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Two new manuals for HMI's DIY series

Schools are being put on stand-by for an explosion of further self-evaluation checks, designed to raise achievement in new buzz areas such as inclusion, new community schools, race equality and creativity.

HMI last week launched the first two short publications - Planning for Improvement and International Education - in a new series which backs up How Good Is Our School?, the quality assurance bible. Up to 18 other publications are expected over the next 18 months, picking up on practice inspectors observe on visits to schools and authorities.

Graham Donaldson, senior chief inspector, said that HMI's "toolkit" should become a practical set of guides for teachers in pre-school, primary and secondary sectors and complement its "Improving" series which was launched last month with a critical focus on English language in primary and secondary.

Mr Donaldson said: "Both encourage schools and teachers to ask questions about the quality of education they offer to young people and set about identifying ways in which the kind of issues that are addressed through that evaluation process can be taken forward."

The Scottish self-evaluation approach to quality assurance had attracted worldwide interest and How Good Is Our School? had been translated into several languages, Mr Donaldson said. However, external inspection still provided the public with assurances about standards across the country and national benchmarks.

"Neither the internal or external is sufficient on its own to ensure a process of continuous improvement," he told an invited audience in Edinburgh.

The last standards and quality report found that around half of schools had "significant need to improve self-evaluation". Some would no doubt have improved since then but there was no complacency, Mr Donaldson said.

"The publications take us one step beyond How Good Is Our School? and provide what we hope are clear, concise guides on key aspects of school improvement," he said. "The guides are being developed in conjunction with key people in the system and not something produced by inspectors, locked away to come up with great wheezes for somebody else to implement."

The introductory guide on planning and self-evaluation would be familar but was now set within the national improvement framework established by the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000.

"Planning for Improvement" and "International Education" are available on

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