School inspections rise by over a third in a year

And the number of inspectors hits highest level since Education Scotland came into being in 2011

School inspections in Scotland have increased by over a third in a year

Figures published in today’s Tes Scotland magazine show that both the numbers of school inspectors and inspections carried out in Scotland have risen substantially in just a year. However, even with more inspectors on the ground and a higher rate of inspection, most schools are still unlikely to be inspected more than once every 10 years.

In 2018 Tes Scotland revealed that some Scottish schools had not been inspected for 16 years and more than a fifth of all schools had not seen an inspector for a decade.

The revelation prompted some tough questions about whether inspection was worth doing at all if it was so infrequent.

Now the new figures show that 252 inspections were carried out in 2018-19 – a rise of 38 per cent on the previous year, when 182 inspections were carried out, and the highest number since 2010-11, when the total was 279.


Long read: The ‘12-year old headteacher’ saving her school

Background: Scotland’s ‘withering’ inspection regime

Short read: New school inspection regime leads to 'tougher' ratings

Opinion: School inspection ‘more stressful’ in England than Scotland

News: Inspectors give harsher school ratings than councils


The lowest number of inspections carried out in a year according to the figures – which date back to 2008-09 – was 141 in 2014-15. The highest number of inspections took place in 2009-10, when 403 were carried out.

More school inspections in Scotland

Other figures uncovered by Tes Scotland reveal that in 2018 there were 84 inspectors employed by Education Scotland – the highest number the body has employed since it came into being in 2011, with 72 inspectors. In 2017 Education Scotland employed 74 inspectors.

The figures are revealed in the big read in this week's Tes Scotland magazine about an Aberdeenshire primary headteacher who took up post when she was just 25 and then found out two months into the job that her school – Boddam School – was going to be inspected.

Emma Turnbull – whose affectionate nickname locally is “the 12-year-old headteacher” – and her staff then took Boddam School from a weak inspection rating to a successful reinspection within just 40 school weeks.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

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