Case Study 28 Click for the next page!
Kelso High School
Overcoming barriers to participation

This is the first of four Case Studies during the 2001-2002 session. Most of the schools contributing to our Case Studies last year on the theme of 'Increasing Pupil Participation' acknowledged that full positive participation of all pupils was still some way ahead, despite their overall progress and often outstanding achievements. We therefore decided that 'Overcoming Barriers to Participation' would be the theme for this year's Case Studies. The four studies involve two secondary schools, one of which is part of a New Community School partnership, a primary special school and, for the first time, a schools' cluster, comprising a High School, its four feeder primary schools and two nursery schools. This issue features Kelso High School in the Scottish Borders. The school, in common with others, has been taking forward a wide range of developments to improve both their ethos and performance. In the Case Study, they focus primarily on how they are trying to overcome barriers to pupils' participation in their own learning by increasing reward opportunities for effort and achievements across all areas of the school's activities, by making learning and teaching more effective and by reducing low level disruptive behaviour in class.

This Case Study was published by the Scottish Schools Ethos Network.

Kelso High SchoolKelso High School
Bowmont Street
Kelso TD5 7EG
Charlie Robertson - Rector
Anne-Theresa Lawrie - AHT
Tel: 01573 224444
Fax: 01753 227340

Click here to visit the school's website


Kelso High School is one of nine secondary schools in the Scottish Borders. It is a co-educational comprehensive school for pupils ranging from 11 to 18 years old. Pupils come to Kelso High School from the town of Kelso, the villages of Ednam, Eckford, Heiton, Stichill, Smailholm, Morebattle, Roxburgh and Yetholm. The school enjoys close links with its associated primary schools: Broomlands and Edenside in Kelso, Morebattle, Ednam, Sprouston and Yetholm

At the start of session 2001/2002, the school roll was 685. There were 58 teachers employed in the school. In addition, there were 20 support staff made up of administrative staff, janitors, librarian, departmental auxiliaries and technicians.

The school has strong, positive links with its surrounding community which is proud of its local school. It is very well supported by parents and has a School Board and a Parent Teacher Association, both of which work hard to support the school. The Kelso area has lower unemployment levels than some other parts of the Scottish Borders and the High School had good relationships with local employers who also help pay for the Celebration of Achievement Evening (see later).

Evaluating and building up the school ethos

The general perception of the ethos in Kelso High School is that there is a good atmosphere in the school and that pupils are happy to be there. The fact that the staying on rate for S4 to S5 has increased from 62% in 1999 to 81% in 2001 is an indication that this is so. The staying on rate for pupils from S5 to S6 has also increased.

In order to obtain an accurate picture of the ethos in Kelso High School, the key areas of School Ethos and Support for Pupils were audited during session 2000/2001. The main audit tool questionnaires were based on exemplars given in the SEED HM Inspectors' publications. The following groups were surveyed:

  • 150 Pupils (a representative sample)
  • Parents (100 returns)
  • All teaching Staff
  • All support Staff

The responses from the questionnaires were collated and analysed, helping us as a school to recognise our strengths and areas needing development and to focus on issues that we prioritised for further investigation and action. An action plan to address the 30 issues raised by pupils has been prepared and progress towards addressing them will be reported as part of the next Development Plan in March/April 2002. These issues were presented to and discussed with pupils at three assemblies in September 2001. Pupils welcomed the recognition and promise of action that the assemblies gave.

Other factors that we feel contribute already to our ethos are our additional activities and our House System.

Picture A: Girls' football is popular with players showing skill and enthusiasm.
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