May 2 2012 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Wednesday
INSPECTORS from Education Scotland have reported on a visit to Queen Victoria School in Dunblane.
The school holds a unique position in Scotland, with a particular brief from the Ministry of Defence for the children of families where parents are serving in the armed forces.
The inspectors said: “The school has in place effective arrangements to ensure all young people enjoy their experiences and achieve well.
“It fulfills its key aim very well of: ‘offering stability and continuity of valued Scottish education to the children of serving military personnel who are Scottish or who have served in Scotland’.
“On entry to the school, young people come with a very diverse range of educational experiences, including, for some, attendance at a number of schools and in different countries.
“The school’s introductory and settling in processes are very well organised. The primary department brings more consistency of curriculum experience and achievement levels to each new P7, before the year group moves on to the senior school. As a result young people feel they move forward with more confidence into S1.
“During the visit, young people across the school expressed their enjoyment in attending QVS.
“Overall the school provides a broad curriculum at most stages, which incorporates sporting, ceremonial and combined cadet force (CCF) elements, in line with the ethos of the school. The addition of home economics and drama would enhance the breadth of experiences offered further.
“The extended curriculum programme of activities is an important aspect of young people’s school life. The strong ceremonial element of QVS is a very specific feature of the school and of significance and pride for the school, young people and their families.
“The impact of the extensive commitment by the school in developing all students’ skills in ceremonial duties is very clearly demonstrated through the high level of performance in major events. These include the pipe and drum bands invited to perform at the Edinburgh and Basel Tattoos, and all students taking part in grand and parade days in the school.
“The school has sound procedures to offer both pastoral and academic support to their students. The systems for tutor, house staff and departmental support are well coordinated to enable staff to know young people very well.
“Young people are very positive about the high levels of care and the extent of interest taken in them by house staff. Young people are mutually supportive of each other and older students are aware of potential issues of concern faced by boarders and help to look after those who are younger.
“The senior management team are now well placed to engage and challenge staff further in detailed analyses of individual and departmental impact on improving outcomes for all young people.
“In a few departments, staff have introduced and are developing very positive approaches to tracking young people’s progress. Staff have begun to involve young people more in evaluating their own learning such as in peer assessment in P7 and in critical analysis by senior art students. Staff should build on all such positive practice across the school and engage young people more fully in planning, setting targets and assessing and improving their own learning.”
The inspectors discussed and agreed with staff those areas on which they might focus in continuing to improve the school.
These included: ensure consistency of high quality learning experiences across the school; implement and make effective use of tracking systems for young people’s achievement and attainment from P7 to S6; and involve young people more in sharing responsibilities for planning, setting targets and evaluating their own learning.”
The inspectors added: “We are confident that the school can improve its arrangements and procedures for ensuring continued improvement in the quality of education provided.
“We will make no further visits at this time. The headteacher and board of governors will inform parents about the school’s progress as part of their arrangements for reporting to parents on the quality of its school. Our link inspector will maintain contact with the school to support improvements.”