Teenager to sue school over failed exam

A TEENAGER who failed her Higher English is set to sue her former school, saying her class was not prepared properly.

Just two pupils out of a class of 11 at Castlebay Community School on the island of Barra passed the crucial test this year.

Marion McLeod claims the local authority damaged her long-term earning potential by not having sufficient staff.

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The 17-year-old said she has lost out on a place at college because her English teacher was only part-time. Her lawyers plan to sue Western Isles Council for 50,000.

A spokesman for the local authority said they were yet to receive any legal challenge.

Miss McLeod, who passed three other Highers - in Gaelic, PE and geography - said: "Our school had a failure rate of 82 per cent in English and the national average is 68 per cent.

"My English Higher is the one I need if I'm to go to college or pursue any kind of reasonable career.

"We had a teacher who was replaced with a part-time teacher who only taught three days a week. Both pupils and parents had been raising concerns with the local council and the education minister about the situation for well over a year after three consecutive inspections raised the issue."

She said she has been rejected by colleges because of the failure but has secured a job as a fitness trainer with a hotel chain in Fort William.

Her mother, Sandra McLeod, 45, said: "The kids were so angry and so desperate to draw attention to the situation, they even staged a strike.

"It's sickening to think my daughter and all the other pupils who didn't get their Higher will be affected for the rest of their lives through no fault of their own."

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Inspectors who visited when the school did not have a specialist English teacher described progress implementing the new school curriculum as "slow".

Their report said: "In the majority of lessons, the range of tasks and activities is still too limited. The needs of those studying English are not being met effectively."

Cameron Fyfe, Miss McLeod's lawyer, said: "We believe the local authority have failed in their duty to provide Marion with a progressive education in English.As a result, her career prospects have been damaged."

Des McNulty, Labour education spokesman, said: "Report after report showed this school was not delivering for pupils, and that was the responsibility of the local authority, school inspectors and ultimately the minister to ensure corrective action was taken."

Alasdair Allan, Western Isles MSP said: "Everyone concerned realises there was a major problem with Higher English at the school last year, although significant progress has been made since then."

A spokesman for the council said: "Qualified English staff were in place throughout the academic year.

"I am fully aware of the concerns over the Higher English results at Castlebay School."