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Independent school inspections

Independent schools are open to inspection by Education Scotland in the same way as those maintained by education authorities. However, Education Scotland is equally mindful of the variety of independent schools, the legislative framework that underpins the independent sector in Scotland and the widely differing nature of provision that can be found. The inspection framework will be applied in independent schools in parallel with maintained schools. However, as with small schools and all-through schools, Education Scotland will apply the inspection framework in a way that is responsive to the size, nature and particular aims and values of the independent school concerned. Education Scotland will also ensure that the inspection team includes the necessary experience and skills to respond to the particular educational philosophy of the school.

In those cases where there is a residential component within the school, Education Scotland may inspect the care and welfare of boarders in conjunction with officers from the Care Inspectorate, according to the arrangements agreed with the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS).

Independent quality improvement through professional engagement visits

Quality improvement and professional engagement visits have been developed with the independent school sector for the following key purposes:

  • to extend the nature of engagement and frequency of contact between HM Inspectors and independent schools
  • to contribute to school improvement and capacity building in the independent sector throughout Scotland
  • to further the overall aim of a more proportionate, intelligence-led engagement model, based on self-evaluation for improvement

The professional engagement visits are distinct from inspections and do not involve evaluating outcomes in relation to quality indicators. The focus is on the school’s capacity to improve itself, and to provide approaches to quality improvement which are rigorous, comprehensive and effective. The visits start with the school's own priorities for development and improvement. Inspectors will have discussions with staff and young people, and will cover other activities such as short visits to classrooms.

The visits also provide the opportunity to share good practice, and offer support and advice, as appropriate. After the visit, a letter of confidence will be written for parents/carers and published online on the Education Scotland website.

PDF file: Quality improvement through Education Scotland HMI professional engagement visits: Briefing note for headteachers of independent schools (127 KB)

School inspection reports

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

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