Frequently asked questions

  • Are the pilot inspection schools more likely to be a school that has not been inspected over the last six years?

    A new 7-year inspection period starts formally from September 2016.  The new inspection arrangements will therefore start one year into this new inspection period.

    All schools are ‘going back into the pot’ from September 2016 when the new 7-year inspection period begins.   The new 7-year period increases the flexibility of when an inspection can occur within that period of time.  The pilot inspection schools may therefore be any school, whether it was inspected relatively recently or not.

  • As a headteacher, I cannot access or see my own Virtual Inspection Room

    Go to, select ‘virtual inspection room’ and sign in.  All of the sites you have access to will appear on the left hand side of the screen.  If you cannot see your VIR here, or have difficulties with uploading or accessing the Learner, Parent or Post Inspection Questionnaire nominee guidance or inspector evaluation form, call your Inspection co-ordinator.


    Your computer may also be blocking the site (  Please add this site to your ‘white list’.

  • As a school/provider, will we be able to see the pre-inspection commentary before the inspection starts?

    No, the reporting inspector will consider the pre-inspection materials provided by the school/provider and will discuss the lines of inquiry for the inspection with the school at the start of the inspection.  However, the RI will not complete a formal pre-inspection commentary as they do currently (2010-2016).

  • Can governors attend the parents’ meeting?

    Any governors with children who attend the school are welcome to attend the parents’ meeting.

  • Can I access the notes of the lesson that the inspector completed during a lesson/session observation?

    Inspectors no longer complete separate lesson observation forms.    Instead, we ask inspectors to evaluate and to discuss the strengths and shortcomings in teaching that relate to all lessons/sessions observed.  As a result, it may not be possible to relate any comments to a specific teacher or lesson/session.  If this is the case, then we will not be able to disclose the information as it does not relate to a specific individual. 

  • Can I receive regular updates on Estyn’s inspection work?

    Yes, it is possible to register for updates on Estyn’s website.  It is also possible to follow Estyn on twitter @EstynHMI.

  • Under the legal powers given to the Chief Inspector, inspectors have the legal right to inspect schools, to observe lessons and to scrutinize evidence.  Obstructing an inspector in their work, including denying them access to a school or classroom, is actually a criminal offence.  In relation to performance management, the school needs to demonstrate to the inspectors that its performance management systems are rigorous and contribute effectively towards identifying training and development needs.  However, inspectors do not have the right to look at the performance management reports of individual teachers. These are confidential.  Schools may provide anonymised records to exemplify their performance management system.

  • Can school staff search a pupil?

    Section 45 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act, 2006, gives schools the powers to screen any pupil for a knife or other weapon without suspicion or consent.

    They can also search a pupil with or without their consent where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that they are carrying a weapon.

    If a school decides that a search would not be safe, they should call the police.

    When a search has taken place the school should keep a record of the search and inform the parents of the details.

    For more information see:

    Safe and Effective Intervention : Welsh Government guidance 097/2013

  • Can school staff use face down prone restraint?

    In March 2005, the Welsh Assembly Government published guidance document: Framework for Restrictive Physical Intervention Policy and Practice.  Section 21 states that, “Under no circumstances, should any individual ever be restrained in a face down position.”

    In 2013, the Welsh Government published further guidance on the use of physical intervention. (097/2013) This guidance does not refer to the use of face down / prone restraint. However, the guidance recognises that in exceptional circumstances staff have to do whatever is necessary to keep a pupil safe.
    To be judged lawful, the force used would need to be in proportion to the consequences it is intended to prevent and the minimum needed to achieve the desired result.

    For further guidance see:

    Safe and effective intervention – use of reasonable force and searching for weapons

    Framework for Restrictive Physical Intervention Policy and Practice

  • Can school staff use force to control a pupil?

    Under Section 93 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 all school staff have a legal power to use reasonable force to prevent pupils from:

    • committing a criminal offence
    • injuring themselves or others
    • damaging property
    • and to maintain good order and discipline amongst pupils.

    The use of force should only be a last resort.

    Schools should never seek to inhibit the ability of staff to use force by adopting a ‘no contact’ policy. The power to use force helps ensure pupil and school safety. The risk with a no-contact policy is that it might place a member of staff in breach of their duty of care towards a pupil or prevent them taking an action needed to prevent a pupil causing injury to others.

    In schools, force is generally used for two different purposes – to control pupils and to restrain them.

    Control can mean either passive physical contact (e.g. standing between pupils or blocking a pupil’s path) or active physical contact (e.g. leading a pupil by the hand or arm, or ushering a pupil away by placing a hand in the centre of the back).

    When members of staff use ‘restraint’, they physically prevent a pupil from continuing what they were doing after they have been told to stop. Restraint techniques are usually used in more extreme circumstances, such as when two pupils are involved in a fight and physical intervention is needed to separate them.

    Schools should develop behaviour management plans for individual pupils assessed as being at greatest risk of needing restrictive physical interventions in consultation with the pupil and his or her parents or carers.

    Any planned use of physical intervention should be compatible with a pupil's statement and properly documented in school records.

    Recording and reporting incidents / use of physical intervention – Leadership teams are advised to assess the frequency and severity of incidents requiring use of force that are likely to occur in their school.

    It would be good practice for the member of staff with lead responsibility for safeguarding to check the record.  By reviewing incidents, leaders can make well informed decisions about individual and organisational practice.

    It is not always advisable as a matter of course to give parents a copy of the incident record, but parents should be told:

    • when and where the incident took place
    • which members of staff were directly involved (anonymised where necessary)
    • why they decided that force had to be used
    • what force was used
    • whether there were any injuries, and
    • what follow-up action (support and/or disciplinary) was being taken.

    The record is likely to form part of the pupil’s educational record.

    Schools should retain records of such incidents until the member of staff involved has reached normal retirement age or for 10 years from the date of the allegation if that is longer.

    It is good practice for governors to monitor incidents where force has been used.

    Reducing Risk

    Where it is known that a pupil is likely to present severe behavioural difficulties, a formal risk assessment and behaviour management plan should be drawn up and shared with the pupil, parents and other professionals.

    Post-incident support

    Serious incidents that require use of force can be upsetting to all concerned and may result in injuries to the pupil or to staff.

    Schools should:

    • help the pupil and staff develop strategies to avoid such crisis points in future and inform relevant staff about these strategies and their roles
    • ensure that parents and pupils are aware of the school’s complaints procedures, and
    • ensure that staff and pupils affected by an incident have continuing support for as long as necessary in respect of:
     i. physical consequences
     ii. support to deal with any emotional stress or loss of confidence; and
     iii. opportunity to analyse, reflect and learn from the incident.

    For more information, see:

    Safe and effective intervention – use of reasonable force and searching for weapons

  • Can teachers attend the parents’ meeting?

    Any member of staff, who is also a parent of a child at the school, is welcome to attend the parents’ meeting.

  • Can the briefing from the local authority include both a written report as well as an oral briefing during the inspection week?

    No.  The local authority’s assessment of the school’s performance (the most recent school categorisation report) should be in writing and known by the school.

  • Currently, there are cover arrangements in place due to staff absence. Will these lesson/sessions be observed during the inspection?

    Inspectors may observe lessons/sessions taught by a supply teacher or other cover arrangements if it is part of a line of enquiry.

  • Do I have to be a Peer Inspector or Additional Inspector before applying for a HMI post?

    You do not need to be a Peer Inspector or an Additional Inspector before applying for a post as HMI.  Following appointment, Estyn provides rigorous training and a thorough induction programme.

  • Do inspectors expect to see literacy, numeracy and ICT taught in every lesson?

    Inspectors do not have literacy, numeracy and ICT boxes to tick whenever they observe lessons during inspections. Teachers should take advantage of opportunities that occur naturally in the curriculum to reinforce learning in literacy, numeracy and ICT.  However, this should not mean that literacy, numeracy and ICT become mantras for repetition in every lesson in the school day no matter what the topic.

  • Do inspectors have preferred methods and approaches that they expect teachers to follow?

    Estyn does not have a checklist of specific practices or preferred methodologies. The focus of a inspectors’ attention is primarily on learner progress and achievement and the impact of teaching strategies on these.  Good progress and achievement may derive from a variety of practices and methodologies. Inspectors will expect teachers to track the progress of pupils effectively but do not have favourite or preferred systems for doing this.

  • Do schools have to log parents’ complaints?

    Section 29 of the Education Act 2002 requires the governing bodies of all maintained schools in Wales to establish procedures for dealing with complaints and to publicise such procedures.

    There is no statutory duty on schools to keep a log of parents’ complaints.  However, the Welsh Government advises schools to do so, in their guidance to governors School Governing Body Complaints Procedures: Circular No 011/2012.

    Individual schools must have a published complaints policy, which sets out for parents, carers and pupils how to complain, and how they will manage these complaints.  School anti‑bullying policies may also give details about how complaints about bullying will be managed.

    Local authorities will also have published policies, which govern how its services must log and respond to complaints.  These may also require schools to maintain a log of parental complaints.  However, each local authority will have determined its own policy in this area.

    Local authorities only get involved with a parents’ complaint, where a complainant is dissatisfied with the school's handling of the complaint and refers it to the authority.

    Estyn often receives complaints from parents.  However, Estyn does not have the powers to investigate these.  Instead, Estyn advises the complainant to raise the issue in writing first with the school, then if not satisfied with the local authority. If the complainant remains unsatisfied, they may then raise their issue with the local authority ombudsman.

    Standard 7 of the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003 requires independent schools in Wales to have a written policy and procedures for dealing with complaints and to publicise such procedures. Regulation 7j states that a written record of all complaints must be kept by an independent school.

  • Do teachers have to provide a written lesson plan?

    Teachers are not required to produce a lesson plan to give to the inspector visiting the lesson.  However, inspectors will expect to see evidence of effective curriculum planning (such as schemes of work) that ensures that activities meet the needs of all learners and enable them to make sufficient progress. 

  • Does Estyn expect employers with apprentices to undertake DBS checks?

    It is not within Estyn’s inspection remit to require anything concerning DBS checks. The legislation is a matter for the UK Government,

    The current position is that employers should not require a check for any other employees working in any role with an apprentice, whether alongside, training, mentoring or managing. It is up to the employer to decide, on the basis of a risk assessment, whether they require a check for anyone among their own staff or from a third-party provider delivering off‑the‑job training to the apprentice, but it is likely that only a few staff would be eligible for such checks.

  • Does Estyn expect schools to undertake ‘mock inspections’ in order to prepare for inspection?

    No.  We actively discourage schools from undertaking ‘mock inspections’.  The focus of schools every day should be on the delivery of education of high quality for the benefit of the pupils.

  • The provider needs to demonstrate to the inspectors that its performance management systems are rigorous and are contributing effectively towards identifying training and development needs.  However, inspectors do not have the right to look at the performance management reports of individual teachers or trainers.  These are confidential.

  • Does Estyn issue guidance about E-safety in schools?

    Estyn does not issue guidance for schools in any matters outside of inspection arrangements. It is the Welsh government and the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales who issue specific guidance to schools about how to manage their safeguarding arrangements, and any implications for the curriculum.

    Estyn however will include in its inspection guidance and may include in its self-evaluation guidance statements, which help inspectors, focus in on aspects of safeguarding such as internet safety for pupils.

  • Does Estyn take account of how a school handles the identification of visitors, records DBS checks for staff?

    Estyn has no specific expectations in how these aspects are managed at provider level. However, Estyn does expect all providers to demonstrate good management practice, which takes full account of government guidance and legislation.

    For the purposes of an Estyn inspection, schools (and colleges) should be able to explain the rationale for those who have been checked and those who have not.

    The key criterion for checking visitors, supply staff and volunteers is regular unsupervised contact with children.

    For more information see

    Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education (Wales focussed guidance)

  • How are judgements for all-age school inspections made where there are inconsistencies in the performance of the primary and secondary phases?

    The overarching principle is that inspectors will consider the balance of strengths and areas for improvement across all key stages. 

    When analysing performance data, inspectors should give more weight to those analyses that present comparisons with similar schools. 

    Information gathered from the analysis of performance data will always be triangulated with evidence from scrutiny of pupils’ work and lesson observations.

  • How can I work for Estyn?

    Estyn employs both Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) and staff who work in corporate services.  Estyn also trains and deploys independent, external inspectors who undertake work for Estyn under contract in some sectors, and periodically employs secondees for shorter fixed-term periods.

    View our current vacancies and training opportunities here.  To receive information about future recruitment campaigns, you can register for updates on our website – please make sure you select the option 'Jobs and Training'.

  • How did Estyn choose the schools for the pilot inspections?

    Every year, we choose a broadly representative sample of schools to inspect.  This ensures that we have a mix of schools each year, for example small, medium and large schools, Welsh-medium and English-medium schools, and schools covering a range of geographical areas.  We have chosen pilot schools in the same way and from the existing list of schools due to be inspected as part of the broadly representative sample.  We have not applied any other criteria in choosing the pilot schools, for example there is no criteria based on risk or prior analysis of performance data.

  • How do I apply to become a Peer Inspector (PI)?

    We use Peer Inspectors on inspections in nearly all sectors we inspect.  Peer Inspectors work as senior leaders/managers in schools/providers and we allocate PIs to up to three inspection teams each year.  They are full members of the inspection team, and they undertake a wide range of inspection activities, including observing sessions, scrutinising samples of pupils’ work, interviewing staff and drafting sections of the inspection report.

    To be a Peer Inspector, you must:

    • Be paid on the senior leadership pay spine
    • Be in a permanent position
    • Have at least two years’ leadership experience
    • Have at least five years' teaching experience

    When we next run a recruitment campaign for Peer Inspectors, we will advertise this on our website.  

  • How do I apply to become an Additional Inspector (AI)?

    Additional Inspectors can apply to become an Additional Inspector through a recruitment campaign or by converting from being a Peer Inspector upon retirement from teaching.  

  • How do I find out about my local schools or other providers of education and training?

    For general information about your school, you should contact them directly.  To search for an inspection report, click here.

    My Local School also provides data about all schools.

  • How do I let Estyn know what I think about my children’s school?

    Parents are invited to complete a questionnaire before the school’s inspection.  Inspectors also hold a brief meeting with parents on the Monday evening before the inspection.  This will be an opportunity for you to share your views about the work of the school.  You are also welcome to contact Estyn at any time to provide information about a school.  Estyn can hold this information on file, but is unable to investigate individual complaints.

  • How do I make a complaint about Estyn?

    We like to hear your views of our work and how it affects you.  Your suggestions, compliments and complaints will help us to recognise inspection work of high quality as well as to improve the services we provide.  Please visit our Feedback and Complaints page.

  • How do I register a school or non-maintained setting?

    Estyn’s remit does not include the registering of schools or non-maintained settings.  To register an independent school you should approach the Welsh Government directly, and in the case of setting up a non-maintained nursery setting you should contact the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

  • How does Estyn inspect religious education in all schools?

    In most schools, religious education should be part of the broad, balanced curriculum that Estyn inspects.  Estyn does not report on all subjects individually.  However, inspectors will often observe religious education lessons or scrutinise pupils’ religious education work and take the findings into account when making judgements about standards and teaching and learning experiences.

    Voluntary-aided faith schools provide denominational religious education rather than religious education in line with the locally agreed syllabus.  In these schools, Estyn does not inspect religious education.  Instead, these schools have a separate ‘section 50’ inspection that considers religious education (‘section 50’ refers to the relevant section of the Education Act 2005, which sets out the additional inspection requirements for these schools).  The ‘section 50’ inspection may take place at the same time as Estyn’s inspection, although it may take place a few weeks later. 

  • How does Estyn inspect safeguarding when a provider subcontracts all its provision to other colleges or providers?

    It is the provider who is responsible for ensuring its subcontractors make the appropriate safeguarding arrangements.  Therefore, on inspection, Estyn will want to see how well the provider manages this area of responsibility.  Estyn will evaluate how well the provider monitors this in order to assure itself that students are safeguarded.

    The provider should be able to demonstrate that it is doing this rigorously. Inspectors can test this during discussions with subcontractor staff and learners and visits to subcontractor sites.

  • How does Estyn respond to complaints about providers if it has a safeguarding element?

    If Estyn receives a complaint relating to an individual child that indicates safeguarding issues, or about a possible abuser, this will be referred immediately to Estyn’s safeguarding officer.  The safeguarding officer will confirm the details and then contact the relevant authorities.

    Estyn is not empowered to take action on complaints about providers or individuals.  Instead, in those instances its role is to ensure such information is passed on to the relevant contact for them to manage the issue.  This may be either the local authority’s chief education officer, or the social services’ child protection team or the police.

  • How long after a core inspection is the report published?

    All school and non-maintained nursery inspection reports are published 45 working days from the first day of inspection.  Post-16 inspection reports are published within 70 working days of the last day of inspection. 

    Please visit our inspection schedule for a list of forthcoming reports.

  • How long do follow-up visits last and how much notice will Estyn give of their intention to carry out a visit?

    Schools will normally receive 20 working days’ notice of the follow-up visit.  Estyn review will usually take place over two days (afternoon of first day, morning of the next day), but it may also be conducted through other means, eg review of post-inspection evidence provided by the school.  The first visit to a school in special measures will last between one and two days.  Generally, significant improvement visits and other special measures visits take place between two and three days.

  • How long does a core inspection last?

    On average, our inspection teams will spend between one and five days at the provider they are inspecting.  The length of time they spend inspecting classes on-site depends on the specific sector.  For example, it is three days in primary schools and secondary schools.  The size of the inspection team alters depending on the size of the school and the geographical spread of provision.  You can learn more about what our inspectors look for when they inspect different education and training providers in the inspection guidance section.

  • How long will inspections of all-age schools last?

    These inspections will last the same length of time as secondary school inspections. The team will arrive around lunchtime on a Monday and give feedback to the school around lunchtime on the Thursday.

  • How many inspections are there in a year?

    We carry out over 400 inspections each year, including around 200 primary and nursery schools and 30 secondary schools.  Our planned inspection activity for the year ahead can be found in our Annual Plan. 

  • How many nominees will there be on each inspection of an all-age school?

    The school can nominate one member of staff to undertake this role, if they wish to have a nominee.  It will be up to the school to decide which member of staff is best placed to undertake this role.

  • How many people work for Estyn?

    There are over 100 staff, including Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI), secondees and corporate services staff.  For more information, see Estyn’s management structure.

  • How much are inspectors paid?

    Estyn’s pay structure is available here.

  • How much evidence of pupils’ work will inspectors want to see?

    Inspectors will want to scrutinize a sample of pupils’ work.  In most cases, they will ask to see a sample from specific year groups or subjects.  The reporting inspector will make these requests clear to the school at the pre-inspection meeting.  Inspectors focus in particular on the quality of pupils’ work in literacy, numeracy and ICT, and how well pupils apply these skills in other subjects across the curriculum. 

  • How much of the education budget goes to Estyn?

    Like all public sector bodies, Estyn has experienced budget cuts over recent years.

    In 2014-2015, Estyn received a total revenue of £11.7m, which is just 0.72% of the size of the Welsh Government’s education budget.

    To read more about the way Estyn allocates its budget, please refer to our Annual Plan.

  • How much travelling would be expected of a full time HMI?

    The role of HMI requires a significant amount of travel and time away from home.  Although Estyn works to minimise travel, HMI are expected to work across Wales.

  • How often does Estyn inspect?

    Providers will be inspected at least once in the seven-year period between 2016 and 2023, although the date of their next inspection is not linked to the date of their previous inspection. 

    If we find that the education or training provider needs more support to improve the education or training they are providing, we make more regular visits to support them, until we are happy that they are providing their learners with the support they need.  (See the question ‘What happens after inspection?’ below).  We also have the power to make an unannounced visit to any education and training provider in Wales, if we are concerned.  

  • How will inspectors use the National School Categorisation System?

    The Welsh Government introduced a National School Categorisation System for all primary schools and secondary schools.  It is important to note that Estyn inspections are independent and their inspection work in a school covers a broader range of considerations than the National School Categorisation System takes into account.  Estyn will consider categorisation alongside other information as part of pre-inspection work and the establishing of lines of inquiry, but categorisation will not directly inform inspection outcomes.

  • I cannot sign into the Virtual Inspection Room using the username and password provided.

    Try copying and pasting your username and password into the signing-in fields.  If it still does not work, please call your inspection co-ordinator.

  • I do not wish my child to study a particular subject. The school says he cannot be disapplied – is this correct?

    It is the responsibility of the local authority to disapply a pupil from elements of the National Curriculum if done through their statement of special educational needs.  This is usually a permanent disapplication.

    For a ‘general’ disapplication for reasons other than SEN, headteachers may, under Section 93 of the 2002 Education Act and with consent from the local authority, apply for a temporary disapplication when they consider that the full National Curriculum is not appropriate for a pupil but that a statement of SEN is not necessary.  The disapplication may last up to six months.  It is possible to give further directions up to a total of 18 months.

  • I do not wish my child to study RE – can I withdraw him from these lessons

    Yes – you have a right to withdraw your child from RE lessons.  You should contact the headteacher to make the necessary arrangements. 

  • I feel that my child is being victimised by a teacher in school – I am really worried, what should I do?

    You should contact the school to discuss the matter with the headteacher.  Every school should have a complaints procedure that sets out the course of action parents should take in the course of making a complaint.  If the response from the headteacher is insufficient in your view, then you can contact the governing body.  If you still remain dissatisfied, then you can contact the local authority and follow their procedures.

  • I wish to take my child out of school for a family holiday. Can the school stop me?

    This is a matter for headteachers to decide.  They have some discretion in this area, but most schools will refuse to authorise the absence of pupils from school for family holidays. 

    If a provider does not meet statutory requirements for a particular area, does it automatically mean that we will receive a judgement of unsatisfactory or adequate for the quality indicator or key question?

    There is a section on ‘Meeting statutory requirements’ in our inspection guidance for every sector.  Details of the relevant statutory requirements are also included in the Annexes of our inspection guidance handbooks.

  • If a provider does not meet statutory requirements for a particular area, does it automatically mean that we will receive a judgement of unsatisfactory or adequate for the quality indicator or key question?

    There is a section on ‘Meeting statutory requirements’ in our inspection guidance for every sector.  Details of the relevant statutory requirements are also included in the Annexes of our inspection guidance handbooks.

  • If a school is placed in a follow-up category during the pilot inspections, will the follow-up processes be the same as they are now or will they be different?

    Much of the current follow-up system will remain, but we have removed Local Authority Monitoring.  We are piloting a few new elements to make the follow-up process more supportive and constructive, for example where a school is in need of significant improvement we will visit the school soon after the inspection to support the production of the school’s post-inspection action plan.  There is new guidance available on how we will manage the transition from the current follow-up arrangements to new follow-up arrangements this year.  You can access the guidance on Estyn’s website here:

  • If a summary paragraph is used rather than two overall judgements how can leaders, staff, parents easily identify good schools?

    The summary paragraph will provide a short summary of the inspection findings.  It will provide a clear, balanced indication of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.  Leaders, staff and parents will be able to judge and identify whether the school is good or not.  

    In the new Common Inspection Framework, there is no longer a separate section and judgement on overall performance and on prospects for improvement as there is now.  However, the inspection team will report on overall standards and wellbeing, and aspects of leadership that relate to prospects for improvement, in the inspection report.  For example, issues that currently relate to prospects for improvement relate to the new Inspection Area 5 – leadership and management.  The team’s view on the capacity of the leadership to improve the school will be based primarily on how effective the processes are in the school for identifying areas to develop and for driving forward improvement in those areas.  The team will be interested in the extent to which leaders have a strong track record of making improvements and where they can see that it is having a real impact on pupil progress and wellbeing.

  • If appointed as a HMI would I have to relocate to Cardiff?

    All HMI have the opportunity to work from home subject to appropriate risk assessment, agreement with their line manager and satisfactory performance reviews.  At key points during the year, they are invited to participate in a range of activities as part of the termly professional development week.  Although meetings generally take place in the Cardiff office, HMI have the opportunity to attend the meetings via skype when appropriate. 

  • Is bullying a safeguarding issue or not?

    Safeguarding children and young people

    Under the Children Act 1989, a bullying incident should be addressed as a child protection concern when there is ‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm’.

    Where this is the case, the provider’s staff should report their concerns to their local authority’s social services department.

    Even where safeguarding is not considered to be an issue, providers may need to draw on a range of external services to support the pupil who is experiencing bullying, or to tackle any underlying issue, which has contributed to a child engaging in bullying.

  • Is inspecting schools and organisations the only type of work for a HMI?

    The role of HMI is varied and involves a wide range of work.  This includes core inspections, follow-up inspections, a range of inspector training and thematic inspection work.  New HMI have the opportunity to apply for a range of lead officer or lead inspector roles.

  • Is it illegal to ask an employee for a DBS check if it is not actually necessary?

    Yes, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, a person with a criminal record is not required to disclose any spent convictions unless the position they are applying for, or are currently undertaking, is listed as an exception under the Act.

    The submission of DBS checks for ineligible positions would be considered unlawful under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.  Under Part V of the Police Act 1997, an application for a DBS check must be accompanied by a statement by the registered person that the certificate is required for the purpose of asking an exempted question.

    If an individual knowingly asks for a DBS check for a post which is not included in the Exceptions Order 1975 to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA), they would be in breach of Part V, section 123 of the Police Act.  This is because in doing so, they are committing an offence by knowingly making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining or enabling another person to obtain a certificate under this part.

    While the requirement to request DBS checks has been removed for regulated activity, the entitlement to ask for one remains.  Therefore, a local authority is free to insist that no one may undertake regulated activity unless he or she has undergone a DBS check, even supervised volunteers.

    What is mandatory, however, is the requirement to conduct an enhanced regulated activity check for those undertaking regulated activity.  However, an enhanced regulated activity check cannot be made for someone not undertaking regulated activity.

    For more information see

    DBS checks: eligibility guidance

  • Is there a ‘checklist’ of things teachers have to do to have their lesson graded as good/excellent?

    No, Estyn does not have a checklist for teaching or a preferred methodology.  The focus of a lesson observation is the impact of teaching strategies on learner progress.  Further information can be found in the inspection guidance handbook for each sector.  

  • Is there any change in Estyn’s position regarding inspecting school sixth forms and will sixth forms be part of the pilot inspections?

    We are considering carefully our approach to inspecting sixth forms.  It may be the case that our new arrangements will include different approaches to inspecting sixth forms as part of our pilot inspections in secondary schools.

  • Must students aged over 16 on work placements in schools and nurseries as part of the course have their DBS checks completed before they start?

    This depends on how the students are working while on placement.  If the student’s placement meets the criteria for ‘regulated activity’ i.e. they have regular and unsupervised access to children, they must be DBS checked before they start the placement.

    As long as the placement provider, for example a school or nursery, can ensure that the students are adequately supervised at all times, it is permissible for them to start their placements pending the completion of the DBS check.  However, if the school or nursery cannot provide this level of supervision, they must wait for the completed DBS check before the placement starts.

  • My school has been placed into the category ‘significant improvement’. What can I expect next?

    Estyn’s guidance on what will happen after a school has been identified as requiring significant improvement is set out in the guidance on our website.

  • My school has been placed into the category ‘special measures’. What can I expect next?

    Estyn’s guidance on what will happen after a school has been identified as requiring special measures is set out in the guidance on our website.

    While a school is in special measures, governors and the local authority should seek Estyn’s approval before appointing any newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) to the staff.


  • My school has been placed into ‘Estyn review’ after a recent inspection. What can I expect next?

    Estyn’s guidance on what will happen after a school has been identified as requiring “Estyn review” is set out in the guidance on our website.  

  • My son/daughter is being bullied at the provider’s premises. Although I have reported this to the headteacher/principal, my child is still being bullied. Would it be possible for me to meet with the reporting inspector to discuss this matter?

    It is possible for any parent or guardian who has concerns about the provider’s provision for health and wellbeing to note this on the questionnaire that we invite all parents/carers to complete before the inspection.  In a school inspection, this matter could also be raised during the parents’ meeting with the reporting inspector.  Inspectors do not have the time or resources during the inspection period to investigate the specific concerns of individual parents/carers.  However, the inspection team will consider whether these concerns form part of a general pattern or relate to an existing line of enquiry or confirm the emerging findings of the inspection team.

    Inspectors have to report on whether the arrangements for safeguarding learners are appropriate.  Safeguarding will always be a line of enquiry for inspectors and if the provider’s procedures for dealing with safeguarding issues are not satisfactory, this will appear as a judgement in the inspection report.  The reporting inspector also has a responsibility for making a safeguarding referral if there is evidence of any serious issue at the provider.  Supplementary guidance on this safeguarding is available here.

  • On pilot inspections, who should complete the staff questionnaire? Should the school forward it to all employees or just teaching staff? Should agency staff in the school complete it? What if a teacher is ill and absent from school?

    On the pilot inspections, the staff questionnaire is for teachers and learning assistants who are directly employed by the school and who engage directly in teaching and learning. It is not for agency staff.  It is not for other staff, such as caretakers, canteen staff and so on.  Where a teacher or learning support assistant is off work due to illness, then it is up to the headteacher to decide, in the best interest of the member of staff and taking their health and wellbeing fully into account, whether to inform them of the opportunity to complete a pre-inspection questionnaire or not.

  • Our school has a resource base. Will it be included in the inspection of the mainstream part of the school?

    Each of our maintained school guidance handbooks contains an annex on the inspection of additional teaching resource based in mainstream schools.  The guidance outlines the course of action to be taken according to the category resource in question.  More information can be found in our guidance handbooks.

  • Our school is in a rural area and the site is very open. We also have a public footpath running through the grounds. How might this effect our judgement on safeguarding?

    It is the responsibility of the headteacher and governing body to ensure that the school and its building are safe.  These arrangements will vary from school to school depending on the nature of the site and the age of the pupils on roll.  Arrangements in primary schools may be different to those in secondary schools.  Normally we would expect the school to carry out a thorough risk assessment of the school site and make appropriate arrangements to manage those risks appropriately. 

  • Should an inspection team be told about any safeguarding investigations running at the time of an inspection?

    The answer to the question as ever depends upon the context at the time. Ordinarily staff disciplinary issues are confidential between the staff member and their employer. Details should therefore not be disclosed to anyone who does not need to know these.

    If the RI or a team member is made aware of an investigation or disciplinary, they should not seek information about this. The team may need to be directed to stay clear of the issues. However, they may need to respond neutrally to any attempts by other staff members or governors to engage them in discussion about the issues.

    If any new issues emerge during the inspection, then referrals either to the Estyn safeguarding lead officer or to social services or the police should be undertaken immediately.

  • Should DBSs be renewed periodically?

    Staff do not need to have a DBS check updated if they remain in continuous employment.  Some employers have a policy of renewing DBS checks every 3 years (as does Estyn) but this is more than what is legally required.

    In 2013, the government launched a new Update Service.  This enables individuals to register once for a DBS check, which will then be automatically updated and available for organisations to check.

  • Should Governors be DBS checked?

    Prior to 10 September 2012, under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 school governors by virtue of their role were undertaking a regulated activity relating to children, and therefore eligible for DBS checks.  The Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005 sets out that it is for the governing body to request that a governor undertake a DBS check.

    This has now changed under the Freedoms Act 2012.  As school Governors are no longer undertaking regulated activity, there is no requirement for them to be subject to vetting and barring checks. However, where governors are undertaking some form of regular contact (as defined by the Act) with pupils, they are subject to risk assessment and possible vetting and barring unless adequately supervised.

    All school governors have to consent to the head teacher checking them against the children’s barred list, and must provide the head teacher with any necessary information to enable them to do so.

  • Should Taxi Drivers have a DBS?

    Recently there has been a legislative change, which allows taxi-licensing authorities to request an enhanced DBS check for all taxi-licensing applications.

    Previously, only drivers who carried out regulated activity had been eligible for enhanced checks.  However, it had become commonplace for some licensing authorities to apply for enhanced checks; regardless of the role their drivers had.

    • all taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are now eligible for enhanced regulated activity checks
    • licensing authorities are now able to obtain information as to whether an applicant is on a barred list

    For more information see:

    Home Office news

  • Should Trades and maintenance workers be DBS checked?

    Following amendments made by the Protection of Freedoms Act, any paid work that is carried out in a specified place, which gives the worker the opportunity to have contact with children and which is of an occasional or temporary nature (excluding any teaching, training, instruction, care for or supervision of or advice to children that is carried out on an occasional or temporary basis) is no longer a regulated activity.  This would, for example, mean that work carried out in a school by maintenance or building contractors is no longer a regulated activity relating to children and therefore no DBS check can be carried out in relation to these workers.

  • So do volunteers need to be DBS checked?

    It is not a person’s status as a volunteer, which determines whether or not they need to be subject to DBS and enhanced checks for regulated activities.  Rather it is determined by whether or not they are undertaking regulated activity.  See the definition above. Volunteers who are solely in charge or a group of volunteers who are unsupervised will need to undergo DBS and enhanced checks for regulated activities.

    Where volunteers are undertaking work otherwise defined as ‘regulated’ but who are supervised by someone who has themselves been checked, and where their ‘supervision’ is covered by that defined in guidance, they do not need to be checked.

  • The professional learning community (PLC) may include collaboration and with other providers in the local authority to develop the expertise of staff. If this is a line of enquiry, will the inspection team need to contact any of these providers?

    It is unlikely, as the inspection team will focus on the impact of PLCs and this should be evident within the school/provider being inspected.  However, an inspector may make contact with other providers within a PLC if it is relevant to a line of enquiry.

  • To whom is Estyn accountable?

    Estyn is independent of the National Assembly for Wales, but it receives our funding from the Welsh Government.  It is a non-ministerial civil service organisation.

    The Chief Inspector is the Accounting Officer and is responsible for ensuring that Estyn uses all its resources properly and provides value for money.  A formal structure of groups and committees supports the Chief Inspector, including non-executive directors who provide external perspective and challenge.

    Internal and external audit also provide scrutiny and reassurance on Estyn’s business processes.

    For more detail, please read the Corporate Governance Framework.

  • We are in the middle of an inspection and I have some concerns – what can I do?

    In the first instance, talk to your nominee as they provide the best link to the inspection team.  The nominee will discuss the matter with the reporting inspector.

  • We have a disabled child and they wish to attend the local primary/ secondary school with their friends. How can we be sure that there are disabled facilities in the school?

    You should discuss the school facilities with the headteacher.  It is likely that the school already has a plan if pupils with particular disabilities wish to attend a school.

  • What are the possible outcomes of a follow-up visit when a school is in significant improvement?

    If the team judges that the school has made enough progress in relation to the recommendations, the team will recommend to HM Chief Inspector that the school be removed from the list of schools requiring significant improvement.  Estyn will publish a brief report on its website explaining its decision.  If progress is insufficient, the team will identify the school as requiring special measures.

    In exceptional cases, where the school has made good progress and is nearly, but not quite, at a point where it can be removed from the list, the team may judge the school as still requiring significant improvement.  There will then usually be one further monitoring visit in six months’ time.  The six-month period should ensure that the school is ready to be removed from the list.  If it is not, then the school will be placed in special measures.  This exception does not apply to schools that have been identified as requiring significant improvement following a year in Estyn review.

  • What are the possible outcomes of a follow-up visit when a school is in special measures?

    If the team judges that the school has made enough progress in relation to the recommendations, Estyn will recommend to HM Chief Inspector that it is removed from the list of schools requiring special measures.  Estyn will publish a brief report on its website explaining its decision.  If progress is insufficient, the team will judge that the school still requires special measures.  Estyn will continue to carry out monitoring visits until the Chief Inspector decides that the school has improved enough to remove it from special measures.  Most schools should be removed from special measures within two-three years.  If Estyn continues to reports unsatisfactory progress after this time, the Minister for Education and Skills may consider whether to invoke the available powers. 

  • What are the possible outcomes of Estyn review?

    There are three possible outcomes of Estyn review.  If Estyn judges that the school has made enough progress in relation to the recommendations, Estyn will remove it from the list of schools requiring monitoring by Estyn.  We will also publish on our website the letter we send to the chair of governors removing the school from monitoring.  If not, Estyn may identify the school as requiring significant improvement or possibly special measures.  In a few cases, Estyn may extend the period of monitoring for a further six to nine months to allow for the publication of a new set of performance data, such as examination results, to judge the impact of further progress made. 

  • What can a school or individual teacher do if they think any inspection judgement is unfair?

    Neither the school nor a teacher can challenge judgments simply because they disagree with them.  The school can only challenge the inspection team’s findings on the grounds of factual inaccuracy, if they believe that the inspection was not carried out in accordance with the code of conduct or that inspectors did not consider all of the evidence available before making judgements.  Further information about our complaints policy can be found here.

  • What can a teacher or school do if they think an inspection judgement is unfair or if they have concerns about the conduct of an inspection?

    If a teacher has a concern, then they should talk in the first instance to the school’s nominee as soon as possible about the issue as they provide the best link to the inspection team.  The nominee will discuss the matter with the reporting inspector.

    Neither the school nor a teacher can challenge judgments simply because they disagree with them.  The school can only challenge the inspection team’s findings on the grounds of factual inaccuracy or if they believe that the inspection was not carried out in accordance with Estyn’s code of conduct for inspectors. The school should not challenge judgments simply because they disagree with them.  Further information about Estyn’s complaints policy can be found here.

  • What do I do if I have a complaint about a school or other education and training provider?

    If you have a complaint about a school or other education and training provider you should raise your concerns with the provider in the first instance.  Estyn does not investigate or follow up complaints in relation to the activities of individual schools or providers.  Your first course of action is to raise your concerns formally through the school’s complaints procedure.  Failing satisfaction at that stage, you should escalate the complaint to the Director of Education or equivalent in the local authority. 

  • What do I do if I want to report a child protection issue, or an issue relating to the protection of vulnerable adults?

    If you have a safeguarding concern, then contact our office:

    Lead safeguarding officer 02920 446482 (24 hrs)

    Deputy safeguarding officer 02920 446484 (24 hrs)

    Social services contact details are also available in our Policy and Procedures for Safeguarding.

  • What does Estyn do?

    Estyn inspects quality and standards in education and training providers in Wales.

    Estyn is responsible for inspecting:

    • Nursery schools and settings that are maintained by, or receive funding from, local authorities
    • Primary schools
    • Secondary schools
    • Special schools
    • Pupil referral units
    • Independent schools
    • Further education
    • Independent specialist colleges
    • Adult community learning
    • Local authority education services for children and young people
    • Regional education consortia
    • Teacher education and training
    • Welsh for adults
    • Work-based learning
    • Learning in the justice sector     

    Estyn also:

    • Provides advice to the Welsh Government on quality and standards in education and training in Wales
    • Publicises good practice based on inspection evidence

  • What does Estyn mean?

    Estyn is a Welsh word and means ‘to reach’, ‘to stretch’ or ‘to extend’.

  • What does grooming mean?

    Grooming refers to an adult’s behaviour, which has the sole purpose of gaining the trust of a child and/or adults in order to manipulate relationships so that sexual abuse can take place.

    Staff should be aware that conferring special attention and favour upon a child might be construed as being part of a 'grooming' process, which is an offence.

    For more information see:

    IRSC - Guidance for Safe Working Practice for the Protection of Children and Staff in Education Settings

  • What does safe recruitment practice mean?

    ‘Safe recruitment’ means thinking about and including issues to do with child protection and safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children at every stage of the recruitment process.

    It starts with the process of planning the recruitment exercise and, ensures that the job advertisement makes clear the organisation’s commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

    It requires a consistent and thorough process of scrutinising applicants by:

    • Verifying identity and any academic or vocational qualifications
    • Obtaining professional and character references
    • Checking previous employment history
    • Ensuring that a candidate has the health and physical capacity for the job
    • Undertaking a face to face interview
    • Undertaking any mandatory vetting and barring checks including where appropriate a DBS and enhanced regulated activity check

    For more information see:

    Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education (Wales focussed guidance)


    Welsh Government’s School Governor's Guide to the Law

  • What does the new definition of ‘regulated activity’ mean in relation to adult learners?

    The new definition of regulated activity relating to adults no longer labels adults as ‘vulnerable’.  Instead, the definition identifies the activities, which, if any adult requires them, lead to that adult being considered vulnerable at that particular time.  This means that the focus is on the activities required by the adult and not on the setting in which the activity is received, nor on the personal characteristics or circumstances of the adult receiving the activities.  In addition, there is no longer a “regular” frequency requirement, if the individual carries out the specified work once, it will constitute a regulated activity.

    There are now six categories of people who fall within the definition of regulated activity relating to adults, those:

    • Providing health care
    • Providing personal care
    • Providing social work
    • Assistance with cash, bills and/or shopping
    • Assistance in the conduct of a person’s own affairs
    • Conveying

    In addition, any activity, which consists of or involves the day-to-day management or supervision of a person carrying out any activity above on a regular basis is itself a regulated activity in relation to vulnerable adults.

    For more information see:

    Home Office - Disclosure and Barring Service

  • What does the new definition of ‘regulated activity’ mean in relation to children?

    The full, legal definition of regulated activity is set out in Schedule 4 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, as amended (in particular by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012).

    Regulated activity still excludes family arrangements, and personal, non-commercial arrangements.

    The new definition of regulated activity relating to children comprises only:

    (i) Unsupervised activities: teach, train, instruct, care for or supervise children, or provide advice/guidance on well-being, or drive a vehicle only for children

    (ii) Work for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’), with opportunity for contact: for example, schools, children’s homes, childcare premises. Not work by supervised volunteers.

    Work under (i) or (ii) is regulated activity only if done regularly.  Regular means carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on 3 or more days in a 30-day period (or in some cases, overnight).

    The government has provided statutory guidance about supervision of activity, which would be regulated activity if it were unsupervised.

    (iii) Relevant personal care, for example washing or dressing; or health care by or supervised by a professional

    (iv) Registered child-minding; and foster-carers.

    What is no longer a regulated activity when working with children?

    • Activity supervised at reasonable level
    • Health care not by (or directed or supervised by) a health care professional
    • Legal advice
    • “Treatment/ therapy” (instead “health care”)
    • Occasional or temporary services, (not teaching etc.) e.g. maintenance at a school
    • Volunteers supervised at a reasonable level

    Categories in which office holders are deemed to be in regulated activity have been removed in both England and Wales.  This includes school governors and local authority officers.  However in Wales the office of Children’s Commissioner for Wales, the deputy Children's Commissioner for Wales, and inspectorates in Wales (including Estyn) remain within regulated activity.

  • What does time out and seclusion mean?

    Policies on restrictive physical interventions should include reference to the following:

    The distinction between:

    • Seclusion where a pupil is forced to spend time alone against their will
    • Time out which involves restricting a pupil’s access to all positive reinforcements as part of an
       agreed behavioural programme
    • Withdrawal, which involves: removing a pupil from a situation which causes anxiety or distress
       to a location where they can be continuously observed and supported until they are ready to
       resume their usual activities

    Questions to ask…

    • Does the person access the room or space voluntarily?
    • Is the person accompanied by a support worker/ teacher or other person in the room?
    • Can the person leave the room independently? Do they know how to get out of the room or
    • Is the ‘time out’ part of an assessed and agreed behaviour support plan that includes short term
       and long-term goals?
    • Can the time out strategy be implemented outside of the area where the person lives, works or
       is educated?

    If the answer is yes to most of the above it is likely that you are using a time out strategy.

    • Do support staff or teachers or others take the person to the room or space?
    • Is the person left in the room or space alone?
    • Is the person unable to leave the room independently or cannot understand how to leave the
       room when they choose to?
    • Do people watch/monitor the person from outside the room?
    • Is the practice dependent on a room or space, which is available at the place the person lives,
       works or is educated?

    If the answer is yes to the above, the practice is more likely to be seclusion, and may be illegal except in specific circumstances described in legislation such as The Mental Health Act (1983) or in preventing a criminal offence.

    For more information see:

    BILD Factsheet - Time out and seclusion

  • What does whistle blowing mean?

    Whistle-blowing disclosures

    The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (the Act) was introduced to protect employees who are worried about wrongdoing where they work and want to 'blow the whistle'.

    The Act applies to most employees and includes those employed on a temporary basis or through an agency.

    An employee who is victimised or discriminated against in any way because they have 'blown the whistle' (known as making a 'protected disclosure') can take their employer to an employment tribunal.

  • What does ‘safeguarding’ cover?

    All local authorities and education providers, including independent schools, have a statutory duty to exercise their functions with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of their learners.

    Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is concerned with:

    • Protecting children from abuse and neglect
    • Preventing impairment of their health or development
    • Ensuring that they receive safe and effective care.

    Section 25 of the Children Act 2004 requires that each local authority in Wales must make arrangements to promote cooperation between the authority, each of the authority’s relevant partners and such other persons or body that the authority thinks is appropriate, to improve the wellbeing of children and relevant young people in each local authority area.

    For more information see:

    Estyn’s Supplementary guidance for inspecting safeguarding in schools and PRUs

  • What happens after a core inspection?

    The inspection team will make judgements based on the Common Inspection Framework (CIF).  Estyn uses four judgement descriptors.  These are Excellent, Good, Adequate needs improvement and Unsatisfactory needs urgent improvement.  The definition of these judgements can be found in the guidance for inspection handbooks available here

    The inspected provider will receive a draft report around three weeks after the inspection.  This is an opportunity for the provider to check that the report is factually accurate.  If any aspects of the provider’s work are judged to be excellent, then they may be invited to produce a case study of best share with other providers.  You can find examples of these here.  If the provider is judged to have important areas that require improvement, this will normally trigger some follow-up activity.  More information about follow up can be found here.  Every provider, regardless of their inspection outcomes is required to produce a post-inspection action plan.

  • What is a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)?

    Following Lord Laming’s inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, the Children Act 2004 required all Local Authorities across England and Wales to set up a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).  The task of each LSCB is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in their area.

    The scope of the safeguarding task for LSCBs is wider than the child protection remit of the old ACPCs.  Three broad areas of activity are identified:

    • Activity that aims to identify and prevent maltreatment or impairment to health and development
    • Pro-active work, which targets particular groups of vulnerable children and young people
    • Responsive work to protect children who are suffering, or at risk of suffering harm

    The core business of the LSCB is to ensure there is collective accountability for those children and young people that are the subject of child protection processes under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

    LSCBs must also safeguard and promote the welfare of children who fall outside this group but who have been shown to be over-represented across the UK in incidences that result in a Serious Case Review.

    The Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 came into force on May 1st 2014.

    Section 135 establishes The National Independent Safeguarding Board whose duties are to provide support and advice to Safeguarding Boards to ensure that they are effective.  They will also report on the adequacy and effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard children and adults in Wales, and make recommendations to the Welsh Ministers as to how those arrangements could be improved.

    Section 134 sets out requirements for Safeguarding Boards to be set up in areas across Wales.  The Act does not define these areas.  The Act establishes both Children’s Safeguarding Boards and Adult Safeguarding Boards.  In some areas these may join into one Safeguarding Board.

    Section 126 defines an adult at risk as being anyone 18 years of age or older who is:

    • Experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect
    • Has needs for care and support whether or not the local authority is meeting these; and
    • As a result of these needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it

    For more information see
    Welsh Government - Safeguarding Children: Working Together Under the Children Act 2004 

    Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

  • What is Estyn's role in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults?

    Estyn’s inspection obligations in independent and maintained schools is to report on the contribution made by the school to the wellbeing of pupils.  This specifically includes undertaking direct inspection of safeguarding arrangements, as well as referring to the appropriate authorities any concerns or intelligence it has about children’s welfare.

    In relation to vulnerable adults, Estyn does not have an obligation to inspect safeguarding arrangements.  However, if inspectors have concerns in relation to safeguarding, whether as a result of an observation made by an inspector, or by means of a concern disclosed to an inspector, it is incumbent on the inspector to report this issue to Estyn's safeguarding officer.

    Estyn therefore works to the same government legislation and statutory guidance as all other providers.  In its inspections, Estyn does not impose any additional requirements of its own upon providers.

    If you want to contact Estyn to report any concerns you may have about practices or procedures for the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults used by providers of education please either send an email to Estyn’s safeguarding email address or phone Estyn’s lead safeguarding officer on 02920 446482, or deputy safeguarding officer on 02920 446484.

  • What is Estyn’s relationship to the Welsh Government?

    Estyn is the office of Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales. We are independent of, but funded by, the Welsh Government.

  • What is the difference between an HMI and a Registered Inspector or Registered Nursery Inspector?

    An HM Inspector of Education and Training in Wales (HMI) is employed directly by Estyn.  A Registered Inspector (RgI) and/or Registered Nursery Inspector (RgNI) is self-employed and works under contract with Estyn.  RgIs and RgNIs have a background in education and they have successfully undertaken inspection work as team members.  They have also passed rigorous training and selection procedures before the Chief Inspector places them on the list of RgI and RgNI.

  • What is the place of attendance in the new Common Inspection Framework and on pilot inspections?

    In the new draft framework, attendance falls mainly under Inspection Area 2 – wellbeing and attitudes to learning.  It is one aspect of that inspection area.  We expect inspection teams to report on attendance by exception in the new framework guidance, ie where there is a consistent trend of relatively high performance or relatively low performance when compared with other similar schools.  The findings on attendance do not drive the overall judgement for the inspection area, but they may influence the judgement where attendance rates are a significant strength or weakness.

  • What is the Protection of Freedoms Act and how is it relevant to safeguarding?

    The Protection of Freedoms Act came into effect from 10 September 2012 with a further raft of changes coming into force on1 December 2012.  The Act will be implemented on a staged basis over the next few of years.  Therefore, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and safeguarding regulations introduced in October 2009 continue to apply during this period.

    What changed from September 2012?

    • New definition of regulated activity to focus on work which involves close and unsupervised contact with vulnerable groups
    • Activities and work that has been taken out of Regulated Activity will still be eligible for Enhanced DBS checks
    • Repeal of controlled activity
    • Repeal of registration and continuous monitoring
    • Repeal of additional information
    • Minimum age (16) at which someone can apply for a DBS check
    • More rigorous ‘relevancy’ test for when the police release information held locally on an enhanced DBS check

    What changed from December 2012

    On 1 December 2012 CRB and ISA merged to form the Disclosure and Barring Service a single non-departmental public body.  This has resulted in changes to terminology:

    • A standard CRB check has become a standard DBS check
    • An enhanced CRB check has become an enhanced DBS check
    • An enhanced CRB check with Barred List check has become an enhanced check for regulated activity

    This new terminology has been adopted throughout these questions.

    What is not changing?

    • Employers must make appropriate referrals to the DBS
    • Employers must not allow to undertake regulated activity someone whom they know has been barred by the DBS
    • Everybody within the pre-September definition of regulated activity will remain eligible for enhanced DBS checks, whether or not they fall within the post-September definition of regulated activity

    What is due to change?

    In early 2013, the government intends to launch a new Update Service.  This will enable individuals to register once for a CRB check, which will then be automatically updated and available for organisations to check.

    For more information see
    Home Office News - May 2012
    Home Office - Disclosue and barring

  • What legislation gives Estyn its powers to inspect?

    Estyn receives funding from the Welsh Government under Section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 1998.

    Legislation determines the appointment, functions and powers of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales (HMCI), particularly, for example, the Education Act 2005, the Learning and Skills Act 2000 and the Children Act 2004.  The Government of Wales Act 2006 sets out the statutory position of the Chief Inspector.  

    The Education (School Inspection)(Wales) Regulations 2006 and the Education (Amendments Relating to the Inspection of Education and Training) (Wales) Regulations 2014 also govern the work of Estyn.

  • What questionnaires will pupils and parents get in the event of an all-age school inspection?

    Pupils in the Foundation Phase do not receive a questionnaire.   These pupils give their views when they meet inspectors during the inspection week.  In key stage 2, pupils will complete the same questionnaires as they currently do in primary inspections.  In key stage 3, key stage 4 and post-16, pupils will complete the same questionnaires as they currently do in secondary school inspections.

    Parents will receive a questionnaire that will include questions from the current questionnaires given in primary and secondary inspections.

  • What requirement is there on a work-based learning provider for 16-18 year olds to ensure that work-based learning supervisors have been DBS checked?

    Training organisations or employers taking responsibility for non-employed under 18s on a long-term placement i.e. lasting more than a month, should be asked to make a commitment to safeguarding their welfare by endorsing an agreed child protection policy or statement of principles.

    For staff in the workplace who teach, train, or are in sole charge of non-employed under 18s as their main job role, their employer should require a DBS check for the purpose of protecting these children.

    A work-based learning provider will decide, after a robust risk assessment, who these individuals are likely to be.  In most instances, this is likely to be a very small number of staff.  However, the DBS requirement does not extend to anyone working with employed under-18s.

  • What should inspectors do if they notice that there is a particular Health and Safety issue during an inspection?

    The relevant guidance on Health and Safety is explained in Part 1 of the Guidance for the inspection of each sector.  Inspectors should report on obvious breaches of health and safety legislation in Key Question 2.  Guidance handbooks are located on our website.

  • What sort of safeguarding training should education staff receive?

    The level and content to safeguarding training is the prerogative of the LSCB following generic guidance in the all Wales safeguarding etc.  This includes both generic training and additional differentiated training for staff with designated roles.

    All staff working in schools and other education settings and who have contact with children should receive training in order to help them:

    • Know what to do if they have a concern or receive a disclosure by a child about home or school
    • Report any safeguarding concern they may have about the behaviour of a child, or a member of staff or school governor

    Those staff or governors with the designated safeguarding role should also receive differentiated training, which helps them fulfil their additional responsibilities.  This training should also be undertaken in accordance with the LSCB guidance.

  • What will be the composition of all-age school inspection teams?

    The inspection will be staffed by a team of inspectors that have an appropriate range of skills and experience to inspect an all-age school.

  • When inspecting safe recruitment what does Estyn look for?

    The answer to this question will vary according to the sector being inspected, as Estyn’s statutory duties and powers vary across these.  The answer will therefore lie in the supplementary guidance documents Estyn has issued for each sector.

    Estyn works very closely with the Welsh Government to ensure that our inspectors do not expect schools or other providers to exceed the legal requirements.  However, inspectors will wish to discuss those situations where providers have the authority to make their own decisions about safeguarding arrangements as part of the inspection of leadership and governance.

    Standard 4 of The Independent Schools Standards Wales Regulations 2003 sets out the requirements and procedures to ensure the suitability of staff and proprietors of independent schools.

    In general terms, Estyn’s inspection arrangements will look at the recruitment and vetting and barring policies a local authority has in place and the effectiveness of the implementation of these procedures in terms of safeguarding children from harm.  Estyn will evaluate the impact of these policies, and their application, on pupil’s safety and wellbeing.  It is up to the local authority and its schools therefore to determine their own position in response to the Act, and implement the vetting and barring scheme.

    As government guidance is issued, Estyn will factor into its evaluation how well local authority and school policies and practices reflect this guidance.

    A local authority is free to insist that no one may undertake regulated activity unless he or she has undergone a DBS check.  While the requirement to request DBS checks has been removed for regulated activities, the entitlement to ask for one remains.  What is mandatory, however, is the requirement to conduct an enhanced check for a regulated activity (the formerly named barred list check) for those undertaking regulated activity.  However, an enhanced check for a regulated activity cannot be made for someone not undertaking regulated activity.

    For more information see:

    Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education (Wales focussed guidance)


    Welsh Government’s School Governor's Guide to the Law

  • When should the documentation for our school/provider be submitted to the reporting inspector?

    We will inform providers 15 working days before an inspection that inspectors will visit the school/provider.  Schools/providers should then upload the relevant pre-inspection documentation to the virtual inspection room (VIR) within the next 9 days.  The Inspection Co-ordinator will confirm the details of how to upload the materials and will set out the relevant dates for their upload to the VIR at the time of formal notification of the inspection.

  • When will the guidance for the inspection of all-age schools be available?

    Guidance is available on Estyn’s website at

  • Where can I find directions to Estyn’s office?

     Our head office is in Cardiff.  You can find a map and directions here.

  • Which jobs/roles require a DBS check

    From September 2012, the requirements for CRB checking have been revised.

    Under the terms of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 only employees who regularly have unsupervised contact with children (that is, under 18s) who are undertaking a regulated activity are required to have a DBS check.  Regulated activities are teaching, training, instructing, caring for, supervising, providing advice and guidance on well-being, and driving a vehicle only for children.

    Before an employer considers asking a person to make an application for a DBS check, they are legally responsible for ensuring that they are entitled to ask that person to reveal their conviction history.

    The Home Office provides guidance for employers about which professions, offices, employments, work and occupations are exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and therefore subject to DBS checks.

    Eligibility criteria relevant to educational provision

    In short, anyone who is undertaking any work which is defined as ‘regulated activity’ must have a DBS check and be subject to a check against the barred list.

    All staff who are on school payrolls remain in regulated activity including cleaners and caretakers.  Any member of staff who needs a DBS check ought to have some basic level training in safeguarding issues and how to respond.  If they need a DBS, they must have access to children, which means they may become aware of something they ought to report.

    For more information see:

    Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006


    Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education (Wales focussed guidance)

  • Who can apply to be a Lay Inspector (LI)?

    Lay Inspectors are members of the general public who have some leadership and management experience and good written and verbal skills.  Experience in analysing evidence and making judgements is desirable and candidates who have undertaken a leadership or management role in a voluntary organisations or as a member of a governing body, board of trustees or corporate board can apply.  However, Lay Inspectors should not have been teachers or employed within schools or other education settings. 

    When we next run a recruitment campaign for Lay Inspectors, we will advertise this on our website.  

  • Who decides what safeguarding training staff should receive?

    It is the responsibility of the LSCB to oversee the training available to relevant agencies and their staff within a given area.  LSCBs should ensure that both single-agency and multi-agency training on safeguarding and promoting welfare that meets local needs is provided.  This means the LSCB will need to take a strategic lead to ensure local needs are identified, and that priorities of the training are clear.  Also that all relevant training is properly evaluated to ensure it helps to improve safeguarding and promoting welfare in practice.

    At the same time, individual employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent and confident to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare.

    Inter-agency work is an essential feature of all training in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.  All training in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children should create an ethos which values working collaboratively with others, respects diversity (including culture, race and disability), promotes equality, is child centred and promotes the participation of children and families in the processes.

    For more information see:

    Welsh Government Safeguarding Children - Chapter 11

  • Who inspects?

    Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) lead inspections in most of the sectors that we inspect.  However, about half the inspections of primary schools are led by Registered Inspectors or secondees to Estyn.  These inspectors are not HMI, but have been trained to undertake inspections to the same professional standards.  Registered Inspectors work under contract to Estyn.  Inspection teams may also include additional inspectors, peer inspectors or lay inspectors depending on the sector that we inspect.  Most inspections of non‑maintained nursery settings are led by Registered Nursery Inspectors, also under contract to Estyn, with the remainder led by HMI. 

    Members of inspection teams carry out different roles.  For more information on the different types of inspectors click here

  • Who is responsible for investigating whistle blowers claims?

    Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (the Act), only a Prescribed Person can receive a disclosure and the protect the whistle blower.

    In Wales, only the following have Prescribed Person status:

    • The Auditor General for Wales (AGW)
    • CSSIW
    • HIW
    • Children’s Commissioner for Wales

    An employee can report to the Prescribed Person any concerns about 'the proper conduct of public business, value for money, fraud and corruption in relation to the provision of public services'.

    In local government, employees can make 'protected disclosures' to auditors appointed by the Auditor General.

    Under the Act, the Prescribed Person does not need to investigate every disclosure they receive.  Indeed, they can only investigate these disclosures on the basis of their legal powers, for example for the AGW as set out in the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004 and other laws.  The Prescribed Person bases his/her decision about whether or not to investigate on whether it would be an effective use of resources in protecting the public interest.

    Estyn must inform any whistle blower that Estyn is not a Prescribed Person and must refer that person directly to AGW, CSSIW, HIW or the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

  • Who is responsible for safeguarding?

    The Lord Laming report (2003) emphasised that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

    This means that in an education setting (including bodies such as Estyn), everyone should know who to contact if they have safeguarding concerns about a child or vulnerable adult (a child is defined as someone under 18 years of age, and adult is over 18 years of age).

    When inspecting education provision, inspectors should make sure all staff have had basic awareness training, and the provider’s safeguarding policy or guidance tells them who the nominated lead officer is for safeguarding and where to report their concerns.

  • Who is the Chief Inspector?

    Mr Meilyr Rowlands is Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales.  Read his biography.

  • Who should be at the final feedback meeting for an all-age school inspection?

    It would be up to the school to decide which members of the senior leadership team should attend the feedback meeting, but we would not envisage this involving more than three or four members of the senior team.  In addition, one representative from the local authority or regional consortium is invited to attend as well as up to three representatives from the governing body.

  • Who should receive basic level safeguarding training?

    Individual agencies are responsible for ensuring that all their staff are competent and confident to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare.

    There are significant numbers of people who either are in contact with children away from their families, or make decisions about the provision that is available to these children.  These people may be governors, managers, teachers, youth workers, child minders, private foster carers, those working with children in residential and day care settings and those working in sport and leisure settings in both a paid and unpaid capacity.  All of these should, as a minimum, be provided with an introductory level of training on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

    For more information see:

    Welsh Government Safeguarding Children - Chapter 11

  • Why aren’t all inspection reports available in Welsh?

    Estyn publishes reports in accordance with Estyn's Welsh Language Scheme.  We issue Inspection reports on individual schools/providers bilingually when requested by the education and training provider or, in the case of schools or local authority providers, when this is in line with the policy of the local authority.  Where a bilingual report is not requested, reports on individual institutions will appear in English only.

  • Why have you decided to introduce pre-inspection questionnaires for staff and governors? And why are you not publishing the questionnaire outcomes at the end of the report?

    We currently have pre-inspection questionnaires for pupils and parents.  These guide lines of inquiry for the inspection team during the inspection.  As key stakeholders, we feel that staff and governors should also have the opportunity to provide their views on various aspects of the school prior to the inspection.  We have already piloted staff and governor pre-inspection questionnaires in a sample of schools.  They have proved popular with staff and governors and the response rate has been high.  They have helped inspection teams to devise appropriate lines of inquiry as a result. 

    As the findings form part of the pre-inspection evidence, we have decided not to publish them in the post-inspection report as they may not reflect the final, agreed view of the inspection team, which is based on a wider range of evidence than just the pre-inspection questionnaires.

  • Why is Estyn undertaking joint inspections of non-maintained nursery settings with CSSIW?

    We are undertaking joint inspections with CSSIW in order to make the inspection of non-maintained nurseries more efficient and effective.  It means that non-maintained nurseries receive only one joint inspection rather than two separate inspections undertaken separately by Estyn and CSSIW.  The joint arrangements also enable Estyn and CSSIW inspectors to share their knowledge and expertise across both organisations.

  • Will all teachers be observed?

    This will depend on the nature and size of the provider being inspected.  In a small primary school, it is likely that all teachers will be observed.  However, in a large primary school and in secondary schools, the inspection team will sample a range of lessons.  

  • Will Estyn choose to inspect a school when it gets a new headteacher or when there has been a significant increase in the number of pupils on roll?

    We select the schools using a broad range of criteria relating to size, location, language of instruction, urban and rural and so on.  This ensures that the sample of schools is broadly representative of all schools in Wales each year.  Estyn does not use any specific risk factors when deciding which schools to inspect each year, for example the appointment of a new headteacher.  However, the Chief Inspector retains a statutory right to be able to trigger the inspection of any school at any time, for example, when there are very significant concerns about the standard of education provided by the school.  The Chief Inspector also retains the statutory right to inspect without giving any notice to the school/provider.

  • Will governors be interviewed during an inspection? Can that include teacher governors?

    During an inspection, inspectors will meet with up to three representatives from the school’s governing body.  Normally this will not include a teacher governor as they have other opportunities during the week to meet with inspectors.

  • Will inspectors be visiting or speaking to representatives of partner primary schools to judge whether the cluster arrangements are supporting the transition of pupils from KS2 to KS3?

    Inspectors may contact partner primary schools, but it is unlikely as there should be enough evidence available at the school to judge whether the transition arrangements are improving continuity and progression in learning for pupils moving from key stage 2 to key stage 3.  

  • Will inspectors evaluate the work of support staff?

    All staff play a role during an inspection week, not just those who are observed or interviewed.  Inspectors will undertake a range of activities including scrutinising a sample of pupils’ work, visiting registration classes and assemblies and reviewing documentation e.g. self-evaluation reports and improvement plans from various departments.


  • Will inspectors observe all teachers in a school?

    This will depend on the nature and size of the school inspected.  In a small primary school, it is likely that inspectors will observe all the teachers.  In a large primary school and in secondary schools, the inspection team will sample the work of teachers.  Observations may take a variety of forms, e.g. as part of a ‘learning walk’ by inspectors or as a formal lesson observation over a more extended period of time.

  • Will inspectors observe lessons during a monitoring follow-up visit?

    During follow-up visits to schools, inspectors may observe lessons if they need to collect evidence relating to a specific recommendation.  They will also spend their time scrutinising evidence provided by the school and interviewing relevant members of staff and learners.  The purpose of the visit is to confirm the evidence provided by the school and the local authority on the progress made by the school against the recommendations from the inspection report. 

  • Will inspectors observe teachers for the whole lesson?

    Normally, during a formal lesson observation, inspectors will stay for a reasonable length of time to gather the evidence they require.  In primary schools, they often stay for a session (for example from mid-morning break to lunchtime).  In secondary schools, they are likely to stay for the whole lesson.  However, inspectors may also observe teaching and learning in other ways, for example by undertaking ‘learning walks’ through a number of classes.

  • Will inspectors observe the lessons of supply teachers during the inspection?

    Inspectors may observe lessons/sessions taught by a supply teacher or other cover arrangements if it is part of a line of enquiry.

  • Will observations last for the whole lesson?

    Normally, inspectors will stay for a reasonable length of time to gather the evidence they require.  In primary schools, they usually stay for a session (for example from mid-morning break to lunchtime) and in secondary they are likely to stay for the entire lesson.

  • Will pilot schools be disadvantaged in terms of the judgements and the findings of the inspection?

    No.  There is a strong degree of read-across from the current to the new framework.  There is also a strong degree of continuity in the judgement scale used for the new framework and the current 4-point judgement scale.  The aim of introducing the new framework is not to make the inspection outcomes harder or easier.  The main aim is to make the framework fit for purpose and relevant in a rapidly changing educational landscape.  We have also taken the opportunity to iron out areas of duplication and to focus more on teaching and learning.

  • Will schools involved in the pilot inspections have to change their self-evaluation report to fit the new inspection framework?

    No.  There is a clear read across from the old to the new common inspection framework (CIF).  Inspectors will be able to use the school’s current self-evaluation as a starting point for their work even though it may be based on the current CIF.  The key consideration is the quality of self-evaluation systems and processes and their impact on school improvement, not on the content or format of the report itself.  If a school wishes to experiment with the new framework by changing their self-evaluation report accordingly, that is a decision for them and not for Estyn.  We will consider the self-evaluation report in whatever format the school chooses to provide it. 

  • Will schools involved in the pilot inspections receive more than 3 weeks’ notice?

    Pilot inspection schools will receive formal notification 15 working days before the inspection.  This will help Estyn to test its systems and processes in order to see the impact on its work and to check that a 15-day notice period is manageable from Estyn’s and the pilot school’s point of view.  However, we will informally contact the pilot schools before the 15-day notice period to give them extra time to consider the new inspection guidance relevant to their sector.

  • Will teachers be told what judgement they have been given?

    No, although there will be an opportunity for professional dialogue with the inspector at the end of the lesson.  The purpose of the lesson observations is to validate the statements made in the school’s self-evaluation report about the quality of teaching.  Inspectors will then triangulate this information with performance data, comments by pupils and parents and scrutiny of pupils’ work to come to an overall judgement about the quality of teaching.  

  • Will teachers receive a judgement on their individual lesson?

    No, although there will be an opportunity for professional dialogue with the inspector after the lesson.  The purpose of the lesson observations is to validate the statements made in the school’s self-evaluation report about the overall quality of teaching in the school.  Inspectors will focus on the strengths and shortcomings in the lesson in relation to the impact the lesson has on developing pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding and the progress they make.  Inspectors will also use other information, such as scrutiny of pupils’ work, assessment records, performance data and comments by pupils and parents, in order to come to an overall judgement about the quality of teaching in the school.  

  • Will the inspection team include Welsh-speaking inspectors to judge learners’ communication skills in Welsh?

    Yes, there will be at least one inspector on each team who has sufficient skills in Welsh to judge the quality of pupils’ Welsh skills at the level appropriate for the ages of the pupils/learners. 

  • Will the peer inspector on an all-age school inspection be from the primary or secondary sector?

    The peer inspector could come from another all-age school, the primary sector, or from the secondary sector.

  • Will the work of support staff be assessed?

    All staff play a role during an inspection week, not just those who are observed or interviewed.  Inspectors will undertake a range of activities including scrutinising a sample of pupils’ work, visiting registration classes and assemblies and reviewing documentation e.g. self-evaluation reports and improvement plans from various departments.

  • Would I be allowed to work in all schools?

    The exact role of a HMI depends on their experience.  Inspectors who work in schools must hold Qualified Teacher Status.  Most inspectors work across more than one sector.