Renfrew High School Parent Council Meeting

1st September 2016

 In Attendance:         M Hunter (Chair), B Burke (Head Teacher), W Arbuckle, A Howat, M Timlin, L O’Neill, C Calderwood, C Stewart, P Philps, J Kennedy, C Thomas


Apologies: J Aitken, A Lay


Minutes of previous :

Minutes of previous meet were proposed by Mandy Hunter and seconded by ? as a true reflection of the meeting.


Matters Arising

Flexible Learning Base – noted to be discussed later in meeting.

Recycling – B Burke noted thanks to all parents and young people who contributed to this and said he would tweet something on the school site to recognise this and encourage further items to be circulated especially ties.

Update for Bank – M Timlin passed on a message from Fiona James regarding the fact she was not, nor had been a named person on the account. Mandy Hunter agreed the same, as having spoken to previous chair and will speak to the new treasurer regarding changing of names on account.


Head Teachers Update

Staff Update – B Burke announced the appointment of two permanent Depute Head Teachers and one Principal teacher. He congratulated C Calderwood – DHT and L O’Neill – PT on their successful appointments to posts. He outlined plans to support communication with parents and young people by using photographs of the Senior Management and Staff along with job titles to help introduce members of the staff. He hoped that all outstanding posts and vacancies would be filled by Monday 5th . He noted that they had had appointed a new PT of Health and Well being but he could not share the name at that time. There are no vacancies or absences at present. An Acting DHT has been appointed to help support closing the attainment gap – Paula Kirkwood. Claire McLaughlin (previously Monks) is the new Acting Principla Teacher English/RMPS. New English teacher – a past Renfrew High Pupil – Ross McIntosh. Support staff – A Howat as ASNA.  New Admin Assistant replacing Gordon Elliott is Denise Mc Donald and Full Time clerical Assistant Claire McLay. Also joining the staff are two NQTs doing their probation – Chris Lawrie in PE and Esther Heron in English.

SQA – B Burke outlined headline figures to give a general comparison to other years based on the initial raw results.  The school has increased in key measures in 4th, 5th and 6th years. He will send out summary at a later date when available. Young people in S4 achieving 5+ at level 5 or more is 44%, best year in comparison to previous bests 42% in 2015 and 2014. Not all information available at present but performance level at Level 4 and 3 approximately the same or stronger.

100% of young people in S4 achieved qualifications – the only school in the authority to manage this. Homelink Support / Base and other agencies supported this. Continued intention to maintain this in future years – all current 4th year cohort maintaining mainstream at present.

Renfrew High School sitting at fourth place in Renfrewshire Council in S4 5+ level 5 measure – with three schools achieving better and six lesser – a good comparison and they will strive to stay ahead.

5th Year – strong performance in Higher results with 5 Highers achieved by 15% -increased on previous results. Four schools have done better on measure. Those with 3 or more Highers 35%, prior to this 30% in 2015. Those with one or more Higher 54% – previously 57% in 2014.

School is looking to increase vocational Highers e.g.  photography – fundraising may need to be undertaken to purchase required equipment.  This may allow more children achieve Higher level qualifications in less academic subjects.

6th year- Advanced Higher / Wider Achievements / Saltire Awards – volunteering

Also 3rd year group undertaking achievement qualifications and other young People taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Five 4th Year pupils undertook Higher Music receiving A grades – achieving six National 5’s and One Higher.

6th year in general stronger – more achieved 3 or more or 2 or more qualifications – no % yet but approx. 36%  Not as many getting to advanced Higher Level. Issue with Graphic Communication – Council now linked to the SQA to resolve. Disparity in SQA visits and non visits for verification – has left a disadvantage to the school and has impacted on some young people.

English , Science, Social Studies, and IT and Technology strong subjects. 100 % pass rate in PE ( both skill and academic aspects). 64 out of 140 5th years undertook Higher English- good in comparison to other schools. School will look to address single person department e.g. Drama for recruiting supply. Summary will be given when numbers are finalised. There will be a big focus on giving more choice in 5 columns. Maths and English not compulsory and possible to drop these subjects which may help attainment in 5 Highers improve. Pupils advised to pick their 5 strongest subjects – less restrictive than before.

M Timlin questioned if Maths and Language from HT Report and if this contradicted information from Guidance . C Calderwood responded that children will be advised/supported to achieve at least Nat 4 before exit. B Burke noted that advice is given out at assembly – but that this could be followed up. It would be desirable for young people to achieve level 5 in Maths. W Arbuckle asked how this would work with government recommendation and advice relating to Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Well Being.

Response from B Burke was that not all children are academic – children need to have a base level. Guidance to be given to children to achieve 5 strongest subjects if possible. Higher maths attainment is a national issue. 5 Highers is the benchmark for those aspiring to university – usually 4 Highers at entry point.  3rd of children have 3 Highers plus – a solid achievement – not pushing children for sake of number but most bound for Uni – research shows that those doing less subjects do less well and those doing more are more focussed.

C Stewart asked about Subject Choices . C Calderwood responded – Choices a big issue.- dependant on exact grades etc – renogotiations based on children’s choices and all children interviewed. M Hunter suggested that children should become more aware of possible of changes in fourth year.

B Burke responded that the school looks at the 4th, 5th and 6th years as a journey- need to be clearer with children about their alternatives earlier.  One complaint from parent on this issue.  Pupil results and subsequent changes can effect course running and children’s choices . The process is lengthy and the school are looking at ways to reduce this. C Calderwood has taken on leadership in this programme.

M Timlin asked question re: oversubscribed classes. B Burke explained that the class limit is 30 in S3 onwards. Many reasons for this e.g. some college partnership pupils returned. School may look at an extra set if staff resources available. It is possible if classes oversubscribed then it can go to a ballot. For whatever reason children want to do a class the school always try to look for an alternative – look at other schools etc .

Guidance team have been given as much time off timetable as possible to resolve – a complex system – will attempt to look at how it can be done faster in future.



M Timlin raised question regarding pictures and the apparent mix up between information received by children and staff regarding the timing and running of photographs. There seemed to be a lot of disruption. Also noted the limited / no follow up from Guidance teachers after conversations with children. Mixed up timetable for photographs was a problem as was the teachers for guidance and noted that if a person says they will act then they should.

B Burke said he was unaware of photograph issue but agreed that something needs to be noted and investigated if issue with guidance. M Timlin agreed as children in the senior school are attempting to take initiative and then the issues are not being followed through by staff. B Burke noted that unfortunately human error could play a part and that they would work to clarify and speed up the course choice etc. especially more instances on the escalation process. The communication process where parents have any concerns or questions would be put on new school website.

B Burke requested if parent members would be happy to have list of parent members noted on website – general consensus agreed although no photographs requested.

C Thomas suggested that to show action / highlight the length of time renegotiations take etc. that it would be good for a message to go out on twitter to say renegotiations completed. B Burke to action this for process next session.

HT Report

Scottish Attainment Challenge /Closing the Gap . Renfrewshire Council has been made a Challenge Authority meaning that more resources will be coming to Renfrewshire. Additional resources for Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Wellbeing. Authority Plan to go to Government this month – looking at focussed support. B Burke will follow up information – letter with updates for service plan etc . after these plans have gone in,  later on email group.  In interim, School have prioritised school issues – 3 areas of vision. Improving Learning / Achievements / Working Together.

Base – Appointment of DHT – Michael Dyer now in post. PT interviews upcoming – will be a secondment in first instance- to allow job to be shaped with the person. Shortlist of candidates leadership capacity very high.

Physical Alteration – phase 1 complete – Renfrew High room complete – physical work is now out to tender. Physical construction work will be outwith school hours.

Review of Constitution

M Hunter highlighted the constitution was now outdated in some areas and needed to be reconsidered. Short discussion held on this and points noted for change.  Noted that if changes are to be made then it would have to be put to the school Council. W Arbuckle suggested an email  / website link would be more manageable in place of an AGM due to the physical logistics or management of such.

  • Point 3 to be changed from 15 to 20.
  • Who can be involved in parent council / who is appropriate to be a pupil council ?
  • Section regarding treasurer to be updated
  • Point 13 –First meeting to be considered AGM – all welcome to attend. website update and email responseof changes.
  • Insert line regarding parents and carers at start
  • Point 7 – school staff /parents although welcome visitors
  • Point 8 – can be removed
  • Point 10 – changes?
  • Point 19 – parent/ teacher/partners
  • Parent /Carer   (to be noted in First line)


Also noted during discussion that the Parents and Friends Association are no longer in session as parents have moved on with their children.

B Burke / C Calderwood to check if insurance valid. PFA insurance covers let. He also noted that Parent Council in an Independent Body and therefore could bid for charitable grants e.g. lottery.

Short discussion about Renfrew High link with Amanda McMillan – leadership speaker may be able to help regarding some funding aspects /link with the airport.

Discussion continued regrading Constitution and the need for consultation. M Hunter to get electronic copy from B Burke and make adjustments. Draft will be emailed to PC Group to read rewording of items etc. – with a view of an e-document link on school website and a link in text message /Twitter by Mon 3rd October. Any comments to be emailed to the school enquiries address to be noted at October meeting.

M Hunter to email draft to Parent council members by 12th September , PC members, requested to read and reply /comment by 19th September – no reply gives agreement to changes. This allows one week to make any other changes if necessary.

B Burke also noted change of Venue for next meeting as discussed at previous meeting for vote of thanks to Lydia (previous chair) and also John and Fiona – this to be confirmed dependant on  PC Members availability for attendance.

Outline dates discussed for future meetings. B Burke to update changes and send to PC Members.