Schools can enjoy the best facilities with the best equipment but will still fall short if they have no ambition to improve every year.
Jack McConnell, the First Minister, last week told the Scottish Education Awards ceremony that schools must have the ambition and aspiration to build on their successes year after year.
"It's that aspiration for excellence that this whole award ceremony is about," Mr McConnell told an audience of several hundred pupils, teachers, local authority representatives and sporting stars at the new Adventure Centre at Ratho, outside Edinburgh.
Mr McConnell said: "There are great examples of good work happening and we should celebrate that success. We are investing more government money in buildings and equipment than we have for a long time but two things matter most."
"The first is the people. The pupils, parents, teachers and other members of staff and people who work in councils who back up schools.
"The other thing that is vitally important is that you can have the right people, the right equipment, the right buildings but if you do not have ambition and aspiration to be better and better year after year to ensure more and more young people have better chances in life, then all of that is wasted."