What do we inspect?

​​​​​Most inspection and review activity falls into three categories:

  • organisational inspections which are carried out in individual establishments and services
  • local inspections
  • national thematic inspections and reviews of aspects and themes of education and training which are of particular interest or priority.

We currently carry out inspection and review of the following sectors:

  • ​early learning and childcare settings, including nursery classes in schools
  • primary and secondary schools
  • ​Gaelic Medium Education
  • independent schools
  • special and residential special schools
  • community learning and development services
  • education functions of local authorities
  • educational psychology services
  • publicly funded colleges
  • private colleges and English language schools
  • career information, advice and guidance services
  • ​modern apprentice training
  • prison education (at the request of HM Inspectorate of Prisons).

Each sector has its own inspection framework to reflect the purpose of the inspection, and meet the specific needs of the sector and their stakeholders.

We work in partnership with the Care Inspectorate for some inspections of early learning and childcare and of some inspections of the residential provision in independent schools.​​

We have paused our school inspection programmes to enable schools to concentrate on planning, organising and delivering learning for children and young people during the current challenging context. This includes a pause on further inspections. At this time, our focus is on supporting schools during Covid-19 and the recovery period, including those schools identified as requiring a further inspection.

Following publication in June 2017 of the Education Governance: Next Steps document, six Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) were established. Each RIC will formulate its own regional improvement plan. Each plan is agreed with the Chief Inspector. Support and challenge from within the collaborative teams and from Education Scotland Regional Advisers will ensure each of the regional improvement plans take account of all available evidence on performance, and that the selection of educational strategies and interventions is appropriate to the particular regional context.

We keep our arrangements for inspection and reporting on the quality of education across sectors under review. This enables us to respond with agility and flexibility as key educational policies and priorities develop. We also regularly review the focus and purpose of thematic inspections of specific aspects of education at a national level based on key priorities.

To promote transparency and openness we will set out and publish an annual programme of inspection activity across different sectors of education. This will also set out planned national thematic inspections and reviews.​​