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Badenoch primary school praised for great educational strides made during the Covid pandemic

By Gavin Musgrove

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Kingussie Primary School and nursery
Kingussie Primary School and nursery

A Badenoch primary school has won glowing praise for the support it has provided for its pupils during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Education inspectors recently carried out a follow-up visit to Kingussie Primary School and nursery class after identifying numerous concerns in a previous visit and said great strides had been achieved in the challenging circumstances.

They were particularly pleased with the impact made by the headteacher Patricia Johnston who arrived just a short time before the pandemic took hold despite the obvious challenges it has created.

Ms Johnston told the Strathy the progress had been a team effort.

“I am full of praise for all staff members for their hard work and dedication in progressing these improvements especially at what has been a challenging time throughout a pandemic," she said.

“This outcome is a wonderful achievement for the whole school community – staff, pupils and parents alike.”

HM Inspector Sadie Cushley stated in the findings: "The new headteacher took up post in November 2020. A particular challenge for the headteacher was getting to know the community and children during the pandemic.

"Covid-19 has had, and is continuing to have, significant impact on the school and the community. Many children live in a rural community and experience connectivity problems which staff tried hard to address during periods of remote learning.

"During periods of remote learning, staff took positive steps to provide children with materials and digital resources to support their learning. They provided recorded lessons and live check-ins for children.

"Staff made good efforts to maintain communication with parents. Effective use was made of the local hub to meet the needs of children and families.

"Staff have identified gaps in learning within literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing now children are back in school buildings and they have made a good start in addressing these.

"Staff should now build on this good start to ensure children make good progress and continue to improve attainment.

"The headteacher and staff have ensured an appropriate focus on identifying wellbeing needs and improving how they address these through developing nurturing classrooms."

On Ms Johnston's influence, the inspectors stated: "The new headteacher provides strong leadership to the work of the school.

"She has quickly established positive relationships with staff, children and their families since her appointment.

"She has made good progress in improving the school despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

"In the last year, she has provided much needed structure and support for staff in their work. This is leading to improvements in learning and teaching, attainment and how the school meets children’s needs.

"Staff have engaged well with training provided to improve children’s learning experiences.

"They now provide many opportunities for children to use digital technology to enhance their learning. Across the school children are now more involved in deciding what they want to learn and now have more opportunities to lead their learning.

"As a result, they are now more active in their learning."

The inspectors said great strides had also been made when it comes to learning for children with special support needs.

The report stated: "Staff identify appropriate supports needed for individuals and closely monitor these to ensure children are making progress in their learning. The teacher with responsibility for support for learning has improved the approaches to meeting children’s needs across the school.

"She has developed and improved the record keeping and planning for children with additional support needs. There are now clearer records of children’s targets to improve their learning.

"As a result, children with additional support needs are beginning to make better progress in their learning. Staff have worked well together to develop children’s skills in self-regulating their own behaviour.

"Across the school children are now well-behaved and engaged in their learning."

Education inspectors said staff have now addressed the recommendations from the original inspection successfully and no more visits to the school in connection with this are required.

Both reports can be read at https://education.gov.scot/

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