A RECENT inspection report from Education Scotland praised the work being done in Glasgow's schools to ensure poverty is no barrier to attainment.

And this year's league table results of school leavers achieving three or more Highers stand as evidence of that success.

The bottom of the table of Glasgow City Council's 30 schools now sits in double digits whereas in previous years the number could be as low as six percent.

As well as raising attainment across the board, there are stand out success stories from individual schools.

Shettleston's Eastbank Academy has 78 per cent of pupils from the most deprived postcodes yet this year had 34 per cent of pupils achieve three or more Highers.

Last year the school's figure was 29 per cent, meaning this year it is pushing away from the bottom end of the league table.

The school is now under the care of acting head teacher Alicia Reid but improvements came during the watch of recently retired head Gordon Shaw.

Mr Shaw arrived at Eastbank six years ago from being head teacher of Lochend Community High School.

His role was to raise attainment in the East End secondary, taking an approach that saw teaching staff collectively get involved.

He said: "We did a huge piece of work looking at which pupils were achieving exam results and why, what components of exams pupils were struggling with and which types of questions were coming up time and again in past papers so we could focus our learning.

"We wanted as many pupils as possible to be gaining at least one Higher.

"One higher could lead on to an apprenticeship, two would get them into college while three would take them to an HND."

The school also suspended the normal timetable for Maths, English, languages and sciences so pupils could spend two to three hours intensively on one topic.

An issue for some pupils was having nowhere to study at home.

So the school set up private study spaces with access to ICT equipment as well as beginning study sessions outwith class times.

But young people weren't turning up to the sessions - so teaching staff had to get to the bottom of why.

Pupils responded to say they were too tired to study immediately after school and so "twilight" sessions were set up in the early evening so youngsters could go home to rest and come back in.

Weekend study sessions were also set up with some taking place away from school grounds, such as at a hotel, and snacks being provided.

Mr Shaw said: "We treated our pupils like young adults and they responded well to that."

The school was challenged to respond to the circumstances of its pupils.

Mr Shaw, who retired at Christmas, said: "Some of our pupils are young carers for their siblings or even for their parents.

"Many of our pupils come from the Shettleston Corridor, which has some of the worst health statistics in Europe.

"We have pupils with parents in precarious employment, which means they work in the evenings and aren't there for family time.

"So a lot of what we also do is to provide experiential things for pupils who would otherwise never go to certain places or enjoy certain things without having them through school.

"And there is nothing more rewarding than meeting your pupils years later and seeing their successes - whether that's as a plumber, a joiner, a doctor, lawyer or dentist."

Like Glasgow, Scottish-wide league tables show pupils from the poorest backgrounds in Scotland have improved their exam results, but progress is marginal.

The latest exam data from Education Scotland shows the most disadvantaged pupils have seen a two per cent increase in their attainment compared to the most affluent communities where achievement has remained the same.

However, the scale of the gap remains significant with disadvantaged pupils achieving around half of the qualifications secured by the most affluent.

Many of the top performing schools have no pupils from poor backgrounds, while those that have the most are generally further down the table.

This again shows the impact of poverty on attainment given the range of social problems and caring responsibilities faced by disadvantaged pupils.

Education Secretary John Swinney said: “Education is this government’s number one priority and we are investing heavily to ensure every child has an equal chance to succeed.

“This national level data shows things are moving in the right direction.”

Mr Swinney said education reforms such as Pupil Equity Funding, which targets money at schools in deprived areas, would help close the gap further.

He added: “While the figures are moving in the right direction, we recognise the scale of the challenge involved."

A spokeswoman for schools body Education Scotland said exam results were published annually to help raise attainment.

She said: “The information adds to that already provided by schools in their handbooks, quality reports, websites and communications with parents. All these together help parents better understand the work of their schools.”