Over a third of Falkirk area schools not inspected for a decade or more

Over a third of primary schools in the Falkirk Council area have not been inspected by education watchdogs in the past decade.

By Jill Buchanan
Thursday, 30th July 2020, 4:45 pm

Politicians have criticised the lack of scrutiny and a Falkirk East MSP has promised to raise the issue with Education Minister John Swinney.

The figures obtained under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request reveal that 17 of the district’s 48 primaries have not been visited by inspectors and had their standards reviewed for ten years or more.

Bowhouse Primary in Grangemouth has not been inspected for 14 years.

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

Bowhouse Primary has not been inspected for 14 years

Schools which have not had an inspection for 12 years are: Beancross, Bonnybridge, Carron, Grange and Hallglen.

There have been no inspectors in Antonine, Bantaskin, Denny, Drumbowie, St Patrick’s or Wallacestone for 11 years.

While at Carronshore, Moray, Nethermains, St Andrew’s and Westquarter inspections have not taken place in ten years.

The last schools in the Falkirk Council area to have results of inspections published were Stenhousemuir and Kinneil, both in March this year.

Denny Primary is one of six schools not inspected for 11 years

Inspectors look at four areas when carrying out reviews: leadership of change; learning, teaching and assessment; raising attainment and achievement and ensuring well-being, equality and inclusion.

They judge schools either excellent, very good, good, satisfactory, weak or unsatisfactory across all these areas.

Angus MacDonald MSP said: “Education is a top priority for the Scottish Government. With more pupils achieving top grades in their exams and going onto positive destinations and, with a continued effort toward closing the attainment gap, I am surprised that there appear to be long gaps in Education Scotland inspections locally. I am particularly concerned with what appears to be a 14 year gap for Bowhouse Primary in Grangemouth.

“It is important that we have the full knowledge of the experiences of our schools and pupils and the information highlighted to me on this matter warrants further enquiries as the MSP for Falkirk East. I will pursue these matters with the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education at the earliest opportunity.”

Conservative Central Scotland MSP Alison Harris said: “It is worrying that over a third of our primary schools in Falkirk have not been inspected over the past ten years let alone Bowhouse Primary which has gone for 14 years without any form of inspection.

“Without these inspections how can potential problems in schools be identified? A ten year cycle would mean that a child’s primary education is over. It is vital that inspections are carried out more frequently.”

Elaine Smith, a Labour Central Scotland MSP said: “That over a third of Falkirk Council schools have not been inspected in over a decade is little short of a scandal. The First Minister said that education was her government’s ‘top priority’ but some of these schools were last inspected under the Scottish Labour administration.

“If this is how the SNP treat their top priority then the state of Scotland’s NHS and transport network begins to make more sense.”

A spokesman for the local authority said: “We have a robust quality assurance programme operating across Falkirk Council and we regularly engage with schools to ensure we continue to deliver high quality learning and teaching to our children and young people.

“In addition to school reviews we conduct thematic reviews aligned to our improvement planning process to ensure schools continue to meet the needs of their learners.”

A spokesman from Education Scotland said: “Schools are selected for inspection each year on a proportionate basis using a sampling approach and predetermined set criteria rather than a cyclical approach.

“In Scotland overall responsibility for the quality of education and securing continuous improvement sits with the local authority.

“There is a three-level approach to evaluating and improving education: schools have a responsibility to evaluate their performance; local authorities have responsibility for the quality of education in their area and the third level is scrutiny activity carried out by HM Inspectors of Education.”

Message from the editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the highest standards in the world. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers and consequently the advertising that we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you