Rector hits out at league tables

HIGH School rector Alan Williamson has slammed the latest exam league tables and said they should be judged on more than just results.

Latest figures released show that the percentage of S4 pupils getting five or more Standard Grades at Hawick High School was 87, which is down on the Scottish average of 93 per cent.

And the number of S5 pupils getting three or more highers (21 per cent) was also down on the national average (26 per cent) – although this marked an improvement from 12 per cent from the previous year.

Mr Williamson said: “I’m not really in favour of creating league tables for schools based on exam results.

“I remain unconvinced that the sole judgement of a ‘good’ school is down to exam attainment although I do think that it is very important.”

Mr Williamson prefers to rely on “more accurate” statistical data from the Scottish Government which gives all schools 20 other comparator schools – none of which pertaining to Hawick are in the Borders.

He said: “We do measure our performance against these similar schools in order to help us self-evaluate and try improve our attainment for the pupils.”

The high school chief revealed that, in the last few years, almost 100 per cent of school leavers have moved on to “positive destinations”, such as local apprenticeships, Borders College or university places.

And although the school, which had the most pupils receiving free meals in the Borders, was also above the Scottish mean for unauthorised absences, he said measures were in place to tackle this problem.

“Our pastoral and pupil support staff and our newly-appointed attendance officer have made positive inroads to ensure that attendance at Hawick High School has improved and is now above many other Border schools who are arguably better placed to deal with this challenging area,” he said.

And he paid tribute to the staff at the school for what he described as their “best exam results ever” over the last two years.

He added: “The reasons are in many ways very complex, including two very good year groups of pupils who have come through, but in other ways are quite simple and are down to the hard work of pupils and staff.

“We are also well served by our learning community primary schools. The Hawick High School teaching staff are incredibly dedicated and professional and with an experienced knowledge of the SQA Exam systems are delivering a quality service for our pupils. Some departments are in the top 40 schools in Scotland for exam results at Standard Grade, Higher and Advanced Higher.

“I can’t underestimate that level of achievement by staff and pupils.”