THE recent improvement in Norfolk's education service has been praised in an Office for Standards in Education report.
The inspection found the local education authority had come a long way in a short time and had generated optimism in many schools.
However, it says further training of advisers is required to improve the quality and effectiveness of services to schools.
Much of the change in the county has been brought about by a new director, Bryan Slater, and a new chief adviser, Fred Corbett. Since they were appointed, inspection, advice and training have been reorganised to foster school improvement, says the report.
Norfolk has had a higher than average number of failing schools - of the 18 that have required special measures, nine have been removed from the list. The report added that until 1995 the education authority was not able to identify schools in difficulties. Concern at the number of failing schools was the spur to action by councillors and senior officers.
Primary-school performance is still slightly below the national average. At GCSE, a third of schools failed to improve their results between 1994 and 1997.
The report suggests Norfolk will be able to improve standards because of its involvement in the national literacy project, its effective training for heads and services for governors and managers.
However, services to the weakest schools need to be improved and greater guidance on the use of performance statistics is required.
The report concludes: "Norfolk education authority is in the throes of change. This has already led to clear improvements in the coherence of support for schools, an area where development was much needed. The strategy for school improvement is sound, but changes still have some way to go."