The inspectorate has been casting its eye over Glasgow again and given the city's education performance qualified approval. HMI's follow-up report to its initial inspection two years ago is able to conclude only that the authority has "improved aspects of its capacity to improve".
The revamp of the education service has won high praise. But, despite the stronger priority given to attainment, inspectors say that schools are still battling extensive economic and social deprivation. The council said the report was "a fair reflection of where we are", recognising strengths and progress but also challenges.
HMI notes "some modest improvements" since the initial report was published in May 2002, notably at the early stages of primary school, in increasing qualifications by the end of S6, and in reducing the percentage of S4s leaving school without qualifications.
Also singled out are increasing numbers going into training, the modernising of the schools estate and "significantly improved" consultation with schools.
A number of initiatives are particularly commended, such as nurture classes for very young children who show signs of antisocial behaviour, the emphasis on vocational training and a range of health promotion programmes.
The authority had not, however, succeeded so far in reducing the gap between attainment in the city and national averages. The pattern in schools across the city over the past three years was "too variable".
The inspectorate now wants the council to submit a progress report by June next year on the action it is taking to "support and challenge" underperformance, especially among secondary pupils. Progress to date is rated as "fair". HMI also wants to see more done to spread good practice as a contribution to boosting attainment.