THE education of some high school pupils in Dunfermline actually benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic.

While acknowledging that it was a hugely disruptive time, St Columba’s headteacher Mick McGee said it worked out better for kids who were struggling with their lessons and were brought in for extra help.

At the City of Dunfermline area committee, he told councillors: “Thanks to Fife Council we were able to provide all our young people with a device on day one or two and had access to the internet.

“We also had a hub running during the Covid period, we had about 30-50 young people coming in each day, so we actually did quite well during Covid as it really helped our young people that were maybe struggling.

“It was more comfortable for them to come into school when there wasn’t another 850 young people in the building.

“We had pupil welfare officers going out to collect some of those young people and bringing them into school so they actually had quite a good experience during Covid.

“We could concentrate on and target support to those young people to make sure they got their qualifications.”

READ MORE: Fife Council concerned about 'increase' in school violence

In the latest report card for our high schools, councillors were told that pupils in Dunfermline and the South West Fife area were "less likely to live in household poverty or areas of deprivation" than those living in the rest of Fife.

A report said that positive destinations for leavers and attainment outcomes for Dunfermline pupils were "generally better" than for other parts of the Kingdom – "as would be expected given the social context of the local area" – and there were improvements in numeracy and literacy.

Mr McGee said the outcomes for those leaving at the end of S4 weren't as good and they were "encouraging every young person to stay on until at least the end of S5".

He added: "We've got a focus group of young people that have dropped out and we're trying to work out what the reasons are so we can put strategies in place to ensure this doesn't happen."

Dunfermline Press: Some pupils did better during the pandemic.Some pupils did better during the pandemic. (Image: Newsquest)

Iain Yuile, the rector at Dunfermline High, said: "Like every other school in Fife and probably Scotland, attendance has been really difficult.

"We have some strategies in place that have worked well but in terms of positive destinations, the most significant part is the absolute non-attenders in S4.

"It's a key part we're all struggling with, more pupils struggling to get out of the house. We've had some success but we need to keep coming up with strategies to help."

He added: "Attendance is the biggest challenge. We need to get pupils in to make sure they get the qualifications they're capable of."

READ MORE: High point for new £222m Dunfermline Learning Campus

At the committee, education manager Deborah Davidson was asked about the impact of the pandemic on delays in diagnosing which children required additional support needs.

She said: “Our young people don’t need a diagnosis to make sure the appropriate support is in place.

“We very much use contextualised assessments to support and identify any additional support needs, for example dyslexia, where we look at appropriate interventions and also work with our schools to try and ensure universal support.

“You’ll know that the average percentage of a school population having an identified support need is generally about 30 per cent.

“Now that’s wide ranging and can be linked to low attendance, a bereavement, dyslexia, there are a range of issues.

“But support shouldn’t be linked to a diagnosis.”