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 Catalog-Item Reuse

All-through school inspections
  1. Arrangements for inspecting schools in Scotland
  2. Preparing for inspection
  3. Briefing for headteachers
  4. Guidance on issuing pre-inspection questionnaires
  5. Briefing for parents and parent councils

1. Arrangements for inspecting schools in Scotland

​The school inspection framework document, published on 11 August 2011, covers a range of sectors, including stand alone pre-school centres, primary including those with nursery classes, secondary including community learning and development (CLD) as part of secondary, and aspects of transition, special, independent and all-through schools. It also has implications for continuing engagement.

All-through schools are described elsewhere in previous HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) publications (see Learning Together: Opening up learning in all-through schools) as ‘schools which include at least two stages of a young person’s education within one establishment’. In practice, this can mean schools which offer primary (including nursery), and some or all of the stages of secondary education up to S6 within one school, under the leadership and direction of one headteacher.

Education Scotland inspection team members will carry out inspection activity across all sectors and stages of all-through schools, employing the same principles of inspection as for other sectors. In practice, this means that each team member will observe learning in both the primary and secondary departments of the school. The team as a whole will adhere to the same inspection timescales as in primary or secondary inspections. In reaching evaluations against quality indicators (QIs), the team will apply these QIs across the primary and secondary constituent parts of the school to reach one set of evaluations. Any nursery provision will continue to be evaluated separately in respect of the QIs which inform the NPF.

As in all other inspections within the School Inspection Framework, inspection activity in all-through schools will be informed initially by the school’s own view of its strengths and areas for development presented to the inspection team on the Monday afternoon of the inspection. Headteachers should refer to section 7 of this document for overall guidance on the process of sharing the school’s evaluation with inspectors.

Document: Arrangements for inspecting schools in Scotland

The school inspection framework document, published on 11 August 2011, covers a range of sectors, including stand alone pre-school centres, primary including those with nursery classes, secondary including community learning and development (CLD) as part of secondary, and aspects of transition, special, independent and all-through schools. It also has implications for continuing engagement.

PDF file: Arrangements for inspecting schools in Scotland (280 KB)

Involvement in try-outs

You may be aware that following extensive consultation, Education Scotland is planning to try out new approaches to inspection in a small number of schools, and other establishments and services in the course of academic session 2015-16.

If your school or establishment is involved in one of the “try-outs”, you will be notified in due course. Please assume the inspection of your school or establishment will be carried out using the current model as detailed on these pages unless you are otherwise notified.

2. Being ready for inspection

Our new inspections provide the opportunity for pre-school centres and schools to show that they know themselves inside out and that they are using self-evaluation to focus on improving all the achievements of young people in line with Curriculum for Excellence. When self-evaluation evidence is robust and convincing, we use it as part of the inspection evidence. It can also help identify good practice and innovation that Education Scotland may wish to look at in more detail as part of our continuing engagement after the inspection has been completed.

Before the inspection, you are asked to complete, in consultation with your education authority, a brief (no more than three sides of A4) self-evaluation summary form. In it, you are asked to set out the key strengths and areas for development/next steps in the context of the following three key questions.

  • How well do children/young people learn and achieve?
  • How well does the school support children/young people to develop and learn?
  • How well does the school improve the quality of its work?

This completed form will act as the basis of discussions with the team on Monday afternoon, including the selection of ‘areas for focused attention’ which the inspection team will consider as part of the inspection.

At the start of the inspection you are invited to use your completed self-evaluation summary form to brief the inspection team on the impact of your approach to improvement through self-evaluation. You should set aside up to one hour for this meeting. It is important that you cover outcomes for all learners who attend your establishment. This meeting will be the start of an ongoing dialogue with the inspection team about your establishment’s performance and improvement. This dialogue should provide the inspection team with a clear sense of your journey – where you’ve come from, where you are now and where you want to get to. Time is short and you will need to stick to the ‘high ground’.

It would be helpful to the inspection team if you

  • give a clear account of your establishment’s strengths and aspects for development
  • demonstrate where the school or centre is improving and show how you know
  • identify the key sources of evidence which underpin your knowledge of school/centre performance and improvement, and make these available
  • show how you prioritise areas for improvement. 

Evaluating your establishment

You may well use How good is our school? The Journey to Excellence: Part 3 or The Child at the Centre as part of school/pre-school self-evaluation. You probably also use the six point graded scale. Because the inspection team is required to make independent evaluations using five of the quality indicators, your own evaluations against the six point scale are not used in the inspection process and are not required by the inspection team.

Indeed, the inspection is not a process of ‘validation’ of grades awarded through self-evaluation. The inspection will provide an overall evaluation of the quality of the school’s provision. The first two key questions (above) will be answered clearly in the report and will be followed by text which explains our answers. For the third question, 'How well does the school improve the quality of its work?, we will provide an expression of confidence. We will also indicate any continuing engagement activities we might have with the school. 

Inspection Advice Note

This advice note sets out an adjustment in expectations, in line with national implementation expectations, for our evaluation of QI 5.1 (Curriculum) and QI 5.9 (Improvement through self-evaluation).

PDF file: Education Scotland Inspection Advice Note (2015-16) (298 KB)

Fourth edition of How good is our school?

The fourth edition of How good is our school? was published by Education Scotland on 24th September 2015. Practitioners are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the new edition. However, the current inspection model will remain in place until June 2016, and will continue to use the third edition.

3. Briefing for headteachers

By now, you will be aware that an inspection team will soon visit your school. The team is looking forward to working with you and your colleagues.

Throughout the inspection, we shall engage you and your staff in professional dialogue with the aim of supporting improvement.

Your inspection administrator (IA) will be in touch very soon to confirm that your inspection box has all the paperwork you will need and to check if you have any immediate questions. This briefing note has been designed to help you to prepare for the inspection and to outline the kinds of activities which will take place during the inspection. It aims to answer some of the questions you may have regarding the inspection.

Briefing note for headteachers of all-through schools

This briefing note aims to help staff to understand the inspection process of an all-through school.

PDF file: All-through schools headteacher briefing note (343 KB)

Self-evaluation exemplars

An inspection begins with a scoping meeting which builds on the school's self-evaluation. It will focus on how self-evaluation is leading to improvement and the evidence the school provides in the self-evaluation summary form.

You should refer to Appendix 2 of your headteacher briefing for a copy of the self-evaluation form and guidance on completing it. The following documents provide examples of how self-evaluation forms can be completed.

PDF file: Self-evaluation exemplar 1 - All-through school (33 KB)

PDF file: Self-evaluation exemplar 2 - Primary school (36 KB)

PDF file: Self-evaluation exemplar 3 - Primary school (33 KB)

PDF file: Self-evaluation exemplar 4 - Primary school (35 KB)

PDF file: Self-evaluation exemplar 5 - Nursery and primary school (34 KB)

PDF file: Self-evaluation exemplar 6 - Secondary school (37 KB)

Safeguarding/child protection pro-forma

This pro-forma is used to record information about safeguarding. Please complete and send this pro-forma (electronically if possible) to your inspection administrator prior to the inspection. The Managing Inspector (MI) and/or delegated team member will discuss the pro-forma information provided with relevant staff during the inspection/review to add comments/evaluations as relevant.

Word file: Safeguarding / child protection pro-forma 2015 (139 KB

How good is our school?

This report is a revised framework of indicators which help you to work out where your school is in improving its quality and aiming for excellence.

PDF file: How good is our school? The Journey to Excellence: Part 3 (1.6 MB)

Please note that the school inspection model will continue to use the third edition, available above, until June 2016.

The Child at the Centre

This report provides all sectors in pre-school education and the early stages of primary schooling with the tools to support self-evaluation and improvement.

PDF file: The Child at the Centre: Self-evaluation in the early years (5.2 MB)

4. Guidance on issuing pre-inspection questionnaires

The notification package from HM Inspectors contains the range of pre-inspection questionnaires to be completed by all teachers and other staff who work directly with children and young people and staff not directly involved in teaching pupils, eg office staff, and a random sample of parents and pupils.

Parental questionnaires

Pre-school centres and primary schools with a nursery class

The notification package contains enough pre-school parent questionnaires for all families. Please distribute to all families as soon as possible. If you require additional questionnaires please contact your Inspection Administrator.

Special school/unit/class(es)

All families of children in a special school/class(es)/unit should receive a parental questionnaire. Please distribute to all families as soon as possible. If you require additional questionnaires, please contact your Inspection Administrator.

How the number of parental questionnaires is calculated

The number is decided as follows.

Size of school roll

Sample size

100 and lessAll
101 - 200Up to a maximum of 120
201 - 300150
301 - 400175
401 - 500200
501 - 999250
1000+25% of school roll

How a random sample is achieved

The selection should be obtained by splitting the number of questionnaires proportionately across the stages depending on the total number of pupils at each stage.

If the school has relatively few ethnic groups represented in the school then steps should first be taken to ensure that parents of these pupils receive a questionnaire.

Thereafter, pick the names from the alphabetical class list, starting at the top of each list, missing out pupils at regular intervals until the required total is reached. For example, where 10 are to be sampled from a class of 30, select every third name.

In order to avoid a pupil's family receiving more than one questionnaire, arrangements should be made to first identify families of senior pupils which will get a questionnaire. Thereafter the names of siblings should be removed from the lower stages alphabetical class list(s) and the same method applied to identify families to receive a questionnaire.

Pupil questionnaires

Guidance on the administration of the pupil questionnaire

The notification package contains the pupil questionnaires which are used to cover a representative, randomly selected sample, across the stages.

How the number of questionnaires is calculated

How to calculate sample numbers for primary pupil questionnaires is as follows:

  • School roll divided by 7, then multiplied by 4 – ie roll = (231 ÷ 7) x 4 = 132.
  • Secondary pupil questionnaires please use figures below.

Number of pupils (P4/P7)

Number of pupils in school (secondary)

Sample size

100 and lessall
101 - 200up to max 120
201 - 300150
301 - 400175
401 - 500200
500 - 999250
1000+25%

How a random sample is achieved

The selection should be obtained by splitting the number of questionnaires proportionately across the stages depending on the total number of pupils at each stage. Pick the names from the alphabetical class list, starting at the foot of each list, missing out pupils at regular intervals until the required total is reached. For example, where 10 are to be sampled from a class of 30, select every third name.

Guidance to help administer the pupil questionnaire is set out below - this should be read by all the teachers involved.

Guidance for administering the pupil questionnaire

The pupil questionnaire should be completed by a sample of secondary pupils from S1-S6. Please issue the written questionnaire if it is appropriate to do so.

Please give your pupils the following details

  • General information from parents and carers, teaching and staff not directly involved in teaching and pupil questionnaires is being collected in your school.
  • It is important that pupils give their own views about the school - their views are valued. The views of parents and carers, staff and pupils can be used to make the school better.
  • The questionnaire should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.
  • Read each statement in the questionnaire carefully.
  • Please tick the answer that best fits your experience of the school.
  • Give your own answers - your views count.
  • If you are not sure about any answer, or if you want to say a bit more, you can write a note on the blank space on page 2 of the questionnaire.

Note: Please explain to young people not selected to complete a questionnaire that HM Inspectors take the views of a random sample. Where pupils indicate a particular request to complete a questionnaire, they should be allowed to do so. We have enclosed a small supply of questionnaires marked 'additional sample'.

Administration

Please make sure that pupils have privacy to complete the questionnaires. You should reassure pupils that once they have completed the questionnaire, no-one in the school will see their answers. The Inspectors will not tell anyone about what a pupil has written unless they are worried about the pupil's safety. In that case they will talk to the pupil and pass on what they have said to someone who can help.

Young people should seal their questionnaires into the envelope provided. Please return the envelopes containing the completed questionnaires to the school office. They will be posted to Education Scotland in the pre-paid envelope(s) provided.

For some pupils with additional support needs you may wish to provide a member of staff or senior pupil to read the questionnaire to the pupil. If it is a teacher, it should not be the usual class teacher. The Managing Inspector would welcome your views on this matter and, in case of doubt, would be happy to discuss arrangements with the school.

Young people and readers should be given instructions and assurances about anonymity. The reader should give instructions and read questions clearly and in a neutral tone. Care should be taken not to influence the pupil's answers.

Please thank pupils for completing the questionnaire.

Sample questionnaires

Education Scotland will conduct a range of analysis to allow us to monitor and review our inspection procedures. The range of questionnaires and baselines for responses is provided below.

Pre-inspection questionnaires

PDF file: Sample pupil questionnaire (46 KB)

PDF file: Sample parent questionnaire (49 KB)

PDF file: Sample questionnaire for staff working with children (46 KB)

PDF file: Sample questionnaire for staff not working directly with children (43 KB)

Equality monitoring questionnaire

PDF file: Sample equality monitoring questionnaire (35 KB)

Related links

You can also choose to download this guidance on issuing pre-inspection questionnaires.

PDF file: Download guidance on issuing pre-inspection questionnaires (182 KB)

5. Briefings for parents and parent councils

Support and advice for chairperson of parent council

As chairperson of the parent council you will be interested to know that Education Scotland will shortly be inspecting your child’s school. Gathering the views of parents is important to us during the inspection of a school or pre-school centre*. We consider these views carefully as part of the evidence during the inspection. We will want to know what you, as chairperson of the parent council, think about the school and how it is doing. A member of the inspection team will arrange to meet with you during the inspection. This briefing note aims to help the chairperson of the parent council understand the inspection process of a primary school.

*Parent councils do not have a legislative role in pre-school education. However, parent council members will be interested in all children/young people and all aspects of the work of the school.

PDF file: Support and advice for the chairperson of the parent council (53 KB)

Briefing note for parents

This section aims to help parents to understand the inspection of a primary school and, where relevant, a nursery class.

What happens in the inspection of your child’s primary school and nursery class?

Your child’s primary school/nursery class is to have an inspection to find out how well your child is being educated and looked after. HM Inspectors (HMI) will take account of the type and nature of the school/nursery class and its children’s needs. The inspection will be carried out by a small team of inspectors, Associate Assessors (AA) and a Lay Member (LM) working for Education Scotland. In very small schools, one HMI will inspect the school.
Where there is a nursery class, it will be inspected by an inspector from Education Scotland and Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) or by one inspector on behalf of both organisations.

The inspection published letter will highlight what the school and nursery do well and where they need to improve.

Any requirements made as a result of the inspection refer to action which must be taken by the pre-school provider to comply with relevant legislation.

Before the inspection

You may receive a confidential questionnaire so that we can see what you think about the school/nursery class. All parents of children in the nursery class will receive a questionnaire.

We will also ask staff to complete a questionnaire. All replies will be treated in confidence unless they raise issues about the safety and welfare of children or staff in the school.

Using information from the questionnaires, we will contact a small group of parents who will be invited to meet with a member of the inspection team.

An inspection team can be made up from our own inspectors along with others from similar organisations. Information given to us will be seen only by this team. We will not tell anyone else where our information came from unless the safety and wellbeing of a person is considered to be at risk.

During the inspection

  • We will visit classrooms/nursery playrooms, observe learning, and talk to staff and children about their learning.
  • We may spend some time looking at your child’s work and reading his/her reports.
  • We may work with your child as part of a small group or in a classroom/playroom.

After the inspection

  • We will publish a letter for parents on our website and send an electronic copy to the education authority or Board of Governors, and where appropriate to the chairperson of the parent council. We will also publish a document called the Summarised Inspection Findings which provides some detail supporting the evaluations made by inspectors.
  • If necessary, the school, with the support of the education authority or Board of Governors, will amend its development plan to bring about any improvements that the letter says are needed.
  • In some cases, we will carry out a continued engagement visit to support staff in making improvements or to gather information about good practice.

The term 'parents' should be taken to include foster carers, residential care staff and carers who are relatives or friends.

Related links

School inspection reports - Inspection reports for schools and early learning and childcare settings in Scotland.

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