New Start for School Inspection Needed Says Committee

Synopsis: The Education Committee published its report on the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) and the school improvement process.

Session: 2013/2014

Date: 17 June 2014

Reference: EDUC 04/13/14

The Education Committee today published its report on the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) and the school improvement process.

The Committee inquiry was launched in response to proposals to increase the powers of the ETI and following concerns that some schools serving deprived areas or in particular sectors were not improving. 

Committee Chairperson Mervyn Storey MLA said: “The Committee began this inquiry over six months ago and since then we have spoken to and gathered evidence from over 60 organisations and individuals. We believe that the end result is a radical report which contains a number of innovative proposals for school improvement.

“One of our key recommendations is for much more support to help struggling schools improve. We are also calling for greater and more effective cooperation and communication between the inspectors, the schools they inspect and most importantly of all, parents.

Mr Storey continued: “The Committee is concerned about the current format of inspection reports. One word evaluations of schools clearly do not provide a full picture of a school’s overall performance. As well as highlighting where improvement is required, it is crucial that the inspection process properly recognises the areas were schools are performing well and adding value.

“In order to reboot key relationships and draw a line under the past, we are also proposing that the ETI be renamed the Northern Ireland Education Improvement Service (NIEIS) and that this organisation be heavily focused on improvement through inspection.  Most Members of the Committee also feel that the reformed NIEIS should be made statutorily independent of the Department for Education.”

Mr. Storey concluded: “Most importantly of all, we are very keen to ensure that there is a new role for parents in the school improvement process. Parental engagement strengthens the effectiveness of education generally and is essential for the school improvement process.” 

ENDS

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