Education

Independent Estyn review announced

Helpul to get an independent view: Chief Inspector of Schools Meilyr Rowlands

AN INDEPENDENT review of the role of Estyn in supporting education reform has been announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams and the Chief Inspector, Meilyr Rowlands.

Estyn plays a key role in raising standards and the quality of teaching and education across the country through rigorous inspection and expert advice. The review will look at the implications of Wales’s extensive education reforms for the future role of Estyn.

The review follows an exchange of letters between the Chief Inspector and the Cabinet Secretary, where they agreed that such a review would build on Estyn’s strengths and improve the work of the Inspectorate further.

The review, which will be undertaken by Professor Graham Donaldson, will begin in August and is due to report in early 2018.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “I am grateful to Meilyr for proposing this course of action. I fully support the proposals so that we continue to drive up standards in our education system.

“Our education reforms must be aligned to support the delivery of our new curriculum. I am therefore especially pleased that Professor Donaldson has agreed to take forward the review. He has a wealth of experience of conducting reviews of education systems around the world, including Australia, Portugal, Sweden and Japan. ”

Meilyr Rowlands, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales, said: “Significant changes are happening to the education landscape in Wales and inspection is also changing. With Estyn’s mission to achieve excellence for all learners in Wales, we believe it will be helpful to gain an independent view from Professor Donaldson.

“I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has accepted my proposal and is supporting this review.”

Professor Donaldson said: “Estyn has a vital part to play in the success of the reform programme in Wales. I am therefore pleased to have been asked, jointly by the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Inspector, to undertake an independent review of the ways in which its contribution to the reforms can best be realised.”

Professor Donaldson will present his report to Welsh Government and the Chief Inspector after gathering and analysing evidence on inspection, quality enhancement and accountability while supporting Estyn to refine and develop their practices.

Commenting on the announcement of an independent review into Estyn, Rob Williams, Director of Policy for NAHT Cymru, the school leaders’ union for Wales, says: “We welcome the statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, announcing a review of Estyn, as it acknowledges what NAHT Cymru has been saying for some time.

“For the wholesale reform of education to achieve its aims in Wales, we have to shape accountability systems that provide challenge and support in the right places.

School leaders, teachers, parents and pupils need to focus efforts on key areas, such as teaching and learning, to bring to fruition recommendations like those found in the new curriculum and assessment arrangements. Any external influence that distracts from that purpose cannot be a constructive part of a self-improving system.”