BY Amanda Connelly | April 27 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Catholic schools among the best in the country in literacy and creativity

A Catholic headteacher has been shortlisted for a lifetime achievement prize, as the value of Catholic schools across the country was recognised by Scotland’s annual education awards.

Margaret Convery, headteacher at St James’ Primary School in Renfrew, described the ‘wonderful surprise’ she received after learning she had made the final three for Education Scotland’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I was nominated by members of my staff; members of my senior management put my name forward—probably with details of my career and the sort of things I’ve done in my career,” she told the SCO. “Then I found out quite recently that I had got onto the shortlist of three.

“It was a wonderful surprise. I was very humbled and very appreciative of the fact that members of my staff and my management team valued me enough to take the time to do that.”

Ms Convery has been teaching in Catholic schools since 1979, with 25 years of her career being as a headteacher in Catholic schools in Renfrewshire.

It proved to be a double celebration for St James’ Primary, as the school was also shortlisted for the Raising ­Attainment in Literacy Award.

“We’ve been working really hard across the school,” Ms Convery said. “All my staff and my depute headteachers and my principal teachers have worked really hard over the past two to three years to introduce new approaches and strategies to improve the attainment of children’s reading.

“We feel that we’ve done that very successfully. We’re a very big and very dynamic school, and so we’re really proud that Education Scotland agrees with us that we are again shortlisted to the top three in Scotland for the award.”

She also spoke of the opportunities that raising attainment in literacy offers for pupils later in life.

“It’s absolutely important to raise attainment across the curriculum and literacy is definitely the way into all areas of the curriculum for all children. We’re a very big, diverse school and we feel that if children are good at reading and are able to access it, then it opens doors for them for future forever.”

The Education Scotland Awards final will be held on June 6, with the delighted headteacher adding that she is looking forward to the ceremony. “I’m feeling very humbled by it, but very proud of the school as well,” she said.

Trinity High School in Rutherglen have also been named as finalists for the Raising Attainment in Literacy award, which marks the third year the school have been shortlisted for the prestigious accolade.

Trinity High headteacher Peter Bollen said he was ‘delighted with the news’ and ‘very grateful’ that the staff and pupils have been recognised for all their hard work.

“We are very grateful that we have been recognised for the many activities we have been engaged in to promote literacy,” he said. “Being nominated for this award is very reassuring, as it reflects the hard work of so many staff to promote literacy.

“It also validates our decision to develop a team approach to raising literacy through our reading project.

“Many people have contacted us regarding the ‘Whole School Novel’ and to check on the difference it is making in terms of reading and literacy among our pupils, our families and the wider community.”

Making the finals comes hard on the heels of winning a Nurture Charter Mark, and being the first denominational school in Scotland to gain Champions for Change status, with the Raising Attainment in Literacy nomination seeing them fly the flag for their school, wider community, and local authority.

Glasgow’s St Albert’s Primary also made a fantastic return to the list of finalists.

The school was also one of the three Catholic schools finalists, and are nominated in the Employability and Creativity Across Learning Award, which is sponsored by the SQA. St Albert’s were nominated and won the award two years ago.

“We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted,” headteacher Clare Harker said. “Everything that we do in the school has a creative approach, because our profile is quite unusual.”

Mrs Harker spoke of the school’s unique demographic as Catholic school with a school population where 98 per cent of its pupils are non-Catholic.

The school therefore ‘have to have a creative approach to how we find a common dialogue,’ Mrs Harker said.

She also noted that the school have various partnerships with different arts organisations, including ones for dance, music, animation, digital literacy, and that they try to open up different experiences for the children outside of the Pollokshields area.


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