ARGYLL and Bute Council insists it is learning the lessons from a highly critical report by education inspectors.

The authority was blasted by Education Scotland last year after officials carrying out a check of the council’s education functions described four out of five quality indicators as “weak”.

The March 2017 probe called for “urgent and sustained action” to improve services for the area’s children.

But in a follow-up report published this week, inspectors found that the council has made “positive progress” in tackling the action points identified in the original report.

Education Scotland said in a statement: “The council has continued to build on its early progress across a number of key aspects of the leadership of the Education Service.

“The council’s recent budget decisions demonstrate its confidence in the work of the central team to take forward the continuous improvement of its education service.

“Under the strong leadership of the chief education officer, staff have sustained and strengthened their efforts to embed improvements at all levels of the education community.

“The two recently appointed heads of service have a strong capacity to enhance educational leadership across the authority.”

Responding to the findings of the follow-up report, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, the authority’s policy lead for education, said: “We want the young people of Argyll and Bute to aim high, for themselves and for the area. We are focused on delivering an education service that gives them the support they need to achieve their ambitions.

“The drive of our education staff is key to making this happen and we have always had complete confidence in their ability to deliver change.

“I am delighted that employees’ success, in progressing improvement, is reflected in these findings – they have certainly risen to the challenge, working hard to ensure the very best for our young people.

“Crucially the findings show that we are in a good place to ensure on-going improvement, to build on our strengths.

She added: “We look forward to working again with Education Scotland for the benefit of our students. Argyll and Bute has young people to be proud of. We are determined to support them, through an effective education service, in developing their aspirations and achieving their ambitions.”

Officials from Education Scotland will return to Argyll and Bute later this year to carry out a further inspection – this one focussing on how well the council is improving the quality of young people’s attainment in the area.