School re­sults are best ever

Rutherglen Reformer - - Working For You - Ed­die McAvoy

I am sure Re­former read­ers shared my de­light at the suc­cess of our lo­cal kids when the lat­est exam re­sults came out.

Of course those pupils who re­ceived good grades, and their fam­i­lies, had most rea­son to be pleased. But it would take a hard heart for any­one not to share their joy, es­pe­cially as there is an ob­vi­ous ben­e­fit for the whole com­mu­nity when young folk do well and go on to have good ca­reers.

The Re­former was right to lead the plau­dits, and as an ex­am­ple this pa­per high­lighted the suc­cess of Cathkin High School twins So­phie and Fraser Al­lardyce, who be­tween them bagged 10 High­ers, nine of them at A grade.

The twins’ ter­rific re­sults were the tip of the ice­berg. Ini­tial re­sults from the Scot­tish Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Author­ity showed that across South La­nark­shire the pass rate was the best ever – 77 per cent in High­ers and 81 per cent in Ad­vanced High­ers.

The same was true at Na­tional 5 and Na­tional 4 level, in which the pass rates were 81 per cent and 95 per cent re­spec­tively.

What’s re­ally im­por­tant is what lies be­hind th­ese statis­tics. Be­cause lo­cal kids are get­ting bet­ter exam marks they are mak­ing them­selves more likely to get into fur­ther and higher ed­u­ca­tion, if that’s what they want to do, and also more at­trac­tive to em­ploy­ers.

I know that there is a lot more to life than pass­ing ex­ams, and I know many peo­ple who have done well for them­selves de­spite not per­form­ing well at school. But the bot­tom line is that, in to­day’s tough job mar­kets, good grades mean bet­ter life prospects.

The im­prove­ment across South La­nark­shire has noth­ing to do with luck. First, we should all ac­knowl­edge the hard work that pupils them­selves put into their stud­ies, sup­ported by their par­ents. Then we have to give a huge thanks to the thou­sands of teach­ers and other school staff who put so much ef­fort into rais­ing at­tain­ment.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil works hard to sup­port the ed­u­ca­tion staff who work for us in that vi­tal role, and we also strive to cre­ate the best pos­si­ble en­vi­ron­ment for kids to learn in.

That’s why we have built 17 new sec­ondary schools, and two ad­di­tional sup­port needs high schools. Most of th­ese have now been in place for a few years, cre­at­ing safe, com­fort­able places in which to learn.

I defy any­one to say that this in­vest­ment hasn’t paid off.

We are also on course to com­plete our pri­mary school mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme, with 123 new or to­tally re­fur­bished schools, by early 2018.

I am im­mensely proud of this achieve­ment. When I stand down at the lo­cal elec­tions next May our school mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme will be one of the achieve­ments I will look back on with great­est plea­sure.

And yet, some peo­ple still like to snipe. Just last week the Green Party tried to make mis­chief by link­ing the prob­lems which af­fected schools in Ed­in­burgh with our own en­tirely sep­a­rate mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme, which used dif­fer­ent de­sign­ers and builders.

For the record: in 2012, be­fore the Ed­in­burgh prob­lems be­came know, we checked all of our sec­ondary schools fol­low­ing storm dam­age at Trin­ity High School, Ruther­glen, and Dun­can­rig Sec­ondary, East Kil­bride.

En­gi­neers found our schools to be safe and sound but picked up on a few mi­nor im­prove­ments here and there. In to­tal, they put 62 ad­di­tional wall ties in place. The high­est num­ber added or re­placed in any one school was 20.

To put this in con­text, there are ap­prox­i­mately 240,000 wall ties in place across the en­tire school es­tate.

In­ci­den­tally, we checked all the schools again this year. Again, our schools were found to be in good or­der.

So, let’s stop the snip­ing. Let’s in­stead ac­cept that the money we have col­lec­tively spent on schools is a fan­tas­tic in­vest­ment in South La­nark­shire’s fu­ture.

And let’s say a big “well done” to our pupils and all who have helped them be such a suc­cess.

Top marks So­phie and Fraser Al­lardyce of Cathkin High man­aged 10 High­ers be­tween them - nine of which were As

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