Voice Official Response: Consultation on Estyn’s proposed transition year in 2020–2021
Background: This is the first in a series of consultations about how inspection can best support schools and other providers to manage the many changes taking place in education to achieve success for all their learners. Between 2020 and 2024, Estyn plans to make changes to its work:
- in the transition year 2020−2021, it proposes to partially suspend inspections in nursery, primary, secondary and special schools and pupil referral units (PRUs) so that inspectors can work with schools on the curriculum changes
- in September 2021 it will have new inspection arrangements in place
- during 2021−2024, it will pilot inspections that focus on validating schools’ self-improvement processes. These inspections will provide schools and parents with more frequent, up-to-date feedback. From around 2024 Estyn plans to roll-out these inspections to all schools.
Summary: The emphasis should be on support and not inspection. The education workforce is under a lot of pressure to deliver the new curriculum, leading to excessive workload and stress. During the transition year, Estyn can play a part in ensuring that schools are working as effectively as possible in their curriculum planning and whole school organisation. In particular, Estyn can ask the right questions of senior leaders with regard to the wellbeing of staff in order that this is a priority in schools. As proposed by Estyn, schools in special measures or needing other types of support should continue to receive follow-up by Estyn.
We consider that Estyn’s role during this year is to listen to schools and PRUs and provide support to assist educational settings in preparing for delivery of the new curriculum and inspection regime.
It is essential that Estyn considers staff wellbeing to be an absolute priority. It will be impossible for the new curriculum and the new ALN regime to be delivered effectively without the complete dedication of the entire education workforce. If members of staff in education settings are not valued, and if their concerns and difficulties are not taken seriously, the Welsh Government’s National Mission will certainly fail.