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Art of the matter

The inspectorate has embarked on a series of "best practice" conferences to spread the word about the good work of schools.

The first, uniquely, was held last month to promote a specific subject for primaries and secondaries - art and design.

Bill Maxwell, Her Majesty's chief inspector, said the aim is to "significantly improve our effectiveness in supporting improvement across Scotland in all of the key areas and aspects of the curriculum."

Mr Maxwell said one of the inspectorate's priorities is to make better use of its "national overview" to disseminate best practice. "The inspectorate is about challenging and supporting the system and we are committed to a balanced package," he said.

But he warned teachers: "Some subjects can no longer assume they have a place in the curriculum without justifying it in broader terms." Subjects had to contribute to the development of pupils as individuals, to enhance their social attitudes and skills and to prepare them for a life as citizens and in the workplace.

Mr Maxwell pointed to art and design as a subject that promotes creativity, problem-solving and the visual skills. "The vocational relevance of art and design is too often under-estimated," he added.

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