Validated self evaluation

Validated self-evaluation (VSE) is not inspection. It is a voluntary process which aims to support and challenge the work of education authorities to improve the quality of provision and outcomes for learners.

It is led by the education authority and involves a partnership in which HM Inspectors from Education Scotland work alongside the authority to support and challenge the education authority's own self-evaluation.

HM Inspectors from Education Scotland provide an external evaluation of the effectiveness of a local authority in its quality assurance of educational provision within the Council and of its support to schools in improving quality.

In April/May 2014 officers from Educational and Children’s Services in South Ayrshire were supported by HM Inspectors in carrying out a validated self-evaluation. HM Inspectors then published a report on the quality of self-evaluation within South Ayrshire Council Educational Services. This report, along with South Ayrshire’s own self-evaluation reports, reflects the strengths and areas for improvement in Educational Services.

What did the VSE focus on?

The main question being explored was about the quality and equity of education in South Ayrshire. Do all children and young people benefit from opportunities to achieve beyond the classroom, attain highly in exams and successfully progress to further education, training or employment? Three theme groups were formed to explore these questions and included:

  1. Educational attainment: How well do young people perform in standardised assessments and exams?
  2. Personal achievement: Do all young people benefit from a wide range of opportunities to achieve in school and out of school and how well do they achieve?
  3. Positive destinations: How many young people leave school and move to a positive destination and why are some unsuccessful?

What happened before the VSE?

Educational Services undertook their own self-evaluation and made available to the VSE team a copy of the report. A reference group was established to provide additional support and challenge to the process. Membership of this group included the Portfolio Holders with responsibility for Lifelong Learning and Social Services.

What happened during the VSE?

In the initial stages of the VSE, HM Inspectors worked with each theme group to further support group members in a range of self-evaluation activities.

Following the first full VSE week, the senior management team and the theme group chairs met with HMI Inspectors to take stock of the initial findings of the VSE. This meeting considered and tested the findings of the VSE, the learning that had taken place and the robustness of the process.

What happened after the VSE?

Following the VSE, HM Inspectors wrote a report on the quality of the self-evaluation in South Ayrshire Council’s Educational Services.

A copy of the validated self-evaluation report is available from

The VSE theme groups also wrote a report on the strengths and areas for improvement in the three areas identified for evaluation.