Joint statement from the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland on early learning and childcare inspections and progress towards the delivery of the shared inspection framework.

ES and CI

Over the past year, we have continued working together to plan our inspection programmes, undertake shared inspections and reduce burdens on the sector.

We are pleased that the overall feedback we have received from shared inspections has been positive. Our teams meet regularly and discuss what is going well and what needs to improve, and this collaborative approach will continue in the 2023/24 academic year.

Last year, following feedback from the sector we announced that neither organisation would inspect a service within an 18-month period of each other. We have continued to review how well this is working and have agreed that the 18-month period will remain unless there are exceptional circumstances. So, unless risk and intelligence indicate that an inspection needs to be carried out sooner, if you have been inspected by the Care Inspectorate or Education Scotland then you will not receive another inspection by either organisation within that period.

We know that this period between inspections has implications for primary school nursery classes. Therefore, this may affect you if you are a headteacher of a primary school with a nursery class. If Education Scotland plans an inspection in your setting within 18 months of a previous visit, your nursery setting will not be inspected unless you choose for this to happen or there is risk or exceptional circumstances. We would encourage you to discuss this option with your local authority.  

Shared inspection framework for early learning and childcare, childminding and school-aged childcare services in Scotland

We would also like to update you on our progress on the development of a shared inspection framework for early learning and childcare, childminding and school-aged childcare services in Scotland, a result of the Scottish Government consultation which concluded last year.  

To ensure we understand the needs of the sector, as well as families and children, we have undertaken an extensive online and in-person engagement programme with stakeholders to hear a range of views. These events also gave us the opportunity to learn what you need from the shared inspection framework in order to meet our shared aspirations for Scotland’s children. We delivered nine in-person events in Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling and Inverness as well as three online events.  In total, 854 people engaged directly with us at our events and a further 288 shared their views through our online survey. 

Following an in-depth analysis of all the information gathered, we met with the stakeholder reference group to share and discuss our findings. This group comprised of representatives from Early Years Scotland, National Day Nursery Association, Care and Learning Alliance, Scottish Out of School Care Network, Early Years Association Directors of Scotland, Scottish Childminding Association, The Promise, The Children’s Parliament, Connect, National Parent Forum Scotland, and the Scottish Government. 

A project team from both of our organisations is in place and working towards delivering a draft document of the new shared framework for further engagement in the Autumn.

We would like to thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to share your views and help us in the development of the shared framework. We are particularly grateful for the engagement with our stakeholder group and for its continued support for this important work. We look forward to delivering the completed shared framework.

Jackie Irvine, Care Inspectorate Chief Executive

Gillian Hamilton, Education Scotland Interim Chief Executive

Framework ES CI final draft 210823

To view this image in text form, see below. 

What we did?

We held 12 events (nine in-person and three online events)


854 people engaged directly with us. These included registered childminders, school-aged childcare workers, managers across all service types, early years practitioners, heads of service, development officers, quality improvement officers, teachers, headteachers, college lectures, SVQ assessors and parents.

288 people engaged with our online survey through CitizenLab.

We spoke with staff from both the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland, and stakeholders to hear their views.

What we found

We analysed the data, reading every single response. Here is a broad overview of your views.

Q: What are your aspirations for children as a result of the shared framework?

  • Nurture
  • Quality
  • Fun
  • Learning
  • Continuity
  • Consistency

What is important to retain from the quality framework currently used for inspection?

  • Questions as a staff development tool
  • Illustrations of Level 2 (weak) and Level 5 (very good) evaluations
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, (UNCRC) Articles and the Health and Social Care Standards
  • Improvement toolbox with links to the documents.
  • Language and structure (Care Inspectorate)

What are the key aspects of the shared framework to support high-quality outcomes for children?

  • Plain language
  • Sector specific
  • Online and off-line
  • Less paperwork
  • Examples and case studies
  • Concise and manageable

What aspects of quality ELC, childminding or school-aged childcare do you feel is missing and could be enhanced?

  • Support staff development
  • Self-evaluation templates
  • Accessible for families to support transitions into early level
  • Webpage linked to the framework