Educational psychology services

  1. Validated self-evaluation (VSE)
  2. Key documents

1. Validated self-evaluation (VSE)

At the end of 2010, HM Inspectors completed the full cycle of 32 Educational Psychology Service (EPS) inspections. Since then EPS have been included within the Shared Risk Assessment (SRA) process. As with all other aspects of SRA, if risks are identified in this area, an appropriate scrutiny response would be planned jointly with the Local Area Network and other scrutiny bodies. It is important for Education Scotland to ensure that it has current knowledge of the quality and impact of EPS across Scotland. From April 2015, Education Scotland will be supporting EPS through a collaborative validated self-evaluation process.

The vision for validated self-evaluation (VSE)

Validated self-evaluation (VSE) is a collaborative, evaluative process. It aims to improve the quality of provision and outcomes for learners by providing support and challenge to the work of EPS. It is led by the EPS and involves a partnership in which Education Scotland works alongside the service and applies its knowledge of education, in addition to expertise in evaluation.

The purpose of the VSE process is to support, extend and challenge the service's own self-evaluation, to affirm, or otherwise, their evaluation of strengths and areas for improvement, thereby strengthening outcomes for learners and other stakeholders. The process is collaborative and uses many of the principles that underpin a collaborative enquiry approach to evaluation, intervention and improvement.

In EPS, to address national objectives, the focus of the partnership between EPS and Education Scotland is on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. This is achieved through working together with other agencies and stakeholders to improve outcomes for all.

Early intervention and prevention are key to the work of EPS and, as such, underpin much of the service delivery in which services engage. It is anticipated that self-evaluation of services will demonstrate the impact and outcomes from the application of early intervention and prevention.

VSE acknowledges that the responsibility for improving services and outcomes lies with the EPS. It recognises that self-evaluation is increasingly well embedded across the Scottish educational landscape and that high quality self-evaluation can lead to continuous improvement for learners and the achievement of excellence in practice and provision.

In what ways is VSE different from inspection?

VSE is validation rather than inspection, however it is evaluative and therefore forms part of a scrutiny approach.

VSE is not part of a cyclical programme of inspections. However, it is anticipated that all 31 services will participate in the VSE process. A programme of named services involved, covering the period from April 2015 to end of March 2016, has been shared with the profession and education authorities. The programme has taken account of the National Scrutiny Plan to minimise demands on education authorities. Phase two of the VSE programme will be announced in due course.

At the self-evaluation stage of the VSE, the role of HM Inspectors (HMI) is to support and challenge the service in its approaches to self-evaluation and help them develop an action plan for improvement. High-quality professional dialogue, scaffolding, and mentoring are essential skills applied by HMI and team members during the VSE partnership.

Validated self-evaluation guidelines

Detailed guidelines on validated self-evaluation.

PDF file: Guidelines for Validated Self-Evaluation - Educational psychology services (376 KB)

The model aims to:

  • build the capacity of EPS to evaluate their services and improve the quality of services they provide
  • support EPS own self evaluation and quality systems
  • support, promote and develop good practice and best value in educational psychology
  • provide information to Scottish Ministers, the national Shared Risk Assessment process and the public on the quality of provision in EPS
  • offer independent evaluation and validation.

Key principles

Education Scotland’s mission is ‘to provide the best blend of national support and challenge to inspire and secure continuous improvement in experiences and opportunities for all learners in Scotland’.

Education Scotland is committed to working collaboratively and in partnership with other public bodies and local authorities, promoting and supporting a climate of ambition. Improvement within Education Scotland is set within the broader national context.

Any development in relation to evaluative activity needs to take account of the current scrutiny landscape. Key influences on how Education Scotland takes forward its remit can be found in the Crerar (2007) review, which set out a series of recommendations related to streamlining external scrutiny of public bodies. This resulted in the development of a ‘shared risk assessment’, where all of the national scrutiny bodies working in councils determine a joint plan for improvement.

More recently the Christie report has also been published with relevant recommendations on delivering high quality public services in a context of reducing resources. In both reports there is a strong emphasis on partnership working and the value added by collaborating and sharing knowledge and expertise. In addition, in looking at what makes a successful education system, McKinsey (2010) provided robust evidence about the impact of collaborative working in systems which were moving from ‘good to great’.

The VSE approach moves away from interrogative approaches, which ‘do things to services’, to working with people to effect positive change and ownership of that change. Collaborative enquiry and high-quality professional dialogue are central to the success of VSE.

2. Key documents

The National Scrutiny Report for EPS provides an updated review of the quality and impact of EPS in 31 local authorities, taking account of the changing context of education in Scotland. The inspections looked at two themes:

  • Learning and teaching with a specific focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap and equity and excellence for all;
  • Partnership working, with a focus on Getting it Right for Every Child and multi-agency working across agencies such as health and social care.

Key strengths and next steps are identified.

This report draws on the following evidence:

1. HM Inspectors’ scrutiny of all EPS during the period 2015 to 2017 using a validated self-evaluation (VSE) inspection methodology.

2. Research data from the National Action Enquiry Professional Development Programme which focuses on closing the poverty-related attainment gap in the areas of numeracy and health and wellbeing.

3. Outcomes from the National Conference 2016 jointly sponsored by Education Scotland, ASPEP and The British Psychological Society: Scottish Division of Educational Psychology (SDEP).

4. Event sampling data investigating the range and content of work undertaken by EPS across Scotland.

5. Workforce planning data collected over a four year period to look at patterns of employment, and the supply of, and demand for, EPs.

The report demonstrates the strength and power of collaboration. Education Scotland has worked closely with educational psychology managers (the Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists - ASPEP), and practitioners (the Scottish Division of Educational Psychology - SDEP) to help provide clarity of purpose, and to facilitate transformational discussions about the future delivery and governance of services going forward. It is co-produced, written by Education Scotland, in partnership with the ASPEP and the SDEP.

It should be read alongside the inspection findings reported in Educational psychology services in Scotland: Making a difference to excellence and equity for all: Outcomes from inspection evidence 2015 to 2018.