Rector hits out after high school falls into lower end of tables

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RECTOR Alan Williamson has reiterated that attainment levels at the high school ought to be measured against comparable schools elsewhere in the country.

Mr Williamson stresses that improvement is evident at the Buccleuch Street institution, despite recently-published league tables placing the school among the lower-achieving in the Borders.

The head draws confidence from the school’s performance in relation to that of its ‘comparator schools’ – a set of similar schools throughout the rest of Scotland that can set similar expectations in terms of performance.

“It is worth remembering that the school’s results are still good compared with our comparator schools set by Scottish Government,” Mr Williamson told the Hawick News. “In areas such as S4 and S6 qualifications, we are outperforming nearly all of our comparator schools.

“I would pay credit to our staff at all levels who are very focused on the attainment agenda to ensure students from the high school have the best possible chance of gaining places at Borders College, in the highly competitive jobs market, or at Scottish universities.”

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, education executive member at Scottish Borders Council, said the statistics did not provide the whole story and highlighted the exemplary work of Hawick High School within the community.

“You can’t judge a school solely by its exam results,” said Councillor Aitchison. “These figures only give you a snapshot and don’t show all the good work going on in other areas.

“For example, I know that Hawick High is putting in a lot of hard work with the Wilton Centre in the town.”

Meanwhile, there appears to exist a clear correlation between the social mix of pupils within a school and academic achievement.

Twenty-eight per cent of pupils at the high school achieved five or more passes at Standard Grade – below average nationally (37 per cent) and within the Borders (42 per cent) and placing Hawick seventh from nine secondary schools in the local area.

The percentage of fifth year pupils achieving three or more Highers brought similar results for the high school, which at 17 per cent was again placed seventh and fell well below the national (27 per cent) and Borders (30 per cent) averages.

The percentage of Borders pupils who receive free school meals was second-highest at Hawick, where 14.5 per cent of students benefit from complimentary lunch.