Section 9 of the 'Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000' charges HM Inspectors (formerly HM Inspectorate of Education) on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, to provide an external evaluation of the effectiveness of the local authority in its quality assurance of educational provision within the Council and of its support to schools in improving quality.
Evaluations are based on a framework of quality indicators (published in Quality Management in Education 2), which embody the Government's policy on Best Value.
The Standards in Scotlands Schools etc. Act 2000 also provides a framework for improvement planning that requires education authorities to set out and report on improvement objectives related to the National Performance Framework (NPF), national priorities and associated measures of performance.
Education Scotland's role
Part of Education Scotland's mission is to work with others to secure improvements in the education and wellbeing of the people of Scotland. It promotes public accountability for the delivery of high quality education for all learners, and services for children.
We no longer operate a cycle of inspection of the education functions of local authorities but use a more proportionate approach to evaluating and reporting on these functions. This is in line with the drive to reduce external scrutiny at service level, which includes our involvement in the Shared Risk Assessment process.
Working in partnership with other agencies and organisations and building on the findings of inspection and review, Education Scotland aims to improve lives through learning. Validated self-evaluation contributes to this aim.
What is validated self-evaluation?
Validated self-evaluation (VSE) is not inspection. It is a voluntary process which aims to support and challenge the work of education authorities to improve the quality of provision and outcomes for learners.
It is led by the education authority and involves a partnership in which Education Scotland works alongside the authority and applies its knowledge of educational delivery and expertise in evaluation. The purpose of this is to support, extend and challenge the education authority's own self-evaluation, and so affirm (or otherwise) and strengthen outcomes for learners.
VSE acknowledges that the responsibility for improving services and outcomes lies with the education authority. 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.
HM Inspectors' involvement in the VSE process will include the principles outlined in our Principles of inspection and review.
Summary of VSE
VSE seeks to:
- build the capacity of education authorities to evaluate their own performance
- improve the quality of services and outcomes for learners
- promote and develop good practice and best value in education authorities
- provide information to Scottish Ministers and the public on the quality of provision in education authorities
- offer independent evaluation and validation
- contribute to a reduction in external scrutiny at service level where possible, taking account of risk, and provide high quality and robust information for shared risk assessment
The VSE process is designed to accord with the principles recommended by the Crerar Reducing the Burden Action Group, in that it is:
- focused on outcomes
- proportionate to need
- owned by those carrying out the self-evaluation
- flexible, with the scope to recognise differences in service levels and types
- built on existing good practice and relevant existing standards
- rigorous and transparent
- designed to secure continuous improvement
If your education authority is interested in finding out more about VSE and about how to participate, senior managers should discuss this with their District Inspector in the first instance.