EDUCATION inspectors have paid another visit to Argyll and Bute’s schools – and were so impressed that they’re not coming back.

HM Inspectors of Education made their fifth visit to the council area in less than two years in October, having reported from their previous one in May that positive progress was being made.

The department has now praised the area for its “significant improvements” to the quality of children and young people’s achievements and attendance.

And it has announced that the area is operating to such a high standard that no subsequent visits in connection with the original inspection, which was in March 2017, will take place.

A report by the inspectors said: “At the broad general education stages, data provided by the authority indicates that attainment has improved from 2016 to 2018 in several important measures.

“The attainment of children and young people in reading, writing, listening and talking has improved at almost every stage which is measured - P1, P4, P7 and S3.

“There are important improvements in numeracy too, particularly at the primary stages. Across the authority, staff have worked well together to ensure that teachers are making more confident and accurate judgements of pupils’ progress.

“Over recent years, the attendance of pupils at primary, secondary and special schools has been higher than the national average.

“The proportion of children and young people being excluded from school is well below the national average.”

The report also highlighted that staff are working hard to arrest the trend over the last five years of the attainment of young people in literacy and numeracy in Argyll and Bute being lower than other Scottish schools serving pupils with similar needs and backgrounds.

It said: “There are positive signs of improvement in 2017 and 2018 and staff are working hard to achieve consistently higher levels of attainment across all schools.

“There are some very positive improvements in the attainment of young people in National Qualifications, particularly between 2016 and 2018.

“For example, at S4, the proportion of young people achieving awards at National 5 (SCQF level 5) has improved and in 2018 is above the virtual comparator and national averages.

“At S5 and S6, more young people now succeed at Higher level (SCQF level 6) and attainment at this level has risen to be in line with or above the virtual comparator and national averages.

“The authority recognises that there is scope to increase the proportion of young people achieving five or more Higher awards.”

The document added: “The inspection report published in March 2017 identified a number of areas for improvement which had been agreed with Argyll and Bute Council.

“Three further published inspection reports have confirmed that the council has taken appropriate action to address these areas.

“The council has now demonstrated that it has made positive and continued progress since the original inspection in September 2016.

“As a result of the improvements outlined above, HM Inspectors will make no further visits to Argyll and Bute Council in connection with the original inspection.”

Welcoming the report, the council’s policy lead for education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “Argyll and Bute Council is focussed on delivering an education service that meets the needs of our children and young people.

“We want the very best for our children and young people, and our aims and objectives for this are clearly set out in our Education Strategy ‘Our Children, Their Future’.

"We are committed to making Argyll and Bute the best place for our children to grown and learn, and I truly believe that we are on the way to achieving this.

“We have staff and pupils to be proud of, many of whom are already achieving award winning success, and I’d like to thank them for their dedication and commitment.

"It’s now time for us continue to build on these improvements and ensure our pupils are supported to achieve their goals.”