Glasgow’s approach to helping the most vulnerable a success

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Glasgow council has been asking secondaries to identify pupils who leave school without basic qualifications and to explain the reasons, as part of a wider move to help drive up standards, particularly among the most vulnerable children.

Almost 350 fourth year pupils who failed to attain at least five Standard passes at foundation level in 2012/13 have already had individual reports written about them, the local authority said.

Many of them had repeatedly missed school through difficult family circumstances, including parents who were ill or in prison.

One girl became the main carer for her mother after she got cancer. Another struggled with the full curriculum as he spoke no English, having joined secondary school from China. However, he passed Standard Grade maths and Higher Mandarin.

Overall, Glasgow has fared less well at exams on average than other parts of the country but the city holds a disproportionate number of Scotland’s most deprived communities. However, the academic performance of pupils from these backgrounds has consistently improved in the last 10 years, according to official figures.

Stephen Curran, the council’s spokesman for education, said: “We want every young person in the city to achieve to the very best of their ability. This is why we concentrated on tracking the young people in the city who do not achieve five or more Standard Grade awards.

“The analysis of the information has proved very interesting and will result in successful intervention and support for more vulnerable young people.

“Raising expectations is so important and is crucial to our ambition to drive up standards and the aspirations of pupils in all Glasgow schools.”

One school where just two pupils had not attained the basic benchmark said it had already started close monitoring and targeted support of some individual pupils, including getting them to school for important days.

“We will turn up on the morning of the exam and ferry the pupil in, but the real work is prior to the exam in ensuring that portfolios are in place,” the school reported.

A report to the council by Maureen McKenna, executive director of education, states: “The exercise of gathering this data has heightened the importance of tracking vulnerable young people and for assessment information to be gathered from the earliest possible time to ensure young people achieve qualifications, even if their circumstances mean attendance at school becomes difficult.

“It has also shown that many of our schools go to extraordinary lengths to ensure as many young people as possible achieve qualifications.”


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