Almost half of Scottish schools have not been inspected by education bosses in over a decade, new figures have revealed.
A report found 1,200 institutions across primary and secondary level, plus independent schools and those designated for special education have not been inspected since at least the 2012/13 period.
The Scottish Government previously announced the creation of a new and independent inspectorate body, but opponents branded the current findings “deeply concerning”.
Data from a freedom of information request showed 961 primary schools and 157 secondaries were not visited by inspectors for at least 10 years.
A further 40 special and 42 independent schools also did not receive inspections, the report revealed.
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, Stephen Kerr MSP, said: “A robust and regular inspection programme is absolutely crucial in knowing how schools are performing and what they can do to improve.
“SNP ministers cannot hide behind the pandemic as an excuse for these figures given how longstanding a failure to carry out inspections has been going on for.
“This is just the latest example in a litany of failures by the SNP when it comes to our schools.”
He added: “Ministers must urgently commit resources to tackling this backlog and ensure that an independent body is carrying out these inspections to ensure trust in the process.”
A total of 1,933 had not been inspected in the last five years, but Education Scotland paused its programme of routine inspections in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The body said inspection cycles were planned out on a “proportionate basis, using a sampling approach”.
Typically, more than 200 primary and secondary schools are targeted for inspection every year, based on the type of school, deprivation and balance across local authorities.
Independent special schools are inspected more frequently in order to ensure the safety of vulnerable youngsters.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said the new body would develop new inspection models and help to assess the overall performance of Scottish education”.
They added: “School inspections increased in 2018-19 and would have increased further the following year had it not been for the pandemic.
“Inspections are not the only method of scrutiny – schools and local authorities also have responsibility for evaluating performance.”