The NASUWT remains committed to protecting members from unnecessary bureaucracy and workload.

Inspection is often cited as a major cause of workload, but in many cases the workload is generated at school level by unreasonable employers. The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) makes it clear that teachers and school leaders are not expected to undertake additional work of any sort in preparation for inspection.

In conjunction with the Pay and Workload Agreement, ETI has provided important clarification on what teachers and schools can expect during inspection in their document Key Information About Inspection (pdf).

Teacher planning

In relation to teacher planning, ETI has stated that they:

  • do not require daily/individual lesson plans specifically for inspection;
  • do not require planning in any particular format;
  • look at requested samples of long- and medium-term planning for the area(s) under focus. ETI has not asked to see all of a teacher’s planning;
  • look at the effectiveness of planning in whatever form it takes.

Marking and assessment

In relation to marking and assessment ETI has stated that they:

  • do not look for a particular style, format or frequency of marking, assessment or feedback to children and young people;
  • look at the impact of a school’s policy on marking and assessment on the children and young people’s learning and progress.

Pupil, parents and staff questionnaires

It is very important that teachers fill in the staff questionnaires honestly. If a teacher genuinely believes that there are problems with the leadership of the school, they must record this in the questionnaire. This should include issues relation to being directed to work beyond contractual hours and health and safety concerns, including class sizes in practical subjects. ETI treats responses in confidence and does not identify individuals (unless there is a child protection or safeguarding issue to be taken forward by the school).

ETI has stated that they may:

  • may identify lines of inquiry from themes or collective views emerging from the responses;
  • will summarise responses in the published inspection report.

Children's and young people’s work

ETI will ask to see samples of the children and young people’s work this may take place during lessons or as agreed with the school. There is no requirement to leave out the work of every child for an inspector.

Inspection and workload

If an employer is directing a teacher to prepare work for an inspection that takes them outside their directed hours, please contact the NASUWT.

Inspection model

The ETI adopted a new model of inspection in Northern Ireland in 2017. The new format is designed to be more proportionate to risk with more frequent, shorter inspection activities where that is appropriate. The ETI aims to visit schools (outside the full inspection or follow-up process) approximately every three years either through a Sustaining Improvement Inspection (SII) or Monitoring Inspection (MIn). This is in addition to the incidental district visits undertaken by district inspectors.

Sustaining Improvement Inspections (SII) are aimed at schools which have been previously evaluated as having a high level of capacity or the capacity to identify and bring about improvement. To maintain their SII status, schools can expect an SII inspection three years after their last inspection. However, there may be occasions when ETI deem a different model of inspection to be more appropriate. The notice period for an SII is 48 hours.

Monitoring Inspections (MIn) are described by ETI as being more proportionate to risk and therefore allow ETI to focus its available resources where they will have the most effective impact. Schools not having a full inspection, follow-up inspection or SII will have a MIn that will determine the type and timescale of the next inspection activity. The notice period for a MIn is 48 hours.

Full Inspections will take place over four days for post-primary, youth centres, Education Other Than At School (EOTAS), and special schools and over two, three or four days for primary schools. The school will have a pre-inspection visit conducted by a reporting inspector. The notice period for a Full Inspection is two weeks. There are no changes to the follow-up inspection process.

Follow-up processes

For schools evaluated as having either a high level of capacity for sustained improvement or the capacity to identify and bring about improvement in the interest of all learners, there will typically be an SII around three years after the original inspection.

For other schools, the ETI will engage in a formal follow-up inspection process. For schools evaluated as needing to address important areas for improvement, this will take place within 12 to 18 months; the follow-up will take place within a two-year time frame for those schools evaluated as needing to address urgently significant areas for improvement.

Complaints procedure

If a difficulty arises before/during/after an inspection or during a visit by an inspector, concerns can be raised in a number of ways.

Informal complaint stage

In most circumstances, an issue should be resolved at an informal level. If you wish to express a concern about a difficulty which has arisen during an inspection or a visit by an inspector, the concern, in the first instance, should be raised with the reporting inspector (RI), or the inspector if it is an inspection visit, as soon as possible. In the unlikely event that the complaint is about the RI, then this should be raised with the deputy reporting inspector (DRI) in the first instance. The RI/DRI, working with the inspector if appropriate, will work to resolve the matter as soon as possible, preferably during or immediately following the inspection.

Formal written complaint – Stage 1

If it has not been possible to resolve your concerns informally, you may decide to make a formal complaint. A formal complaint can be made in writing, at any stage during an inspection, or up to 12 weeks from the date of the visit or the final formal oral report-back at the conclusion of the inspection.

The complaint should be sent to: Complaints Inspection Services Team, Rathgael House, 43 Balloo Road, Bangor, Co Down BT19 7PR or emailed to [email protected].

Formal written complaint – Stage 2 Internal Review

If, after Stage 1 of the procedure has been completed, you are unhappy with the way in which your complaint has been investigated, or you feel the outcome is unfair, the next step is to ask the ETI to review the way in which your complaint was investigated and dealt with. You should write again to Complaints at Inspection Services Team to ask for your complaint to be reviewed, within 20 days from the date of the ETI response relating to Stage 1. The ETI will acknowledge your letter upon receipt. Your letter should: outline clearly the reasons why you are not satisfied with the investigation and/or outcome; provide any supporting evidence you feel appropriate; and tell ETI what you would like them to do.

The Northern Ireland Ombudsman

If you are still not satisfied after the completion of the complaint procedure, you can refer the complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) within six months. The NIPSO is entirely independent and can investigate complaints of maladministration against a public service provider. The NIPSO will expect complainants to have exhausted the ETI’s complaints procedure. Information on referring a complaint to the NIPSO is available on its website or you can email [email protected].