Schools must collect their own data, not HMIE

18th July 2008 at 01:00
James Waugh raises important concerns about the burden of inspection on schools (July 4)

James Waugh raises important concerns about the burden of inspection on schools (July 4). During 2007, Lorne Crerar carried out an independent review of our system for "scrutiny" of public services. Of the 42 recommendations made, most aim to reduce the burden of scrutiny on public services.

But the Crerar review also concluded that service providers have the primary responsibility for engaging with their users, a view shared by the Scottish Consumer Council.

Schools should be collecting data on what parents and pupils think of the services provided, not HMIE. After all, it is school staff who will be responsible for analysing that information and turning it into service improvements. Many schools do collect this data only to find that, during inspections, it must be duplicated by HMIE as the data is not considered reliable enough.

Most, if not all, of those involved in the Crerar review agreed that inspection should be less burdensome and more proportionate. But inspectorates will only take the pressure off once they are convinced that services have performance management systems good enough to provide a critical eye on services.

To do this effectively, staff need support. This is why we are working with the Improvement Service to explore how local government (including schools) can be supported to measure the experiences of service users robustly. We hope this will become an approach which supports rather than stifles staff with compliance - surely the best outcome for children and teachers.

Jennifer Wallace, policy manager, Scottish Consumer Council.

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