Record-breaking year for East Ren schools

Education convener Councillor Elaine Green.
Education convener Councillor Elaine Green.

East Renfrewshire has retained and possibly even enhanced its stellar reputation for academic excellence with yet another “gold star” annual report card.

Councillors have been handed another résumé stocked with superlative achievements clocked up over the past year, of which the stand-out successes include having seen the highest proportion in Scotland (63 per cent) of school leavers heading to further education.

At a time when the possibility of schools being taken out of council control is under serious discussion as a future strategy option the yearly standards and quality report may be seen as yet another piece of overwhelming evidence that East Ren’s education department would be a very hard act for any alternative regime to follow.

The headline statistic that almost two thirds of local school leavers head for further education is put in proper context by the national average figure of just 38 per cent.

On current form this means an East Ren school leaver is almost twice as likely to proceed to college or university as the average young Scot in other areas.

It isn’t all about exams, but in this bread-and-butter aspect of scholastic endeavour East Ren shone very brightly indeed, with just over three quarters of young people in S4 gaining five or more qualifications at SCQF Level 5 (National 5) in 2016.

This was the area’s highest ever result, and is up almost 16 per cent over the figure for 2011.

Education convener Councillor Elaine Green said: “It is extremely pleasing to see another year where excellent progress has been made.

“We are proud of the quality of education in East Renfrewshire, but are not complacent and strive to constantly improve. Our family-centred approach to learning has been praised and we continue to work hard to close the attainment gap.

“This was highlighted by the superb performance of our young people in their exam results across all schools and our latest leaver destination results. Our focus remains on ensuring we raise the bar for all.”

The litany of success continues, with three quarters of young children on entry to primary school achieving the expected developmental milestones.

East Renfrewshire is also proud to have been the first local authority in Scotland to have all of its secondary schools awarded an Eco-Schools Green Flag.

Another area of endeavour where huge investment in resources has paid off is music, and it’s arguably no surprise to discover that no less than 350 East Ren young musicians competed at the 2016 Glasgow Music Festival.

Apart from the lurking threat of some future shakeup seeking to wrest control of this winning formula from the people who have proved beyond doubt they know what they are doing the area’s only real schools-related problem is familiar, contentious, and in some ways intractable.

It is the flattering but eternally challenging fact that more people want to go to East Renfrewshire schools than can be accommodated without continual expansion of facilities.

The numbers issue guarantees a steady flow of in-comer residents eager to acquire placements, and forces the council to make tough judgements between a willingness to satisfy demand and a need to manage carefully its finite resources.