THREE quarters of Glasgow pupils should be getting at least one Higher in future, according to the city’s education boss.

Maureen McKenna, Glasgow’s executive director of education, said the ambitious target was achievable after figures showed significant improvement over the past decade.

Despite significant levels of poverty the proportion of pupils securing Highers has increased at a dramatic rate since 2007.

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Ten years ago only a quarter of pupils achieved at least one Higher compared to more than 53 per cent this year – an increase of 91 per cent.

The proportion of pupils securing five or more Highers has increased at an even faster rate.

Ms McKenna, who took over as education director in 2007, said she wanted city schools to go further.

She said: “Over half of our year groups are now getting at least one Higher. When I joined they would have howled with laughter at me if I had suggested that.

“Looking to the future I think three quarters of our young people should be able to get one Higher.

“It has taken us ten years to get to where we are now, but we have broken that glass ceiling.”

Ms McKenna said the drive to improve results even further would be led by a focus on getting more pupils to stay on at school beyond S4.

“I want to minimise the number of S4 leavers because all the international evidence shows that the longer you stay on past the statutory leaving date the better your longer term outcomes are.

“I understand why our schools will be encouraging some to go, but 16-year-old apprentices don’t do as well as 17-year-old apprentices and that year of maturity really helps.”

Ms McKenna said she still wanted pupils to work with “brilliant” colleges in the city, but stressed a key focus should be on having an extra year at school.

“Some S4 leavers are not getting as good outcomes as they should and these are the missing children that we need to identify so we can understand what it is that is impacting on their lives and how we can best help them.

“We want schools to intervene with these pupils as soon as they arrive so they can support them throughout their school career.”

As The Herald reported yesterday Glasgow is progressing at a faster rate than the national average.

A number of factors are seen as crucial to the improvement with a reduction in the proportion of pupils being excluded and new policies to support the most disadvantaged pupils.

Other policies include a focus on better teaching and school leadership and the use of restorative justice techniques – where pupils are forced to confront the impact of their actions – to help discipline.

Chris Cunningham, the council’s education convener, said the past decade had seen a “tremendous focus” on improving attainment.

He said: “Glasgow is making great strides to raise the bar and we will continue to work to close the national attainment gap.”