SCHOOL inspections in March, before the coronavirus lockdown, have yielded a healthy report for Dunrossness Primary School and a few blips in an overall “good” assessment for Whalsay.
Whalsay, which combines secondary, primary and nursery departments, was assessed as “weak” in indicators of leadership of change and learning, teaching and assessment for its nursery department.
The department also scored “satisfactory” in securing children’s progress and “good” in ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion.
Whalsay primary and secondary were assessed “good” in all evaluations: leadership of change; learning, teaching and assessment; raising attainment and achievement; ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion.
Shetland Islands Council education and families committee chairman George Smith said: “Overall this is a good inspection report for Whalsay School. It highlights the positive ethos, effective support for pupils, good links with partners and the island community as well as the qualities of the pupils themselves.
“The report identifies areas for improvement, including in early years practice and the school is well-placed to address these, with the nursery
extension also nearing completion and recruitment moving forward to support the expansion of hours.
“I want to thank school staff for their hard work and I am sure they will continue to improve the quality of the teaching and learning they are providing.”
The Education Scotland report recommended that the school clarifies the “vision, values and aims as the foundations of the school’s work” and that senior leaders and staff should increasingly work across the different stages of the school.
It also calls for a hastening of improvements to the curriculum and consistency in high-quality learning and teaching and an improved use of “self-evaluation”, particularly in the nursery department.
It says: “Senior leaders should work with practitioners to ensure children make the best progress of which they are capable, and which will enable them to lead and talk about their own learning.”
Inspectors also pinpointed “senior leaders’ positive influence as role models, exemplifying good practice and improving the curriculum in the primary and secondary departments.”
They found the Whalsay children are “keen to learn, courteous and well behaved”, and demonstrated “a strong sense of pride and identity in their school and community”.
There was praise for “high quality” learning activities at the primary stages and effective support for youngsters as well as “close collaboration with wider partners and the island community” including community work with the school to “maintain the island’s culture, traditions and heritage in, for example, music and craft.”
Meanwhile Dunrossness Primary scored a “good” in all four of its evaluations: for learning, teaching and assessment for both primary and nursery departments; raising attainment and achievement in the primary and securing children’s progress in the nursery.
Smith said: “This is a very strong inspection report on Dunrossness Primary School and I am delighted to see the work of the school being recognised in such a positive way.
“I commend the leadership of the head teacher and the work of all the staff in the school, delivering the learning experiences and providing learning environments, all of which have been highlighted in this report.”
The report had praise for “the leadership of the head teacher and the respect she has gained from staff, parents and the wider community. The positive relationships she fosters that are founded on mutual respect. The nurturing and inclusive environment of the school and its nursery where children and families are supported well.”
It also praised staff teamwork and their support of readiness to learn among children. It again identified the “value the school places in promoting the heritage of the South Mainland community.”
It says children “are proud of their school, their achievements and show support and empathy for one another. They are motivated to learn and very well behaved.”
It calls for improvement in sharing good practice and “consistency in high quality learning and teaching across the school and nursery” and for improved tracking of children’s progress.
The full reports for Whalsay School are available on Education Scotland’s website at:
The full reports for Dunrossness Primary School and the nursery class are available on Education Scotland’s website at:
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