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Full marks for computers and key strengths

Neil Munro summarises the Inspectorate's verdict on the nation's schools.

HMIs include resources for learning and teaching among the strengths of both primary and secondary schools, suggesting that headteachers' control over budgets is having a positive effect.

The number of computers in primaries has risen by 30 per cent to an average of one for every 24 pupils. In secondaries, the rise was 50 per cent from 1991-94, to one computer per eight pupils.

Resources for the curriculum were said to be good or very good in more than 90 per cent of primaries and very good in 40 per cent of secondaries. Improvements are most needed in science, technology, music, drama and religious education.

Deployment of resources across secondary schools and within departments passed muster, but library provision varied considerably from school to school.

Secondaries were "less good at using the surrounding environment and people in their local community as resources for teaching and learning".

* The report highlights schools' key strengths. Primary school standards of attainment are high in talking, listening and reading in English language; information handling and shape in maths; and music and physical education in the expressive arts.

Primaries had a "positive ethos", with welcoming environments; happy and secure relationships between pupils and teachers; effective partnerships with parents and school boards; and good personal and social development.

Secondary schools are praised for their broad curriculum; good standards in S3-S6 (for example, the 4 per cent increase from 1992-95 in the top Standard grades at Credit level); and learning and teaching especially in S5-S6 which was good or very good in 80 per cent of schools.

The positive ethos identified in secondaries centred on just two aspects: a sense of identity, purpose and pride in the school; and effective partnerships with parents and school boards.

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