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Capital's schools file a vote of confidence in HMI

EDINBURGH has praised Her Majesty's Inspectors as "fair-minded and decent" after an analysis of 22 inspections over the past two years showed city schools in better shape than ever.

Inspectors have been accused of losing teachers' respect following a hard-hitting report on Musselburgh Grammar in neighbouring East Lothian, but this week the capital rode to the rescue as HMI released its six latest reports.

Roy Jobson, director of education, said: "What we have got in HMI is fair. They do an honest job and in the main they mean well to help schools develop. That is in sharp contrast to the approach in England with OFSTED, where you have a system based on a negative approach which people often find demeaning and demoralising. It can often set back the raising of standards.

"At times I will disagree but they largely do a proper job in a fair-minded way."

Mike Hay, headteacher of Tynecastle High, who has bee seconded to run the council's quality assurance, said: "That is generally the perception of heads as well. By and large, most heads say inspections are fair and people courteous. Mostly they agree with the outcome." Mr Jobson said that on HMI's evidence the city had "some very good schools", producing excellent classroom work and led by equally excellent headteachers.

The quality of observed lessons in the study was good or very good in 85 per cent of 14 primaries and eight secondaries against the national average of 70 per cent in primaries and 75 per cent in secondaries. However, there are considerable variations.

Headteachers' leadership was very good or good in 100 per cent of the inspections in contrast to the national figures of 80 per cent in primary and 85 per cent in secondary. Inspectors gave their lowest rating in the 22 inspected schools to the state of buildings and quality of facilities.

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