Wales’ schools will no longer be colour coded based on their performance
Wales’ schools will no longer be colour coded from red to green based on their performance, the Education Minister has announced.
National Categorisation will finish and be replaced by a “robust” self-evaluation system where good practice can be shared and failure is urgently addressed, Jeremy Miles said.
The new system will involve more regular Estyn inspections from September 2024, with inspections twice rather than once every six years, he said.
A summary of each school’s improvement priorities and development plan will now be made public and published, meaning that parents will now be able to access more up-to-date, detailed and informative information.
“By bringing national categorisation to an end we are doing two things,” Jeremy Miles said. “First, replacing it with a framework which sets out clear expectations so that every pupil is supported properly.
“And second, providing better, and more up to date information on each school’s improvement plans, so that the focus is on learner progression rather than on headline descriptions. I’m confident that this framework will encourage more collaboration between schools, which will deliver high standards and aspirations for all our learners and support their wellbeing.”
The Welsh Government said that reviews have shown that pupil assessment and school accountability have too often been blurred, leading to unintended consequences in the classroom.
In his review of Estyn published in 2018, the former senior chief inspector of education in Scotland, Graham Donaldson, said: “Graded inspection reports and follow-up categories reinforce the association of inspection with an externally driven approach to improvement, and can distort some schools’ practices to the detriment of their pupils.”
Assessment should be used in the best interest of pupils, enabling teachers to adjust teaching strategies to support their progress, the Welsh Government said, while accountability, led by Estyn, drives improvement through better transparency and enabling judgement on performance.
The framework published today distinctly separates the two, they said.
Owen Evans, Chief Inspector at Estyn said they “welcomed” the Welsh Government’s guidance on school improvement for providers across Wales and are fully aligned with this approach.
“Learner progression and wellbeing is at the heart of our work at Estyn and the move away from schools being evaluated with a disproportionate emphasis on a small number of performance measures is reflected in our new approach to inspection for schools and pupil referral units.
“We will continue to inspect schools and make judgements based on a wide range of evidence and information, covering the breadth of school activity.
“We are here to provide accountability across education providers in Wales and will continue to work rigorously to ensure all learners get the education and training they deserve – monitoring schools through follow up if standards aren’t high enough.
“We have made a number of changes to our inspection approach in schools and pupil referral units, including the presentation of inspection reports which will see the removal of summative gradings and the addition of a key overview of findings focussed on a school’s strengths and areas for development.
“We are confident that this approach will offer meaningful insights which will help providers to improve without shining the spotlight on a judgement.”
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles added: “By putting learner progression at the heart of our reforms, we will be supporting every learner to reach their full potential.
“Assessment and accountability are both critical to raising standards – but they each have a very different role to play – assessment is about understanding an individual pupil’s needs and accountability is about how the school’s overall performance is evaluated.
“But, the difference between the two has become blurred, which can have a detrimental effect on teaching and learning.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.