The quality of teaching is the biggest influence on how well learners learn, but it is the weakest aspect of provision across most areas of education in Wales, according to the Chief Inspector, Meilyr Rowlands.
The Chief Inspector’s Annual Report is published every January and provides commentary and analysis on the performance of education and training in Wales during the previous academic year.
There’s a focus on staff development and professional learning in the 2015-2016 Annual Report.
The report recommends that leaders should create better opportunities for teachers to develop their professional skills.
Overall, too few schools help staff to make the best of professional learning opportunities and do not routinely evaluate whether these activities result in improvements for learners.
Despite the rather negative headlines, the Chief Inspector does note that there are positive signs of general improvement.
“During this year, most of the schools placed in Estyn monitoring last year improved and did not need further monitoring by inspectors. However, a few schools made insufficient progress, and now require significant improvement. In these schools, improvements in the quality of teaching and the accuracy of teacher assessment have been too slow, resulting in a decline in pupils’ standards. During this year, most of the schools placed in significant improvement last year were removed from further monitoring.”
In primary schools: “This year, teaching and assessment have improved, with just over seven-in-ten schools being good or better. The proportion of primary schools with good or excellent leadership increased slightly to 72%, while the proportion with unsatisfactory leadership reduced to 3% from 7% last year.”
In secondary schools: “In many schools, attendance is improving and rates of persistent absence continue to fall, with most pupils attending well and understanding the importance of regular attendance. Overall, the variation in attendance between schools has decreased and many schools have responded well to the challenge to improve attendance rates. Provision is good or better in many secondary schools inspected this year. This is an improvement on last year, largely due to improvements in care, support and guidance. However, shortcomings remain in the provision for developing skills and in the quality of teaching and assessment.”
Teachers and school leaders will find case studies of excellent practice and discussion prompts within the 157 page report.
Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said:
“This report provides us with valuable evidence about performance in our schools which can help us continue to drive up standards in education. We will study the report in more detail before formally responding in March.”
“I have been clear since coming into post that improving standards of teaching and leadership in our schools is one of my highest priorities, which is why I recently announced a new National Academy for Educational Leadership in Wales.
“We are also transforming initial teacher education, launching new professional standards, and introducing a national approach to professional learning and development.”
Welsh Government’s overarching plan for reforming education for 3-19 year olds, Qualified for Life, will be relaunched in the Spring.