No new school inspections carried out in Fife over last two years because of pandemic

Education chiefs in Fife have assured councillors that standards have not been allowed to slip despite a dearth of formal school inspections.
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No new Education Scotland inspections have taken place across the region in the last two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, while only a handful of inspections were carried out by the Care Inspectorate for the same reason.

From the middle of next month, HMIE says it will carry out “recovery” visits to support the education sector but will not report on specific quality indicators or give grades as part of those visits.

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But while the external scrutiny may have been lacking in that respect, councillors on the education and children’s services sub committee heard on Friday that Education Scotland has worked collaboratively with the council, school clusters and individual schools to build capacity in the system and support improvement throughout the pandemic.

The pandemic has impacted on inspections of schools across FifeThe pandemic has impacted on inspections of schools across Fife
The pandemic has impacted on inspections of schools across Fife
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Jackie Funnell, education manager, said: “Although prior to COVID inspection activity in schools and centres was increasing, some schools will not have been inspected for a considerable period of time.

“But we cannot and do not wait on inspection activity alone to help secure continuous improvement.

“Working with professionals across Fife, the directorate is seeking to ensure that schools and practitioners take increasing ownership for improving practice and, of course, improving outcomes for our children and young people.

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“This is entirely consistent with the national direction of travel in terms of emphasising the importance of schools and headteachers leading the improvement process through the empowerment agenda.”

A report to committee confirmed that both Freuchie Primary School and Beath High School were able to receive return visits from HMIE in November 2021, following inspections that took place in 2019.

Both received very favourable reports and would require no further follow-up visits.

Queen Anne High School, Beanstalk Family Nurture Centre and Calaiswood Special School also participated in a national thematic inspection focused on approaches to supporting children and young people’s wellbeing - the results of which are due later this year.

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Ms Funnell added that Education Scotland had arranged a number of opportunities for “high quality professional dialogue” for school leaders designed to support recovery and improvement work in individual schools.

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