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Standards and Quality Report

Glen Urquhart High School                                   

The Highland Council                                             

Education, Culture and Sport Service


JUNE 2017



Our school vision, values and aims


Our vision is to provide a happy, caring and stimulating environment where children will recognise and achieve their fullest potential, so that they can make their best contribution to society.

In Glen Urquhart High School we aim:

1      To provide a place of continuing education within which each pupil will participate in a range of learning opportunities designed to develop the basic skills, knowledge and understanding required by contemporary society.

2    To ensure that each pupil has an awareness of the possibilities available to him/her within society and the responsibilities required by society of him/her.

3      To develop an atmosphere in which self-discipline and awareness of and responsibility to others will flourish.

4      To develop a cohesive structure of courses and activities that will allow different needs, abilities and skills of pupils to develop to their fullest extent and encourage students to make reasoned decisions for themselves.

5      To maintain effective communication with parents concerning the progress of individual pupils and of the school.

6      To provide a secure and happy environment within which staff and pupils can work together to achieve their aims.

7      To maintain effective staff development for all staff working within Glen Urquhart High School.  We aim to develop leadership and partnership at all levels in working collaboratively and across departments.

8      To actively promote a healthy approach to lifestyle for all persons involved with Glen Urquhart High School. 

9      Glen Urquhart High School aims to provide a high quality secondary education through fostering personal development & health and fitness, encouraging equal opportunities and seeking continuous improvement in academic attainment at all levels, whilst also recognising achievements in all areas.

10  As part of our continuous improvement agenda, a quality assurance system based on self-evaluation is being further developed.  Staff, parents and pupils will be asked to make significant contributions.



Context of the school:

Glen Urquhart High School is the six-year, comprehensive school which serves the village of Drumnadrochit and Glenurquhart, which is a Glen running to the west of the village of Drumnadrochit. The school is a PPP (Public Private Partnership) school and is managed by the company Mitie. The school is very welcoming, the environment is of a very high quality and there is a sense of pride from everyone connected to the school. There are three associated primary schools: Glen Urquhart, Cannich and Balnain. Increasingly we are welcoming pupils from out-with our catchment area.

At Glen Urquhart High School we have a very positive ethos where pupils, staff and parents feel a strong sense of ownership. Our pupils are very well behaved, hardworking and positive about the school. Relationships between pupils and staff, staff and parents are all very strong. Staff are extremely committed, approachable and want the very best for the school. The teachers, pupil support assistants, technician,  office staff ,janitorial, cleaning and catering staff all work as a team and know and support our pupils very well. They provide a wonderful experience for our pupils in their formative years. Pupils are offered a wide range of learning opportunities both within and outside the formal curriculum which help to widen their experiences helping them towards achieving successful and rewarding futures. Pupils this year were offered opportunities to attend theatre/cinema trips, participate in numerous sporting competitions/event, and offered places on school trips to Paris and New York. At times, throughout the year, our staff go way beyond what is expected of them and it is this attitude which drives our continual success.

The school is an integral part of the community and is well supported by parents and other local partners. Strong partnerships continue to develop and provide further opportunities for our young people to develop skills and achieve. The Parent Council are a key partner to the school and not only contribute to the school improvement agenda but is very active in supporting the school and pupil activities through fundraising ventures.

At the time of writing this report the school roll sits at 219 pupils but is due to fluctuate around this figure in the years ahead. There are 24 teaching staff (21.56FTE).The school is managed by a senior management team of HT and DHT. There is a wider management team made up of 9 Faculty Heads and Principal Teachers (support). A residential home sits on the boundary of our catchment area so each year we have a number of LAC pupils educated here at GUHS. The school has a significant number of pupils with a recognised ASN and of these a large number have been diagnosed with ASD. There are 7 PSAs (5.5fte) supporting our pupils. INSIGHT data recognises that all our pupils are from SIMD 6 and 7 although we have a significant number of pupils coming from challenging backgrounds.

For the session 2017/18 the Authority has asked every secondary school to move to a structure which will enable the school to close early on a Friday. Within this guidance, and after consultation, the school structure will move from a 30 teaching period week to a 32 teaching period week. This change will necessitate a significant amount of teacher time to develop new courses and extend others. This structural change, and the changes required to meet SQA’s new assessment arrangements for National 5, will have a major impact on staff’s ability to engage in any other school improvements. As a result the introduction of the newly published Benchmarks is on hold. Any further demands made on the school next session will also very likely be put on hold.

The community ethos, where staff take time to get to know every pupil, has seen our attainment increase in recent years, where our students achieve well above the national average. Leavers’ data from INSIGHT shows the school also attains very favourably against our virtual comparators. Our high expectations and excellent pupil attainment is down to our experienced staff working closely with pupils, ensuring that they are all supported and encouraged in their learning to achieve their very best while preparing them for life, learning and work. Our pupils enjoy excellent facilities, a wide range of curricular and non-curricular experiences and an extensive extra-curricular programme. The dedication shown by staff, the hard work by pupils and the continual support from our partners and the wider community can ultimately be evidenced by the strong Positive Destinations data shown below.



What have we done to close the attainment gap?


To enable us to Close the Attainment Gap we have built a strong positive ethos which is frequently commented on by visitors to GUHS. This environment, where pupils strive to achieve their potential, is built on excellent teaching and pupil support and based on strong relationships between staff, pupils and the local community.  Virtually all of our pupils who have been identified as coming from challenging and deprived backgrounds attend school regularly as they enjoy coming to school. While our main agenda has always been to raise the attainment for all pupils we have spent a significant amount of development time specifically aimed at raising the attainment of our “lowest 20%” with recent strong positive results, as can be seen on the graph below.

We have also embedded curricular work, specifically looking at improving our already strong Literacy and Numeracy attainment (see graph below), which will be expanded on later in this document. Recent developments in our Additional Support Needs (ASN) department have also helped strengthen the attainment of a number of pupils with identified needs.  The ASN department have been leading the development of a programme that involves collaboration with the library, English and Maths departments and which involves focussed targeting of key literacy and numeracy skills during the 10 minute registration time allowed now that the school has adopted the 33 period week.  The ASN department has been running tutorials that focus specifically on developing literacy and numeracy skills using a range of resources and precision teaching programmes. 

The ASN department has also been developing digital literacy skills, and creating digitalised resources that can be accessed by pupils and mainstream teachers across the school.  This year the school has successfully trialled digital papers in SQA exams.  The department has also delivered training for staff with regards to Looked After Children (LAC) pupils and the implications that being a Looked After Child can have on attainment if not targeted.  Our Closing the Attainment Gap working group have also identified, using relevant data and clear professional knowledge of the pupils within our school, a number of pupils who would benefit from more targeted support next session. Tree Of Knowledge has also worked with our staff and parents in an attempt to foster even stronger family support for our young peoples’ education and attainment and to help bolster positive relationships between our school and our parents.


Quality Improvement


This report summarises the strengths of our school, our recent improvements and what needs to improve further.  We gather this information throughout the year in a variety of ways so we can make sure our report is as accurate as possible.  We take time to compare what we do with national examples of best practice.  We visit each others’ classes to share standards in learning and teaching.  We look at children and young people’s work to see how they are progressing. 

We cross mark work.  We make use of data and information including attainment results, responding and adapting our teaching in line with children’s needs.  We assess using our own expertise, standardised testing, cross marking and results tracking.  Children peer assess and self assess.  We gather the views of children, parents, staff from our own and other schools, and partners in the local community and beyond.  We use all of this information to arrive at our view of the quality of education we provide and our priorities for future development in the coming year and beyond.

We have evaluated our work using the Quality Indicators (QIs) in Education Scotland’s self-evaluation toolkit document, How Good is Our School? (4th Edition).  Year by year we will address different QIs from this document.


QI 1.1 Self-evaluation for self-improvement

Overall comment


•The use of Pupil Focus Groups for particular topics has allowed us to tailor our approach to the benefit of the pupils.

•The Key Adult programme has allowed staff and individual pupils to work together to develop unique learning strategies.

•There is an annual period set aside for staff professional reading in the school calendar, in addition to that already regularly undertaken by staff.

•The Guidance team know their pupils very well and hold Options Meetings with them to discuss learning ambitions.

•After the prelims the SMT interview every Senior Phase pupil to analyse individual results together and to formulate pupil study plans to address any identified learning needs.

•The Faculty/Peer to Peer Staff Learning Visits support Learning and Teaching.

•Professional dialogue is an intrinsic part of our school culture: Staff Meetings and PT Meetings are collaborative in nature; more informal professional dialogue between staff members happens on a regular basis.

•Pupils complete self-evaluation forms in a large number of subjects. This raises actions for the pupils & their next steps plus it also identifies teachers’ next steps.

•After each Parents’ meeting, evaluations on school performance  are submitted by parents.

•Parental engagement is sought; in 2017 we held a Parental Engagement event facilitated by Tree of Knowledge – findings from this have informed whole school planning (the creation of a Facebook page to improve communication; strategies are currently being discussed to improve parental involvement with homework).

•We collaborate with a number of outside agencies to enhance the learning provision for our pupils (such as Eden Court Theatre staff to produce our annual show; this improves pupil confidence and health and wellbeing).

•The school Staff Working Groups are collaborative in approach and are designed to target areas identified as priorities for development; some, such as Health and Wellbeing seek pupil feedback after running events and use this to inform future plans.

•Senior Management Team (SMT) engage in results analysis with link departments at the start of each new academic year.

•Insight data (nationally produced examination results) is analysed at whole school, Principal Teacher (PT) and departmental level and any trends identified are subsequently tackled.

•Broad General Education (BGE) Tracking and Monitoring of S1 to S3 pupils is regular and analysed at SMT, PT and class level.

•SMT Learning Visits (this year involved S2 and S3) are held in a condensed window: a report highlighting good practice is subsequently written and shared with staff.

• An evaluation of the ASN department by class teachers and a thorough self-evaluation exercise has been carried out by the ASN department.  These  have been analysed to further develop good practice







QI 1.3 Leadership of improvement

Overall comment



• Distributive leadership is a corner stone of change at GUHS and can be found at all stages of school improvement. Our four working groups are very well led and focused on Health and Wellbeing, Learning and Teaching, Closing the Attainment Gap and Tracking and Monitoring.

• Each week there is a short staff meeting, twice a term there are more extensive Faculty Leader and Staff meetings and throughout the term regular Faculty meetings are held. Working Groups also hold regular meetings throughout the year. These meetings allow for extensive consultation and collaboration and are the main drivers of school improvement.

 • This session a number of professional dialogue meetings were organised around sharing good classroom practice.

• School staff hold regular meetings with partners. These meetings support and inform school improvements.

• Staff regularly lead on school Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events.

• New processes have been introduced with regards to supporting pupil needs that facilitate discussion between colleagues in each faculty and with the ASN department

• Formalised planning procedures for collaborative working between class teachers and ASN staff have been successfully trialled this year

• The school building has been colour coded through maps, signage and timetables to make it inclusive and welcoming to all

• Pupil and Pupil Support Assisstants (PSAs) evaluation system has been created with regards to Additional Assessment Arrangements and shared with class teachers, who have used this to evaluate and adapt provision for pupils with ASN.

• Joint evaluation of transition between GUHS and associated primary schools carried out with action points identified for next session





QI 2.3 Learning, teaching and assessment

Overall comment


• The main theme the Learning and Teaching (L&T) Working Group focused on this session was “Pupil Feedback”.

• During previous sessions the L&T group provided staff CPD session on Learning Intentions and Success Criteria and also on Differentiation.

• All L & T working group members met 6 times to put content of CPD session together and make up questions and activities.

• All group members spent some time individually, researching, completing own use of marking template.

• L & T group supplied staff with a CPD session and handouts to be used individually and as discussion points for departmental meetings.

• Senior Management visited S2 and S3 classes over a two day period this year and focused on Pupil Engagement and Pupil/Teacher Interaction. It was clear from what was witnessed that staff CPD, whether provided Nationally, Locally or In-house had contributed to a reflective and committed staff providing very strong learning opportunities for our young people. A significant proportion of the lessons visited had clear learning intentions, were active, differentiated, challenging and underpinned by excellent relationships between staff and students. 

• Faculty orientated staff visits have also led to strengthening classroom practice and ensures a consistent ethos.

• The quality of teaching and learning is high; a variety of approaches are employed in the majority of lessons.

•Staff use an excel database to track the Significant Aspects of Learning (SALs) for each curricular/subject area in S1 to S3. This database is not only used by teaching staff but by Pupil Support, SMT and Key Adults. This data will help to inform and support pupils within the ‘Closing the Attainment Gap’ agenda.

• A Senior Phase Tracking and Monitoring system is used for pupils from S4 to S6. All staff utilise this database to support learning conversations with pupils throughout the session.

• Use of community library to improve Literacy in the BGE.

• We share pupil success, in school and outside achievements, at assemblies, ceremonies and newsletters, thus nurturing a culture of success.

• Pupils help run extra-curricular activities and give up their own time to support whole school events, thus they contribute effectively to the life of the school.

• Pupil Focus Groups seek feedback and act upon it.

• Achievement opportunities expanded through Achievement Awards (Bronze), ASDAN awards etc


QI2.2 Curriculum

Overall comment



•The curriculum currently provides limited opportunity for cross-curricular learning which we intend to expand on next session. Currently we provide an Expressive Arts Interdisciplinary learning (IDL) which this session included pupils exploring the life and culture of other countries. As part of this programme pupils have taken part in BBC Tenpieces project and their work was published.

•Partners enhance the curriculum we provide and this session Eden Court Creative offered our S1 and S2 classes weekly drama lessons. Great Glen Consulting, sponsored by local company Cobbs, provided our S3 pupils with a “Week of Work” and during this same week over thirty of our partners presented at our annual Careers Fair.

•During study leave our S3 pupils, who work on the ASDAN short course “Careers and Experiencing Work”, all have a week of Work Experience which is directed at their current thoughts and interests.

•The curriculum is constantly evolving as a result of National and Local priorities. Working with local partners we offer three “Skills for Work” courses, and a number of our pupils attend courses at the UHI to enhance and allow for flexibility for our Learners Pathways.

•This session we delivered the Youth Philanthropy Initiative for the second time and we plan to formulise this opportunity by embedding it into the curriculum.

• Annually school staff, in partnership with Eden Court Creative, produce a school show. This year’s outstanding production was “GuysNDolls”.  Performed over three nights a significant number of pupils participated in the show as both cast and crew.

• Supported by the music and art departments, pupils are provided with opportunities to showcase the work they have done in class, to the community, at Christmas and Summer shows and the Senior Citizens lunch.

•A significant number of pupils this session, supported by teaching staff, completed their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Awards.

•One of our partners, The Abriachan Forest Trust, offers all of our S1 pupils the opportunity to undertake The John Muir Award to Discovery or even Explorer level.

•An alternative curriculum choice for some pupils is he ASDAN Personal Development Award which is offered at Bronze and Silver level.

• Some of our Senior Pupils achieved the National 2 Personal Development Bronze Award that was developed this year.

•Pupils were given the opportunity to provide material for a BBC composition entitled “Home”.

•Our young people are frequently given opportunities to develop skills and build confidence in public speaking throughout the curriculum. A significant number of our young people have been given competitive opportunities to present and debate at external venues with large audiences.

•A number of pupils continued with the Authority’s programme “Bridge to Employment”. Bridge to Employment is a business-education partnership model which has been delivered in our area by SSE.



QI 3.1 Ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion

Overall comment



• The Health and Wellbeing Working Group met nine times as a group this year.

• They organised two Health and Wellbeing (HWB) days under the headings “Achieving and Nurtured”.

• In November, the S4 to S6 HWB day took place in the school.  The normal timetable was suspended and S6 pupils led five workshops looking at various approaches to revision.  We then had a talk about good nutrition and eating when revising.  In the afternoon there were five sessions giving pupils the chance to experience different approaches to relaxation and nurture.

• In May, the S1 to S3 HWB day took place in the school.  Again the timetable was suspended and a variety of people, linked to the school, led sessions where they shared some of the things they enjoy doing to relax.  We had an ICT based session and a session on assertiveness led by the RAF.

• Over three years the HWB Working group have developed six HWB days that can be used in the coming years. Each year two themes have been taken - Healthy & Included (2014-15), Safe & Responsible (2015-16), Achieving & Nurtured (2016-17)

• Each year in May the usual timetable is suspended and our S1 to S3 pupils take part in Activities Week. This involves pupils taking part in a wide range of activities with some pupils opting to spend a week at an outdoor education centre. Every alternate year, during Activities Week, pupils can attend the Water-sports Trip in Northern Spain.

•Positive relationships are fostered across the school community through enhanced Transition Activities: primary pupils have visited GUHS using the facilities and taught by secondary teachers throughout the year; Depute Head Teacher of GUHS visited P7s of Balnain and Cannich for a Question & Answer opportunity before Transition Week.  Individualised Enhanced Transition Programmes have also been carried out and a handbook created.

•S4 pupils established a peer mentoring group called G.U.L.F. (Glen Urquhart League of Friendship) to act as voluntary supporters for S1-2 pupils.

• Staff and pupil fitness club has been successfully started by a member of staff this year.

• Diabetes and Epilepsy training has been delivered to the ASN department