Education Inspection Report

Education Scotland today released one of the worst ever inspection reports on an education service. You can read it all at this link:


If you want to see the summary assessment only, ie their assessment against the quality criteria, it’s as follows:

inspection summary

Earlier today, the acting executive director covering education issued a quite extraordinary rebuttal of the inspection report to councillors. This was issued before most of them would have read the report. (There will, of course, be many who might never get round to reading it, they are so lazy and disinterested.)  Her rebuttal can be downloaded here: rebuttal

I have raised a number of questions both with Education Scotland and with the acting executive director and I’ll let you see these once I have answers. Meanwhile, Michael Russell MSP has issued a press release on this and it’s reproduced below. More to follow.

Argyll & Bute Education Management savaged in report from Her Majesty’s Inspectors. 4 out of 5 key indicators classed as “weak” 

Commenting on today’s Education Scotland / HMI report on Argyll & Bute Council “s Management  of Education, local MSP Michael Russell said: “This is a deeply worrying and very depressing inspection report.

It is one of the worst ever published about the educational management of a local authority in Scotland.  The collapse in educational management that has been revealed today by Her Majesty’s Inspectors  has  major consequences for staff and pupils.   There are many great teachers in Argyll & Bute and great Head Teachers too but they have been badly let down by their senior management and the extent of that failure is now clear to see.

The hidden cost of these failures  lies in the strain on staff, increased sickness  and absence and great frustration at not having the support they need to do their jobs and serve the young people, and the future, of this wonderful area to their , and their pupils,  full potential.

The two questions that must therefore be addressed with urgency are , firstly, how the situation is to be remedied and secondly how it arose.

As far as the first is concerned it is clear that  Education Scotland must exercise the closest supervision of the Council Education Department from now on and ensure that an improvement plan is brought forward with urgency which  is detailed, well  resourced  and has the active support of the key stakeholders including the staff.  Piecemeal and thoughtless  cutting of education which has been a hallmark of the current Council administration and which is in part to blame needs to stop now.

Obviously leadership and effective management will be a key issue in making sure that any improvement plan works.    However the judgement of the Inspectors is that current leadership at the most senior level is “weak”.    It is therefore at the very least questionable that the current educational key leaders  in the Council’s Senior Management team including the Chief Executive (who was previously the Executive Director of Community Services overseeing Education ) are the right people to take forward the urgent and far reaching  improvements that are needed.

These problems have been made worse by the insistence by the previous Chief Executive and by the current Senior Management team on an excessive and rigidly enforced split between policy and operational management.  That split has diminished effective scrutiny from elected councillors which might have avoided , at least  in part, a situation where four out of the five key educational management indicators in the report are graded as “weak”.

However councillors cannot escape some share of responsibility and in particular those who were , supposedly, overseeing Education in the present Administration including the current Deputy Leader of the Council Ellen Morton,  and the  current Education spokesperson Cllr Rory Colville.  They should be considering their positions as they read this damning report as should the Council Leader, Dick Walsh.   These failures have happened on his  watch.

This report is a wake up call for not just for education but for the entire lack lustre administration of Argyll & Bute Council.   But it is also a clarion call for change  which can – and must –  come at the local elections on the 4th of May.  Today’s inspection report demonstrates that without that change our children, our area and our future will be at grave and growing risk.   “


  1. Sometimes It’s not what you say it’s what you mean…wink!
    2.1 “Elected Members are advised of the imminent publication of the Inspection report by Education Scotland on 21 March 2017. The published report will be made public, with the potential inclusion of a national press release.”

    Written as if Trump had just pushed the nuclear button and it must have hurt non – sanitised – Kilmory – wash – spin – repeat – propaganda.

    Well said Michael Russell.

  2. Can we expect a rebuttal of the “rebuttal”?

    Having never been directly involved in the business of educating children I have to be careful about what I’m about to say. My wife and I, quite separately in Glasgow and Dunoon, were educated in the Scottish system of the 1950s and 60s when, and I have no evidence of this, it was apparently one of the best, or as some claimed,”the best” in the world. Scottish bombast!?

    This might have had something to do with the fact that many of the teachers in that era had experienced a world war and, certainly, there seemed to have been a more robust and disciplined approach to education then, more akin to what appears to be the case with current world leaders Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, etc. When my own children were being educated at primary and secondary school it was the era which I’ve heard referred to as that of the “lost generation”. In my view, that was in many ways down to a teaching element who weren’t up to the job.

    I recall asking teachers certain questions of teachers I played sport with and receiving answers such as :-

    “My ten year old son’s spelling could be a lot better (despite help at home). Any tips?” “Don’t worry he’ll improve with the reading of books.” (Everyone surely knows that boys of that age and books are a sorry mix).
    Also, to another teacher and a similar spelling putdown. “My spelling isn’t so good either so I rely on “spellcheck”. This was around 1986/87 not long after I’d bought a basic desktop PC and knew little about its workings. “Spellcheck! What the hell is spellcheck?”

    “My son is about to go into secondary school next term but he doesn’t seem to get any homework?” “Oh, I tend not to give much homework, its a lot of work for me.” I can’t repeat what I said next!

    Fundamentally, the Education Inspection Report seems to broadly reflect the prevailing malaise in Scotland and our international standing. In my view, and notwithstanding no doubt necessary ongoing management and operational efforts across the country, good education comes down to two fairly obvious things – strong, intelligent and highly motivated teachers getting their messages across to the bairns and home support from similarly motivated parents. (I’m open to being convinced that we have anywhere near enough of both!) Maybe its easy to say, and perhaps not all that easy to do, but that’s how the Far East does it. Oh, of course, and thirdly, erecting structurally secure school buildings that have not gone through some sort of daft self-certification procedure that make us a laughing- stock. I presume no one is yet in prison over this.

    As a start, I suggest taking education away from local authorities, putting it in the hands of professionals and centralising it. Unfortunately, we have that democracy stumbling block that says if you’re not elected you don’t have credibility! However, as you imply, we can’t leave it in the hands of some who might be “lazy and disinterested” – perhaps a majority!

    No apologies for this rant. We live in a badly flawed country!

  3. They get away with it because elected members in the administration won’t do anything about it. Education Spokesperson is Councillor Rory Coleville ask him…
    Not sure how Ann Marie Knowles became such an expert on how everyone who is leaving school feels.

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