Education Scotland
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 Catalog-Item Reuse

Approaches to inspection from August 2016

​We have engaged extensively with a wide variety of stakeholders to gather views on what form inspection should take in future years. After considering the feedback, we tried out a range of new approaches across the 2015-16 academic session.

Taking into account the feedback from the ‘try-out’ inspections and recent developments in Scottish education, such as the National Improvement Framework and the Scottish Attainment Challenge, we are introducing a range of new inspection models from August 2016 to suit particular circumstances and contexts.

The inspection models to be introduced in a phased approach from August 2016 are:

  • Full inspection model
  • Short inspection model
  • Localised thematic model
  • Neighbourhood model

Inspectors will use the new quality indicators (QIs) outlined in How good is our school? (4th edition) (HGIOS4) during these inspections. In inspections of nursery classes and early learning and childcare centres, we shall use the equivalent QIs from How good is our early learning and childcare? (HGIOELC).

Full inspection model

We will use this model of inspection from August 2016. The following HGIOS4 and/or HGIOELC quality indicators will be evaluated on the six-point scale in full inspections of establishments:

  • 1.3 Leadership of Change
  • 2.3 Learning, Teaching and Assessment
  • 3.2 Raising Attainment and Achievement (or the equivalent, 3.2 Securing children's progress, in early learning and childcare settings)
  • 3.1 Ensuring Wellbeing, Equality and Inclusion

A further QI for focus will also be negotiated with the school. This will enable school staff and inspectors, together, to focus on a particularly challenging issue or new initiative, with the aim of bringing about improvement through professional dialogue. This QI will not be evaluated on the six-point scale.

In addition, inspections will incorporate themes from other QIs to ensure we continue to capture the evidence we need to promote improvement and provide evidence to inform national policy development. These themes will be reviewed regularly to ensure they remain relevant. From August 2016, until further notice, we will include the Learning Pathways theme from QI 2.2 Curriculum and will refer to QI 2.7 Partnerships in evaluating the impact of parental engagement.

A new format of report will be introduced. It will take the form of a short letter, which will highlight strengths and aspects for development. It will include a table indicating the QI grades against the six-point scale. We will now also publish online the inspection evidence we gather during the inspection process in a document called the Summarised Inspection Findings (SIF).

You can review new inspection documents and read more about this new model in our inspection and review pages.

Short visit inspection model

We are trying out a short visit inspection model, from February 2017, in a small sample of primary schools. We will evaluate these approaches against the ten principles of inspection and review identified in our ‘Framework for Inspection’ and we will make any necessary changes before the model is rolled out across all sectors. 

Schools being inspected using the short visit inspection model will be informed of this when they are notified of the inspection. 

The key features of the short visit inspection model, which differ to the full establishment model are: 

  • The team will be composed of fewer inspectors
  • Inspectors will spend less time in school (a total of two days), normally from Monday lunchtime to Wednesday lunchtime
  • There will be a focus on two quality indicators (QIs)
    • 1.1 Self-evaluation for self-improvement
    • 3.2 Raising attainment and achievement
    Inspectors will make evaluations of these QIs using the six-point scale.

Some of the features of the short inspection model, which are replicated in the full establishment model, are set out below:

  • The period between the school receiving its notification of inspection by email and the team of inspectors visiting will be two-and-a-half weeks.
  • We will ask schools to complete a self-evaluation proforma, to be shared in advance of the inspection, and a safeguarding proforma, to be completed and handed to the Managing Inspector (MI) on the first afternoon of the inspection.
  • Learners, parents, staff and partners will be invited to share their views with us by completing an online questionnaire prior to the inspection.
  • The number of inspectors on a team is dependent on the school roll and can comprise of HM Inspectors, Associate Assessors, Assistant Inspectors and a Lay Member.
  • There will be a focus on safeguarding during the inspection.
  • We will publish a letter outlining the strengths of the school and areas for development, and share evaluations of the QIs.
  • We will publish our Summarised Inspection Findings (SIF).

Other new inspection models

In addition to the above model, we have introduced a suite of inspection models, which we can use in different contexts and for different purposes. We are continuing to develop our localised thematic and neighbourhood review models.

Letter from Bill Maxwell, CEO of Education Scotland, outlining the new approaches to inspections.

PDF file: Changes to Education Scotland inspections in August 2016 (105 KB)

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