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Elgin Academy graded as “weak” after Education Scotland inspection as Moray Council drafts “action plan”

By Ewan Malcolm

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ELGIN Academy has been tasked with making several improvements following an inspection of the school in April.

Elgin Academy. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Elgin Academy. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Inspectors graded the school as “weak” for both the quality of its learning, teaching and assessment as well as its ability to raise attainment and achievement.

An evaluation of “weak”, according to Education Scotland’s six-point scale, means important weaknesses that have the potential to adversely affect students’ learning and experiences have been identified. It implies the need for “prompt” action to be taken by the school.

The report, published today (June 18), also highlighted “significant staffing challenges” currently facing the school with both permanent and temporary vacancies in departments such as Mathematics and English.

Vivienne Cross, Moray Council’s Chief Education Officer, says that an “action plan” has already been drafted to address the areas marked for improvement at the school.

She added that making these improvements will be a clear focus for the year ahead under the leadership of a new headteacher after former headteacher Kyle Scott left to take up a position at Kemnay Academy in March.

The school is currently being overseen by an acting headteacher, who took up the post shortly before the inspection, with the support of four depute headteachers, one of whom in an acting capacity.

Vivienne Cross.
Vivienne Cross.

Ms Cross said: “The school is making improvements post-inspection to enhance the learning environment.

“They’ve introduced a new learning and teaching policy and are prioritising staff training to address inspection findings.”

Inspectors say that school staff should aim to ensure tasks are set at the right difficulty for students and that teachers improve their understanding and delivery of high quality learning, teaching and assessment.

Those areas for improvement were identified after inspectors found that students at the school were expected to carry out “low level” tasks too often and that they became passive in their learning as a result.

The report reads: “In most lessons, students aren’t challenged enough.

“Staff should ensure a more consistent culture of high aspiration across the school.”

Students were found to engage in low-level and persistent disruption in a few classes which inspectors say was as a result of students becoming “disengaged” with their lessons.

The report added, however, that in most cases teachers were clear with their instructions and explanations and that they sought to keep students engaged by asking questions regularly.

Kyle Scott at Elgin Academy on his last day at the school in March. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Kyle Scott at Elgin Academy on his last day at the school in March. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Shortcomings in student feedback, approaches to assessment and effectiveness in using digital platforms to support learning were also identified.

Inspectors also examined a sample of safeguarding documentation and areas for development have been agreed with the school and the education authority that need to be addressed as a “matter of urgency”. No further details on that are given in the report.

The school has also been tasked with raising attainment for all young people with a focus on numeracy across the school.

While inspectors found that there was a “declining pattern” of achievement regarding literacy for school leavers, they also found that a “notable proportion” of students left Elgin Academy with no numeracy qualification in 2022/23.

The report outlined how overall attainment in National 5 Mathematics at Elgin Academy is significantly lower than the national average.

Meanwhile, students achieving A and B grades at National 5 English were also found to be significantly below the national average. However, the overall pass rate was in line with the national average.

Inspectors say that the school needs to focus on improving the quality of passes.

The school has also been encouraged to review the curriculum for students in S4 and S6 to assess how well new courses meet their needs.

Two key strengths were also identified during the inspection.

It was noted that students were polite and they benefit from a calm learning environment. The report adds that students are proud of the school and are welcoming to visitors.

The wide variety of clubs and activities on offer at lunchtimes and after school was also praised.

Despite these positives being identified, inspectors have concluded that Elgin Academy needs additional support and time to make necessary improvements.

That will mean inspectors will return to the school for a further inspection within 12 months to assess whether progress has been made.

Parents and carers will be notified of the results of this inspection.

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