Inspection of early learning and childcare and school age childcare services in Scotland

Closed 28 Oct 2022

Opened 11 Jul 2022

Feedback updated 24 Mar 2023

We asked

Independent advice was provided to the Scottish Government on aspects of education reform in Scotland in March 2022. We welcomed Professor Muir’s recommendation in relation to the creation of a shared framework for the inspection of early learning and childcare (ELC) and we committed to further consult the ELC and school aged childcare sector on the challenges raised regarding a dual inspection approach.

The consultation set out our vision for how inspection of ELC and school age childcare services will contribute to improving outcomes for children and families and the guiding principles that underpin that approach. It sought to gather views on the strengths of existing arrangements, where improvements can be made and on specific proposals to streamline and improve the inspection of ELC and school age childcare services through the introduction of a shared quality framework.

You said

254 responses were provided to the written consultation. Additionally, 11 events recorded comments provided by 380+ attendees. Feedback was received from a wide range of respondents, including local authorities, trade unions, ELC and school aged childcare representative and membership bodes, academic organisations, the Inspectorates, and parents/carers. The largest proportion of responses came from practitioners and childcare providers themselves.

A strong desire for change was expressed with 78% of respondents in favour of the introduction of a shared framework to be used for inspection.  The consultation responses also confirmed the following:

  • The proposed vision and principles were supported by over 90% of respondents, but could be further improved;
  • That experiences of inspection varied across the country, with 39% having mostly positive experiences, but with 21% reporting largely negative experiences of inspection.  A huge range of rich examples of both types of experience were shared with us;
  • A number of respondents voiced their support for a single inspectorate with a single approach, despite the consultation not asking questions on this;
  • There is a need to recognise and reflect the differences between types of providers and settings;
  • Views were expressed that any new framework needs to provide clarity, consistency, a common language, streamline bureaucracy, be supportive and reduce burden and stress on practitioners;
  • There needs to be more communication, collaboration and joint working, and an equally valued input and role for both Inspectorates. 80% of respondents consider that more could be done by the Inspectorates to improve coordination and cooperation between themselves and only 13% agreed that they currently worked well together. 

We did

The Scottish Government has published a comprehensive response to the consultation findings. This outlines the work we will take forward in response to a number of the issues raised. The response also includes a joint statement from the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland, which confirms their commitment to working together to develop a shared framework which will be ready to implement in 2024.

We will provide updates as this work develops.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


This consultation aims to gather views on a vision for the future of inspection and what this will deliver for children, families and practitioners, teachers and staff working in the sector from the full range of early learning and childcare (ELC) and school age childcare services, whether or not they currently provide funded ELC.

It is seeking views on the strengths of existing inspection arrangements, where improvements can be made and the proposal to bring forward a shared quality framework to be used in inspection of these services, developed collaboratively by the Care Inspectorate, HM Inspectors of Education (HMIE), sector representatives, practitioners, teachers, staff and children.

Read the consultation paper 

Why your views matter

Scottish Government recognises the enormous value that comes from the diverse ELC and school age childcare sector, which includes local authority, private, childminding, voluntary and school age childcare providers.

We would like to gather views from everyone impacted by the current inspection approach, including inspection and improvement organisations, local authorities, representative bodies, providers, managers, staff and teachers working in every type of provider and parents and carers. The responses to this consultation will be used to inform next steps on the improvement and streamlining of inspection of ELC and school age childcare services in Scotland.

What happens next

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public at If you use the consultation hub to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

As part of the consultation process, we will be meeting with representatives from a range of stakeholders, including the inspectorate bodies, representative bodies from the sector and trade unions over the summer and autumn period.

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so. An analysis report will also be made available. We will then set out intended next steps, including a proposed timeframe to implement the recommended improvements.


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