Early learning and childcare inspections
- Arrangements for inspecting early learning and childcare settings
- Being ready for inspection
- Briefing for heads of early learning and childcare settings
- Guidance on issuing pre-inspection questionnaires
- Briefing for parents
1. Arrangements for inspecting early learning and childcare settings
Through inspection, HM Inspectors aim to promote improvement in early learning and childcare settings and successful innovation that enhances children's experiences.HM Inspectors focus on the quality of children's learning and achievement and the setting’s capacity to improve. HM Inspectors evaluate how well an early learning and childcare setting is performing in a range of key areas. They use quality indicators (QIs) from 'How good is our early learning and childcare?'.
Partnership working with the Care Inspectorate
We sometimes work with the Care Inspectorate when inspecting ELC settings. There may be a Care Inspector as part of the inspection team. The arrangements for working together enhances efficiency and joint-working and aims to streamline the processes for ELC settings.
Some inspections are undertaken by both the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland. Where a shared inspection takes place this will be carried out by inspectors from both the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland.
Where a shared inspection takes place in your setting the evaluations of both organisations will be included in the inspection report and the final letter to parents. The Care Inspectorate will evaluate against a selection of quality indicators from “A quality framework for daycare of children, childminding and school-aged childcare”.
Children and Young People (Scotland) Act: early learning and childcare
HM Inspectors and the Care Inspectorate will continue to work together to support the development and expansion of early learning and childcare.
We will continue with our current programmes of both individual and shared inspection and evaluation of services for children aged three to school age. From September 2017 we have included in our evaluations, the quality of provision for specified groups of two-year-old children The Care Inspectorate will continue to inspect all daycare and childminding services for children in line with current legislation.
2. Being ready for inspection
Briefing the inspection team on the setting’s view of its improvement through self-evaluation
Our inspections provide the opportunity for early learning and childcare settings to show that they know themselves well and are using self-evaluation to focus on improving outcomes for all children.
Before the inspection, you are asked to complete a brief self-evaluation summary form, in consultation with staff and the education authority.
At the start of the inspection the head of setting is invited to use the completed self-evaluation summary form to brief the inspection team on the impact of the approaches to improvement through self-evaluation. You should set aside up to one hour for this introductory meeting. It is important that in this discussion you focus on outcomes for all children. This meeting will be the start of an ongoing dialogue with the inspection team about your setting's performance and improvement. This dialogue should provide the inspection team with a clear sense of the setting's journey – where you have come from, where you are now and where you want to get to. This initial meeting should focus on:
- giving a clear account of the setting’s strengths and aspects for improvement
- demonstrating where the setting is improving and show how staff know
- identifying the key sources of evidence which underpin staff knowledge of the setting's performance and improvement, and make these available
- Showing how staff prioritise areas for improvement.
Improvement through self-evaluation
The setting will most likely use How good is our early learning and childcare? as part of their self-evaluation. This document outlines the six point scale used to grade QIs. We ask that you provide your own evaluations in the self-evaluation summary form.
If this is a shared inspection the Care Inspectorate will inspect settings using questions from their ‘A quality framework for daycare of children, childminding and school aged childcare’.
3. Briefing for heads of early learning and childcare settings
Throughout the inspection, we shall engage with you and your and staff in professional dialogue with the aim of supporting improvement.
The advice and support materials below have been designed to help you to prepare for the inspection, and to outline the kinds of activities which will take place during the inspection. It aims to answer some of the questions you may have regarding the inspection.
Briefing note for heads of early learning and childcare settings
This briefing note aims to help staff to understand the inspection process.
PDF file: Briefing note for headteachers of schools and heads of early learning and childcare (ELC) settings using the full inspection model (747 KB)
PDF file: Briefing note for headteachers of schools and heads of early learning and childcare (ELC) settings for short model inspections (734 KB)
Brief self-evaluation summary form
An inspection begins with a scoping meeting which builds on the setting's self-evaluation. It will focus on how self-evaluation is leading to improvement and the evidence the setting provides in the self-evaluation summary form.
Word file: Brief self-evaluation summary using the full inspection model (155 KB)
Word file: Brief self-evaluation summary using the short inspection model (153 KB)
Child protection and safeguarding self-evaluation form
This form is used to record information about child protection and safeguarding. Head of settings are asked to return this with the pre-inspection documents. The Managing Inspector (MI) and/or delegated team member will discuss the information provided in this form with relevant staff during the inspection.
Word file: Child protection and safeguarding: self-evaluation (Part A) (148 KB)
Word file: Child protection and safeguarding: outcome of inspection (Part B) (151 KB)
4. Guidance on issuing pre-inspection questionnaires
Head of setting guide for issuing pre-inspection questionnaires
An important aspect of the inspection is for key stakeholders to be given the opportunity to provide their views of the setting. To gather the views of parents, staff and partners we ask the head of setting to issue a pre-inspection questionnaire to these stakeholders. You’ll find a sample of the questionnaires below.
PDF file: Questionnaires for Early Learning Childcare settings (539 KB)
Within the email notifying you of the inspection, you will find a number of links to an online survey which holds the pre-inspection questionnaires. The questionnaires are issued to the following groups of people.
All parents should receive the link to the pre-inspection questionnaire. Parents may complete a pre-inspection questionnaire for each of their children attending the setting being inspected. The pre-inspection questionnaire asks the parent to indicate if they shall be providing one response only or if they are providing one response for each of their children.
As part of the inspection, a member of the inspection team will meet with a range of stakeholders. Parents are asked within the pre-inspection questionnaire to indicate if they would like to meet with a member of the inspection team and, if so, to provide their contact details. The Inspection Administrator will contact a random sample of parents to invite them to the meeting.
All staff working in the setting should receive the link to the pre-inspection questionnaire.
We define partners within 'How good is our early learning and childcare?' to include all individuals or organisations that deliver learning and contribute to the life and work of the setting. This may include community learning and development services, colleges, universities, employers, third sector, community organisations and libraries. All those who work in partnership with your setting should be sent the link to the pre‑inspection questionnaire.
Distributing the links
You should use the existing digital channels to inform these stakeholders of the inspection, the information that is available from our website and the appropriate link to the pre-inspection questionnaire. When sharing the links it is important to include the date which all responses must be completed by. We usually refer to this as the date the survey will close.
Methods for sharing the links include: using internal email for staff; adding the links to your website (remember to remove when the survey has closed) for parents and partners; include the information within a group call or newsletters for parents, staff and partners.
You are best placed to know the most effective ways of communicating and engaging with your stakeholders to ensure that as many as possible have the opportunity to provide their views about your setting.
We recognise that settings will want to encourage as many of their stakeholders as possible to complete the pre-inspection questionnaire. To aid with this, the Inspection Administrator can provide you with a regular update on response rates. Where, for example, the response rates are lower for a particular stakeholder group you could send another communication which reminds and encourages more responses.
What will we do with the information we gather?
We will use an online survey tool, provided by Formic, which holds the pre-inspection questionnaires and responses.
- Education Scotland will then store all responses confidentially on secure servers for a period of five years. Personal information provided by respondents will not be shared with any other third party organisation and will only be used for the purpose it was obtained in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation.
- Education Scotland is subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Further information is available on our website.
- Formic follows some of the principles of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Assistance may be required for those who use screen readers or keyboard-only controls.
- If stakeholders wish to increase font size to help them complete the survey, it’s best to use the browser controls, for example, Internet Explorer offers options to increase text size via the view menu.
It is important that we protect the information that we gather through the pre-inspection questionnaires and that stakeholders understand how we will do this.
- We may use the information for statistical purposes but no individual responses will be identified. We may give you a summary of the results of all the responses we receive.
- Views will remain confidential, unless they raise specific issues, for example in relation to child protection. In these circumstances, they would be shared with you and appropriate agencies.
- We will then store responses confidentially on secure servers for a period of five years.
- Personal information will not be shared with any other third party organisation and will only be used for the purpose it was obtained in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. We are also subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Further information on privacy is available on our website.
5. Briefing for parents
This section aims to help parents* to understand the inspection of an early learning and childcare (ELC) setting.
What happens in an inspection of your child’s early learning and childcare setting or nursery class?
Your child’s setting is to have an inspection to find out how well your child is being educated and looked after. HM Inspectors will take account of the type and nature of the setting and its children’s needs.
Any requirements made as a result of the inspection refer to action which must be taken by the setting provider to comply with relevant legislation.
Before the inspection
You will receive a pre-inspection questionnaire so that we can find out what you think about the setting. Staff and partners will also be invited to complete a questionnaire.
All responses will be treated in confidence unless they raise issues about the safety or health and wellbeing of children or staff in the setting.
In large settings, the team may include additional team members. We sometimes work with the Care Inspectorate when inspecting ELC settings.
Information given to us will be seen only by this team. We will not tell anyone else where our information came from unless the safety and wellbeing of a person is considered to be at risk.
During the inspection
- We will visit playrooms, observe children’s experiences, and talk to staff and children about their learning.
- We may spend some time looking at examples of your child’s work and reading about their progress and learning experiences.
After the inspection
- At the end of the inspection or review, HM Inspectors will share the findings with the setting and agree any follow up activity.
- The inspection team will publish a letter for parents on the Education Scotland website.
- Summarised Inspection Findings and the analysis of the pre-inspection questionnaire responses are also published on Education Scotland’s website.
- Where HM Inspectors are confident in the work of the setting has the capacity to continue to improve, no more visits are made in connection with the inspection.
- In some cases, HM Inspectors will carry out a further inspection to support the setting in making improvements.
*The term 'parents' should be taken to include foster carers, residential care staff and carers who are relatives or friends.