THE headteacher of Knox Academy has been praised for helping to steer the school in the right direction.

Inspectors from Education Scotland have praised the Haddington secondary school, which welcomed new headteacher Susan Cook in the summer of 2018.

The school, which has more than 750 pupils, was visited by inspectors in the spring of 2017, with a letter then sent out highlighting “a number of areas for improvement”.

Inspectors again visited the school in the summer of 2018 before returning towards the end of last year.

Ms Cook told the Courier: “We are very pleased that our visit from Education Scotland recognised the significant improvements we have made across the school community.

“It has been very much a team effort in getting us to this point and I would like to thank staff, pupils, parents/carers and the wider community, who have all contributed to this journey.

“We are keen to continue our progression and plan to focus on our vision and values, ensuring the best outcomes for all of our young people.”

The inspection, carried out by Carol McDonald, notes: “Since her appointment in August 2018, the new headteacher has led important improvements in the work of the school.

“She has won the confidence and respect of staff and parents.

“She is providing clear strategic direction for change and improvement.

“The senior leadership team are working well together and providing effective leadership for guiding and managing the pace of change.

“The values of ambition, respect and community continue to inform the life and work of the school.

“The school has a relentless focus on the value of respect, resulting in improvements in daily interactions in and beyond classrooms.”

During December’s visit, inspectors spoke with both staff and pupils about the school, while a questionnaire was filled out by pupils and parents/carers.

The report continued: “The school has placed a high priority on promoting respectful relationships and providing a positive learning environment for all young people.

“Senior and curriculum leaders have supported teachers well to reach a shared understanding of approaches which establish positive relationships for learning.

“In most lessons, the ethos is now calm and purposeful.

“This is an important improvement since previous inspection visits.

“Young people relate well to each other and to their teachers.

“Across the school, helpful routines are being established.

“Young people have contributed meaningfully to the revised Promoting Positive Relationships and Behaviour policy.

“Teachers value the wide range of professional learning opportunities on relationships for learning.

“Most teachers now feel better equipped and empowered to manage behaviour that is more challenging.

“This has lessened disruption in lessons and the number of calls for promoted staff intervention has reduced significantly.”

The report also noted that there was still room for the school to continue to improve.

Ms McDonald said: “The pace of learning, notably in S1 to S3, should be increased further.

“Too many lessons are overly teacher-led, as evidenced through the school’s own self-evaluation analysis.

“Teachers should continue to improve approaches to ensuring all young people have learning tasks with appropriate levels of challenge.

“The pupil learning team makes a valuable contribution to faculty reviews, which are shaping improvement priorities.

“Teachers are now using feedback from learners more regularly to make learning more effective.”

Lesley Brown, East Lothian Council’s chief operating officer for education, said: “We believe the results of this visit accurately reflect the school’s improvement journey.

“We have been working closely with the school to support its progress and have been impressed with the drive and determination that has been shown to improve experiences for its entire community.”

Meanwhile, HM Inspectors from Education Scotland are visiting North Berwick High School this week.