SCOTTISH Catholic schools are significantly outperforming those in the non-denominational sector, according to research.

An analysis of inspection reports over the past two years shows 40% of ratings for Catholic secondary schools were "very good" compared to 26% in the non-denominational sector. Catholic schools were given the top-rating of "excellent" for 11% of areas assessed by inspectors compared to 4% for the rest of schools. Only 6% of their performance was rated as "weak", compared to 14% for other schools.

Anthony Finn, the former head of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, who gathered the evidence, said it showed how effective Catholic schools were - and how they had helped Catholics progress in Scottish society. He said: "Not only are Catholic schools regularly judged to be caring, inclusive establishments in which positive values are nurtured, they clearly also offer high quality education and deliver good results.

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"Associated with this general improvement in the quality of Catholic schools has been the development of a burgeoning Catholic professional class, which is now gaining employment in areas which might previously have been impossible."