Levenmouth Academy will prevail, despite the challenges it faced and also the negative focus which unfairly accompanied the discussing of incidents at the school in its early days.
However, despite well-publicised disorder and violent occurrences at the school during its opening few months, boss Ronnie Ross said it was “genuinely a pleasure and a privilege” to be head teacher there.
While much of Levenmouth’s population was out casting its votes in Thursday’s General Election, Mr Ross addressed the school’s first end-of-term prizegiving ceremony since its £44 million opening last August, spawned by the merger of Kirkland and Buckhaven High Schools.
He said a major responsibility at Levenmouth Academy was ensuring the right environment existed in which to “grow”, with the aim of “collectively learning to achieve our personal best”.
Changing cultures could take time and provide challenges but – collectively and in partnership with learners, staff, parents and carers, and education authorities – the school would respond positively to these challenges, turning them into opportunities for pupils, staff and the wider community alike.
“We will continue to ensure that learning is central to all that we do, inspiring pupil engagement, expecting pupils to take responsibility, monitoring their learning progression robustly and rigorously, providing high quality feedback that enables and facilitates progress, ensuring everyone is valued, included, trusted and working collaboratively,” said Mr Ross.
He said Thursday’s ceremony was an occasion of celebration and joy – but added: “We appear to live in an age where the reality is the successes and achievements, of literally hundreds of young people and staff on a daily basis at Levenmouth Academy, are sometimes overshadowed by the more negative – and what, on the face of it appears, to be more newsworthy – stories about what occasionally goes on in schools and school communities across the country, indeed across the world.
“This deficit model of highlighting what goes wrong in a school is simply not good enough for the young people or their families and the staff who work tirelessly to help them to achieve their personal best,” said Mr Ross.
“The message here is simple – when the news is being harvested and the wheat is being separated from the chaff, don’t just print the chaff!”
He added: “I say this to the doom-mongers – there are challenges ahead but things are improving, will continue to improve, and, collectively, we can and we will make a difference.”
Mr Ross said everyone needed to do more to talk up all that was good, right and proper about what was going on at Levenmouth Academy.
“We must build on our values of trust, respect, responsibility, teamwork and ambition for everyone connected to our school. The quality work done by our teams and the quality of learning taking place is of a high standard.
“The high and demanding expectations make it much harder for those outwith our school to recognise the complexity of the demands made upon our schools in Scotland today. Levenmouth is no exception to this trend.”
Mr Ross said the school was continuing to address these expectations through work with staff, pupils, carers, parents and partners to ensure they were all part of planning and decision-making, where empowerment and distributed leadership were relevant.
“Moreover, our work with our parent / carer community is helping to create the kind of learning environment which will support creativity, ambition and excellence,” said Mr Ross.
“Learners at Levenmouth must feel valued, included and engaged.
“Learning in Levenmouth Academy should be seen as a collaborative experience. We are and will remain committed to achieving equity and excellence for all. To ensure this, we need to be brave in our approaches.”