Estyn: what do they do?


Estyn inspect education and training in Wales. The word Estyn means ‘to reach out’ and ‘to stretch’ in Welsh. 

As a Crown body, Estyn was established under the Education Act 1992. It is independent of the Welsh Parliament but funded by the Welsh Government (under Section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 1998).

As well as inspecting, Estyn advise and guide the Welsh Government on quality and standards of education and training. 

It does this through thematic reports, which are commissioned by the Minister for Education and cover a range of sectors and themes. The reports are intended to encourage wider thinking and share effective practice.

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In this support article, we provide an overview of what Estyn does, its current inspection arrangements and link to examples of recent Estyn school reports.

Estyn: what are the current inspection arrangements?

Estyn explains it is preparing to pilot new inspection arrangements for maintained schools and pupil referral units during 2021-2022.

These were originally planned for the autumn term but delayed after extending the suspension of its core inspection programme.

It will be removing summative gradings to allow it to focus more on strengths and promote improvement, and it will be making a few changes to the inspection areas such as focusing more on the school’s culture of safeguarding.

From spring 2022 Estyn will pilot these arrangements in a small sample of schools and PRUs.

The inspection areas

Estyn will keep the five inspection areas but renamed the first inspection area ‘Standards’ as ‘Learning’.

  1. Learning 
  2. Wellbeing and attitudes to learning
  3. Teaching and learning experiences
  4. Care, support and guidance
  5. Leadership and management

Inspection report

Removing summative judgements will shift the focus to the evaluations within the narrative of the report and will have a deeper focus on a school’s strengths and areas for development.

The notice period

In response to feedback, Estyn have reduced the notice period from 15 to 10 working days.

Follow-up after inspections

There is no change to the statutory categories of special measures and significant improvement.

For independent schools Estyn will continue annual monitoring visits to follow up with those schools that don’t meet the Independent School Standards regulations.

Key documents for inspections

Estyn: inspection myths busted

Estyn provides answers to a range of inspection myths. These include:

  • Teachers don’t have to write a detailed lesson plan for every lesson to give to the inspector.
  • There isn‘t an ‘Estyn approved’ lesson structure or pattern. For example, for a lesson to be judged as effective, teachers don’t need to set out the learning objective formally at the beginning of a lesson and finish with a plenary.
  • Schools don’t need to create opportunities for pupils to show their skills in ICT, numeracy, literacy or Welsh in every lesson.
  • Teachers don’t receive a grade for each lesson that the inspectors observe, but they will have the opportunity to have professional conversations with inspectors.
  • Judgements are not made purely on performance data prior to the inspection week.
  • A school’s categorisation won’t dictate its judgements but will be considered by the inspection team along with other evidence.
  • An aspect of a school’s provision doesn’t need to be unique to achieve an ‘Excellent’ judgement.
  • Inspectors don’t keep their findings to themselves. They will share them with senior leaders and the nominee before the end of the inspection.

What do Estyn school reports look like?

The latest Estyn school reports can be found here.

Plasnewydd Primary School in Maesteg had a monitoring report in October 2021. It includes sections on the outcome of the visit and progress since the last inspection. It explains:

“Plasnewydd Primary School is judged to have made sufficient progress in relation to the recommendations following the most recent core inspection. As a result, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales is removing the school from the list of schools requiring special measures.”

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