More than 30% of schools face re-inspection

17th December 2010 at 00:00
Follow-up visits more numerous than envisaged, she concedes

A greater number of schools than expected will receive follow-up visits from inspectors and council officials under Estyn's new inspection regime, TES Cymru has learnt.

The Welsh inspectorate predicted that fewer than 30 per cent of schools would require some form of follow-up inspection activity under its new common inspection framework, which was introduced in September.

But Ann Keane, HM chief inspector of education and training in Wales, has revealed that after the first 90 inspections, the number of local authority-maintained primary and secondary schools facing re-inspection was higher than 30 per cent.

"There were always going to be more follow-up visits - it's just there are more than we expected," she told TES Cymru. "It means these schools have areas for improvement in some aspects of their provision."

It is not known how many schools need a follow-up visit or what category of activity they will receive, but Ms Keane said the increase is in part due to a tighter focus on literacy standards and schools' use of data.

"Literacy skills were always going to be a focus of the framework, and that fits in with the emphasis on literacy in the school effectiveness framework," she said.

"Inspectors are not just looking at basic skills, but higher order skills across the curriculum, in all subjects.

"In addition, some schools are not using data well enough to track the progress of pupil groups like those on free school meals or underachieving ethnic minority pupils, or to meet the needs of their most able and talented pupils."

The larger number of HMIs carrying out inspections could also be a factor, she said, suggesting that they are more rigorous in their approach.

Because only one inspection report under the new framework has so far been published, which did not recommend follow-up activity, more detailed information is currently being kept confidential.

Ms Keane is expected to reveal more in her first annual report in January.

The new framework sets out increasing levels of intervention in proportion to need, from local authority monitoring to special measures.

However, Ms Keane denied that the higher percentage of follow-up visits was a "cause for concern", but said Estyn was constantly monitoring the situation.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of teaching union ATL Cymru, questioned whether Estyn had under-estimated the number of schools that would need follow-up visits, or whether the inspectorate was "raising the bar".

He said: "The key will be not to name and shame schools but to make sure those that need additional support get it.

"Pisa clearly showed there are problems in the system. The follow-up visits need to be helpful and supportive to bring about the improvements required."

INSPECTIONS: Revised regime

- Four weeks' notice of inspection, down from six months.

- Only selected lessons and teachers observed.

- Increased focus on well-being.

- Stronger focus on school literacy strategies and approaches.

- Two overall key judgments: on the school's performance and prospects for improvement.

- Greater emphasis on self-evaluation and assessment.

- New "stakeholder satisfaction report" compiled from questionnaires completed by parents and pupils.

- Schools with shortcomings will be subject to follow-up activity and support.

  • Original headline: More than 30% of schools face re-inspection, says Estyn chief

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