In­vest­ment in our school kids is vi­tal

Rutherglen Reformer - - Memory Lane -

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.


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