School celebrates as Scotland gets best-ever report card

OUR Lady of the Missions Primary School in East Renfrewshire is no stranger to success.

During the past year, two of its three choirs have scored success at the Glasgow Music Festival, while the school has also been given an Eco Green Flag award in recognition of its commitment to environmental issues.

But all that was topped yesterday when it received the best ever report for a mainstream school from education watchdogs.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) awarded the school nine "excellent" ratings - the highest on offer - and six "very goods".

According to the inspectors, who visited the school for a week in June, Our Lady of the Missions "provides education of the highest standard".

The report says: "The school was held in high esteem in its community and had an outstanding ethos based largely on its values as a faith school.

"Pupils brought credit to themselves and the school through their successes in a wide range of achievements and excellent levels of attainment."

Charlie Jamieson, the school's headteacher for the past four years, was also praised by HMIe, which paid tribute to his "leadership and commitment".

Yesterday, Mr Jamieson said the school's success was down to the determination of staff to provide every one of its 700 children with the best education possible.

He said: "We're absolutely ecstatic with the report and it's a tremendous boost for the school community. The important thing in a school of this size is to make sure that everyone is working towards the same agenda.

"We have a very mixed catchment area and a huge range of children, so to cater for all their needs we all need to be focused and to have the same vision.

"Every parent has their own aspirations for their child and we want to mirror that in the school."

While attainment in maths and English was among the areas judged to be excellent by HMIe, Mr Jamieson said the school was keen to make sure its pupils enjoyed a well-rounded education, with many extra-curricular activities as well.

The school runs many out-of-school clubs, including one dedicated to gardening. It also has football and netball teams, a cheerleading club and three choirs.

Mr Jamieson added: "It's all about giving the pupils a broad experience, so they come here motivated and keen to learn.

"We want to make sure that the children's talents are to the fore, no matter what they are. But we know that we have to keep maintaining our standards and continuing to aim high."

Among the other areas praised by the HMIe were the strong links between the school, parents, the school board and the local community.

Clare McAndrew, a former PTA chairwoman, said community spirit was one of the secrets of the school's success.

Mrs McAndrew, who has a son and daughter at Our Lady of the Missions, said: "Although it's a big school, you are made to feel so much at home as soon as you walk in the door.

"The staff all know you by name, and you get to know the other children and their parents as well.

"The school has an open-door policy and if there's anything you want to discuss, they're happy to talk to you.

"If your kids are champing at the bit to go to school every day, that has to be a good thing."

Excellent work

HER Majesty's Inspectorate of Education first introduced its "excellent" ratings in August last year as a way of making it easier to identify the country's top schools.

Before that, the top mark had been "very good".

The first school to gain an "excellent" grade was Netherlee Primary in East Renfrewshire, which received five in a report last December.

Jack McConnell, the First Minister, was among the first to personally congratulate the school and he called on others to draw inspiration from its success.

In June this year, a school for children with special needs assumed the crown of the nation's best when it gained ten "excellent" ratings in its HMIe report.

Clippens School in Linwood, Renfrewshire, also received six "very goods" and was praised for the quality of its leadership, its innovative teaching methods and pupils' academic performance.

The pupils have special needs, including complex learning difficulties, sensory impairments and physical disabilities. Olwynne Clark, the headteacher, said: "Although our pupils have significant difficulties, our view is that they are entitled to be successful in the same way as other pupils."