Education Scotland acknowledges positive progress at Berwickshire High

Five people stand in front of a white school building surrounded by green lawn

Published: Tuesday, 18th January 2022

Education Scotland’s progress report on Berwickshire High released on 18 January has recognised a range of improvements at the school.

These were found to be having a positive impact both within the setting itself and across the wider learning community.

During their recent visit, inspectors worked closely with the headteacher and staff. Overall, they found that progress had been made since their initial inspection in February 2019 and that this was ongoing.

Highlights from the report

The school continues to cope well with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. A high level of contact had been maintained with young people over periods of school closure which included making good use of digital devices to continue learning, teaching and assessment. Senior leaders and staff engaged in considerable planning to prepare for the safe return of young people while the current school improvement plan clearly identifies the actions being taken to support ongoing recovery.

The appointment of a permanent headteacher in August 2020 was identified as having had a very positive impact. His leadership had established a clearer sense of direction and purpose in the school which was helping to build an aspirational learning community. The refreshed vision, values and aims of the school, developed in partnership with stakeholders, had also helped to establish a more cohesive identity.

The school environment was found to be providing a calm and orderly context for learning and almost all young people demonstrated maturity, respect and courtesy in classes, social areas and the school grounds. Relationships amongst young people and between young people and staff were found to be positive.

Improvements in the curriculum were providing a wider range of experiences and pathways for young people and helping to motivate their learning. The quality and consistency of learning, teaching and assessment had improved considerably with all learning experiences found to be well structured and purposeful. Engagement in high-quality professional learning by teachers was further contributing to improvements across the school.

Senior leaders and staff were taking a strategic and well-considered approach to planning for improvements in attainment and achievement. Improvements had also been made to tracking and monitoring in the broad general education (BGE) and teachers were valuing the use of learning logs as part of ongoing monitoring processes. Appropriate action had been taken to meet all areas of improvement required in relation to safeguarding.

Senior leaders were supporting young people and staff to engage in leadership roles and activities in faculties and across the school. A head team of young people, prefects and house captains were working enthusiastically and responsibly with senior leaders while a student council had been established to encourage and act on young people’s views.

An extended leadership team had been strengthened and roles for middle leaders increased. Teachers were demonstrating leadership behaviours on a more consistent basis, communicating more effectively with young people and their parents and engaging in high-quality professional learning to develop their classroom practice.

Teachers were continuing to help young people understand and improve their wellbeing with young people engaging in regular discussions with pastoral staff. Young people were able to articulate well issues associated with their mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing and staff were making clear progress in identifying how the concept and practice of nurture is able to influence young people’s learning and achievement positively.

Bruce Robertson, Headteacher

“The inspection letter is a tremendous endorsement of everyone’s hard work since the original inspection to turn our school around and ensure we are offering Berwickshire High School students the very best educational experience we can.

"Staff, students, parents and community partners should all feel very proud of the part they have played to get our school to this point so quickly. Berwickshire High is in a very exciting position moving forward.”

Neil Bennett, Parent Council Chair

“I’m delighted that the Senior Leadership Team, staff and students of Berwickshire High School have been able to make so much progress in so little time in responding to the HM Inspectors Report of 2019. A huge achievement given the global pandemic and its implications for education.

"Our thanks and congratulations go out to all involved. The Parent Council looks forward to supporting the school’s continued improvement going forward.”

Inspectors have asked for further information to be provided in a year’s time to ensure progress continues to be made at the school.

More information

  • images from the school are available on our Flickr page
  • the report is available on the Education Scotland website
  • HM Inspectorate of Education is the national body responsible for supporting quality and improvement in learning and teaching from early years to adult and community learning