Inspection reforms 'flexible'

Councils could have a say in which parts of their education services are inspected, and how, under proposed reforms.

The overhaul of how Welsh inspection agency Estyn monitors the work of local education authorities has been broadly welcomed in town halls.

The aim is to create a more flexible, coherent regime with a greater emphasis on self-evaluation. The highlight for education directors is that each authority will have a say in which areas of their work are inspected - and how they are carried out.

Susan Lewis, Estyn's chief executive, said: "It will be a more flexible system. We will liaise with local authorities to agree an inspection package for the four-year period that suits them.

"The flexibility will also help us to improve co-ordination and joint working with other regulators and inspectorates."

Some of Estyn's work is carried out jointly with other agencies - LEA inspections are undertaken with the Audit Commission.

The exact workings of the new regime will depend to a large extent on the results of a current consultation with "stakeholders". But, for instance, some LEAs might want one "whole authority" inspection; others may prefer a series of smaller inspections.

One of the main challenges will be trying to meet all 22 authorities'

preferences in a four-year programme, and organising training. But Ms Lewis says the changes will give LEAs a voice in the inspection process via new nominees and peer assessors.

Consultations close on January 10. See www.estyn.gov.uk

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