Concern over change in Scottish school inspections

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A parents' watchdog has said it is concerned about proposed changes to the inspection system for schools.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said a plan to drop the ratings system from inspection reports would make it harder for parents to gauge how well a school was doing.

The proposal is part of a wider shake-up by HM Inspectorate of Education.

It wants to publish clearer, more accessible reports for parents, in the form of a letter.

It would contain details and evaluations, customised to the school.

The SPTC said it welcomed the news that parents were to be more involved in the inspection process.

However, it said that it would be interesting to see how the new reports were received.

A statement said: "The SPTC is concerned that the quality improvement grades will not be in the report, as we feel these are something that parents need to hear directly from HMIE and not from the media."

The parents' watchdog also highlighted concern over the move towards only having online access to reports.

The other changes, which the HMIE proposes to introduce from August, include reducing the number of schools being inspected, moving away from inspecting every institution within a fixed time period.

HMIE also plans to select schools for inspection in partnership with local authorities and to use smaller inspection teams for small schools, so they do not disrupt teaching.

The inspectorate also wants to focus more on a school's own self-evaluation.

It claims that this would enable better dialogue among the school, local authority, the parent council, and inspection team.

The schools watchdog will also reduce the inspection notice period from three weeks to two for primary schools.

'Difficult messages'

HM Senior Chief Inspector Dr Bill Maxwell said: "These changes cement in place a fundamental shift in the way that schools are inspected in Scotland.

"We've been working hard to promote inspection as a positive and constructive process, done 'with' a centre or school, not 'to' it.

"We now have stronger professional dialogue and staff engagement in our inspections, with a real focus on supporting improvement.

"That doesn't stop us delivering difficult messages when necessary, and as independent evaluators, we will continue to do that."

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