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Joanne Macauley reports
"St. Ninian's High School in Kirkintilloch achieves exam results above the national average"
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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 14:24 GMT
Damning verdict on education authority
St. Ninian's High School
The report criticised the council's dealings with schools
A Scottish education authority has been ordered to make a series of improvements after a damning report by inspectors.

East Dunbartonshire Council has been given eight weeks to produce an action plan after being criticised for lacking both vision and leadership.

The report is one of the first two inspections by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools on Scottish councils.

The HMI report on Highland Council has given it a clean bill of health.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell: "worried"
Education minister Jack McConnell said he was concerned by the East Dunbartonshire report and would meet officials, who will also be visited for a fresh inspection next year to check on progress.

He said: "The report on East Dunbartonshire Council is very worrying.

"Action is urgently required to address the weaknesses identified in their services.

"The Council has agreed to submit an action plan to me to by April 10 to address these areas.

'Too reactive'

"I have also agreed that HM Inspectors of Schools will return to the authority and report to me on progress within 12 months."

Mr McConnell added: "It is critical to our children's future success that tough and decisive action is taken to address identified weaknesses as soon as possible."

The report on East Dunbartonshire detailed a series of failings:

  • It was said to be slow in establishing a clear and distinctive vision for education

  • At the time of the inspection, over four years after local government reorganisation, many school staff and almost all school board chairpersons were unable to identify a vision, values or aims for education

  • Problems were compounded by poor communication

  • Management was said to be "too reactive", and there had been a failure to set out the role of senior officials and headteachers

  • The report also found councillors were too willing to accept reports from officials which portrayed education as "a high-performing, smooth-running and successful service"

  • It was also revealed headteachers were not consulted on a series of key areas, including property maintenance and the council's spending plans

East Dunbartonshire's chief executive, Vicki Nash, said the council had acknowledged the report and had produced "an agenda for action" to meet its recommendations.

She said: "We have acknowledged that there are areas of difficulty in the service.

"It is a fair report in the main. We feel that it is a development agenda and we are improving following the report."

In its response, the council said it was developing a new approach to managing education, with a new structure being put in place.

School repairs procedures are to be updated, financial regulations improved and the council committed itself to improving the aims and vision of its education services.

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