How often do we inspect?

​​​​​How frequently an organisation is inspected depends on the sector. The Chief Inspector agrees the scale and priorities of our inspection and review programme in agreement with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills. The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills may also commission Education Scotland to carry out specific inspection and review activity. We may also carry out inspection and review activity in response to an analysis of risk.

Early learning and childcare​​
We currently inspect early learning and childcare settings on a proportionate basis, using a sampling approach, rather than a cyclical model. We also liaise with the Care Inspectorate to determine which settings to inspect. We are currently working with the Care Inspectorate to develop a single shared inspection framework for early learning and childcare as specified within the Scottish Government's Education Governance: Next Steps document​ published in June 2017.

Schools, including Gaelic Medium and Learner Education
Schools are inspected on a proportionate basis, using a sampling approach, rather than a cyclical model. We use a set of criteria to select schools to inspect. We use predetermined criteria to select an annual sample of 120 schools to enable us to provide evidence for the National Improvement Framework (NIF). The criteria takes account of the context and characteristics of schools, including the type of school, deprivation and balance across local authorities. We select other schools for inspection on an annual basis taking account of the context and characteristics of schools, including the type of school and balance across local authorities. When selecting schools for inspection we will consider other factors, including local circumstances as well as the length of time since the last inspection.

Independent schools
A sample of schools is selected for inspection activity based on a range of factors, including the length of time since they were last inspected; any significant changes in provision; and other intelligence, including information from other agencies.

Independent special schools are inspected on a more frequent basis than independent mainstream schools. This is due to the vulnerability of children and young people attending independent special schools, most of whom have significant additional support needs.

Special inspections
Scottish Ministers have the powers to instruct HM Inspectors to carry out a 'special inspection' of an independent school, under Section 66 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. Such inspections are focused in nature, carried out at short notice, and do not usually result in a published report.

We undertake quality assurance and quality improvement activities in colleges on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. There is no longer a cycle of external reviews carried out by Education Scotland. All 27 colleges across 13 regions are evaluated every year. To do this, HM Inspectors engage with every college on an ongoing basis.

Community learning and development
We inspect the community learning and development (CLD) provision of local authorities using intelligence-led approaches. This means that we base the need for inspection and the scope of the inspection on what we know about the CLD service. We also consider the length of time since the last inspection and we take account of other scrutiny, such as school inspections, that may be taking place in the authority.

Career information, advice and guidance services and Modern Apprentice training
We undertake these reviews on behalf of Scottish Ministers and in partnership with Skills Development Scotland (SDS). Education Scotland and SDS select the sample for review.

Education functions of local authorities
Currently, we inspect the education functions of local authorities in response to the level of risk. This is determined through the Shared Risk Assessment process, which is coordinated by Audit Scotland.

Educational psychology services
We have inspected educational psychology services in each local authority over a four-year programme, using a validated self-evaluation approach. This programme was completed in January 2018. We are currently undertaking a small number of return inspections. Inspection of educational psychology services is integrated into the inspections of the progress made by local authorities in improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty related attainment gap.

Prison education
We inspect prison education with and on behalf of HM Inspectorate of Prisons which identifies the centres to be inspected.

Related links

Early learning and childcare inspections

Primary inspections

Secondary inspections

Arrangements for inspecting Gaelic Education

Independent school inspections

Arrangements for inspecting special schools​

College reviews

Community learning and development inspections​

​​​Careers service reviews​

Educational psychology service​