An expansion of secondary schools will be needed to cope with a rising number of children in Glasgow.

Population growth in recent years means there is expected to be thousands more children starting secondary school in the coming years.

With Glasgow’s 37 secondary schools and the population growth spread across the city, it is not planned for new schools to be built but to increase capacity where possible

In an interview with the Glasgow Times, Chris Cunningham, education convenor, said some schools will be extended.

Glasgow Times:

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He said: “We have had a growing population that’s coming through into schools and now into the secondary population.

“Over the next five to ten years we are looking at an extra 5000 secondary pupils. We need to deliver resources to address that.

“The reality of the school estate is they are where they are. We can’t say let’s put in more schools and that will address it.

“The population is even. What we are looking at is increasing capacity in the secondary estate.”

Some do not have room to grow, but in others where there is space plans are beginning.

Mr Cunningham said: “That is going on just now in St Paul’s in Pollok and there will be growth in other schools.

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“A number of schools are at capacity and don’t have room for growth that’s a physical thing.

“We need to look at where we can grow. Bellahouston is at capacity but has room for growth. Shawlands is at capacity but doesn’t have room for growth.

Glasgow Times:

“We are looking at expansion where it is possible.”

Improving pupil attainment and closing the gap between pupils in the most and least deprived areas is an ongoing challenge for Glasgow schools.

The city has seen improvements in exam results in recent years with many schools showing progress but it still lags behind the Scottish average.

Mr Cunningham said it is shifting and progress is being sustained.

When asked when can we expect a dramatic shift, when Glasgow catches up with the rest of the country, the education convenor suggests another way of looking at the issue.

He said:“There are not any quick fixes, only steady and sustained improvement and that is what we have got.

“We’ve seen incremental improvement across the entire city. It is dramatic over 15 to 20 years. You won’t see that in one year. There’s no magic bullet from one year to another.”

Glasgow’s progress, he said, contributes to the overall Scottish picture of improvement

“Across Scotland it’s been patchy, in Glasgow it’s been sustained.

“I wonder how would Scotland’s figures look if Glasgow hadn’t had that improvement”

Sustainable improvement is, he said, the only way to view Glasgow’s performance.

He added: “If you’re looking for dramatic improvement, stop looking. If you’re looking for steady improvement you will see that.

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“If Glasgow’s numbers tip over and go above the national level then people might shout hallelujah, it’s achieved.

“Incremental improvement has to be the way it goes. The reality is we are looking at the progress of young people over 5-6 years of secondary school.”

How pupils are assessed has come into sharp focus with the pandemic leading to exam days being suspended for the last two years and pupils graded on teacher assessments.

Mr Cunningham said that this year, as it stands, it is expected to go back to traditional exams but he is not convinced that is necessarily the best method of assessing and preparing pupils for life after school.

He said: “The SQA reforms are not going to be in place before the current years exams.

“The minister made clear the exam format will be the traditional exam format.

“All going well and we are back to normal, teaching and exams will look normal.”

However, he added exams shouldn’t be the be all and end all.

Glasgow Times:

Mr Cunningham said: “I’m not of the view that the once and for all exam day works best. I don’t think it mirrors life based on the fact the challenges and tasks don’t involve sitting exams on questions they’ve never seen before.

“That’s not to say we should simply do away with exams. There’s a role.”

Like every other area, education will be facing budget pressures but he says that any cash earmarked by the Scottish Government for education must be spent on education.

In yesterday’s Glasgow Times Richard Bell, City Treasurer, said Glasgow has a higher than average pupil to teacher ration and cash for extra teachers could be used in other ways.

Mr Cunningham said every penny is needed.

He said: “The Treasurer will take a numbers based view.

“Glasgow has a higher ratio of teachers to pupils but Glasgow has a higher level of challenges in deprivation and more pupils for who English is not their first language.

“There are solid reasons why these additional resources are appropriate.”

He cited the nurture programme for children with difficulties in their background.

Mr Cunningham, added: “You won’t get me saying ‘it’s all right, we got enough teachers and we can divert resources’.

“We are working with significant deprivation and poverty. We’ve been successful when we’ve been able to use our resources.”