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HMIE should visit local authorities instead of schools

We welcome the proposed reduction in inspection frequency proposed by HMIE in its consultation document launched last week. However, as it gives absolutely no indication as to the magnitude of that reduction, it is a cautious welcome.

It is also unclear whether or not the reduction in inspection will apply to nursery schools, which are over-inspected.

AHDS believes that HMIE should inspect local authority capacity to support and secure improvements in school performance, and that only occasional school inspections should be necessary as a quality check on the information received from local authorities.

This would result in a far more efficient inspection model, and would hopefully lead to a system of quality assurance and improvement rather than occasional, public, summative reports which provide a "freeze-frame" of a school that does little to help it improve.

I would see the main positives from these proposals as being a move to a sampling model and the reduction in the notice given to schools that inspectors are coming from three weeks to one. Many members tell us that the most stressful and difficult period is between notification of inspection and the inspectors arriving.

I have some concern about the plans for greater involvement of parents and school staff in the inspection process. Members have regularly expressed concerns that disproportionate weight is given to parent perceptions with little right of reply afforded to schools.

I am also concerned about close involvement of staff in the process, which could be divisive where an inspection report contains difficult messages. I would rather see inspection teams try to increase or improve communication with the headteacher and other staff throughout the inspection.

Greg Dempster, general secretary, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland.

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