New Inspection Arrangements Update 2017

From September 2017, Estyn will be introducing their new inspection arrangements (NIA) for all schools, PRUs and work-based learning providers across Wales. This is a summary of the main changes.

The new inspection principles and mindset
From our engagement with stakeholders and the public consultation we received positive feedback about what works well in our current inspection arrangements. We used this feedback to make a few changes to what and how we inspect. Our inspection arrangements will continue to start with a provider’s self-evaluation and learners’ progress and experiences continue to be at the heart of what we inspect. We have strengthened our inspection approaches and mindset and these are based on the following principles:

  • Inspectors will approach inspection with a positive mindset to ensure it is the best possible professional learning experience for the staff in each provider
  • Inspectors will take a learner-focused approach to inspection
  • Inspectors will always focus strongly on the quality of teaching and learning
  • Inspectors will seek out well-considered innovative practice
  • Inspectors will tailor the inspection activities according to the circumstances in each provider through being agile and responsive and using the increased range of inspection tools and approaches available
  • Inspectors should consider everything in the new inspection framework, but should report on the key strengths and weaknesses for each provider

The Common Inspection Framework (CIF)
The new common inspection framework is slimmer and now contains five Inspection Areas (IAs) and 15 reporting requirements. We will make a judgement on each of the five inspection areas and one judgement on the quality of teaching.

IA1 – Standards
1.1 Standards and progress overall
1.2 Standards and progress of specific groups
1.3 Standards and progress in skills

IA2 – Wellbeing and attitudes to learning
2.1 Wellbeing
2.2 Attitudes to learning

IA3 – Teaching and learning experiences
3.1 Quality of teaching
3.2 The breadth, balance and appropriateness of the curriculum
3.3 Provision for skills

IA4 – Care, support and guidance
4.1 Tracking, monitoring and the provision of learning support
4.2 Personal development, including spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
4.3 Safeguarding

IA5 – Leadership and management
5.1 Quality and effectiveness of leaders and managers
5.2 Self-evaluation processes and improvement planning
5.3 Professional learning
5.4 Use of resources

We will make judgements using the following four judgement words and descriptions:
Excellent – Very strong, sustained performance and practice
Good – Strong features, although minor aspects may require improvement
Adequate and needs improvement – Strengths outweigh weaknesses, but important aspects require improvement
Unsatisfactory and needs urgent improvement – Important weaknesses outweigh strengths

The new inspection timeframe
We have reduced the notice period for inspections from 20 working days to 15 days. We will not inspect during the first three weeks of the autumn term and therefore providers will not receive notification of inspection prior to the summer break. School and PRU inspections will typically take place over four days.

Inspection teams
Inspection teams will be led by a reporting inspector. Teams will still include a peer inspector and, for maintained school and PRU inspections, a lay inspector. Providers will continue to be invited to have a nominee on the inspection team. The role of the lay inspector has been strengthened. They will look at the experience of school for pupils and the contribution the relationships and environment make to their safety, attitudes and wellbeing. We are making arrangements to target governors to undertake the lay inspector role and hope that more governors will train to be lay inspectors in the next three years.

Pre-inspection work
We will continue to ask providers for their current self-evaluation report. This will be the start point of every inspection. We will no longer provide the provider with a pre-inspection commentary and lines of enquiry. Instead, the reporting inspector will produce a list of ‘Emerging Questions’ based on the pre inspection information received. We will share these with the provider on the morning of the first day of inspection.

In addition to the current pre inspection questionnaires for pupils and parents, we have introduced questionnaires for governors, teachers and other staff employed directly by the provider. These responses will provide the inspection team with additional information about the provider.
We will continue to hold a meeting with parents and, in schools, will meet with representatives from the governing body.

In addition to the current inspection activities, we have introduced new approaches to help us collect evidence. These will include:
Learning Walks – short visits to a small number of classes (3- 5) to gather evidence on a particular focus
Meetings with pupils with their work – we will arrange to meet with a range of pupils and their work. This will give us a strong insight into aspects relating to standards, progress and the impact of teachers’ marking and feedback
Meetings with individual teachers in their classrooms – we will arrange to meet with a sample of teachers in their classrooms to gain information on aspects including curriculum planning, assessment, and professional development

The Inspection Report
The inspection report will contain only five inspection area judgements, one for each inspection area. There will also be a judgement on teaching within the text in inspection area 3 – Teaching and learning experiences. We will continue to make recommendations. Inspection reports will be more personalised to each provider with many aspects only being reported on by exception (if they are particularly strong or weak). There will no longer be a judgement on current performance and prospects for improvement. We will include a summary paragraph which captures the distinctive features of the provider in clear and accessible language.

Follow up Activity in maintained schools
We will continue to have follow up arrangements for weaker providers. There will no longer be any local authority monitoring. We are replacing ‘Estyn monitoring’ with ‘Estyn review’. We will continue to have the two statutory categories of follow up – Significant improvement and Special Measures. Our follow-up work is being re-focused. We will visit all providers in a statutory category to discuss their Post Inspection Action Plans. In addition, providers in follow-up will get more flexible support to help them make positive changes faster. During our follow-up monitoring we will only make one judgement; does the provider continue to require follow-up or not? We have reduced the notice period for follow-up monitoring inspections from 20 working days to 10 days.

Effective Practice Case Studies
We will continue to share outstanding practice by inviting providers to write effective practice case studies when we have seen excellent work worthy of sharing with other providers. We will extend this to ask providers to provide a case study where practice in a particular area is strong, even if the overall judgement for that inspection area is good.

Thematic Focus
During each inspection, inspectors may collect evidence relating to a thematic focus. Evidence collected may help provide a Wales wide picture for HMCI’s Annual Report. The work may also inform Estyn’s thematic reports and advice to Welsh Government. Estyn will not provide a written evaluation or judgement on the thematic focus, but will provide brief verbal feedback to the nominee on any strengths and areas for development during a team meeting.

Useful links
For further information, please visit Estyn’s website

Details about the new inspection arrangements are available here

Estyn have produced a short animation that captures the main features of the new arrangements