Investment in our school kids is vital
Earlier this month the Reformer put the spotlight on Alana Daly and Melissa McCarroll, two Cathkin High pupils who each secured five Higher passes in their exams.
I want to congratulate not just Alana and Melissa on their success but every young person in the Reformer area and across South Lanarkshire who received good results.
It was a big moment for thousands of pupils and their families, and I could not be more delighted that so many of them had so much of which to be proud.
The final statistics won’t be available from the SQA until later this year, but early indications show that the trend of steadily improving marks has continued across South Lanarkshire.
The results delivered this month showed an overall pass rate for Highers of 74 per cent. There was an increase in the Advanced Higher pass rate, with 78 per cent of pupils achieving success. Our younger pupils did well too, with a 92.1 per cent pass rate in National 4 and an 80.7 per cent pass rate at National 5.
Getting good grades is much more than a reason for a one-day celebration, of course. The exam results that kids get in fourth, fifth and sixth-year at school are a major factor in their future prospects.
Don’t get me wrong – we all know people who didn’t sit exams or didn’t perform well in them, but who went on to do great things.
But there’s no doubt that the chances of our young folk succeeding are much greater if they’ve shown application at school and secured a set of results that demonstrates their ability, either to employers or to get them into further or higher education.
That’s why I think it is so very important that we all do what we can to support and encourage our young people. Not just parents and guardians, nor only the dedicated teachers and other school staff who deserve so much credit for the latest exam result successes.
We all have a role to play - and I’m proud to say that we all do, thanks to the ambitious schools modernisation programme which has been pursued in recent years by South Lanarkshire Council. I believe it is the biggest project of its kind in the United Kingdom, and that it is, hands down, the most important investment we could all have made in our collective future.
We completed the secondary school programme some years ago, and every high school pupil in the area is now being taught in state-of-the-art classrooms. Such an environment encourages learning and aspiration and I think this can be directly linked to exam success, together with pupils’ own hard work and the guidance of their teachers.
What’s more, at the start of this term three new schools opened as part of our primary school modernisation programme, taking the total now newly- built to 109. That means nine out of 10 primary pupils are in a new school, and we are on target to complete all 127.
Of course, doing the best for our kids and raising attainment does not mean just focussing on exam results. Our schools are now better-equipped than ever to develop all of our pupil’s wider skills to help prepare them for the world of work or further education.
That’s what we set out to do when we embarked on our schools modernisation programme – to improve the lives and life prospects of future generations in South Lanarkshire. It’s a legacy of which we can all be proud.