Inspection of early learning and childcare and school age childcare services: consultation

This consultation is seeking views on a vision for how inspection of registered childcare services will contribute to improving outcomes for children and families, the current approach to inspection and a proposal for a shared quality framework.

A shared quality framework


  • The introduction of one shared quality framework which would apply to all registered providers of ELC, including all nurseries and childminding services, as well as school age childcare services.
  • The shared quality framework would be a self-evaluation tool designed to support services to improve the provision of ELC and school age childcare for children and families.
  • The shared framework would align the quality indicators within, and replace, the Care Inspectorate quality framework for day care of children, childminders and school-aged childcare, and Education Scotland's 'How Good is our ELC?'.
  • It would be developed collaboratively by the Care Inspectorate, HMIE, sector representatives, practitioners, teachers, staff and children.
  • It would include quality elements relating to care, play, nurture, wellbeing, education, development and learning. It would make clear which elements are relevant to which types of settings. Not all elements of the framework would apply to all types of services or all types of inspections.
  • It would be used to inspect all ELC and school age childcare services that are currently inspected by HMIE and/or the Care Inspectorate.


This section is intended to explore further the views of the ELC and school age childcare sectors and other interested individuals/organisations on a proposed shared quality framework for all ELC and school age childcare services.

It explores how a shared framework might bring the Care Inspectorate and HMIE's separate inspection approaches together to provide clarity to the sector, support high quality provision of services and better support outcomes for children and families. It would seek to harness the expertise that the Care Inspectorate and HMIE each bring to the sector, and set out the quality indicators that each of the organisations expect services to meet in one document.

We recognise that a number of stakeholders previously contributed their views during engagement sessions with the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland on the development of a shared framework in 2017/2018. The views gathered as part of that work remain helpful and informative. The responses gathered through this consultation will build on the work undertaken by the inspectorate organisations and stakeholders prior to the pandemic on the development of a shared framework in consideration of the current context.

The shared quality framework would support and strengthen an integrated approach to inspection for funded ELC services, enabling the two separate inspectorate bodies to work together, assessing the quality of settings at the same time, using the same framework, and aligning and quality assuring their findings. This integrated approach would be achieved through joint working between the inspectorates, including a shared approach to planning of inspection activity, ensuring that inspection cycles are joined up and transparent.

A shared quality framework would also mean that settings that are currently inspected by both the Care Inspectorate and HMIE would only be required to work with and review one document to receive clarity on what is expected from each of the inspectorate bodies. Additionally, and to support consistency, services that are only inspected by one organisation would be able to review the same document as other services across the sector, which would set out clearly which inspection elements are relevant, or not relevant, to their type of service. The development of this framework would be strongly informed and based upon core elements and strengths of the inspection frameworks currently in place.


Question 3.1: Do you support the proposal to develop a shared quality framework between HMIE and the Care Inspectorate?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

Can you tell us why you think this?

Question 3.2: What do you consider are the benefits to implementation of a shared quality framework?

Question 3.3: What do you consider are the challenges to implementation of a shared quality framework?

Question 3.4: Do you think that the development of a shared quality framework will meet the needs of the sector to simplify the inspection landscape and reduce the inspection burden?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

Why do you think this?

Question 3.5: Do you think that the shared framework should apply to all ELC services, including funded and unfunded nursery and childminder provision for 0-5 year olds, and to childcare provision for children of school age (over 5 years old)?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

Why do you think this?

Section 4: Additional comments

Question 4.1: Do you have any additional comments in relation to improving inspection of ELC and school age childcare services in Scotland?



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