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Integration 'has limited impact'

There is little evidence that families are benefiting from the early stages of what are now called integrated community schools.

The inspectorate next week is expected to confirm that its initial studies of what began as new community schools reveal they are having a limited impact on the people they are meant to serve.

Schools and other agencies will find it tough to meet the Scottish Executive target of turning all schools into a focus for meeting all the needs of children and families by 2007. Some pound;78 million is being injected into the initiative.

The HMIE's evidence supports recent research by a team from the Institute of Education at London University which found that new community schools have been more successful in achieving soft targets than hard ones.

The pilot programme between 1999 and 2002, launched by Donald Dewar, the former First Minister, has been "unable to demonstrate substantial impacts" on any of the ambitions set for it, the university researchers said last year.

Now in its preparation for reviews of child protection measures, the inspectorate takes a similarly pessimistic view to that of the London academics.

It is likely to highlight successful examples of joint working, for instance, between teachers and social workers, but is unlikely to pinpoint evidence of success for children and families.

At a conference run by Aberdeen University in June, Geoff Whitty, one of the Institute of Education researchers, reinforced the message that it was "not tenable" that education alone could transform the life chances of children in poverty.

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