Douglas Ewart High School pupils have been praised Education Scotland inspectors for their exemplary behaviour and engagement with learning as a result of positive relationships with peers and staff.

Education Scotland inspectors visited the school in March as part of trying out new approaches to school inspections. Inspectors focused on aspects of leadership and management, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, the curriculum, and how well the school supports young people to make progress and achieve as highly as possible.

In a letter to parents, Education Scotland identified the school’s key strengths:
• Young people’s exemplary behaviour and engagement with learning as a result of positive relationships with peers and staff;
• Young people’s personal achievements facilitated by extensive and high-quality opportunities, particularly at the upper stages;
• The key role played by Community Learning and Development staff in building partnerships which enhance the curriculum; and
• The sense of empowerment amongst all staff to make suggestions and take decisions to improve young people’s achievements and experiences.

Inspectors reported that the young people’s learning experiences were benefiting from the innovative steps the school had taken in the development of its curriculum and school day, stating that the headteacher had led change along with his staff in a “courageous and imaginative way”.

The report also highlights that proportions of young people who are successful in moving on to a positive destination, such as employment, training, or further learning on leaving Douglas Ewart High School has been increasing over recent years. In 2015, almost all moved on to a positive destination with an increase in the proportions moving on to higher education.

Improved attainment is also noted with young people from S4 to S6 performing as well as young people with similar needs and backgrounds across Scotland.

Parent Council chair, Helen McColm, said, “The inspection report is very pleasing to read as it highlights some of the fantastic work going on at Douglas Ewart High School. Under the headteacher’s leadership, the school has moved forward in a very positive way. I’m delighted that the caring, inclusive environment, exemplary behaviour, and increased attainment of the pupils was picked up on and that the enthusiastic staff were rightly commended for their innovative and creative work and good rapport with the pupils. On behalf of the Parent Council, I congratulate and thank the school staff and the school’s many partner organisations for their great service, effort and enthusiasm in helping our youngsters achieve their full potential.”

Councillor Jeff Leaver, chairman of the Education Committee, said, “Providing the best start in life for all our children is a priority for our Council. So, I’m very pleased with Education Scotland’s positive report on Douglas Ewart High School. I’d like to thank and congratulate all staff and pupils who contributed towards this.”

Headteacher, Alex Cowie, said, “A school can only innovate, include and evolve to continually make positive progress when the school community at all levels has a sense of shared purpose. The success of Douglas Ewart High School is a result of the entire Machars Community’s commitment to Children Young People and Life-long Learning.”

Education Scotland is confident that the school has the capacity to continue to improve and will make no further visits in relation to this inspection.

Inspectors have asked the school to continue to raise attainment, particularly in literacy, numeracy, and health and wellbeing. They have also asked the school to develop a more effective strategy to support young people’s learning across the school, particularly those supported in the educational resource base, and to ensure greater consistency across the school in self-evaluation to increase the impact on young people’s learning and achievement.

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