Analysis: Moray primary schools are failing to pass the test

Mortlach Primary School
Mortlach Primary School

SCHOOLS INSPECTORS HAVE found ‘room for improvements’ at a Moray school – while they acknowledge progress has been made.

Failings found in an inspection carried out at Mortlach Primary in Dufftown last year prompted a follow-up return to the same school this year.

Now a report to parents on the visit of inspectors reveals that while improvements have been noted to have taken place over the intervening 12 months, more needs to be done – and an insideMoray investigation has found that the Speyside school is not an isolated case, as half of Moray’s schools inspected since 2013 have received ‘fail’ marks.

Inspectors said in a letter: “Although there have been improvements in some aspects of the work of the school overall, there still remains much to be done to ensure sufficient improvement. The pace of change has been too slow.

“The school is now gathering a greater range of information about children’s progress – however, it still does not yet have a reliable overview of children’s progress and attainment over time which teachers can use to help children make better progress.”

“The pace of implementing improvements in the curriculum, as outlined in the previous inspection, has not been maintained.”

Staff at the school are reported to be hard working and caring, demonstrating a willingness to continue an improvement programme at the school. The report acknowledges that staff have continued to work with children and gathered evidence of their learning using a range of assessments.

“They have begun to develop whole-school approaches to tracking and monitoring children’s progress in literacy and numeracy,” the letter said.

The letter continued: “Staff recognise that these approaches are not yet enabling them to gather the information they need to monitor children’s progress effectively. This is an area which requires further development.

“We are not yet satisfied with the overall quality of provision. As a result, our area lead officer will work with Moray Council to build capacity for improvement and will maintain contact to monitor progress.  We shall return to carry out a further inspection within nine months of publication of this letter.”

Lowest Spenders

The report came at a time when Moray Council continues to boast being one of the lowest spending councils on education in Scotland.

Last year it was revealed that of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, Moray spent less per-child attending primary school than 29 others.  Figures for the 2014/15 year revealed that Moray spent an average of £4261 per child attending its primary schools – well below the Scottish average of £4734 and the third lowest in Scotland.

When the figures were revealed Moray’s Independent/Tory administration leaders boasted that it was a success that the region could spend so little on education with one even suggesting that Councils throughout Scotland were casting eyes on Moray and asking how it was done.

At the time the SNP spokesman on education, Councillor Mike Shand, questioned if it was “actually a good thing”, adding: “Or does it mean that we are not spending enough on our school pupils when compared to other parts of Scotland?”


Our table shows inspections made at Moray primary schools since 2013 (excludes nursery provision where it exists as part of a school).  Those showing ‘continuing engagement’ are still subject to additional inspections until the required standards are judged to have been reached.

As shown by our table, eight schools have been inspected since 2013 – four of these have received ‘weak’ ratings in their reports.  The national average in 2012 was that one if every 10 inspected schools received poor inspections.

Going further back to 2005, 13 of the 45 primary schools have received ‘poor’ inspections.

There are six schools in Moray that have currently not been inspected for over 10 years – all are now overdue an inspection.  These are:

  • Last inspected in 2005 – Logie, Millbank, Milnes, St Thomas RC.
  • Last inspected in 2006 – Applegrove, Dallas.

Table: Inspections undertaken on Moray primary schools since the start of 2013
[table id=3 /]


Excellent‘ means outstanding, sector-leading
Very good‘ means major strengths
Good‘ means important strengths with some areas for improvement
Satisfactory‘, ‘Adequate‘ and ‘Fair‘ (old style) means strengths just outweigh weaknesses
Weak‘ means important weaknesses
Unsatisfactory‘ means major weaknesses