This seminar drew together a range of key stakeholders to explore and reflect on the implications for the future of scrutiny and inspection in Scotland.

Scrutiny and Inspection - Melanie Ehren Presentation - Christie 2

Dr Melanie Ehren presenting

Scrutiny and inspection are viewed as key drivers for stimulating improvement and ensuring accountability within public services. The public service reform agenda in Scotland is requiring services to collaborate more deeply, to rethink ways of working and roles and responsibilities which are not easily captured by traditional models of scrutiny and inspection. Therefore, we need to rethink how we inspect and scrutinise our public services.

Almost 60 individuals from a range of key stakeholders came to the event to explore and reflect on the implications for the future of scrutiny and inspection in Scotland. The seminar was structured around a number of short inputs from leading thinkers, policy-makers and practitioners to stimulate discussion about how we might construct inspection and scrutiny in Scotland that meets the demands of an ever more integrated and complex set of public services.

A discussion paper was circulated before the seminar and the thinking generated in the discussions and feedback will be used to develop a What Works Scotland position paper on this important and challenging issue.

Date: Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Location: The Lighthouse, Glasgow


Seminar paper

This discussion paper was circulated to attendees before the seminar to provide context and provoke thinking.


Dr Melanie Ehren from the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the Institute of Education, University of London presented on the role of scrutiny in improving performance of public services.

Some examples of polycentric inspection, which she talked about in her presentation, are available on the School Inspections Europe website. It also includes this video, played during the seminar, in which an inspector talks about a polycentric inspection of networked schools in Northern Ireland.


Short responses to Dr Ehren’s presentation were given by:


Participants were then asked to discuss and respond to four themes.

Scrutiny and Inspection discussions 16

Theme 1: Defining and describing  models of public scrutiny

Is polycentric scrutiny and inspection a helpful construct within the Scottish context?

What forms of polycentric scrutiny would support the development of improved outcomes across a range of services?

What might this look like in practice?

Theme 2: Methodologies in scrutiny and inspection 

What methodologies will provide rigorous quality assurance and generate quality  improvement across professional and geographical boundaries?

Scrutiny and Inspection discussions 8

Theme 3: Values and judgements in scrutiny and inspection 

How do we combine objectivist and subjectivist approaches to optimise the impact of public service scrutiny and inspection?

 Theme 4: User involvement in scrutiny and inspection 

How can public service users best contribute to public service scrutiny and inspection?

How does the system ensure this is meaningful and leads to changes in provision and practice?

Reflections and reactions