Bellshill Academy hailed by Education Minister

Mike Russell MSP on visit to Bellshill Academy
Mike Russell MSP on visit to Bellshill Academy

Bellshill Academy has been hailed as an inspiration by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell, following his recent visit to the school.

The Academy was selected by the Scottish Government to be one of six Pathfinder schools in October which focuses on S5 pupils who are sitting a single Higher.

This group was chosen in the belief that having them aim for more than one Higher could raise aspirations and improve their life chances.

Mr Russell said: “I was hugely impressed by the teachers, the young people and the parents I met at Bellshill Academy and inspired by hearing about the real difference this approach has made to the attainment and ambition of those involved in a short space of time.”

The school was chosen for Pathfinder because of the positive impact it’s having on the lives of its young people, but it wasn’t always this way and was heavily criticised in the past by HMIe.

However, under the leadership of head teacher Anne Munro the Academy has seen significant advances in attainment, achievement and attendance over the past four years.

She said: “I am incredibly proud of everyone who has contributed to the success of the project.

“Our staff, pupils and parents are all dedicated to ensuring that Bellshill Academy continues to raise standards and offers all of our young people the opportunity to achieve their full potential.”

Learning and Leisure Services executive director Andrew Sutherland said: “Pathfinder’s impact on the pupils has been exceptional.

“Not only has pupil attainment improved but the group involved have grown in terms of confidence and self-esteem and have raised aspirations for their future careers.”

As part of the Pathfinder programme emphasis is also placed on parents taking an active interest in their children’s education.

They have taken part in study skills workshops that provided them with guidance on how to support their children’s studies.

A study skills booklet was also developed and this was distributed to parents.

Katie Jamieson (16), whose father David is one of the many parents to get involved, said: “The project lets me and my parents know how I am doing in school and how they can assist me if necessary.

“It is also improving my focus in class, which means better grades and getting closer to achieving my dream of becoming a paramedic.”

The other Pathfinder schools are St Ambrose High and St Bartholomew’s Primary in Coatbridge, Trinity High in Rutherglen, and Broughton High and Wester Hailes Education Centre in Edinburgh.