School results are best ever
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