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Head Teacher Update 06.11.23

Dear Parent and Carers,

As many of you will be aware, in September 2023 a team of officers and headteachers took part in the Supported Self-Evaluation visit to Forrester High School over a two-day period. The team participated in shared classroom experience visits in the school and Enhanced Support Base, accompanied by a member of the school’s senior leadership team, where possible. They met with all three Depute Head Teachers and Senior Development Officer to discuss specific quality indicators linked to lead responsibility.

Officers met with focus groups from: support staff and partners, parents/carers, curriculum leaders, class teachers and young people from S1-S3 and senior phase S4-6. All Forrester High School class teachers, except one who was absent, were visited during the process.

This was a very worthwhile experience for Forrester to participate in.  It gives us clear direction in our journey of improvement.  A journey, we need your support with!

Please see below the Summary of Findings:


  • The school’s values focus on the motivating statement “Together we respect, believe, achieve’ and the rules for learning: Ready, Respectful, Responsible . These provide a visible consistent reference point and are a source of aspiration for all in Forrester High School.
  • The effective work to improve relationships across the school is helping to establish a calm, secure and safe environment to support more effective learning and teaching with young people who are eager to engage in their learning.
  • The Senior Leadership Team and school staff demonstrate exemplary trauma-informed practice in their support of all young people, staff and the wider community.
  • The Head Teacher and Senior Leadership Team focus appropriately on raising attainment and ensuring positive outcomes for young people. Senior leaders ensure self-evaluation, and the improvement agenda are informed by a strong understanding of the school context, including through the analysis of high-quality data.
  • The recently developed Learning and Teaching Strategy and the ‘Forrester in Action’ overview is beginning to provide a consistent structure to the learning experiences of young people.
  • In most lessons, teachers gave feedback on learning enabling young people to focus on areas for improvement in the task. In the best examples, feedback was provided on an individual basis allowing young people to identify gaps and next steps in their learning.
  • Pupil Equity Funded interventions are beginning to have a positive impact on targeted young people with attainment for the lowest attaining 20% of young people higher than virtual comparator schools.
  • External partnerships such as Street league and RUTS, have been used in a responsive and flexible way to support alternative pathways and curriculum for identified groups and individuals. This has allowed some young people to access qualifications and experiences they were previously disengaged from and has had a positive impact on attendance.
  • A Senior Development Officer (Pupil-Equity Funded) delivers well planned interventions to a targeted group of young people. This has improved the attainment of non-attenders with ten of these young people achieving at least 2 qualifications, with some achieving 4 or more.


Next steps:

  • Senior leaders should take immediate steps to ensure leadership of change is well-paced with appropriate, clear priorities for improvement in which the roles of all stakeholders are clearly understood. This should include a clear and shared understanding of effective leadership at all levels.
  • As a priority, The Senior leadership team should implement robust tracking and monitoring systems to ensure a clear understanding of progress of every learner. This will support staff more effectively to identify and evaluate the interventions which will improve attainment and achievement for all young people.
  • Building on the commitment to improvement, staff should define and agree their expectations of high-quality learning, teaching and assessment to ensure a consistent approach across the school evident through the work started on ‘Forrester in Action’. This should help to ensure an inclusive learning environment which provides flexible pathways to meet the wider range of needs across all young people.
  • The Senior Leadership Team should continue, as planned, to relaunch the school values statement to bring this “to life” in every- day school life.
  • Staff should develop the use of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to support the work on school values as well as work on other opportunities to develop learner participation such as a Pupil Equalities Group.
  • Staff should continue to develop further their confidence in using information about the social context, such as socio-economic factors, to support planning and decision-making to ensure improved positive outcomes for all young people.
  • Teaching staff should ensure the purpose of learning is clear and referred to throughout all lessons, to check learners’ understanding. This should be implemented with immediate effect.
  • Learners should be provided with opportunities to lead their own learning and to co-construct success criteria.
  • Learning experiences should be differentiated to meet the needs of all learners effectively.
  • School staff should provide more opportunities within lessons for collaborative learning to increase learner engagement and participation.
  • Staff should engage further in professional learning focused on the key components of Edinburgh Learns Teachers’ Charter and use the strong examples of practitioner enquiry identified consistently across the school to ensure consistently high-quality learning.
  • Continue to develop the curriculum to create more inclusive and accessible pathways for all young people. There is a need to identify senior pathways for young people accessing the Enhanced Support Base and Wellbeing Hub.
  • Review the presentation policy to ensure all faculties are aspirational in the number of young people being presented for National Qualifications.
  • Review coursing of all young people to ensure they have at least 5 qualifications which are achievable despite barriers to learning, in particular attendance.
  • Track wider achievement opportunities and the impact/added value for each individual young person.

Thanks and best wishes,

Mr Johnstone

Acting Head Teacher