Clear Quality Standards And Robust Self- Evaluation And Quality Assurance Regimes
There is already much emphasis within ELC on self-evaluation, quality assurance and improvement to ensure that high quality provision meets the needs of individual children.
Funded ELC is currently underpinned by a dual quality assurance system. Education Scotland undertakes inspections of all educational establishments including ELC settings delivering the funded ELC, with inspections focusing on ‘How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare?’. The Care Inspectorate inspect health and social care settings, including all childcare providers in Scotland whether or not providing funded ELC, with their inspections focusing on the National Care Standards. These inspections are intended to improve outcomes for children by providing assurance about the quality of ELC and promoting improvement. As well as delivering a quality assurance audit, these inspections are an important part of the improvement cycle.
This independent scrutiny is complementary to the setting’s self-evaluation – both organisations place robust self-evaluation at the heart of the inspection framework and continuous improvement. ‘How good is our early learning and childcare?’ is also a tool to support rigorous evidence-based self-evaluation by all ELC settings to identify areas for improvement and to aim for excellence.
Since August 2011, Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate try to visit ELC centres together and complete a shared inspection where both organisations are scheduled to inspect. The aim is to provide a more coherent set of messages for the service and service users and to minimise unnecessary scrutiny. However, respondents to the Education Governance: Next Steps reported that the current inspection process for ELC is overly bureaucratic and can lead to confusion for parents. Next Steps therefore stated that Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate will further enhance their single shared inspection model for ELC and ensure that a service will only be subject to a single inspection per cycle. A collaborative working group and an external stakeholder group have been established to further develop a shared inspection framework. This will be developed by 2018 and will take cognisance of the best practice from both organisations’ current approaches to scrutiny.