Challenged to raise the bar

There are high expectations of pupils from St David's High School
There are high expectations of pupils from St David's High School

Being a teacher is a real privilege. What other job allows you to help shape the future of young people through great learning and supporting them to achieve their best? writes St David’s High School head teacher Wendy Sutherland

I spend much of my time problem solving and too little time on the core business of learning and teaching.

I constantly have to juggle the competing priorities of raising attainment and providing an inclusive environment for young people who have challenging lives and who, in turn, can be challenging to the teachers who are trying to make their lives better. No one, least of all me, would deny the importance of ensuring our students leave school having reached their best levels of attainment and achievement and are prepared for their lives ahead and it is a testament to the great staff of our school that exam results have improved steadily over recent years. We are now outperforming many more affluent schools, our Higher results rising from 5 per cent to 15 per cent over the last five years.

This improvement has been achieved by changing the culture and aspiration in our school community; by encouraging our learners to believe they can do better if they work at it – try harder and learn from their mistakes. All of this is backed up by sound research which underpins much of the work we do in challenging our students to raise the bar. Our aspirations for our learners are coupled with our overwhelming determination to support their health, wellbeing and happiness.

In St David’s we have high expectations of our young people and encourage them to make positive choices based on our school values. Whatever belief they hold about what it means to be “successful”, they will be open to the possibility that they may get it wrong sometimes. I hope they will accept this with humility and try to only do things that will make them proud.

To paraphrase Mother Theresa, “Let no one ever come to St David’s without leaving better and happier”.