Scotland’s schools inspectorate has announced it is suspending its inspection regime when schools reopen in August.
Education Scotland – which had already put inspection on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic – said in a statement today that it was pausing its inspection regime next year to enable teachers to concentrate on reopening schools.
The body said it expected that inspections would resume at some stage during 2020-21, but no date was specified – the body simply said inspection would begin again when it was “safe and appropriate to do so”.
Background: School inspections suspended in Scotland
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Instead, Education Scotland said inspectors would provide “bespoke help and support” to schools that will be grappling with the delivery of learning both in school and at home.
Coronavirus: School inspections in Scotland put on hold
An overview of what was working, where there were challenges and what was needed for further support would be shared with the Scottish government, it added.
Gayle Gorman, Scotland’s chief inspector and chief executive of Education Scotland, said: “Schools and education authorities have faced a huge challenge in adapting during the Covid-19 crisis, and we want to minimise any additional work that might be required for inspections to allow education establishments to focus on reopening schools.
“Empowerment, leadership and collaboration have been key in recent weeks with everyone across the system working hard to support learning at home, as well as supporting key workers’ children through the childcare offer in local authority learning hubs.
“Covid-19 presents early learning and childcare settings and schools with previously uncharted challenges, and it is vitally important staff working in education can focus on providing support to their pupils and colleagues when schools reopen. The plans we have announced today are part of a package provided by Education Scotland which aims to relieve pressure on the education system at this time, whilst providing bespoke support to schools and encouraging the overall recovery of the system as we move forward."
Meanwhile, it emerged today that more than 600 primary schools in Scotland have not been inspected for a decade or more, and one has not been visited by inspectors for 16 years.
The Scottish government revealed the details under Freedom of Information legislation.
The response said that Education Scotland had "significantly strengthened its scrutiny functions and increased the number of school inspections it carries out".
It added: "In the last academic year (2018/19) Education Scotland completed 252 school inspections, an increase of over 30 per cent on the previous year.
The figures showed that 604 primaries have not been inspected for 10 years or more.
A total of 201 primary schools were inspected in 2018-19, more than double the total of 97 from 2014-15.
The government stressed that "in Scotland, overall responsibility for the quality of education and securing continuous improvement sits with the local authority".
It added: "There is a three-level approach to evaluating and improving education: schools have a responsibility to evaluate their performance; local authorities have responsibility for the quality of education in their area; and the third level is scrutiny activity carried out by HM Inspectors of Education."
Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: "It is staggering that there are so many primary schools across the country that have not been inspected in more than a decade."