Kirkland High School and Community College is on an exciting path that will improve the life chances of pupils and students.
That was the message from headteacher Ronnie Ross at last week’s annual awards ceremony.
Mr Ross’s address focused primarily on the Curriculum for Excellence and Kirkland’s aim of delivering an education fit for the 21st century and one that gives young people a rich learning experience.
While education was in a period of change, which brought with it anxieties and tensions, he pointed out change itself was a learning experience – and that was what Kirkland was about.
But he stressed it was important to remember what Kirkland was – a School of Ambition, a Rights Respecting School, a National School of Football and a Centre for Excellence with its Levenmouth Piping and Drumming Academy.
“CfE (Curriculum for Excellence) is about the future and what young people will be expected to know and do in the future,” said Mr Ross.
“It is about improving outcomes for our learners and closing the gap.
“Our education system has to deal with social inequality and economic inequality. This has often been a common theme in our annual award ceremonies.
“At the current time in spite of all our efforts at national and a more local level, inequalities continue to grow. We believe that this is a situation which we, as a society, cannot allow to continue.”
He said the education system had to be self-improving and the staff at Kirkland recognised the need for cultural change.
The types of skills required for employment had changed dramatically, hence the demand to ensure young people were being educated in a way which enabled them to be confident, flexible, resilient, adaptable and motivated.
The aspiration was to creat life-long learners.
“The Scottish Government demands that young people and learners get the very best out of their education. No-one can argue with that,” added Mr Ross.
“At Kirkland we believe effective and positive change can only occur in schools and colleges if there are real and genuine changes to learning and teaching.
In short, what matters is what goes on in the classroom period by period, day by day and week by week.”
Mr Ross added that the most important aspect was the entitlement of learners to a broad general education.
That was a principle that had been a major strength of the Scottish system.
“To this end we are determined to avoid specialisation at any early stage,” he added.
“For us it is clear, course choice in S2 is unlikely to allow young people to enjoy the broad general education. The S3 curriculum must not close off options for the choice of qualifications in the senior phase.
“From the outset we have said at Kirkland specialisation will only come at the end of S3.
“CfE is about changes in learning and teaching and the tools we use to support effective learning and teaching, it is not about doing more of the same in a slightly different way.
“At Kirkland High School and Community College young people will be enjoying the full broad general education up to the end of S3. This is their entitlement.”
Plans for the senior phase were well advanced and would have a strong enterprise, employability and vocational input for all learners. These opportunities would continue to be delivered through Kirkland’s well developed partnerships.
“Closing the gap in educational outcomes for young people remains our primary objective,” he continued.
“I would want us to take seriously what was said in the Quality and Equity of Schooling Report – ‘In Scotland, who you are is far more important than what school you attend’.
“This report challenges us all to do more to reduce the inequalities in our society. This is no easy task but one which we at Kirkland do not shy away from but we recognise that we cannot do this alone.”
The school and college both played critical roles in improving the life chances of pupils and students and closing the gap between the highest achievers and lowest achievers by engaging more effectively with parents and carers. Such involvement in a child’s education had a causal influence on his or her readiness and subsequent achievement.
Mr Ross continued: “By embedding the Curriculum for Excellence we will provide young people and students with the tools they need, the high level of skills they will require and the resilience to thrive in a modern, ever-changing world.
“To ‘square the circle’ we will work hard continuing to involve parents and carers in the life and work of the school, engaging parents in their children’s learning and aligning school and home expectations.
Mr Ross concluded his address by thanking all those who had given their support to Kirkland over the past year, adding: “We are told that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I can confidently say that there are no weak links here in Kirkland and that should be reassuring for us all as we move forward on our journey to excellence together.”