Changes to inspections of further education colleges

We are currently reviewing the way we inspect further education colleges (FE). Through consultation and listening to those working in the FE sector we have developed an inspection model that is fair, flexible and manageable.

We will be piloting our new approach in the summer term 2018. Read our inspection guidance.

What we will inspect

The new inspection framework is less detailed but focuses on the most important aspects of learning:

  1. Standards
  2. Wellbeing and attitudes to learning
  3. Teaching and learning experiences
  4. Care, support and guidance
  5. Leadership and management

Inspectors will also focus on a thematic area which will help inform our thematic reports, the Chief Inspector’s Annual report and advice to Welsh Government.

What we will say

There will be 5 judgements, one for each inspection area. The current 4-point judgement scale will stay but its wording will be amended to focus on actions to be taken to support improvement:

  • 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 inspection reports will be more tailored to the college and cover a wider range of provision. A statement will summarise overall quality and provision.  Many aspects which we currently write about in our reports will only be included by exception, which means that they’ll only be there if they’re particularly strong or weak.

The timeframe

  • the notice period for inspections will be 15 days
  • inspections will take 8 days


We are reviewing:

  • our approach to sharing excellent practice
  • the triggers that lead to a college being reviewed or re-inspected.

What’s happening next  

We welcome feedback from the FE sector throughout this process and will continue to consult with key stakeholders during the summer term 2018. Our link inspectors will continue their visits and we will be training our current FE peer inspectors in summer 2018 so that they are fully skilled at inspecting under the new arrangements from autumn 2018. The new inspection guidance will be refined following the pilot inspection and will be published in the summer term.