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.

"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."