HM Inspectors of Education will undertake a phased return to scrutiny activities this academic year

Education Scotland has announced that HM Inspectors of Education will adopt a phased approach to resuming scrutiny activity this academic year.

On 13 March 2020, Education Scotland took the decision to pause the routine inspection programme due to the COVID-19 pandemic to allow schools and education establishments to focus on providing support to their colleagues, learners and local communities.

HM Inspectors of Education (HMIE) continue to support the Scottish education system to recover from the impact of the pandemic.  In devising the scrutiny programme for this academic year HMIE are taking account of the ongoing pressures resulting from the pandemic.

Initially, inspectors will engage with establishments and services that were due to have a further inspection. Having changed their approach to take account of the impact COVID-19 has had, HM Inspectors will undertake visits with timing arrangements planned in advance with local authorities and establishment. These visits will be planned and carried out before the end of 2021.

There will be  a particular focus  on discussions with leaders and practitioners as to the impact of the pandemic and the actions the school has taken and continues to take to support recovery and improvement. HMIE will discuss with staff the progress around the areas for development identified from earlier scrutiny activity. Following the visit, HMIE will publish a report.

Thereafter, from January 2022, HMIE will undertake a programme of individual early learning and childcare (ELC) settings and school inspections. HMIE will continue to take account of COVID-19 recovery and the context in which establishments and settings have been working, as well as providing evidence for the Scottish Government’s National Improvement Framework.

​​​HMIE is also carrying out three national thematic inspections in the coming months to support education recovery. These will focus on supporting children’s and young people’s wellbeing; local approaches to recovery; and outdoor learning.

HM Chief Inspector of Education, Gayle Gorman said:-

'We have carefully considered our approach to scrutiny activity for this academic year.  We recognise how challenging the COVID-19 pandemic has been for everyone alongside the ongoing pressures on staff and learners of returning to establishments after the summer break and given the current health challenges.

We want to support the education system to recover from the impact of the pandemic and we would like to thank all local authorities, staff, learners and their families for their continued hard work and resilience through recent difficult times.

We are aware of the ongoing, changing situation with COVID-19. We will continue to be adaptive and responsive to changing circumstances linked to the pandemic that staff and learners may face.'

Janie McManus, Strategic Director, Scrutiny, continued:

'Some establishments are awaiting the outcome of inspections which were planned pre-pandemic or would have been scheduled over the last 18 months.  The forthcoming visits will enable those to establishments visited to have their improvement work recognised.  The visits along with the national thematic inspections will enable HMIE to provide valuable evidence to support education recovery.

'We are committed to ensuring that the work of the Inspectorate promotes and celebrates improvement.  Our Inspectors will take into account the pressures and challenges of the pandemic and the disruption it has caused to the education system.'