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Her Majesty's Inspectors of Education have praised the strong commitment to improvement found within the local authority and recognised that it is well placed to make further progress.
A team from HMIE visited Clackmannanshire Council during August, September and October 2005 to carry out a pilot inspection of the education function of the authority. This followed an initial inspection in September 2003.
The report, published today (31st May 2006), states that the Chief Executive, senior elected members and the Director of Services to People had given a strong and consistent lead in promoting and improving attainment and achievement in schools.
Dave Jones, Director Services to People, said: "I am delighted that the hard work, commitment and success shown by our education service has been recognised by Her Majesty's Inspectors. It is clear from the report that the Inspectors found that elected members, school staff, parents and education department staff work extremely well together to do their very best for each and every pupil in Clackmannanshire."
Key strengths highlighted in the report include:
HMIE also praised the "extensive and innovative" PE programme in nursery and early years centres; the promotion of healthy eating; and noted that the synthetic phonics and philosophy for children programmes had received international recognition.
One of the main points for action highlighted in the report is the need for young people to have more opportunities to engage with the Council on issues of concern to them.
Education spokesman Councilor Bobby McGill said: "I welcome the Inspector's contribution and I am delighted that the hard work put in by our staff, both at the centre and in schools, has been recognised by HMI. Nothing in this report was a surprise to any of us. HMI highlights a number of areas where the Council had started to develop approaches to engage the wider community, particularly young people, as we were aware that this was an area that required some focus. Seven months on from the Inspectors' visit, enormous progress has been made and continues to take place."
The report also praises the work of the Quality Improvement Team. Quality Improvement Manager Lesley Robertson said: "I am very pleased that the strength of the team of Quality Improvement Officers has been recognised in the report as playing a key role in the development of the work of schools, as well as contributing significantly to the work of the authority overall. The team's hard work in supporting the performance of schools has been described as strong and effective. We look forward to building on this very positive position to make further progress."
The report also confirms that the Council's Cultural and Community Services are developing and delivering new and more creative programmes in arts, drama, sports and music that effectively engage and impact on young people. HMIE also noted a range of worthwhile and innovative community-based projects enable young people to make a positive contribution to the local community and participate in the community planning process.
Cultural and Community Services Manager Ron Carthy said: "Innovative creative engagement with young people provides a strong base to further engage with the wider community and, as with the early report on Youth Work in the Council, this report notes that that the Council has begun to develop some useful approaches to this."
Welcoming the report, scrutiny portfolio holder Councillor Brian Fearon said: "I am very pleased to see that the work undertaken by elected members in this administration in supporting officers in addressing the authority's improvement agenda has been recognised by HMIE. This is a very good example of elected members and officers working together to bring about improvement. The report shows that we had a clear view of the changes that were needed, and have a continued commitment to progress."
The report adds: "The education authority had taken positive action to add value to the work of schools and secure improvements for children, young people and their families."