Pupils, parents, staff and guests attended Drummond Community High School's annual Celebration of Achievement and Prize Giving Ceremony on 11 June. Below, we reproduce – undedited and in full – the speech given by headteacher Norma Prentice.
I would like to welcome you all the DCHS Parents and staff and the wider community. It is great to have you here. Tonight though, as in every day the most important people are the students.
This year has been a great year for the school. I know STACS are not the be all and end all but it is great to see we now have a 3 year trend of improvement. Not just academic improvement but also in pupils progressing to a positive sustained destination, increase in attendance and a reduction in exclusions.
I am confident we can continue this trend as we all know we are working towards a culture of ‘can do’. Confidence in our whole school community is improving. Last year in this address, I talked about suppressing ambition with the fleas in a jar analogy. Fleas only jump inches when the lid is on the jar but remove the lid and they can jump for many feet. This lid is certainly off the jar at Drummond and we will continue to keep the lid off the jar. I am confident that there is still capacity for further improvement. Drummond is a student centred school where pupils work collaboratively with their teachers to improve learning.
Students, teachers and the third piece of the triangle, parents, have all worked in partnership to improve the outcomes for our learners. Parent Council members have worked along side staff in training sessions and next year we will see parents in our classrooms and also learning trained coaches.
At this point, I would publicly like to express my appreciation to the Parent Council and in particular to the departing Chair, Fiona Kelly. Over the last 3 years she has been such a support to Drummond, and myself personally, we will miss her. Our Parent Council meetings are not only productive but good fun. Therefore, I put out a plea from our new Chairs, Heather and Diane for more parents to come along. Next years dates will shortly be on our website.
Outside the classroom, pupils experiences have also been positive. Our intergenerational work with Porthaven Care Home received national recognition at the National Youth Link Awards. This is where I took the opportunity of asking Grant Stott to be our guest speaker. Partnership working has also increased. 3rd year students have been mentored by 15 members of staff from PWC, paired readers from RBS have worked with pupils to improve literacy levels. Also, our curriculum has been enhanced with continued support from SNIPEF, support from Morrison Construction and recently from Locanda de Gusti.
We look forward to the next session.
Again our School Improvement Plan focuses on the CALM headings, Curriculum, Achievement, Learning and Teaching and Meeting Learners needs. We have already started our main Drivers to enable each area to move forward. Staff are passionate and are taking vital areas forward. Our drivers are:
1. Learning and Teaching, we know that this is our bread and butter and in every classroom every pupil should receive a very good learning experience.
2. iPads. Next year all of our first year will be given a mini iPad. This has been possible due to prudent financial management. My vision is that in 3 years time all pupils will have their own device. This will transform learning, both in the classroom and at home.
3. The Zone, at any time in their school life, pupils may find learning challenging for a variety of reasons. It is not good enough to put students at the back of a class with work. The Zone will provide an environment where skilled staff support student learning and facilitate the return to classes.
4. Coaching for the last 3 years, staff have been trained as coaches. Most pupils in S2 have already been coached with impressive results. Pupils now ask when am I going to be coached? To increase capacity, we are looking not only to train parents but also train 20 S6 who then can in turn coach S1.
5. Increased personal support through a move to a vertical structure in tutor time. To continue our success we must increase personal support to all students. We have moved towards this with one longer tutor time and moving this from the start of the day. Again, evaluations are positive and late coming has significantly reduced. Students now arrive to learn, the vertical tutor groups will also develop senior pupil leadership. One example of this is that 3 seniors will be selected as digital champions and in one form slot a week they will work with S1 to share good practice on the iPads.
6. The final driver is the Across Learning – numeracy, HWB Literacy and Technologies. This group is now working together to ensure we meaningfully embed these important skills into out curriculum. Already we have changed our suspended timetable and our transition days to ensure that they are not only fun but a meaningful learning experience.
I am really excited about the next session and with the committed passionate staff at Drummond. I am certain next year trends will continue upwards.
I finally just wish to say goodbye to our S6. They have been a great year group. I hope the skills they have learned in their education will equip them for life. Please stay in touch and share your success with us.
I hope they concur with a quote from John Deery:
'Education is not preparation for Life; Education is life itself.'
I am please to welcome our guest speaker Grant Stott [pictured top-right, later with prizewinners]. Grant is known to most of us as a Forth One presenter, but in addition he is an accomplished TV presenter, newspaper columnist, event host and regular panto villain.