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Moray acts to head off inspectors

External consultants are to be brought in by Moray Council to recommend changes to its education department following an unflattering HMI verdict.

The inspectors' report is due next Tuesday and is expected to be highly critical of key aspects of the education service - pressure that forced councillors this week to move quickly to appoint advisers.

Officials said they had eight weeks to devise an action plan and that the time-scale was tight.

"Given the issues arising from these reports, it is considered necessary to engage the services of external consultants to support the development work required to address specific issues," they state. "Clearly, this work is of a specialised nature and the range of potential consultants is restricted."

Former senior officials with experience in other authorities are expected to be prime candidates.

Moray is likely to be close to the foot of the unofficial league table of local authority performance and may be targeted by Peter Peacock, Education Minister, as an illustration of the need for reserve intervention powers when schools or local authorities fail to improve following inspections.

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