High school named as ‘flagship’ example of curriculum working

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The high school was this week announced as one of the country’s top performers in implementing the Government’s much-maligned Curriculum for Excellence.

The school was highlighted as a successful example of the scheme, which is now in its third year.

Head teacher Alan Williamson says the school is now in a position where not all Government assistance with implementing the curriculum is required. Mr Williamson praised the approach of his staff to a new way of teaching and says the initiative suits the pupils enrolled at the school.

“The staff here have taken it on board, working hard with it,” explained Mr Williamson. “CfE suits us for two reasons: firstly, when we were a School of Ambition, we were given some freedom around curricular constraints, allowed to do innovative projects using ICT, teaching and learning, and raising attainment, and we got quite a lot of money from the Scottish Government there. We were well set up for CfE anyway.

“The second reason we’re well-prepared is that the new exams will suit Hawick. There will be enough rigour to suit the top 30 per cent of our cohort who will go on to sit Highers and go on to university. For the other 70 per cent, it’s far more school-based, vocational-based, skill-based learning – not the traditional method of testing memory. We really welcome the new exams. Hawick High School ploughs ahead.”

Many schools across Scotland have reported problems with implementation of CfE, and last week the Government’s education secretary Mike Russell was forced into an admission that all was not necessarily well with the scheme he helped introduce. Mr Russell extended help to struggling schools in the form of additional in-service time, additional finance, and further staff support – but Mr Williamson does not think the high school will require much assistance after it was named as a prime example of where CfE works well.

“We’re not struggling with the implementation so we probably won’t see a lot of that support,” he said. “We are one of four schools on which Education Scotland is basing the success story [of CfE]. It’s quite exciting for us to be an exemplar, so it’s really prestigious for us. It shows how well we are thought of at national level.

“The minister has said we can opt out for a year and sit intermediate exams, but our staff, principal teachers and senior management team are going to continue on board.

“We’re one of the Government’s flagship schools. We’re very proud, but it’s not without hard work, a very committed management team, principal teachers, and teachers.”