Shift towards culture of self-improvement in Welsh education


The biggest trend in Welsh education over the last seven years has been the move towards a culture of self-improvement, according to the Chief Inspector’s Annual Report published today. Schools and other education and training providers increasingly take ownership of their own improvement and share expertise and best practice with each other.


Chief Inspector Meilyr Rowlands says, “Looking back over the last seven-year cycle of inspections, there’s been a shift in education in Wales towards greater collaboration. It’s clear from our inspections of over 2,700 schools, non-maintained settings, colleges and other education and training organisations that there is enough excellence across Welsh education to support improvement and help reduce variability.
 
"This spirit of cooperation is most obvious in the way that the new curriculum is being developed with the teaching profession and how schools themselves are beginning to develop innovative teaching and learning practices. Consortia of local authorities work together and schools support each other to improve teachers’ professional skills.” 
 
In schools like Fitzalan High School, Cardiff, that have a strong commitment to continual improvement, leaders focus on improving teaching and learning, supporting teachers to innovate, investing in staff development, and creating the right conditions for staff to work together within and beyond their organisation. Further case studies throughout the Annual Report provide examples of the effective practice that Estyn has seen across Wales.
 
More findings from the seven-year inspection cycle:
  • Inspection findings this year are broadly similar to those for the last seven years as a whole. Seven-in-ten primary schools inspected this year are good or excellent, similar to last year, while half of secondary schools inspected are good or excellent, a bit better than last year
  • There are many strengths in nursery settings, maintained special schools and in further education colleges, where the quality of education provided is good or better in most cases. Variability within and between providers remains a challenge in most other sectors.
  • Schools that are most successful at raising standards for all their pupils and at closing the gap in the performance of pupils eligible for free school meals compared to their peers, encourage greater involvement of parents and the community and create a culture where education is respected and valued.
  • In the quarter of schools that deliver the Foundation Phase well, pupils make good progress, become confident learners, and are well-prepared for future learning. But many schools remain reliant on more traditional teaching methods, especially for children aged 5 to 7.
  • As the secondary school accountability system became increasingly linked to examination results, some schools focused too much on examination technique rather than on providing a broad education. The best schools develop learners’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes to learning by capturing their interest through engaging learning experiences.
  • Mergers of further education colleges have resulted in a smaller number of large providers. The new leadership teams of these institutions have overseen improved provision in this sector over the last seven years.

Publication date

Wednesday, 24 January, 2018