Overhaul of school assessment in Wales

The National Categorisation system – the process by which schools are ranked either Green, Yellow, Amber or Red to determine how much support they require – will be scrapped, and instead replaced with a new self-evaluation system.

The Welsh Government has said this new system will allow good practice to be shared, and failures to be dealt with swiftly.

Parents will also be able to access more up-to-date and detailed information, while each school’s specific improvement priorities and development plan will be made publicly available.

The number of times each school is inspected by Estyn will also increase from September 2024.

The Welsh Government has said the new framework is intended to ensure that the wellbeing and development of pupils is distinctly separated from school assessment.

Education and Welsh language minister Jeremy Miles “By putting learner progression at the heart of our reforms, we will be supporting every learner to reach their full potential.

“Assessment and accountability are both critical to raising standards – but they each have a very different role to play – assessment is about understanding an individual pupil’s needs and accountability is about how the school’s overall performance is evaluated. But, the difference between the two has become blurred, which can have a detrimental effect on teaching and learning.”

He continued: “By bringing national categorisation to an end we are doing two things. First, replacing it with a framework which sets out clear expectations so that every pupil is supported properly.

“And second, providing better, and more up to date information on each school’s improvement plans, so that the focus is on learner progression rather than on headline descriptions.

“I’m confident that this framework will encourage more collaboration between schools, which will deliver high standards and aspirations for all our learners and support their wellbeing.”

Owen Evans, chief inspector at Estyn, welcomed the new guidance.

“The move away from schools being evaluated with a disproportionate emphasis on a small number of performance measures is reflected in our new approach to inspection for schools and pupil referral units,” he said.

He added Estyn would “continue to work rigorously to ensure all learners get the education and training they deserve – monitoring schools through follow up if standards aren’t high enough”.

“We have made a number of changes to our inspection approach in schools and pupil referral units, including the presentation of inspection reports which will see the removal of summative gradings and the addition of a key overview of findings focussed on a school’s strengths and areas for development.

“We are confident that this approach will offer meaningful insights which will help providers to improve without shining the spotlight on a judgement.”

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