IT MIGHT be the big, inviting yellow chairs which catch the eye near the main doors, or the shiny, happy “Welcome to Camstradden” sign at the entrance.

More than likely, however, the reason for the warm, sunshiney feel of this Drumchapel primary school is down to its pupils, teachers and support staff, whose efforts have been roundly praised in a recent inspection report.

Clydebank Post: Gerard, Ellie, Zara and Jace enjoy the Acorn Room's tennis sessionsGerard, Ellie, Zara and Jace enjoy the Acorn Room's tennis sessions (Image: Mark Gibson/Newsquest)

A successful action plan, which has seen attendance in the school jump around 10 per cent since October, and the powerful impact of the school’s groundbreaking Acorn Room were among the positives picked up on by the Education Scotland team.

It also mentioned the school’s “calm and caring environment”, staff who “show care and compassion and want the very best for the children” and the “kind, respectful, inclusive and nurturing” ethos.

No need to take the inspectors’ word for it, though, as the chatty children at Camstradden are very happy to explain.

“There are lots of learning opportunities in the school and if you have difficulties with anything, the teachers will help,” says Zoey, 12, who is in primary seven.

Clydebank Post: Pupils at Camstradden PrimaryPupils at Camstradden Primary (Image: Mark Gibson/Newsquest)

Lacey, seven, who is in primary three, adds: “The teachers are all very kind. They help me with my reading. They make us think about things we can all do. When I leave school I’m going to open a doggy playground. £10 a dog.”

Nathan, 10, who is in primary six, is a fan of musical theatre and goes to Camstradden’s after-school drama club.

“We get the chance to do different things, which is really good,” he explains. “And I like all the subjects, especially maths.”

Camstradden Primary likes a motto, and currently, “Come Away In” is top of the list, as it re-establishes community partnerships in the wake of Covid. 

“Our other new motto is 'Good to Great'," says acting headteacher Laura Davidson. “This report is a great result for the school. We are working hard to meet the needs of every child.

“Our big project has been improving attendance and I’m really glad the inspectors recognised our relentless focus in this area. Our attendance percentage rate was sitting in the high 70s in October – now it is in the high 80s and we expect it to improve further from August.

“We have a home support link worker from 3D Drumchapel, who has been invaluable. We want to help parents understand the impact of low attendance on attainment. It’s not a telling-off. Every day counts.”

Clydebank Post: Nathan, 10, is proud of his schoolNathan, 10, is proud of his school (Image: Mark Gibson/Newsquest)

Laura adds, smiling: “We display the class-by-class figures on the noticeboard and the pupils have become really interested. An element of competition has crept in…who knew attendance statistics could be so exciting?”

There are signs attainment is on the rise as a result, says Laura.

Clydebank Post: Acting headteacher Laura DavidsonActing headteacher Laura Davidson (Image: Mark Gibson/Newsquest)

"While our statistics are not where we want them to be yet, we are glad the inspectors recognised the hard work being done," she adds.

“We’re all passionate about tackling low attendance. It is a hidden barrier to learning."

Set up with Pupil Equity Funding by teacher Ceonag Weston, deputy headteacher Elspeth Reside and Active Schools Co-ordinator Fiona Kirk, Camstradden's Acorn Room is a dedicated “wellbeing” space for children needing a little extra support to return to the classroom.

Clydebank Post: Laura Davidson, David Clark, Ceonag Weston and Elspeth ResideLaura Davidson, David Clark, Ceonag Weston and Elspeth Reside (Image: Mark Gibson/Newsquest)

It currently helps around 65 children over two sessions each day, incorporating after-school clubs and sports activities. The feedback, from families and community partners, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Children sometimes struggle to come to school, for a whole range of reasons – recovering from a childhood illness, coming from a care-experienced background, requiring additional support, suffering from anxiety,” says Ceonag Weston.

“Whatever the reason, the Acorn Room is a safe, calm space where they can develop their literacy and numeracy skills, make friends and build up their confidence until they are able to return to the classroom."

She adds: “The success of the Acorn Room has been highlighted by the inspectors in a ‘sketch note’, as something that can be shared more widely across Scotland as good practice – which is really exciting.”

Laura, a former depute head at Hillington Primary, is leaving Camstradden to take up a permanent headteacher’s post at Wellshot Primary in the East End.

Clydebank Post: Camstradden PrimaryCamstradden Primary (Image: Mark Gibson/Newsquest)

She says: “I’m excited about my new position, but I’m sad to leave Camstradden. I’m in awe of the people here.

“The inspectors picked up on the fact that yes, there are issues – this is one of the most deprived areas in Scotland – but that is not a defining characteristic of this school, or the community. If we did have any doubters, I think we have proved them wrong.”

Laura adds: “Every single person on the staff cares deeply about the pupils, they know the families inside out and they go above and beyond every day for the children in their care. That’s the story of this school.”