Inspection explained

All education and training providers in Wales will be inspected at least once within a seven-year period that began 1 September 2016.

All inspections use the Common Inspection Framework.  There is one framework for all schools, independent specialist colleges, pupil referral units and work-based learning providers and another framework for all other sectors (non-maintained nurseries, further education, initial teacher education and training, local government education services and Welsh for adults).

Schools, independent specialist colleges, pupil referral units and work-based learning providers receive three weeks’ written notice of inspection, local government education services receive 10 weeks’ notice and all other sectors (non-maintained nurseries, further education, initial teacher education and training and Welsh for adults) receive four weeks’ notice.

In Wales, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation leads inspections of youth offending teams, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons leads on inspections of prisons, including the young offenders’ institution, and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) leads on inspections of the secure children’s home. Estyn joins these teams to inspect the quality of education and training. From September 2017, the five inspection areas will be used to inspect the Education, Skills and Work section of HMI Prison inspections. The inspection arrangements for youth offending teams and secure children’s homes are under review.

In September 2017, new arrangements for inspecting all schools, independent specialist colleges, pupil referral units and work–based learning providers came into effect.

Watch our short animation about how we have changed inspections.


Overview of the changes

Schools, independent specialist colleges, pupil referral units and work-based learning providers:

  • receive 15 working days’ written notice of an inspection
  • are judged under 5 inspection areas:
1. Standards
2. Wellbeing and attitudes to learning
3. Teaching and learning experiences
4. Care, support and guidance
5. Leadership and management
  • are judged using a 4 point scale:
Excellent – Very strong, sustained performance and practice
Good – Strong features, although minor aspects may require improvement
Adequate and needs improvement – Strengths outweigh weaknesses, but important aspects require improvement
Unsatisfactory and needs urgent improvement – Important weaknesses outweigh strengths

What’s happening next

By the end of the current inspection cycle, the inspection framework for non-maintained nurseries, further education, initial teacher education and training, local government education services, Welsh for adults and adult learning will have been consulted upon and reviewed with new arrangements in place.