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KIRN Primary School is being hailed as a model example of best practice in education following an outstanding inspection report – and the “inspirational leadership” of head teacher James Wylie was this week recognised by proud local councillors.
The Cowal Courier told in August how inspectors had rated the school as either “excellent” or “very good” in all categories and described the behaviour of all pupils as “impeccable”.
They were so impressed with Kirn Primary that they now want to work with Argyll and Bute Council and the school to use it as a model example for schools throughout Scotland to aspire to.
And local elected members got their chance to heap yet more praise on the ongoing work of Mr Wylie and his enthusiastic staff at the latest meeting of Bute and Cowal Area Committee.
Cowal councillor Bruce Marshall admitted that the school building and the “tools” Mr Wylie had to work with at Kirn – ahead of the school either being refurbished or becoming part of a new joint campus with Dunoon and St Mun’s – “are atrocious”.
But he added: “What you have achieved is wonderful.”
Dunoon councillor Jimmy McQueen – a Kirn pupil in the 1930s – said: “It’s always been a great wee school. I have great memories of it.”
Asked what the secret to the school’s stunning success was, Mr Wylie – who has been in post for seven years – replied: “A very clear vision, determination and creativity.
“We all have reducing budgets but that just means that we have to be creative with the resource we have.”
Mr Wylie added: “The inspectors were very engaging and the whole structure of the inspection boosted our confidence as well. It has left Kirn Primary School sitting very proudly on a national stage.”
The school has seen its population grow as its reputation has spread over the years and there are currently 240 pupils, which includes 40 nursery children – compared with 200, including 20 in the nursery a few years ago.
Mr Wylie said: “The inspection report has increased the number of pupils coming to us. We are not yet at saturation point but P5 is getting to that point.”
Nursery leader Fiona Anderson, pictured with Mr Wylie, said: “James’s leadership, vision and enthusiasm have played a huge part in getting us to where we are.
“The nursery is very much part of the school too, and the staff feel highly valued because of that.”
Lead inspector Dr Kate Hannah said in her report on Kirn Primary: “Children in the nursery and across the school learn and achieve to a high standard.
“In the nursery, children have consistently good opportunities to make choices and take responsibility for their own learning.”
Dr Hannah added: “They approach their tasks with confidence and achieve success in a variety of contexts.
“Older children display an exceptionally high level of independence in leading their own learning throughout the session.
“At all stages, children behave impeccably and demonstrate highly responsible attitudes and respect to staff, visitors and each other.”
Of the staff, Dr Hannah’s report states: “There are major strengths in the way that staff across the school support children to develop and learn.
“Staff show very high-quality care and support to children in the school.”
The inspection found that the school had these key strengths:
*Confident, respectful children who have a clear love of learning and great pride in their school
*Innovative approaches to the organisation of the curriculum to ensure children develop important skills through exciting, deep and coherent learning experiences
*High-quality support for children who require extra help in their learning
*Effective partnerships with parents, volunteers, partners and the local community to enrich and extend children’s learning
*Inspirational and strong leadership of the head teacher which drives forward improvements to ensure all children make very good progress in their learning
The full inspection report can be found at