Annual Programme of Scrutiny 2021 - 22

Update: 28 March 2022

HM Inspectors of Education will carry out a national thematic review focusing on the role of community learning and development (CLD) in supporting recovery from COVID-19 in local communities.

Update: 03 December 2021

HM Inspectors are committed to keeping plans for the annual programme of scrutiny under review in line with public health guidance and local circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 3 December 2021, the HM Chief Inspector announced a change in the previously published arrangements for January 2022 onwards.

Recovery visits to individual ELC settings and schools

From February 2022 following the mid-term school holiday, if COVID-19 conditions allow, HM Inspectors will carry out ‘recovery visits’ to a selection of early learning and childcare settings and schools.

HM Inspectors will focus on what is working well, and highlight ongoing challenges within the current COVID-19 context. HM Inspectors will explore how settings and schools are addressing the impact of COVID-19; the range and quality of learning children and young people are experiencing; the work being done to meet children’s and young people’s learning and wellbeing needs; and approaches to safeguarding and child protection.

HM Inspectors will not report on specific quality indicators or assign summative grades as part of the visits.

Update 16 September 2021

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education has now agreed with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills the arrangements to resume a programme of scrutiny activities in the academic year 2021-22.

Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Education (HMIE) are aware of the ongoing challenges faced by local authority staff, education staff, learners and communities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In preparing for the year ahead, HMIE have been mindful of this unusual context and have taken account of stakeholders’ views, which have been essential in informing the approach for this year.

HMIE will take forward a phased approach to resuming the range of scrutiny activities as the year progresses. Routine inspections of individual establishments and early learning and childcare (ELC) settings will resume later in the academic session.

HMIE carefully considered their approach with regard to the phased return to scrutiny activity. As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, HMIE are committed to supporting recovery across the education system and learning from practitioners about the work underway to address the impact of COVID-19.

Plans will be kept under review and linked with public health guidance and local circumstances related to the pandemic. This Annual Programme of Scrutiny will be reviewed and updated as appropriate through the year.

Phase 1 – September to December 2021

Visits to establishments, settings and services

HM Inspectors will visit schools, settings and services where a commitment was made before the COVID-19 pandemic to return for a further inspection.

National thematic inspections

HMIE will undertake a programme of national thematic inspections during this academic year focused on themes relevant to COVID-19 and recovery.

The first three national thematic inspections will be undertaken by December 2021 and will focus on the following:


Progress visits will resume in colleges.

Phase 2 – January 2022

ELC and school inspections

The programme of ELC and school inspections will resume from January 2022. This will result in at least 120 school inspections between January and June 2022. HMIE will continue to take account of COVID-19 recovery and the context in which establishments and settings have been working. Inspections will focus on a reduced number of areas. As required for the National Improvement Framework, HMIE will continue to report on the following quality indicators (QIs):

QI 1.3 – leadership of change

QI 2.3 – learning, teaching and assessment

QI 3.1 – ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion

QI 3.2 – raising attainment and achievement

HMIE will continue to have a focus on safeguarding in each inspection. For this academic year, HMIE will not be reporting on themes from other quality indicators, empowerment, or a choice quality indicator.

Other Scrutiny work

  • HMIE will continue to fulfil its statutory requirements under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010, to produce an independent and impartial report when a local authority proposes to make changes to its school estate.
  • HMIE will join Joint Inspections of Children’s Services led by the Care Inspectorate.
  • HMIE will continue its evaluation of the value and impact of Foundation Apprenticeships
  • As required, HMIE will join inspections of Scottish prisons led by HM Inspectorate of Prisons
  • As required HMIE will inspect private colleges and English language schools under the requirements of UK Visa and Immigration
  • HMIE will undertake follow up inspections of Career Information Advice and Guidance services
  • HMIE will undertake scrutiny work as directed by Scottish Ministers as required under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.