Here, our guest blogger Mark Campion, HMI Estyn, explains how Estyn and the Auditor General for Wales together examined school improvement services delivered through regional consortia in Wales and the benefits gained from working in collaboration.
With a common interest in how the four regional education consortia were developing, Estyn inspectors and Wales Audit Office staff worked together to share hypotheses, draw on each others’ expertise, and work more efficiently by pooling resources.
We planned our fieldwork visits together, spending four days as a combined team in each of the four regions. While each organisation had particular areas of interest, we were mutually concerned about the leadership and management of the consortia. We therefore held joint interviews with senior staff and elected members during the visits. During the week we held joint team meetings to discuss and refine our emerging conclusions. At the end of each visit we jointly fed back our initial findings to senior staff in each consortium.
Using shared technology through a single interface, Estyn’s Virtual Inspection Room (VIR), enabled the regional consortia to share evidence with us for our work.
Once we’d considered all the evidence and completed all the visits, members of Estyn and WAO teams met together to discuss what we thought the main headline messages should be and agree on the key points to present in our reports.
We wrote our reports separately and then shared various draft versions as they went through our respective editing processes. We agreed a common publication date, issued a joint press release and liaised over communications with the media.
I believe that both reports are stronger because of the joint working between Estyn and WAO. This ultimately helps the regional consortia, local authorities and Welsh Governement as they further develop their education improvement strategies. It also helped us both too, not only by strenghtening the fieldwork but also strengthening the relationship between our two organisations.
To read the reports please visit:
Mark Campion has been an HMI at Estyn for three years. He is Estyn’s Lead Officer for Local Authorities and he also has experience with secondary education. Prior to his role at Estyn he worked in a local authority undertaking various roles in supporting the education of children and young people.