IN unprecedented times one school's senior pupils has had unprecedented success.

At Lourdes Secondary two thirds of youngsters come from the city's most deprived backgrounds - but the school has made a concerted effort to raise attainment.

And this year, despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, its sixth year pupils have achieved the best results the secondary has ever seen.

To the obvious pride of depute head Lawrence Kerr, three are off to Oxford - with a fourth turning down a place - and one is heading to an Ivy League university in the US.

But, while these are stand out examples of success, teaching staff are delighted with their young people's efforts across the board.

Lawrence said: "I could write a thesis on what we've done to support attainment.

"But it goes back to really when we first meet the children in primary seven.

"We work with them from then to, not pigeon hole them, but to find out what subjects they enjoy, what they're good at.

"By the time they get into exam years they are in subjects they want to be in and are good at.

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"Also, a big feature in this school is the parental involvement where we have so much positive energy and activity. We wouldn't achieve this without them.

"In the past few years a very positive push to making the school look better, feel better and ultimately for the children to achieve.

"Now our leaver destination stats are fantastic. Roughly two thirds of our children go to university year in and year out, which is fantastic particularly when you look at the area we are in.

"We also have children going to training and college and a number going on to employment as well.

"Children have a Plan A and every child has a Plan B so they are leaving us with some positive pathway."

Noah McGarrity, 18, and Ellie McDougal, 17, are two of the three whose pathway is leading them to Oxford.

Both pupils attended summer courses where they realised the top rated university was the right place for them and, despite the stress of the past five months, they are both excited for their next steps.

Noah, from Cardonald, earned three As and a B yesterday in Advanced Higher English, drama and modern studies and Higher politics.

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He said: "When covid first hit for me it was more of a worry about prom and missing the last day of school that was the stress.

"But then when I realised this wasn't going to be a temporary thing, exams were actually going to be off and results would be based on past work and prelims, that's when I started to get really, really stressed.

"So the past few months for me have been the biggest stress of my life, more so than any other year that I've had to actually sit the exam.

"I really doubted I would get the grades I needed so today has been a huge relief."

Noah and Ellie are both going to study English Literature and Language and he said he "fell in love with" Oxford as soon as he visited it.

He added: "It is very, very hard to think about going to Oxbridge, especially when you don't come from a private school, but if you want something really badly then there's no harm in trying.

"What have you got to lose?"

Ellie, from Pollok, is the first in her family to go to university and she earned four As yesterday in the same subjects as her classmate.

She said: "This was a lot worse than other years because of covid but also I was on a conditional offer for uni so the day had so much more riding on it.

"In the last week or so I was sure all my grades were going to get moved down and I would fail all my exams."

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Ellie would also encourage other young people to think about aiming high when it comes to choosing a university.

She added: "I'm less nervous about the academic side of things, which might be a bit egotistical because it's Oxford, but I'm more worried about the social aspect of making friends and being in a different country and that sort of thing.

"My family are amazed because none of them went to university. Anywhere I went to university they would have been really proud but the fact that it's Oxford of all places, they are amazed.

"But there's nothing unattainable about Oxbridge. A lot of people, I think, could get to Oxbridge but they're just not willing to try because there is that misconception about people from more disadvantaged areas, and I think Scotland has a whole, that it's just so far out of our grasp. But if you actually just try and believe in yourself then you can have success.

Head Boy Josh Traynor knocked back an offer from Oxford to go to St Andrew's and study geography and international relations instead.

The 17-year-old has his sights set on the Scottish Parliament with an ultimate ambition of being education secretary - so should John Swinney look out?

Josh said: "I like John Swinney so I'll wait until he goes.

"Even though Theresa May did geography at Oxford I thought St Andrew's would be better suited for what I wanted to do and it's above Oxford in some of the league tables. And it has a beach."

Josh arranged an informal graduation ceremony for his classmates, even making them souvenir certificates.

On October 31 the class of 2020 will hold the leaver's ball they missed out on this month.

But fellow pupil Jhozef Sheldia, 19, will be unable to make it as he'll be at the prestigious Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

He heads off to America in the next three weeks.

Jhozef said: "I really wanted to go to Dartmouth because it's a good mix between being Ivy League yet it's quite small and has such high academic standards too.

"I will miss my family but I've moved a few times before so it won't be as much of a trauma."

While the exam results have been impressive, there are still pupils who are unhappy with their grades.

Lawrence added: "The good or the positive we can take from this is that if there are children who we feel, through our knowledge of them, should have got a better grade then we have been given this opportunity to appeal.

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"So it's up to us now to demonstrate that our evidence is robust and appeal for them.

"What we now have to focus on is individual children and their stories but we are, I have to say, quietly very happy."