Improving schools through regional education consortia - June 2015

Summary

The Welsh Government asked Estyn to produce this report for the Minister for Education and Skills in its annual remit. The purpose of this survey is to report on the progress being made by regional education consortia to provide school improvement services. Separately, the Auditor General for Wales asked Wales Audit Office staff to carry out a study on the Welsh Government’s approach to improving schools through regional consortia. Estyn and Wales Audit Office staff carried out fieldwork visits to each regional consortium in partnership and evidence was shared between the two organisations. The fieldwork visits involved interviews with key staff from each consortium and its related local authorities. The survey also involved scrutiny of a wide range of evidence from schools, local authorities, diocesan authorities, regional consortia and the Welsh Government.
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Recommendations

Regional consortia should:

Improve performance management arrangements by:

  • planning for the medium term to ensure a strategic approach to school improvement
  • ensuring that plans contain actions that are specific and measurable, with appropriate targets, costings and milestones for delivery
  • capturing, sharing and using data (from pupil level up) efficiently and effectively
  • monitoring the progress of pupils and schools regularly
  • taking a more robust approach to identifying and managing risks
  • realistically self-evaluating their strengths and shortcomings
  • tightly managing the individual performance of their staff

Secure greater consistency in the quality of challenge advisers’ evaluations of schools, particularly in relation to teaching and leadership

Develop clearer strategies to address the impact of deprivation upon education outcomes and ensure that all actions are coherent in this purpose

Improve the quality and range of support for schools and in particular:

  • develop clearer strategies for maximising the potential of school-to-school support
  • provide or broker better support for teaching and learning in non-core subject areas

Involve diocesan authorities effectively in the strategic planning and evaluation of regional services

Local authorities should:

  • Support their regional consortium to develop medium-term business plans and ensure that all plans take account of the needs of their local schools
  • Develop formal working arrangements between scrutiny committees in their consortium in order to scrutinise the work and impact of their regional consortium

The Welsh Government should:

  • Improve its strategy to develop senior leaders and managers for education at local authority and regional consortia level
  • Work more collaboratively with consortia and local authorities to agree short and medium-term business plans and reduce requests to change and add to plans mid-year
  • Ensure that school categorisation is rigorously moderated across the consortia
  • Develop an agreed understanding between teachers, schools, local authorities, regional consortia and Welsh Government about the purpose and use of attainment targets
  • Engage more effectively with diocesan authorities in developing its strategy for school improvement
  • Ensure that consortia, local authorities and diocesan authorities are clear about their respective roles and responsibilities for schools in the Schools Challenge Cymru programme