Number of inspections of private schools per year: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/02870
Date received: 27 November 2017
Date responded: 21 December 2017

Information requested

How often we inspect schools in the private sector. In particular, you would like to know:

a) the number of full inspections of independent schools per year since 1999;

b) the duration between and the date of the two most recent full inspections for each independent school; and

c) which independent schools have undergone a special inspection at the request of the Scottish Ministers since 1999.


Information on Inspections of Independent Schools

a) Independent schools, like all other schools in Scotland, are subject to inspection by HM Inspectors. In schools with early learning and childcare, boarding provision (including residential special schools and secure care provision), HM Inspectors and Care Inspectorate inspectors work closely to ensure that inspections are: proportionate; co-ordinated; wherever possible, carried out jointly; and are in line with the Public Services Reform Act duty of co-operation. A sample of schools is selected for inspection activity based on a range of factors, including the length of time since they were last inspected; any significant changes in provision; and other intelligence, including intelligence from other agencies (see Annex A).

b) Independent special schools are inspected on a more frequent basis than independent mainstream schools. This is due to the high vulnerability of children and young people attending independent special schools, most of whom have significant additional support needs. Increased inspection activity in independent special schools provides additional support, advice and governance to the sector. Furthermore, all independent mainstream and special schools have a link HM Inspector who acts as the main point of contact between the school and Education Scotland. In order to maintain an up-to-date knowledge of the sector, link inspectors maintain working relationships with their assigned schools through telephone/email contact, written correspondence and an annual engagement visit. When the Registrar of Independent Schools receives an application to open a new school, HM Inspectors are involved in assisting the Registrar in evaluating the quality of information/plans supplied by the applicant, and thereafter in carrying out subsequent pre-registration and post-registration inspections. The dates of post-registration inspections have been shared in a separate column from full inspections (see Annex B).

c) Scottish Ministers have the powers to instruct HM Inspectors to carry out a 'special inspection' of an independent school, under Section 66 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. Such inspections are focused in nature, are carried out at short notice, and do not usually result in a published report. The circumstances around such special inspections mainly arise as a result of specific concerns about a school's practices, and/or the quality of leadership/governance. Where a school has boarding accommodation (including residential special schools and secure care provision), such inspection activity may be carried out in tandem with the Care Inspectorate (see Annex C).

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI-17-02870 - Annex A - Nos of inspections per year.pdf


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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