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Inspection myths

​During 2016, we announced a range of new inspection approaches that will be implemented over time.

We are continuing to develop the new inspection approaches and recently launched a range of information about the new models and the benefits of these new approaches.

Find out more by reading our blog or watching our video of Director of Inspections, Alastair Delaney. 

To engage with practitioners, we hosted a Glow Meet on Thursday 16 March. This provided information about the inspection models and gave practitioners the chance to ask inspectors questions. You can watch it again on Glow TV.

Changes to inspection

Inspection myths

We are also addressing some of the misconceptions of inspection which have built up over the years with a series of 'Mythbusters' as explained in the following video.

We will be publishing a new myth every Friday. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with the Mythbusters. 

 

Myth 1: Education Scotland only inspect schools

Actually there are many different areas of education we inspect or review. As well as primary, secondary and all-through schools our inspections and review also include early learning and childcare; children’s services; community learning and development; residential special schools; prison education; independent schools and colleges; and educational psychology services. We work together with the Care Inspectorate to inspect early learning and childcare and school care accommodation and with Skills Development Scotland to review career information advice and guidance services and Modern Apprenticeships. The myths we’re looking at over the next few weeks will initially focus on school inspections. We’ll be looking at myths around our other inspection and review areas too, in due course.

Myth 2: You need to set aside weeks to prepare for an inspection

Inspectors do not expect teachers to be doing anything differently in advance of an inspection. Inspectors assume that you are providing high-quality provision for children every day and therefore we are happy to observe what you would be doing on an ordinary day without any special changes for an inspection.

Myth 3: Inspectors are not interested in speaking to staff during their visit

Inspectors are extremely interested in what all staff have to say. We send questionnaires to staff in advance of our visit. Speaking to staff is one of the most important things we do during an inspection. We may speak to teachers while we observe their lessons, or at the end of a lesson. Meetings with groups of staff, and with individuals, are always part of the inspection timetable, and we are happy to set up additional meetings in the course of the week. We offer a ‘drop-in’ session, when staff may come and talk to us about any aspect of their work they wish.

Myth 4: Inspections are just a snapshot; they are not a true picture

Inspectors aim to carry out inspections ‘with, not to’ schools. That means they plan inspection activities in partnership with the headteacher. The inspection begins with the school’s evaluation of its own work, so it is important for the headteacher to ensure inspectors get a full and accurate picture. Inspectors then observe lessons and speak to teachers, other staff at the school pupils and parents. By the end of the inspection week, they have much more than a ‘snapshot’ on which to base their evaluations.

Myth 5: Inspectors don’t know what it is like to work in a school

School inspectors all have extensive experience in education, with many having been teachers or headteachers. Others may be educational psychologists or bring wider experience from other sectors including colleges, early years and community learning and development. Inspection teams are very often joined by practising principal teachers, depute headteachers or headteachers, known as Associate Assessors. This ensures we have current, up-to-date expertise in our inspection teams, complementing the experience of the inspectors. All members of inspection teams know how important it is to establish and maintain positive and respectful relationships with staff during an inspection.

Myth 6: All paperwork needs to be in order and all policies updated

Education Scotland provides a headteacher's briefing note to schools being inspected to ensure they know what to expect, and what papers or examples of work the inspection team will want to see. We try to keep the paperwork required to a minimum. Sometimes, schools provide us with much more paperwork than we have asked for, and more than we would ever have time to read. There is certainly no need to update all a school's policies before an inspection. Inspectors will be interested to know if any particular policy has improved teachers' understanding of what the school is aiming to do, or if it has led to real improvements for children and young people.

Myth 7: Inspectors have made up their minds before they even arrive

The headteacher is asked to complete a self-evaluation form before the start of an inspection, and the inspection team will have read the form before arriving. They will have questions to ask based on what they have read, but they will not have made up their minds. They do that based on the school’s evaluation of its own work and the inspection activities carried out during the week; observing lessons and speaking to teachers, other staff, pupils and parents. Inspectors have wide-ranging and thorough discussions at the end of the inspection week before deciding on their evaluations.

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