Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales and Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
Members will be aware that the Welsh Government and Estyn jointly undertook a series of public consultations during February and May 2013 on proposed changes to Estyn’s inspection cycles and timings for post inspection action plans. The consultation focused on the:
- requirement for Estyn to inspect within a set interval from the date of the last inspection;
- length of those inspection intervals;
- period notice of inspection given to schools and providers by Estyn;
- requirements for schools to hold pre-inspection parents’ meetings;
- requirement for parent/carer and learner questionnaires; and
- time for the preparation of a post inspection action plan.
The outcome of the consultations found that there was overwhelming support to reduce the predictability of inspections. The majority of respondents considered that a 6 year period for inspection was the best option and agreed that the pre-inspection parents meetings and parent and learner questionnaires should be retained. Responses were mixed regarding reducing the notice period for inspection and reducing the timeframe for preparation of the post inspection plan. However, the majority of respondents agreed that there should be a consistent period to prepare post inspection action plans for all education sectors and suggested that the current period of time (45 working days) was the most appropriate.
Welsh Government officials have drafted an analysis of the consultation responses. A full summary, including the Welsh Government’s and Estyn’s responses to the findings and proposals for change was published on the Welsh Government website in February 2014 and can be found online.
We have considered the analysis of the consultation responses and the proposals for change. We agree with the proposals put forward and would like to bring to your attention that as a result of those proposals, the following changes have been made to regulations:
- Removal of the link between past and forthcoming inspections with a requirement that schools and education settings are inspected at least once within every 6 year period.
This change will limit the ability of schools and education settings to predict when their next inspection will take place and will encourage them to be ‘inspection ready’ on a continual basis.
- Removal of the requirement that schools have to provide a three week notice period regarding their pre-inspection parents meeting.
Removing this requirement provides Estyn with the flexibility to reduce the amount of notice it gives to schools about forthcoming inspections if that was what the inspectorate chose to do.
- A reduction in the time period for production of post inspection action plans to 20 working days.
We are of the view that action planning should take place with pace and urgency and issues raised within a school, or other education setting, by inspection should be addressed as soon as possible. The reduction in the time period for production of the post inspection action plan will allow that to happen.
The Education (Amendments Relating to the Inspection of Education and Training) (Wales) Regulations 2014 will bring about these changes. The Regulations have been made and will come into force on 1st September 2014.
These changes are important and it is imperative that you, schools, education settings and parents are aware of them. Over time, through discussion with Estyn, we will be considering the effect of these changes to the inspection process and ultimately to standards of education.