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Dramatic fall in Scotland's nursery inspections revealed

04-Jan-17
Article By: Angeline Albert, News Editor

The number of nursery inspections happening in Scotland has fallen dramatically over the last five years and some fear if the trend continues it would take 18 years for all nurseries to be inspected.

In the Scottish Parliament, the SNP Government’s education secretary John Swinney has admitted the number of nursery inspections dropped by a third from 201 in 2011 to 135 in the last year.

The estimate for 2016-17 also suggests that numbers will continue to fall, with future projections for the current financial year dropping to just 99.

If the rate of 135 inspections a year continued, Scottish Labour estimates that 18 years would need to pass before each of Scotland's 2,449 nurseries got inspected by the government agency Education Scotland.

30 hours free childcare scheme

The figures come despite the SNP’s manifesto pledge to double free childcare provision to 30 hours per week, resulting in hundreds more nurseries being built.

SNP turning a blind eye?

Scottish Labour’s shadow education minister Daniel Johnson said: "Inspections in our nurseries should be regular and thorough because so much of the work we can do to cut the attainment gap between the richest and the rest can begin there.

“Instead it looks like the SNP is happy to turn a blind eye and provide the bare minimum.

“That isn’t good enough – we have heard a lot of warm words from the SNP government about its commitment to education and cutting the attainment gap, but the actions of the government suggest otherwise.

“Education Scotland as an agency has been criticised as dysfunctional in recently months - we need clarity as to why these inspection rates are falling.”

A spokesman for Education Scotland said it is in the process of employing more inspectors to meet the need for people with specific skills in the early years sector.

The spokesman said: “Education Scotland delivers inspections across a wide range of sectors including the early learning and childcare sector.

“We are currently recruiting HM inspectors and assistant inspectors with specialist skills in this sector which will allow us to increase the number of early years inspections in our national sample.

"We work in close partnership with the Care Inspectorate, who visit all early learning and childcare centres on a regular basis.”

The latest figures follows evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s education committee which showed a similar trend for schools.

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