It’s been a year of significant challenge but Borders schools are ready for the Curriculum for Excellence

a SLIGHT dip in the exam performance of S4 pupils in the Borders is being watched carefully by Scottish Borders Council’s education department to ensure that “a slight dip in performance does not become a trend”.

In the annual overview of the 2010-11 school year, SBC’s director of education, Glenn Rodger said: “This last year has been a particularly demanding one for our schools in that there has been a strong focus on developing Curriculum for Excellence while at the same time ensuring that those pupils sitting exams under the ‘old system’ achieve their full potential.

“I am particularly pleased therefore to report that our schools have at least maintained and in some cases surpassed their existing high standards in nearly all areas. We continue to operate above both national and comparator authority levels.

“However, as always there are areas where we can improve and we will continue to strive to do so. S4 performance is worthy of closer scrutiny to ensure that a slight dip in performance does not become a trend. This will be done school by school, subject by subject, with school improvement plans being developed where necessary to deliver improvement.”

There has been much debate nationally about the introduction in Scottish schools of the Curriculum for Excellence, with some schools asking that its introduction be delayed, but Mr Rodger reported that here in the Borders all schools are on schedule to implement it fully within the timescale set by the Scottish Government.

Acknowledging that it has been a year of significant challenge, the council’s executive members for education Councillor George Turnbull and Councillor Graham Garvie said: “Once again it is pleasing to record that attainment in our secondary schools continues to show an upward trend.”

“A substantive part of this year’s report has been devoted to reporting progress and future plans around Curriculum for Excellence in our schools. We are pleased to acknowledge the excellent progress being made across all our schools and learning communities while acknowledging the challenging agenda still ahead of us in the next few years. In this respect we pay particular thanks to all our staff in schools for their professional approach and contribution to managing this major change in the way schools deliver their curriculum.”

Of the 1266 eligible schools leavers in 2010-11 just under 89 per cent either went on to higher education or work and a total of 5.6 per cent were unemployed.

Youth unemployment is high on all political agendas at the moment and here in the Borders there have been a number of programmes developed to help those school leavers identified as vulnerable. Over 280 took part in vocation partnership programmes with Borders College; and the council’s community and learning department has taken a lead role in working with partners, to establish activity agreements for these vulnerable young people.