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The identification of effective secondary schools in challenging circumstances

Primary children sitting
Published: February 2015

Aim

This report describes the findings from a project which aimed to identify publicly funded schools which have been achieving excellence despite the disadvantaged circumstances of many of their pupils.

The project was commissioned by Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Findings

Key findings include:

  • Schools with higher absence rates tended to have lower attainment levels.
  • Associations were also found between attainment and
    • the levels of deprivation in the areas served by the school;
    • the proportion of pupils registered for free school meals and attainment.
  • Twenty-four publicly funded secondary schools serving deprived neighbourhoods were identified as performing better than predicted.

Methods

The study uses administrative data on school attainment, attendance and absence, and measures of disadvantage. It was conducted in two phases: phase one involved reviewing the available data and their suitability for this project; phase two involved analysis of the identified data. A further stage to the project would involve conducting follow-up work in the 3 schools identified in this analysis, to ascertain and understand factors which allow high achievement in difficult circumstances.

Read the full report