Issues raised by school inspections clarified

Joan Lemaire
Senior Vice President

Focus of cyclical and random inspections explained

The Department has clarified a number of concerns regarding NESA inspections following meetings with Federation.

The Department’s answers to nine questions posed by the Federation clarify the expectations around the focus and scope of “cyclical inspections” conducted by NESA of around 40 schools per year and “random inspections” of 18 schools in terms 2 and 3.

Importantly, the Department, like NESA, notes that “the focus of the inspections is on the Department’s compliance with registration requirements as a system”. Where compliance issues are identified the Department states it “will respond at a system level to any identified issues and make changes to procedures, practices and processes where necessary and provide schools with appropriate support”.

Issues have been raised about workload in gathering materials and “evidence” in relation to inspections. Both NESA and the Department provide extensive information regarding all registration requirements.

The confusion around what is expected in relation to the cyclical and random inspections has been addressed by NESA in a letter to Federation.

In relation to cyclical inspections, the Department states that it “does not require schools to prepare evidence for all the matters listed in the NESA Manual or the Department’s “System Registration Evidence Guide”. Schools are “provided with a customised email outlining areas they need to show as evidence for their particular NESA inspection”.

Significant concerns have been raised that schools believe they need to prepare for “random inspections” because only four days’ notice is given about these inspections. Some schools are preparing for these inspections by addressing all of the issues in the Department’s guidance material. This is not necessary. The matters which will be considered in random inspections of schools for Term 2 are described as Strand A and are:

  • “safe and supportive environment — child protection, including evidence that all staff who have direct contact with students are informed annually of their reporting obligations and staff engaged in child-related work at the school have a working with children check clearance; and
  • safe and supportive environment — student welfare, with particular regard to policies and safe procedures for anti-bullying or policies and procedures for raising and responding to complaints and grievances from students and/or parents/caregivers”.

In Term 3, nine schools will be inspected in relation to Strand B requirements, which deal with quality of teaching and learning.

NESA is consulting the Federation in relation to these requirements and more information will be provided early in Term 3.

The Department states it “does not expect schools to prepare for random inspections in Strand A or Strand B”. It notes that the expectation from NESA that any evidence for the inspection would “be material that is available on a day-to-day basis at the school and consistent with the systems, policies, procedures.”

To read Federation’s letter to the Department and the response to the questions asked see the digital edition of the journal.

The Federation is continuing discussions with NESA regarding revisions to its manual, which sets out registration requirements and perusing issues and concerns raised by members. Federation Council and other meetings will monitor the progress of these discussions.

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