Pupils attending Northfield Academy could soon be able to learn about construction or take beauty classes in an “urgent” teaching overhaul.
The move follows a damning inspection earlier this year, where the troubled Aberdeen school received the lowest scores possible across the board.
Since then the council has been working hard to come up with solutions to boost attendance, amid warnings that there’s “a pattern of young people leaving class
without good reason”.
Councillors were given an update on steps being taken to address the crisis earlier today.
What has happened since the Northfield Academy inspection?
Chief education officer Eleanor Sheppard noted that “significant” time and work had been carried out to amend the school’s curriculum.
A huge redesign of the S1 model is currently under way, providing pupils with a “smooth and positive” transition from primary to secondary school.
Ms Sheppard told members that plans are in place for all youngsters coming to the school in S1 to take part in a trip to an outdoors centre.
It is hoped this will help children form friendships with their fellow students, while building a “sense of team” across the entire year.
Nine new teachers with primary school experience have also been recruited to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Are pupils anxious about joining notorious school next month?
Head teacher Douglas Watt revealed that S1 “transition days” held a couple of weeks ago had been “really successful”.
Young people heading to Northfield after the summer spent two days at the school following their new timetables.
Youngsters were surveyed before and after the event, with feedback showing that the number of pupils feeling anxious halved from 70% to 36%.
Meanwhile, confidence levels in youngsters leaped from 32% to 85%, with Mr Watt hailing the outcome as “really encouraging”.
Who can take beauty classes at Northfield Academy?
As part of the ongoing changes, pupils in S3 can choose the subjects they wish to study.
A revised and broader curriculum is on offer for those at S4, with less focus on traditional academic areas.
Some pupils will be taught a Level 4 automotive course.
And a Level 4/5 foundation apprenticeship in construction will be available for youngsters thinking about becoming builders.
A “national progression award in make-up artistry” will also be available for budding beauty professionals thanks to expert assistance from GlamCandy.
School leaders have been targeting groups of young people who are at risk of missing out on qualifications too, with a particular focus on literacy and numeracy.
How do teachers feel about the changes?
Teachers at Northfield met at a team building day yesterday to allow them to plan ahead for the new school year.
The council’s education chief Shona Milne said there was a “great deal of enthusiasm”, and staff were “excited” to develop the new curriculum.
A tactical team, set up to improve standards at the school, has met weekly since the rock-bottom report card.
A recent survey revealed that a majority of staff feel behaviour in corridors has improved – which is the first time in recent years they feel this way.
Following discussions with families, over the next month it was noted that there had been a “notable” reduction in walkouts plaguing the school too.
Northfield pupils ‘talented, enthusiastic and willing to learn’
Ms Sheppard said that a “raft of work” had been carried out since the inspection revealed the extent of the problems at the school.
She added: “There is no question that the tactical team, all staff at Northfield, and the young people themselves, have put in a significant shift to help move things forward.
“But we know this is a long journey, and the work will continue.”
Councillor Jessica Mennie agreed: “I’ve met young people from Northfield over the past few months and they are so talented, enthusiastic and so willing to learn.”