Edinburgh proves to be top of the class with exam results above national average

Edinburgh pupils are performing well. Picture: Getty
Edinburgh pupils are performing well. Picture: Getty
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EDINBURGH’S schools have been declared top class after achieving exam results above the national average, with improvements made at some of the Capital’s poorest performing schools.

New figures reveal exam results in Standard Grades, Highers and Advanced Highers in some of the city’s most deprived areas have improved, while schools in affluent areas continue to outperform the rest of the country.

A breakdown of the city’s 23 high schools showed some of the best results being attained at Boroughmuir, Currie, Firrhill, James Gillespie’s, the Royal High and St Thomas of Aquin’s, with significant improvements also achieved at Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) and Craigroyston Community High School.

A report on how Edinburgh schools have performed over the last year will be discussed by councillors at the education, children and families committee meeting on Tuesday.

The city’s education leader, Councillor Paul Godzik, said the report highlighted how much was being achieved across the city.

“It’s clear from this report that some schools are making significant improvements and I would like to congratulate them for that,” he said.

“We will be looking to all our schools and continuing to work closely with them to ensure the upward trend continues.”

Over the last three years, some of the lowest achieving pupils have improved to within one per cent of the national performance level.

The three secondary schools that have consistently achieved poor results over the years are WHEC, Castlebrae in Craigmillar and Craigroyston in Muirhouse – all areas of deprivation.

However, this year Craigroyston achieved its best set of results across all exams in 11 years, with 17 per cent of fifth-year pupils achieving at least one Higher, compared with just eight per cent last year and two per cent in 2010.

WHEC has seen its Standard Grade success rate soar. A record 21 per cent of S4 pupils at the school achieved five or more Standard Grades at credit level in their recent results – up from two per cent in 2009 and nine per cent last year.

Headteacher Sheila Paton has undoubtedly played a key role in helping to achieve the best Standard Grade exam results in the school’s history, as well as other members of staff, including depute head Stuart Heggie and Ms Paton’s predecessor, Alex Wood, from whom she took over in August last year.

Meanwhile, Castlebrae Community High, which the council plans to close next summer following poor exam results and a falling school roll, recorded improvements in Standard Grade English and maths, with 93 per cent of pupils achieving Standard Grades at grade 5-6 or above by the end of sixth year, compared with 84 per cent in 2008.

Last month, the News told how Boroughmuir had been named Scottish State Secondary of the Year, despite pupils being taught in a building branded one of the country’s worst.

The school achieved the accolade in the new Sunday Times list – the first time an Edinburgh state school had won.

Boroughmuir was honoured partly for moving up three places from 12th to ninth in the state secondary league table over the last year. It was also the only Edinburgh state school to make the top ten.

Tory education spokesman councillor Jason Rust said the recent exam results across the city were “very encouraging”.

“There’s been some particular successes, with Boroughmuir being at the top of the whole of Scotland in terms of state schools,” he said.

“Wester Hailes Education Centre has clearly done extremely well as well in terms of making really positive progress, and it’s going to be a case of keeping going in this direction for all schools. It’s very encouraging and particularly good to see schools like Wester Hailes making such great progress.”

Among the highlights in the report is improved performance in PE by the end of fourth year, which the council said is linked to health and wellbeing education under the Curriculum for Excellence and the emphasis on two hours of PE every week.

There was also a “very good” performance across the city in Higher exams including English, maths, French, physics, computing and German, as well as improvements in maths and English by the end of fourth year, with Edinburgh pupils now sitting above the national average.

Council chiefs underlined that Edinburgh schools are, in the majority of indicators, performing above the national average.

One of the key areas for improvement identified in the report for primary schools is improving attainment in maths, numeracy and literacy, including talking and listening.

Melanie Main, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Greens, said: “These reports show that for many of our schools and our most able pupils, Edinburgh’s schools rank with the best in Scotland. But we are still letting down those pupils who struggle most at school and we need a real focus on improving their attainment and closing the gap.

“We also need to get better at maths and reading in primary school. Our schools need to be about equal opportunity as much as excellence.”