Update for schools regarding inspection during recovery period

Date published: 03 June 2020

To support the vital efforts of schools and providers during these challenging times, all inspections were paused on 18 March 2020 until further notice. During this period, in the schools sector, ETI inspectors have been working in partnership with CCMS, CSSC and EA officers to support individual schools as designated Covid-19 link officers. In addition, ETI District Inspectors have provided advice and support across pre-school, youth provision, and further education and training.

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When schools and providers re-open to all children and young people, inspections will continue to be paused for a period of time (subject to review).  We will continue to review and monitor the situation in line with input from the Minister, Department of Education (DE), other commissioning departments and agencies, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the Executive.  During this period, ETI will continue to work with schools, providers and the wider education and training system to provide advice and support. 

The ETI’s approach towards continuing to support schools and providers while inspection is paused, and as we move through recovery towards a resumption of inspection, will be highly responsive to the conditions being experienced by them and will be based on three guiding principles:

  • Promoting improvement in the best interest of children and young people is the uniting purpose of improvement and inspection, putting them at the centre, especially their health, mental wellbeing and resilience.
  • Understanding that recovery and renewal is a shared context for both schools, providers and inspection.
  • Taking account of the context of the school and providers, including socio-economic factors, funding, community and pastoral needs, and multi-agency support services accessed.

Ahead of any resumption of inspection, ETI will engage with reference groups including leaders, teachers’ unions and professional associations to discuss when inspection will resume and what the areas of focus will be in line with the guiding principles outlined above.  A pragmatic approach will be taken towards Quality Improvement Plans and School Development Plans especially as organisations develop their own recovery action plans. 

The best interest of children and young people will remain at the heart of what we do, and what we inspect and report on.  ETI will also engage directly with all schools and providers to discuss the inspection process.

We recognise the importance of the role of the District Inspector in complementing and supporting, under normal circumstances, the scheduled programme of inspections.  We value the opportunity for District Inspectors to continue to engage professionally with their district schools/providers, outside the context of formal inspection and will continue not to write or publish inspection reports on schools/providers following a District Inspector visit/contact (which may be conducted by telephone or video conference in the current context).

District Inspector visits/contact, enable the District Inspectors to gain a detailed knowledge and understanding of the context of schools/providers in their locality; this is particularly important given the challenges that schools/providers are facing owing to the Covid-19 crisis and also enables ETI to provide continuing advice to government on responsive policy and practice.  When schools and providers re-open to all children and young people, the ETI will assist by identifying and sharing the more effective practices and promoting professional co-operation and collaboration leading to improvement.  While the design and pedagogy of online and blended learning and teaching differs in important ways from face-to-face, the indicators of quality are fundamentally the same.

Should any school’s or provider’s staff wish to discuss their approaches to remote learning with a District Inspector in the interim, please contact the Inspection Services Team on 028 9127 9726 or by emailing eti@education-ni.gov.uk.

We are all in it together, with a common sense of purpose, and welcome the opportunity to support schools/providers by sharing effective practice and providing advice and guidance in any way we can.

We will also continue to provide further information on our website, which you can access at https://www.etini.gov.uk as well as on ETI’s social media.  Follow us on Twitter @ETI_news or Facebook @ETInews for regular updates.


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