The latest set of performance indicators have been developed specifically to gauge the effectiveness of school-industry links by HMI's audit unit.
They are to be used by the Inspectorate in its special investigation of education for work next year, after which a national HMI report will follow. The indicators pose the same three self-evaluative questions published by HMI last December in How Good is Our School? - How are we doing? How do we know? What are we going to do now?
The latest guide makes clear that inspectors will expect schools to be much more rigorous in assessing the worth of links. Pupil attainment will have to be addressed, covering the five core skills, extent of knowledge and understanding, and general attitudes towards industry or employers' requirements.
The views of parents, pupils and employers as well as school staff and careers officers should be canvassed in any evaluation of work-related activities, which should be carried out "on a regular basis," the document states.
The PIs also make clear that all seven areas of school activity are relevant for evaluating links. These are the curriculum, attainment, learning and teaching, support for pupils, ethos, resources and management, leadership and quality assurance.
There are 10 specific indicators, selected from the 33 outlined in How Good is Our School? They focus on the quality of courses, overall quality of attainment, the quality of pupils' learning, personal and social development, the quality of guidance, links with other schools, agencies, employers and the community, organisation and use of space and resources, the provision of staff, the development plan and the effectiveness of promoted staff and senior teachers.
The contribution of links to the quality of learning covers themes such as pupils taking personal responsibility for their learning, engaging in independent thinking, active involvement in learning and interaction with others.
comment, page 27 How Good is Our School at Education-Industry Links? is available from the Scottish CCC at Gardyne Road, Dundee DD5 1NY, price Pounds 4.
Questions all schools should ask
"Does one week in one job make enough impact?" is one of the questions HMI will be asking in the wide-ranging review of work experience announced at the conference.
Mr Osler outlined the others: * Is fourth year the best place for work experience when pupils are also being encouraged to attend school regularly to fare well in their first external exams?
* Could work experience for some pupils be the regular jobs they have out of school hours?
* If schools prepared pupils for work experience, could the actual experience take place out of school time?
* Should work experience be more often, for longer?
* Can technology be used to simulate a wider variety of work experience?
* Could pupils take advantage of the fact that devolved management has turned schools into businesses?
"If work experience or any curricular activity has to make a real impact, it must be of an adequate length, probably reinforced by later refreshment and attended by more than one example," Mr Osler stated.