Questions and answers about the Office of Education Standards (OES) inspections of schools and Early Childhood Centres
During the inspection, we shall have a particular interest in how the school is developing and assessing children’s and students’ skills and understanding in English, mathematics, and science. In Early Years Centres, the focus will relate to the four areas of learning specified in the Early Years curriculum framework, namely communication, well-being, exploration, and respect.
A strong provision in these important areas enables children and young people to benefit from the best possible learning at every stage of their education.
In primary and secondary schools, we will also look at the quality of teaching in other subject areas and within each team, we shall ensure that inspection team members with particular subject expertise have a professional dialogue with relevant staff, wherever possible.
We shall use what we learn during our time in school to evaluate the school’s capacity to improve and comment upon the seven performance standards from ‘Successful Schools and Achieving Students 2’.
In providing answers to the key questions, inspectors will use the quality indicators from ‘Successful Schools and Achieving Students 2’ (The Cayman Islands Government, 2018) to support evaluations of the school’s work and provide information on how the school can improve. In doing so, inspectors will take account of the context and nature of the school and children’s and students’ needs.
The Lead Inspector and the inspection team will arrive at the start of the school day on the first day. These timings may vary in Early Years Centre inspections or in the case of smaller schools. The team should be located in a base that has access to the internet and sufficient power points to allow the use of laptop computers. At the beginning or end of the first day (usually Monday), the Lead Inspector may meet staff to introduce members of the inspection team, brief them on the inspection and answer any questions they may have. Attendance at this meeting is voluntary for staff and the inclusion of the meeting is at the discretion of the Principal. OES are aware of the fact that other meetings and extra-curricular provision may militate against the arrangement. As part of the planned activities, the following meetings are required during the inspection but should be organized in advance of Day One to support the efficient running of the inspection.
Meeting/s with groups of learners (usually up to 10 students from each main phase of the school), lasting between 30 minutes and one hour.
Meeting/s with staff responsible for standards in the key subjects (English, mathematics, and science), lasting up to one hour.
Meeting/s with relevant members of the Senior Leadership Team to discuss the school improvement plan and any self-evaluation undertaken. The meeting will be for around one hour.
Meeting with the SENCO to discuss the school’s arrangements for student support and guidance, lasting around one hour.
In private schools, meeting with the Chair of Governors or a representative member/s of the Governing Body. The meeting will be for around one hour.
Inspectors will undertake a range of activities over the course of the week. These are designed to provide the team with information to consider the school’s performance in relation to the standards from ‘Successful Schools and Achieving Students’ and offer opportunities to support the school to improve. The program of activities will be informed by the opening discussion on Day One. It will involve class visits (including the nursery/Reception class, where there is one), meetings with staff, children, and young people, and reading key documentation.
At the end of each day, the inspection team will have a team meeting during which findings from the day will be discussed and reviewed. The Lead Inspector will meet briefly with the Principal at the end of each day to discuss findings and seek further clarification of issues raised.
Once the inspection team is confident that they have sufficient evidence, there will be a final team meeting during which the evaluations are agreed upon. The Lead Inspector and team members will meet with the Principal and SLT on the final day of the inspection, to share judgments and findings using the standards listed above as the agenda for the meeting.
The feedback meeting will usually take place on the final afternoon of the inspection. The Lead Inspector will keep the Principal informed of the exact timing so that the meeting can be confirmed with any Department of Education Services representatives who may wish to attend. We would encourage the Principal to have one or more colleagues at the meeting, typically members of the senior management team.
Inspectors will engage with children, young people, and staff throughout their time in school. The team will meet different groups of children and young people for different purposes.
For example, we may discuss any issues from the inspection questionnaire or listen to how their views are sought and acted upon. Students from Y5 upwards and all staff will be invited to complete an online survey prior to the start of the school-based part of the inspection.
For members of the senior team, engagement can start with attendance at the opening discussion on the first day of the inspection. For all other staff, it will begin at the end of the day on Monday when team members can meet the staff (both teaching and support staff are invited to attend) and answer questions about the inspection process.
Meetings will be arranged with selected members of ‘middle’ management to discuss aspects of school improvement.
Inspectors will spend a large proportion of time in lessons observing teaching and learning. There will be no formal feedback to individual teachers but key generic information arising from lesson observations pertaining to phases or particular year groups will be shared with the Senior Leadership Team on a daily basis.
Parents will be invited to complete an online survey in advance of the inspection.
The results from the survey will be available to the Lead Inspector prior to arrival at the school. The Lead Inspector will also meet with a group of up to 10 parents including the Chair of the PTA/Parent Council. The Lead Inspector will discuss the selection of parents with the Principal on the first day of the inspection.
The Office of Education Standards will provide the school/Centre with a draft copy of the inspection report usually within four weeks following the end of the inspection.
The Principal, the Chair of Governors (for private schools), the Department of Education Services, and the Ministry of Education will be asked to provide any comments or suggested corrections to the draft report within two days a week of receipt. This is a factual check of the report’s content. Members of the Office of Education Standards team will engage with the Department of Education Services about the inspection as part of his/her ongoing liaison activities.
Where necessary, the Director of the Office of Education Standards will discuss with the Principal and the Ministry of Education any issues about the further inspection or other continuing engagement with the school.
The Office of Education Standards shall publish the report following receipt of comments. The Principal, Chair of Governors (private schools only), Ministry of Education, Department of Education Services, and Education Council will receive an electronic copy of the report.
It is the responsibility of the Director of the Office of Education Standards to monitor the quality of the inspection ensuring that judgments that are made are well evidenced, fair, and robust. Each inspection will receive a visit either from the Director or another member of the Office of Education Standards professional team. As part of this process, the quality assurance check may require a brief interview with the Principal/Head of the Centre to receive feedback regarding the inspection process and the conduct of the inspectors in school.
Schools and Centres are requested to send ONLY the following items (electronically if possible) to our Executive Officer (OES) prior to the inspection. The information will be requested within the notification of the inspection letter.
Schools and centers are requested to provide the following information in the inspector base on the first day of the inspection week. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT TO SEND THIS INFORMATION IN ADVANCE.
A ‘thematic visit’ is a short, one day visit, usually completed by just one inspector. The purpose of the visit is to report on how the school has managed to deal with the changes required by the Covid-19 pandemic. The inspectors are particularly reporting on performance standards 5 and 6 from the Successful School and Achieving Students 2 framework, essentially health and safety and leadership in the school. The department will report on all the schools experiences and strategies for managing their schools and will produce a final report summarising all its findings.