Education Scotland
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 Catalog-Item Reuse

Trying out new approaches

​Across the 2014-15 academic session, we looked at all aspects of inspection across the range of sectors and educational settings. We took account of the views of a wide range of stakeholders, gathered during extensive consultation, and we embraced creative ideas.

After considering stakeholders' views, our next step was to try out the range of approaches, across the 2015-16 academic session, for which we found there was most support. These 'try-outs' took place alongside an inspection programme using the established models of inspection.

We tried out the following approaches:

Short, more focused school visits

This involved visiting a school for a shorter period (two-and-a-half days) with fewer inspectors. Some of these visits were tried out on a short-notice basis (of two working days), and others followed a two-working-week notification period. The visits had a specific focus on raising attainment and achievement and how a school is addressing the need to close the equity gap; and teaching, learning and assessment. Inspectors did not make evaluations using the six-point scale outlined in any of the 'How good is our school?' series.

Localised thematic review

With this approach, any theme - such as progression through the broad general education or senior phase, developing Scotland’s young workforce or developing numeracy, literacy or health and wellbeing - could be the focus of such an inspection. In our ‘try-out’ localised thematic review, a cross-sectoral team of inspectors, working across a local authority area, focused on answering the question 'How well are learning pathways through the senior phase leading to positive destinations?' We explored how well arrangements and provision, based on local authority policy, are working for learners in a specific geographical area. Inspectors did not make evaluations using the six-point scale outlined in any of the 'How good is our school?' series. The report for this 'try-out' review can be found on the Thematic review page.

Core set of QIs plus additional area of focus

We carried out a sample of this type of inspection in schools throughout March 2016. This inspection model involved a focus on a core set of quality indicators to provide assurance on key aspects of the work of a school. In addition, inspectors agreed with the school one further quality indicator for focus. We were trying out the use of quality indicators from 'How good is our school (fourth edition)' and, where schools had a nursery class also, we used 'How good is our early learning and childcare?'. Inspectors did not publish evaluations using the six-point scale in any of the 'How good is our school?' series for these 'try-out' inspections.

See the attached letter to Directors of Education, which outlined this approach.

PDF file: Future of Inspection DoE External Reference Group letter 2016 (118 KB)

We tried out the following two approaches across May and June 2016:

Some further short-notice inspections

The two-days' notice aspect of the short, focused school visits we tried out in the small sample of inspections in November and December 2015 was positively received. Following positive stakeholder feedback, we carried out further two-days' notice inspections in a sample of primary schools (some with nursery classes). We used the established model of inspection that was routinely used at the time, but with the shorter, two-working-day notification.

See the attached letter to Directors of Education, which outlined this approach.

PDF file: Letter to Directors of Education and the External Reference Group - April 2016 (127 KB)

Further 'try outs' in early learning and childcare settings using new quality indicators

We carried out inspections of a small sample of free-standing early learning and childcare establishments, using the new quality indicators from How good is our early learning and childcare?

See the attached letter to Directors of Education, which outlined this approach.

PDF file: Letter to Directors of Education and the External Reference Group - April 2016 (127 KB)

Neighbourhood model

Our vision for a neighbourhood model is a cross-sectoral approach involving a secondary school and its associated educational establishments and partners. This review does not focus on individual establishments but rather on what learning will look like for learners as they progress through their education. We carried out such a review in the week beginning 6 June 2016. The theme of this review was transition and we explored how well learners progressed in their learning as they moved through their education. Inspectors did not make evaluations using the six-point scale outlined in any of the 'How good is our school?' series. The report will be published in due course.

See the attached letter to education authorities, inviting volunteers for this review.

PDF file: Future of Inspection ADES Neighbourhood Review letter 2016 (97 KB)

We continue to seek stakeholder feedback and are evaluating all of these new approaches against the core purposes of inspection, being to:

  • provide assurance to users on the quality of education
  • provide evidence to inform national policy development
  • build capacity for improvement.

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