Opportunity for all

25th April 2003 at 01:00
Reading your somewhat negative news item of April 4 about Edinburgh's HMI report, I wonder if The TES Scotland was reading the same report that I was.

We received a tremendous report of which we are very proud. Every aspect of our service was judged to be "very good" or "good" and it is disappointing that this was not reflected in your article.

The report recognises the substantial strengths of our education department, highlighting its "shared vision, approaches to consultation, communication, service planning and our commitment to quality and improvement". These "provide a strong base on which to further promote and secure continuous improvement", it added.

Many people see Edinburgh as an affluent city but the inspectors recognised that we are a city of contrasts, a unique proportion of pupils attending independent schools with areas of significant deprivation. Again, HMI report that "the council had taken a number of very positive steps to improve the quality of education and respond to the scale, diversity and uniqueness of challenges facing it".

Only by working closely in partnership with our schools can we improve quality, raise standards and promote achievement. It was therefore extremely heartening to see Roy Jobson, the director of education, being described in the report as "very successful in establishing good relationships and a sense of trust and co-operation which was widely recognised and appreciated by head-teachers", with both consultation and communication judged to be "very good".

HMI's recognition of the high level of commitment by senior staff to the promotion of quality is welcomed, the department's pro-cesses for review being identified as key strengths in supporting quality and continuous improvement across our education service.

Our vision is to provide quality education for all and the report demonstrates we are well on the way towards achieving this. For example, our Higher results are above the national average with high attainment in S5-S6 described as one of our key strengths.

However, achievement comes in many forms and we are continuously striving to ensure every individual pupil is given every opportunity to achieve to their greatest potential. Edinburgh was commended for the very good support it provides for the arts, international exchanges, sports, outdoor education and out of school hours learning activities.

Our HMI report says Edinburgh's pupils are receiving a good quality of education, but we will never be complacent and I am confident we will continue to see education in Edinburgh going from strength to strength.

Ewan Aitken

Executive member for education

Edinburgh City Council

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