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Revealed: Schools in deprived areas the real winners in league tables

Mar 24, 2019 by

Exam league tables celebrate high achieving schools. But Sandra Dick looks at schools in high deprivation areas may be the real success stories.

The rural landscape surrounding Doon Academy in Dalmellington is one of ­scattered cottages, gently sloping hills and seemingly random clumps of woodland.

Doon Academy from south

Rural and hard-working, it’s an area rooted in getting hands dirty at the plough or at the pit. In years gone by, the East Ayrshire community thrived thanks to weaving and mining; its woollen mills sent yarn to Kilmarnock’s carpet manufacturers, its long-gone coal helped turn the wheels of industry.

Just over 50 miles separate the school and Glasgow’s affluent west end. It takes around an hour-and-a-half by car to get there.

And yet, says its headteacher Kenneth Reilly, many of Doon Academy’s 300 pupils have rarely visited Ayr, never mind ventured into the city. “We’re are probably as far away from Jordanhill as you can get,” he says.

A quick glance at this week’s annual school exam league tables might suggest that is the case. At Glasgow’s grant-aided Jordanhill School – the only state-funded secondary in Scotland not in council control – some 83% of pupils achieved five Highers or more, a slight rise on the previous year’s performance.

By comparison, Doon Academy appears to limp along with 26% of pupils achieving the “gold standard” of five or more Highers.

At face value, that could look like a mammoth gap. Yet Jordanhill has a zero ranking on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) – in other words, it has no pupils from deprived backgrounds – while the other registers at 74%.

continue: Revealed: Schools in deprived areas the real winners in league tables | HeraldScotland

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