Approaches to inspection from August 2016

We engaged extensively with a wide variety of stakeholders to gather views on what form inspection should take. After considering the feedback, we tried out a range of new approaches across the 2015-16 academic session.

Taking into account the feedback from the ‘try-out’ inspections and developments in Scottish education, such as the National Improvement Framework and the Scottish Attainment Challenge, we are introducing a range of new inspection models from August 2016 to suit particular circumstances and contexts.

The inspection models to be introduced in a phased approach from August 2016 are:

  • Full inspection model
  • Short inspection model
  • Localised thematic model
  • Neighbourhood model

Inspectors use quality indicators (QIs) outlined in How good is our school? (4th edition) (HGIOS4) during inspections. In inspections of nursery classes and early learning and childcare centres, we use the equivalent QIs from How good is our early learning and childcare? (HGIOELC).

Full inspection model

We have been using this model of inspection since August 2016. The following HGIOS4 and/or HGIOELC quality indicators are evaluated on the six-point scale in full inspections of establishments:

  • 1.3 Leadership of Change
  • 2.3 Learning, Teaching and Assessment
  • 3.2 Raising Attainment and Achievement (or the equivalent, 3.2 Securing children's progress, in early learning and childcare settings)
  • 3.1 Ensuring Wellbeing, Equality and Inclusion

A further QI for focus is chosen by the school. This enables school staff and inspectors, together, to focus on a particular area of the school's work related to its current context, with the aim of bringing about improvement through professional dialogue. This QI will not be evaluated using the six-point scale.

In addition, inspections will incorporate themes from other QIs to ensure we continue to capture the evidence we need to promote improvement and provide evidence to inform national policy development. These themes will be reviewed regularly to ensure they remain relevant. From August 2016, we have included the Learning Pathways theme from QI 2.2 Curriculum and will refer to QI 2.7 Partnerships in evaluating the impact of parental engagement. A focus on these themes will continue until further notice.

A report to parents and carers following the inspection takes the form of a short letter. It highlights strengths and aspects for development. It includes a table indicating the QI grades against the six-point scale. We also publish online the inspection evidence we gather during the inspection process in a document called the Summarised Inspection Findings (SIF).

You can review new inspection documents and read more about this new model in our inspection and review pages.

Short visit inspection model

We tried out a short visit inspection model in a small sample of primary schools between February and June of 2017. We are evaluating this approach and will make changes before the model is tried out in other sectors.

Early years establishments or schools being inspected using a short visit inspection model will be informed of this when they are notified of their inspection.

The key features of the short visit inspection model differ to the full model:

  • The team will be composed of fewer inspectors (with the exception of small establishments where the team would have been small with a full inspection model)
  • Inspectors will spend less time in school (a total of two days), normally from Monday lunchtime to Wednesday lunchtime for a primary school and Tuesday lunchtime to Thursday lunchtime for a secondary school.
  • There will be a focus on two quality indicators (QIs)
    • 1.1 Self-evaluation for self-improvement
    • 3.2 Raising attainment and achievement (or securing children's progress in the early years sector)
    Inspectors will make evaluations of these QIs using the six-point scale.

Some of the features of the short inspection model, which are replicated in the full inspection model, are set out below:

  • The period between the setting or school receiving its notification of inspection by email and the team of inspectors visiting will be two-and-a-half weeks.
  • We will ask settings or schools to complete a self-evaluation pro-forma, to be shared in advance of the inspection, and a safeguarding pro-forma, to be completed and handed to the Managing Inspector (MI) on the first afternoon of the inspection.
  • Learners, parents, staff and partners will be invited to share their views with us by completing an online questionnaire prior to the inspection.
  • The number of inspectors on a team is dependent on the setting or school roll and can comprise of HM Inspectors, Care Inspectors, Associate Assessors, Assistant Inspectors and a Lay Member.
  • There will be a focus on safeguarding during the inspection.
  • We will publish a letter outlining the strengths of the school and areas for development, and share evaluations of the QIs.
  • We will publish our Summarised Inspection Findings (SIF).

Other new inspection models

In addition to the above models, we have continued to work towards developing a suite of inspection models, which we can use in different contexts and for different purposes. We will communicate any progress and plans for the introduction of any new models as soon as decisions are made.

Letter from Bill Maxwell, CEO of Education Scotland until June 2017, outlining the new approaches to inspections.

PDF file: Changes to Education Scotland inspections in August 2016 (105 KB)