An article was published recently in The Times detailing the rankings of Scottish Secondary Schools in the form of a national league table, a format that the Scottish Government avoids due to the many variables involved in the measurement of schools and pupils achievements.
Despite a statement in the local press, we were actually ranked second out of the four Lochaber schools, with one school not featuring at all.
The Times article focuses on the percentage of students achieving five Highers at grades A-C. This year we have outperformed the other Lochaber schools in this particular statistic, yet in other years, they have eclipsed us on the same measure. Regardless, we would draw your attention to the high quality of education on offer throughout Lochaber and we celebrate the fact that all of our schools have great successes to share.
Universities and colleges often have a requirement of four good Highers, something that is not considered in the league tables which look at those with five. Students with four Highers or fewer would amount to a significant proportion of a university’s cohort in Scotland.
Articles such as the one produced by The Times can have a detrimental effect, particularly for small schools in rural communities, where a small difference in student numbers may cause a huge swing in terms of results, given that one student can easily equate to 4% of a year group.
Education is about academic achievement, yet it is also about wider achievement, as well as compassion and inclusion. Working with young people to equip them with the skills required to succeed beyond school, developing well-rounded citizens. These tables do not report the immense efforts of our staff as they strive to provide the best education that they possibly can for the young people in our charge. Their efforts cannot be overstated.
Each student who passes through our school is an individual with unique talents, attributes and abilities. We offer pathways tailored to meet their aspirations, rather than focusing on improving one particular statistic that will not suit all of our learners needs.
As recently as six years ago, less than 6% of our students progressed to Higher Education. This figure has risen continuously and steadily to 43.75% in 2017-18. The same pattern can be seen for further education and apprenticeships.
Many of our students exceed their targets. Furthermore, the life chances of a great deal of our cohort are enhanced through the variety of academic and enrichment activities offered by the school. There are many areas of wider achievement that do not require five Highers, yet they provide our students with the skills and experiences required for them to succeed beyond school.
An example of this is our Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, free at the point of access to all pupils, at all levels, from bronze to gold, delivering valuable life skills that will support students on the next steps of their journey. This is a highly prized qualification, duly recognised by employers and those in further and higher education.
Statistics can be used to tell a variety of stories and we would never claim that there is not some value to be had in analysing them carefully.
To continually improve what we offer our youngsters, I analyse our results year-on-year, across subjects and year groups. Those of our pupil’s performance compared to their targets and projections. Most importantly, having encouraged our students to be ambitious, I ask, are they achieving their chosen destinations beyond school? At Kinlochleven High School, our students realise their full potential, going on to achieve great personal success in diverse areas of education and employment.
Given the Scottish Government’s reluctance to produce league tables and our confidence in our own approach, we did consider the option of not responding to this article. Yet we feel that our entire community is built on the trust and support of our parents and carers. Therefore, we took the decision to compose a response.
We rely heavily on your support and value the trust that we have worked hard to create within our school community. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the school.