Schools could be subject to snap inspections with as little as two days’ notice given by the authorities.
Proposals have been revealed by Education Scotland in a wide-ranging shake-up of the manner in which the sector is monitored.
It would remove the current two weeks and three weeks currently given to primary and secondary schools respectively to prepare.
According to reports, the scheme would be piloted from next month.
As well as reducing stressful pre-inspection periods, it is thought it would give a more accurate reflection of a school’s normal operation.
The move was given a guarded welcome by teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).
A spokesman said: “The move to short notice inspections may help ease the stress that can build up in the run-up to an inspection visit, but it may also create other practical issues if they are announced during a period of unexpected staff shortage.
“There may also be a potential risk of head teachers putting staff on year-round alert due to the short notice nature of inspections. As ever, the key to positive inspections will continue to be dialogue with all staff.”
Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: “Parents want inspectors to get a taste of their school as it really is and to get clear and meaningful feedback on strengths and areas for development.”
Another aspect of the proposals, to be piloted next year, are “neighbourhood reviews”, focusing on secondary school clusters and further education to examine overall pupil experience and close gaps in attainment.
Alastair Delaney, director of inspection at Education Scotland, said: “One area this review has looked at is shifting the focus from the establishment to the learner.
“Rather than inspecting the establishment itself, the inspection will instead focus on the learner’s journey and their experience of the different elements of their education.”