St Helen’s Primary School
East Dunbartonshire Council
9 December 2008

This report tells you about the quality of education at the school1. We describe how children benefit from learning there. We explain how well they are doing and how good the school is at helping them to learn. Then we look at the ways in which the school does this. We describe how well the school works with other groups in the community, including parents2 and services which support children. We also comment on how well staff and children work together and how they go about improving the school.

Our report describes the ‘ethos’ of the school. By ‘ethos’ we mean the relationships in the school, how well children are cared for and treated and how much is expected of them in all aspects of school life. Finally, we comment on the school’s aims. In particular, we focus on how well the aims help staff to deliver high quality learning, and the impact of leadership on the school’s success in achieving these aims.

If you would like to learn more about our inspection of the school, please visit Here you can find analyses of questionnaire returns. Where applicable, you will also be able to find descriptions of good practice in the school.


1. The school
2. Particular strengths of the school
3. Examples of good practice
4. How well do young people learn and achieve?
5. How well do staff work with others to support young people’s learning?
6. Are staff and young people actively involved in improving their school community?
7. Does the school have high expectations of all young people?
8. Does the school have a clear sense of direction?
9. What happens next?

1. The school

St Helen’s Primary School is a denominational school. It serves the Cleddens Park, Woodhill and Auchinairn areas of Bishopbriggs. The inspection was carried out in October 2008 at which time the roll was 368. Pupils’ attendance was in line with the national average in 2006/07.

2. Particular strengths of the school

  • Strong staff teamwork and commitment to continually improving the work of the school.
  • Children who are confident and making progress in key areas of their learning.
  • Opportunities for children to achieve during school and out-of-school hours.
  • Strong partnerships with parents, agencies and businesses to support children’s learning.
  • The effective contribution senior managers make to leadership with a clear focus on children’s learning.

3. Example of good practice

  • Well-developed opportunities for children to be active in their learning at the early stages.

4. How well do children learn and achieve?

Learning and achievement

Children are making very good progress in reading, listening and talking and mathematics. Their progress in writing is good and the school is now taking very effective steps to improve it further. Over the last few years, the school has maintained high standards of attainment in reading, writing and mathematics. Children read with fluency and expression. Almost all children take care with the presentation of their work. At the early stages, children are making a very good start to developing their mathematical skills. Children take part enthusiastically in mental mathematics. At the upper stages, children are not always clear about different ways that they could use to solve problems. Children with additional support needs are making good progress towards their targets in individualised educational programmes (IEPs). Children are developing a very good understanding of how to live healthily, for example, they understand the importance of brushing their teeth daily. Children achieve well in a wide variety of activities. They are enthusiastic and proud of their achievements. At all stages, children are effectively developing enterprise skills. For example, at P4 and P5 they successfully organised and performed a musical, ‘The Wild Bunch’ to members of the school community and business partners. Children participate in a range of out-of-school sports activities and P7 children won the Bishopbriggs Gala Shield for netball for two consecutive years. P7 children show responsibility in their work as buddies to P1 children.

Curriculum and meeting learning needs

Teachers are developing well aspects of the national programme for, Curriculum for Excellence in religious and moral education and health and wellbeing. Teachers are developing children’s personal and social skills very effectively through a wide range of activities, including enterprise education. They plan tasks which encourage children to work well together in pairs and groups. As yet, opportunities are not well developed for children to use literacy and numeracy skills across the curriculum. Children are developing good skills in using computers but do not use these enough across a range of curricular areas. All children and staff are actively involved in health promotion. Children can talk knowledgably about healthy eating. They have a very good understanding of human diversity and know how they can tackle discrimination and make a difference when situations are unfair.

Teachers identify and meet children’s learning needs very well. They set tasks and activities at the right level of difficulty for most children. A few higher achieving children should be challenged more in their work. Children are effective contributors in classwork. They work very well with each other to talk about their learning. Teachers have developed very effective approaches to make learning more active for children at the early stages. They are now developing ways of involving children more fully in planning their learning. Teachers regularly use a range of assessments in their day-to-day teaching. Classroom assistants and support for learning assistants work very effectively to support learning. Children with additional support needs have a wide and relevant range of resources including appropriate information and communications technology (ICT). All staff respond very promptly to concerns about meeting children’s needs. They work closely and effectively with partner agencies to secure good support for children who need it.

5. How well do staff work with others to support children’s learning?

Staff have highly effective partnerships with a wide range of visiting specialists and health professionals. These include the school nurse, psychologist, occupational and speech and language therapists, social workers, the visual impairment teacher and area network support team. These partnerships have been very successful in planning and implementing effective support for children experiencing a range of difficulties. Teachers have developed good working partnerships with parents. They keep parents up to date about their children’s progress through meetings and a helpful annual report. Most parents feel that they are well informed about their children’s progress. Staff at the early stages work closely with local pre-school centres to prepare children to start primary school. There are very good arrangements to support children moving from P7 to Turnbull High School.

6. Are staff and children actively involved in improving their school community?

Children successfully take on a wide range of responsibilities. Children at all stages take an active part in the pupil council. This helps to take forward new developments in the school. They successfully organise events such as the healthy tuck shop. Children have learned how to care for the environment and are knowledgeable about the importance of recycling materials and saving energy. The school had succeeded in gaining a second Eco-Schools Scotland award at green level. Staff and pupils worked together effectively to achieve Health Promoting School status. Staff work very well together to improve the school. They contribute enthusiastically and well to working parties within school and with staff from local schools and nurseries, to develop aspects of the work of the school. The school works closely with the supportive Parent Council and active Parents’ Association to improve its performance. When making improvements, staff carefully consider the views of all children and parents.

7. Does the school have high expectations of all children?

All children are valued by staff. Children are eager learners in a school which promotes involvement of all children whatever their needs. Staff and children work very well together. Children are polite and well behaved. There are very good links with the parish. In keeping with the school’s Roman Catholic status, the local parish priest works closely with staff and the school community regularly attend mass. Staff take very good care of the children and all children are listened to and feel safe and well cared for in the school. All teachers and ancillary staff are confident in their knowledge of child protection procedures. Staff encourage children to work hard through a variety of methods such as ‘golden time’, where children choose activities as rewards and the headteacher’s award. Staff do not always expect enough of higher attaining pupils. There are good procedures in place to monitor and encourage children’s attendance at school.

8. Does the school have a clear sense of direction?

The school has clear aims and values. These ensure a high quality of education and care for children, in an environment where all children are valued and their needs addressed. The school’s aims are shared and agreed by staff, parents and children. The highly motivated staff provide good quality learning experiences. The headteacher plays a very effective role in nurturing the warm and welcoming ethos in the school. He has a clear vision for improving children’s learning experiences, attainments and achievements. The depute headteachers and principal teacher carry out their work very effectively and show a strong commitment to leading and improving learning across the school. They successfully promote a very positive ethos within the school and a strong sense of teamwork. The school is ready to improve further and is particularly well placed to take forward the development of Curriculum for Excellence.

9. What happens next?

As a result of the very good quality of education provided by the school, we will make no further visits following this inspection. The education authority will inform parents about the school’s progress as part of the authority’s arrangements for reporting to parents on the quality of its schools.

We have agreed the following areas for improvement with the school and education authority.

  • Further develop planning in order to ensure an appropriate range of activities and increase pace and challenge for all children.
  • Develop the use of information and communications technology across the curriculum.

Quality indicators help schools and nursery classes, education authorities and inspectors to judge what is good and what needs to be improved in the work of a school and a nursery class. You can find these quality indicators in the HMIE publications How good is our school? and The Child at the Centre. Following the inspection of each school, the Scottish Government gathers evaluations of three important quality indicators to keep track of how well all Scottish schools and nursery classes are doing.

Here are the evaluations for St Helen’s Primary School.

Here are the evaluations for St Helen’s Primary School.


Improvements in performance

very good

Learners’ experiences


Meeting learning needs

very good


We also evaluated the following aspects of the work of the school.


The curriculum


Improvement through self-evaluation


HM Inspector: Jacqueline Horsburgh
9 December 2008

To find out more about inspections or get an electronic copy of this report go to Please contact the Business Management and Communications Team (BMCT) if you wish to enquire about our arrangements for translated or other appropriate versions.

If you wish to comment about any of our inspections, contact us at or alternatively you should write in the first instance to BMCT, HM Inspectorate of Education, Denholm House, Almondvale Business Park, Almondvale Way, Livingston EH54 6GA.

Our complaints procedure is available from our website or alternatively you can write to our Complaints Manager, at the address above or by telephoning 01506 600259.

If you are not satisfied with the action we have taken at the end of our complaints procedure, you can raise your complaint with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). The SPSO is fully independent and has powers to investigate complaints about Government departments and agencies. You should write to SPSO, Freepost EH641, Edinburgh EH3 0BR. You can also telephone 0800 377 7330, fax 0800 377 7331 or e-mail: More information about the Ombudsman’s office can be obtained from the website at

This report uses the following word scale to make clear judgements made by inspectors.


outstanding, sector leading

very good

major strengths


important strengths with some areas for improvement


strengths just outweigh weaknesses


important weaknesses


major weaknesses


Crown Copyright 2008
HM Inspectorate of Education


1. The term ‘school’ is used to include the work of the nursery class, where relevant.
2. Throughout this report, the term ‘parents’ should be taken to include foster carers, residential care staff and carers who are relatives or friends.