cultural investment to spark their interest and learning in a whole range of subjects the Museum will cover when it opens its doors.  

My thanks go to all those I met on Monday, and I hope all our Renfrewshire schools and early years teachers and staff get a good summer break when it comes.

As previously shared, Steven Quinn, our Director of Children's Services, will leave in the summer for a new role. Work is underway to appoint a replacement and we will keep you informed of the arrangements.

We've enjoyed a great spell of weather over the last few weeks so I hope that when you do get to take a break, you have a great time and can relax and recharge.