Gryffe High School has become the first secondary school in Scotland to receive an ‘excellent’ grade under the government’s short model inspection format.

Gryffe High pupils Lewis Da Silva, Rachael Bell, Lauren Rodgers, Rowan Johnson, Aaron Mills, Gregor Speir and Roisin Wright with head teacher Colin Johnson

A team from Education Scotland visited the Houston school earlier this year to speak to staff, pupils and parents – and today issued a glowing report over the standard of the work they found.

The school was rated as ‘very good’ for learning, teaching and assessment, and as ‘excellent’ for ‘raising attainment and achievement’ – the highest grade on the six-point scale.

That is the first time the top grade has been given out to a secondary school under Education Scotland’s short model inspection format, which judges schools on two quality indicators as opposed to four under the full inspection model.

The inspection team said the following about the school’s work:

– strong and highly effective leadership by the headteacher and senior leadership team;

– highly-skilled analysis of progress and attainment data of all young people’s results, leading to outstanding levels of attainment and achievement;

– aspects of outstanding practice in primary to secondary transition;

– highly-motivated, articulate and ambitious young people who have high aspirations;

The one area of improvement identified was around building on the work already being done to improve the reliability of assessment evidence in S1-3 pupils, to help teachers set tasks and activities at the right level.

The school also had self-evaluation verified as excellent by the council on two other quality indicators – leadership of change, and improving wellbeing, equality and inclusion.

Gryffe High School head teacher Colin Johnson said: “To say I am proud of our pupils and staff is a complete understatement. To be the head teacher of a school where the pupils, day in day out, impress with their enthusiasm, drive and persistence is an absolute pleasure and privilege.

“Even over the very difficult last few months our pupils remained positive, thoughtful and supportive of one another and I have been amazed at the lengths they have gone to in supporting others.

“That has included delivering packs and resources to other pupils houses, and taking additional packs to the local church as a collection point for other pupils.

“Our pupils efforts and achievements are outstanding, supported by dedicated staff, supportive parents/carers and close links with a wide range of external partners.

“I eagerly await the return of our pupils to school this week, and then supporting them as they pick up where we left off – supporting the wellbeing of all, striving for improvement, and keeping their focus as ambitious, but caring, young people with high aspirations.”

Lewis Da Silva, who was last year’s school captain, said: “I’m proud to say I went to Gryffe High – it’s an amazing school. I will miss the learning side and the social side.”

And this year’s school captain Rachael Bell added: “We get great support from teachers and pupils. We have lots of societies and clubs and even if there isn’t one they will help you set it up.”

Councillor Jim Paterson, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, added: “We are thrilled by this inspection report on Gryffe High, which shows why the school is considered one of the best-performing in the country.

“That is testament to the hard work and dedication of the pupils, staff and school community to raise attainment for all and I am sure they will all be as delighted as we are by the grading in the report.”

The Renfrewshire Council Trusted Trader scheme is a local business partnership which aims to increase consumer confidence, promote good practice within local businesses and to help prevent doorstep crime.
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A FILM about the legendary Communist MP from Paisley, Willie Gallacher is being premiered on an online TV channel.

Renfrewshire Leisure’s internet channel, Ren TV will show the 50-minute film, called A Lion Rose in Paisley, on Wednesday, August 12, at 7pm – 55 years to the day Gallacher died.

The docudrama by local filmmaker, Alex Cathcart stars TV and film actor, Steven Duffy as the left-wing firebrand Gallacher.

Alex Cathcart: Film maker Alex Cathcart made the film, A Lion Rose in Paisley

The film also features Renfrewshire Council’s Labour leader, Eddie Devine who ironically plays the famous Tory Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. And fellow-councillor, Bill Brown plays an MP asking a question in the Houses of Parliament.

Paisley Abbey was used as the film location for Parliament, as was the Beechwood Community Centre, in the town’s Shortroods area, when scenes were shot of a stormy public meeting involving Gallacher and the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George.

Gallacher was one of the famous Red Clydesiders at the beginning of the 20th century and campaigned against the First World War. He was twice jailed for his political activities, but remained steadfast in his socialist principles and continued campaigning on behalf of the working class.

In 1920, Gallacher travelled to Moscow and met the Bolshevik leader of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, who encouraged the Paisley Buddie to form a communist party in the UK. On his return, Gallacher was one of the founding members of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Gallacher, who was born into poverty in Paisley’s Back Sneddon, on Christmas Day 1881, became the Communist Party MP for West Fife in 1935 and served his constituency until 1950. But he remained active in politics all his life and was known by political leaders throughout the world.

When he died on August 12, 1965, it was estimated that 30,000 people lined the streets of Paisley for his funeral procession.

A street in Foxbar – Gallacher Avenue – was named in his honour in the mid-1980s along with Gallacher Court, a sheltered housing complex in Paisley’s West End. A cairn in Paisley’s High Street to commemorate Gallacher was also erected in 2016.

Filmmaker Alex Cathcart said: “I only knew the barest of facts about Willie Gallacher, but after the cairn was erected I was curious and wanted to find out more.

“I soon realised that his life was incredible, he was globally feted, but remained one of Paisley’s own – a true Buddie we can be proud of.”

Labour Councillor Eddie Devine revealed he had taken a lot of ribbing about playing the part of a Tory Prime Minister after the filming had been completed. “And I’ve no doubt there will be some more Mickey-taking when the film is shown on Ren TV,” he said. “But I want to assure everybody that I’m definitely not a Tory!”

Renfrewshire Leisure’s chairperson, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: Renfrewshire Leisure’s chairperson, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “This is a great film, and I’m sure local people will enjoy learning more about Willie Gallacher and his principles, particularly his lifelong commitment to improving workers’ rights.”

“It’s a good way of paying tribute to one of Paisley’s most famous sons and even just as a piece of drama, the film is well worth watching.”

Renfrewshire Council’s Culture Heritage and Events Fund supported the making of A Lion Rose in Paisley. The film can be seen by logging on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com/rentv at 7pm on August 12.

Renfrewshire Council has joined forces with Zero Waste Scotland to promote their anti-littering campaign, Scotland is Stunning – Let’s Keep It That Way.

Highlighting the beauty of Scotland’s lochs and mountains, city parks and country woodlands, the campaign is backed by the Scottish Government and Keep Scotland Beautiful and aims to inspire people to enjoy the great outdoors, but without leaving litter behind.

In Renfrewshire, local people will be reminded that Renfrewshire is Remarkable and Paisley is Picturesque, as part of a drive to encourage local people to take pride in where they live.

The campaign aligns closely with Renfrewshire’s award-winning Team Up to Clean Up campaign which has seen thousands of local people tidying their communities and has created a dedicated community of like-minded volunteers.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “We’re delighted to continue our work with Zero Waste Scotland by promoting this campaign as we want to ensure that Renfrewshire remains a beautiful place to live, work and visit.

“Our own Team Up to Clean Up campaign has the same values and we’ve been delighted to see its success as local people come together to make a real difference to our communities.

“Renfrewshire really is remarkable so please, let’s work together to eradicate littering and take pride in where we live.”

As well as being an eyesore, dropping litter is a criminal offence. Discarded waste can also be a danger to young children and animals, and it is estimated that 80% of marine litter washing up on our beaches started out on land.

Iain Gulland, Zero Waste Scotland chief executive, said: “People are understandably keen to enjoy everything Scotland has to offer this summer, and onwards. If you are camping, exercising, having a barbecue or just enjoying the scenery, have fun, but remember to bin what you don’t need or take it with you.

“I’m delighted Renfrewshire Council is getting involved in our campaign. Go home with happy memories and leave Renfrewshire litter-free so others can do the same. We know Scotland is stunning, let’s keep it that way!”

The campaign can be followed on social media using the hashtag #BinYourLitter and volunteers are encouraged to post their pictures of beautiful scenery in their area, as well as their efforts to keep it tidy.

Barry Fisher, CEO of Keep Scotland Beautiful, added: “We welcome this new campaign highlighting the beauty of Scotland and all it has to offer. Litter levels across Scotland are unacceptable, and in many places are getting much worse. Alongside this campaign we will continue to offer support to all those who have already stepped up to tackle this problem in their own communities with litter clean ups and projects to improve and protect the places they care about.”

For community groups and other local organisations keen to spread the message, a free downloadable campaign toolkit is available online at www.managingourwaste.scot/litter and for more information on the Team Up to Clean Up campaign, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/TeamUptoCleanUp.

Renfrewshire-Leisure

Safety the priority as Renfrewshire Leisure has to wait for “green light” on leisure service, including gyms and pools.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (Thursday, 30th July) confirmed a further delay before gyms and swimming pools can reopen, with opening now identified as likely to be allowed on 14th September. That timeline is dependent on maintaining low levels of virus in the community as well as ensuring that all social distancing and hygiene protocols are followed, although the First Minister held out the prospect of particularly favourable conditions perhaps permitting an opening date at the end of August.

Renfrewshire-Leisure

Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa Marie Hughes said: “We really do value the support of our members and the wider public and know how much people in Renfrewshire have missed these services. These centres are important parts of our communities, playing important roles in helping our health and wellbeing. We are looking forward to welcoming people back and working with them to ensure their return is both safe and enjoyable.” 

 

Victoria Hollows, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “We know how eagerly the community is waiting for news on a date for reopening our leisure facilities, not least of all because of the vital part they play in ensuring we can get everyone active again after a long period of closure during lockdown. 

 

“With reopening now no earlier than the end of August, and perhaps not until mid September, we will continue to use the time before then to refine our procedures – continuing to reflect that our first priority for opening will be the safety of our customers and staff.”

 

Renfrewshire Leisure will also be working with Renfrewshire Council’s education department towards the recommencement of its Active Schools programmes from the start of the new school term, as well as working with local sports clubs and teams to make earliest possible use of courts and pitches after confirmation that these can commence from specified dates in August.

Paisley-Town-Hall-Scene-9075

Work to transform the future of Paisley’s much-loved town hall is due to restart – with construction workers due on site at the start of August.

The project will create 21st-century facilities inside the striking Victorian landmark while delivering improvements essential to keep the town hall at the heart of life in the town – and is taking place as part of a wider investment in Paisley’s historic venues by Renfrewshire Council.

Paisley-Town-Hall-Scene-9075

No work has taken place on the town hall in recent months due to the coronavirus lockdown – however with restrictions on construction sites being relaxed, workers can now safely go on site in line with national guidance.

The contract for the advance construction works on the town has been awarded to Morrison Construction and is expected to run until December.

The main construction works are expected to start next year, and while the exact impact of lockdown on the original timescale is still unclear, the project is expected to be complete before the end of 2022.

Other planned investments still being delivered in the town centre by the council include the work to transform Paisley Museum into a world-class destination showcasing the area’s unique and globally-significant story and collections, on which construction is due to start in the new year.

PaisleyTHNetworkBar

And construction work is due to resume soon on the site of the new Learning and Cultural Hub on Paisley High Street, which will be the town’s new home of library services.

Cllr Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd, which operates the town hall, said: “We are pleased work is able to resume on Paisley Town Hall, which is another positive sign as the area’s economy starts to re-emerge from lockdown.

“Although the council faces a very challenging financial outlook, the town hall, museum and learning and cultural hub projects are all well under way – with years of work having already taken place on each – and we intend to see those projects through.

“In the town hall’s case, the work being planned includes investment in 21st-century facilities which will help drive new footfall to the area in the years ahead, as well as essential replacement of outdated infrastructure without which the building would not have a long-term future.

“The completed buildings will be crucial to Renfrewshire’s long-term economic prospects – our vision for Paisley town centre remains one in which we promote its unique cultural and heritage offer to bring people here.

“And while coronavirus has disrupted that work we hope our continued investment in the town hall and other venues will help the area’s economic recovery from lockdown and give confidence to our local businesses.”

The investment in the town hall is aimed at bringing new activity and vibrancy to the town while ensuring the building has a long-term future. It is planned to include:

– a complete and essential replacement of the old and outdated electrical and mechanical systems;

– the preservation of the unique architectural features within this A-listed Victorian gem;

– an expanded capacity in the main hall allowing bigger and better events and driving more footfall to the town centre, boosting the local economy;

– unused spaces brought back into use and entirely new rooms and facilities created including a new café-bar with views over the river, increasing the range of events the building can host;

– a much-improved audience experience including improved staging, lighting and seating with better views, and improved access making it easier for everyone to move around the building.

virtual 5k

Fans of the Paisley 10k can still take part in a road race this year as a new competition gets up and running.

The annual Paisley 10k and Fun Run may have had to be cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the team at Renfrewshire Leisure have organised a series of virtual races to take its place.

virtual 5k

Runners can take part by signing up for the Renfrewshire Leisure Virtual 5k Summer Series for free and after registering, they are asked to submit their best times for running a distance of 5k.

They can start submitting their times once every week for three weeks starting on July 27 and runners can complete the distance either on an outdoor run, or on a treadmill.

Week One is July 27 to August 2; Week Two, August 3 to August 9 and Week 3, August 10 to August 16.

Registration via www.renfrewshireleisure.com/5ksummerseries will be open throughout each week and once signed up, runners will be sent an email with a weblink to a Google Form where they can submit their times.

Runners can choose to register and submit their time for Week 1, Week 2, or all three weeks. At the end of each week, results will be collated and a leader board will be posted on the Renfrewshire Leisure website and social media.

The Virtual 5k Summer Series is being organised in conjunction with Kilbarchan Amateur Athletic Club and the event’s charity partner is Erskine – Scotland’s foremost provider of care for military veterans and their spouses.

Although entry to the event is free, runners are being encouraged to make a donation to Erskine at www.erskine.org.uk/support-our-work/donate/ .

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “It’s a shame the Paisley 10k and Fun Run has had to be cancelled this year, but we’re making sure all the training that runners have been doing throughout the year will be put to good use.

“Our team has been very creative in coming up with the idea for a Virtual 5k Summer Series and I hope lots of runners sign up and log their best times for running the 5k race distance.

“I’m sure those taking part will join in the fun and competitive spirit of the event and if they aren’t top of the leader board after the first week, they have another two opportunities to post even faster times.”

covid_19

An innovative package of support to help Renfrewshire businesses recover from the effects of lockdown has been given the green light by councillors.

And the £1.3m funding boost agreed today by members of Renfrewshire Council’s Emergencies Board has also been welcomed by some of the area’s key economic leaders.

covid_19

The proposals were developed as a result of an in-depth survey which saw staff from the council and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce speak to more than 500 businesses – around 10% of Renfrewshire’s total – about the issues coronavirus has caused for them.

The council then used the results of that to develop a new package of short-term funding which will now be open for local firms to apply for from mid-August. It includes:

– £500k for zero-interest business restart loans of up to £5,000 to help small-and-medium-sized business with short-term cashflow;

– £400k for grants of up to £10,000 to help sustain businesses and plan for growth in the medium term;

– £250k for grants of up to £2,500 to help businesses adapt their premises to allow for physical distancing;

– £150k to help fund expert advice to businesses in crisis and self-employed people over training and access to funding;

The money is coming from within existing council budgets for business support and is expected to be the first stage of a longer-term economic recovery plan.

And the package of support has been backed by members of the Renfrewshire Economic Leadership Panel.

Bob Grant, chief executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The survey exercise in partnership with Renfrewshire Council has been the largest ever of the business community in Renfrewshire and we warmly welcome the innovative package of funding as a direct response to the key issues highlighted.

“In addition to these measures Renfrewshire Chamber will fund two initiatives launching at the end of July: Development of a peer-to-peer business mentoring service and a unique Transform training program which will help companies to innovate, re-design and develop new strategies to mitigate the impacts of Covid and identify future opportunities.”

Grant Edmondson, Hillington Park commercial director for Frasers Property UK – the majority owner of Scotland’s biggest business park, home to around 500 organisations – also welcomed the news.

He said: “We are happy to see the majority of Hillington Park businesses are now back open and operating, albeit significantly below capacity.

“We’re aware however many are concerned about the speed of pick-up in demand for their products and services over the next few months, with impact on cashflow as government support tapers off.

“The new business support package being announced by Renfrewshire Council is therefore extremely welcome at this point and we would encourage local businesses to get in touch with the council and apply for the support when applications open.”

Lydia Brown, Community Development Manager for intu Braehead said: “Businesses have been going through unprecedented times recently and only now, as lockdown restrictions are easing, do they have the opportunity to start the process of economic recovery.

“Many businesses still need support to help them kick-start their revival and this assistance from Renfrewshire Council can play a vital role in this.

“If any businesses – large or small – can benefit from this extra funding they should certainly apply to find out if they qualify for the assistance.

“The people running businesses in Renfrewshire are very creative and resilient and thankfully, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve no doubt we will get there and the Renfrewshire economy will come back as strong as ever.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “I am pleased this package of business support was backed by councillors today. We have prioritised this investment as we are determined to do all we can to support the local economy and protect local jobs through what will be a tough period ahead.

“We wanted to make sure the support we are offering was based on what businesses need – and the extensive work we and the Chamber did to establish what that was has been hugely valuable to us in terms of understanding the challenges facing our businesses.”

Paisley Xmas Lights 16.11.19-3639

Renfrewshire Council will not be progressing with the remainder of its events programme this year, as part of ongoing measures to help to manage the coronavirus pandemic and minimise the risk of local outbreaks.

The decision, which was confirmed at the Council’s Emergencies Board, means that the Paisley fireworks and Christmas lights switch-on events in Paisley, Renfrew and Johnstone will not be going ahead in 2020.

Paisley Xmas Lights 16.11.19-3639

Currently a ban on mass gatherings is in place across Scotland and when lifted it is expected that restrictions will remain in place for some time, including physical distancing measures and advice to avoid crowded places. The decision not to run the winter programme, which attracts tens of thousands annually, also takes into account the lengthy planning time required to safely organise major events.

Christmas Lights will still be displayed across Renfrewshire and work is ongoing with local organisations to plan activities that will safely attract footfall and visitors to Paisley, Johnstone and Renfrew over the festive period, including boosting the council’s Spend Local campaign to encourage people to shop local and support local traders and high streets.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Cllr Iain Nicolson said: “I know this will be disappointing news for everyone who supports and attends our popular winter programme and we are sorry that these events cannot go ahead this year. I hope everyone will understand that we must put public health first and will do everything we can to be back in 2021.

“Scottish Government guidance currently prevents mass gatherings from taking place and since we announced the cancellation of our summer and autumn programme, major events and festivals across the country have continued to be cancelled. Even if the restrictions due to coronavirus were relaxed, physical distancing measures are likely to remain in place for some time to ensure we do not experience local outbreaks and a further lockdown.

“Our major events take months of extensive planning and organising – and with uncertainty over how and when they can return, we have to take this difficult, but prudent decision now.

“We are proud of the social and economic impacts the events programme contributes to our communities – and we will continue to focus on delivering a fantastic events programme in 2021, working closely with national bodies and following public health advice.”

The Council is continuing to work closely with businesses across Renfrewshire to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and support reopening, with the announcement of a £1.3m package of support to help local businesses get back on their feet.

Renfrewshire Council advises everyone to stay safe and continue to follow the national guidance on coronavirus set out by the Scottish Government.

For the latest local updates, visit our ‘Information, help and guidance on Coronavirus’ webpage here: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus

Louise Drennan, Renfrewshire Leisure

Renfrewshire Leisure highlights success of services online as all 12 of its libraries prepare to launch click and collect service from Monday

Bookworms have borrowed more than 24,000 ebooks and emagazines from Renfrewshire’s libraries during lockdown.

Louise Drennan, Renfrewshire Leisure

The remarkable figure – representing an 80 per cent rise on this time last year – is among a string of successes secured by library staff as they’ve met massive demand for services online during the coronavirus crisis.

Renfrewshire Leisure will begin the gradual restart of physical operations at its libraries on Monday (July 20) as part of the latest phase of the community’s route map out of the pandemic, starting with a click and collect service.

But libraries staff will continue to develop their online offering in tandem with in-library services after experiencing huge demand for activities including quizzes, games, storytimes and writing workshops.

Between March 18 and July 13, Renfrewshire Leisure recorded 24,000 eloans – 16,963 ebooks and audiobooks and 7,096 emagazines. That compares to 9,267 ebooks and audiobooks and 4,096 emagazines – a 13,363 total – between the same dates last year

Joyce Higgins, Digital and Library Development Manager at Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “While we may not have physically had people visiting our libraries in the past few months, our online engagement has gone through the roof. We have been blown away by the engagement in the services and activities we have been running online and via social media.

“Our team have done a tremendous job in the way they have innovated, reimagined some of our services for online and ensured that – despite our physical buildings having been closed – we have continued to work with huge numbers of people across Renfrewshire to support their health and wellbeing during lockdown.

“We are excited about continuing to develop our online offering.”

Other online successes include the Bookbug sessions, which have been led by Kirstie Burns, a volunteer at Renfrew Library. She started her sessions from the first week of lockdown, broadcasting them on YouTube. She has produced 15 sessions which have had about 80,000 video views.

A series of Libraries Live Lunchtime Quizzes – broadcast via Facebook Live – have also been viewed more than 10,000 times.

The Skoobmobile team have been keeping in-touch with families through storytimes on RENTV channel including readings of “Oi Frog!” by Kes Gray and “Whiffy Wilson the Wolf who wouldn’t wash” by Caryl Hart and Leonie Lord.

Meanwhile, The Reading Agency and Renfrewshire Libraries are excited to introduce Silly Squad, Summer Reading Challenge 2020. The Silly Squad is a team of animal friends who love to go on adventures and read all kinds of funny books. More than 200 children have already signed up to take part in the challenge, which is digital this year. Visit www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk for more details.

All 12 of the libraries operated by Renfrewshire Leisure will be open for returns and for borrowing on a click and collect basis, as part of measures being put in place to ensure the safety of staff and library users. Books can be reserved online at

www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk or by telephone on 0300 300 1188. Access to buildings will be on a one in, one out basis. Each one will have a simple drop-off point for returns.

On top of this, staff will continue with the Libraries Direct service they have been operating throughout lockdown. This has seen them work with volunteers and Renfrewshire Council to deliver books and make wellbeing phone calls to people who have been shielding in their homes throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Morag Macpherson, Head of Cultural Services at Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “Our libraries team can be really proud of the work they have done during lockdown. I’m delighted with what we have achieved and look forward to developing our online services further, in tandem with what we offer in our library buildings as our services restart there.”

Opening arrangements for each library will be available at www.renfrewshire leisure.com. As well as the click and collect service, people will be able to phone library staff for recommendations and will contact them when their book is ready to collect. Computers in the libraries are not yet available for public use.

Social distancing and hygiene requirements will be clearly displayed at each building.

Renfrewshire Leisure’s libraries are at: Bishopton; Bridge of Weir; Erskine; Ferguslie; Foxbar; Glenburn; Johnstone; Lochwinnoch; Linwood; Paisley Central Library; Ralston and Renfrew.

Renfrewshire Leisure continues to await further guidance from the Scottish Government on the reopening of leisure services.