Wales school 'spot checks' could start in September
INSPECTORS in Wales could impose 'spot checks' on schools from September this year, in line with similar plans being mooted in England.
This week Plaid Cymru called on Wales' schools inspectorate Estyn to carry out 'spot check' visits, following the news that Prime Minister David Cameron is to order the English inspectorate Ofsted to consider surprise inspections in response to allegations that extremists "infiltrated" school governing bodies in Birmingham.
Plaid's shadow education minister Simon Thomas said yesterday: "We need to consider giving Estyn the ability to go into schools to see the real situation in the classroom, without giving months’ notice.
"I hope that that is a suggestion that the Welsh Government can take forward."
A Welsh Government spokesman responded that the department is "not in favour" of schools being able to predict when Estyn will inspect, and changes will come into force in September.
"At the moment schools are required to provide a three week notice period for a pre-inspection parent’s meeting, which determines the amount of notice Estyn has to provide to schools about forthcoming inspections," he said.
"However, changes have been made to regulations that will come into force in September 2014, that will reduce the ability of schools to be able to predict when their next inspection will take place, and removes [this] requirement.
"As of September 2014, Estyn can change the notice period for inspection if it so wishes, but that is a decision for them make."
Owen Hathway, NUT Wales policy officer said that "snapshot" no-notice inspections are "not an appropriate way" to pass judgement on a school.
“For accountability to be meaningful there needs to be proper professional and respectful dialogue," he said.
"It should not be an exercise in walking in and out, giving no chance to see the work of the school in the round.
"We know that over 50,000 teaching days are lost each year due to stress related illnesses. We should be doing everything possible to reduce that figure.
"There is a genuine concern across the entire teaching profession that such changes to the inspection system will simply add to the stress levels of teachers and do nothing to improve teaching."
The Argus has contacted Estyn for a comment.
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