Part IV of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 (LSA 2000) sets out the statutory framework for inspection of post-16 education and training in Wales.
Inspections are carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Education and Training in Wales under the supervision of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales ('the Chief Inspector').
The Chief Inspector is appointed under section 19 of the Education Act 2005 in relation to inspections of schools. Further education is brought within the remit of the Chief Inspector by section 75 of LSA 2000.
The role of the Chief Inspector in relation to further education is set out in sections 75 to 87 of LSA 2000.
The Chief Inspector must inspect the education and training within his or her remit and report to the Welsh Ministers on:
- the quality of the education and training,
- the standard being achieved by those receiving the education and training, and
- whether the financial resources being made available to education or training providers are being used efficiently.
The Chief Inspector is also required to advise the Welsh Ministers as needed on matters relating to the education and training within the Chief Inspector’s remit.
The Inspection of Education and Training (Wales) Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/2501) specify that inspections of individual institutions are to take place in the first instance within six years of the institution being established. In all other cases inspections are to take place at least once within the six year period beginning on 1 September 2014 and ending on 31 August 2020, and at least once within every subsequent six year period. A copy of any report on an inspection of a specific institution must be sent to the institution in question and published.
The Welsh Ministers can also request, under section 83 of LSA 2000, that the Chief Inspector carries out inspections on:
- the quality and availability of a specified description of education or training, in a specified area in Wales, for persons who are aged 15 or over,
- the standards achieved by those receiving that education or training, and
- whether the financial resources made available to those providing that education and training are managed efficiently and used in a way which provides value for money.
Further, the Welsh Ministers can direct the Chief Inspector to carry out a survey of Wales, or of a specified area within Wales, in relation to specific policy matters with regard to education or training for persons aged 16 or over. They can also direct the Chief Inspector to carry out a comparative study of the provision made outside Wales in respect of specified matters relating to such education or training.
In addition to any action the Chief Inspector is obliged to carry out, the Chief Inspector also has a power to carry out inspections and produce reports without being required to do so.
The Chief Inspector is required to submit an annual report to the Welsh Ministers under section 21 of the Education Act 2005. In accordance with section 86 of LSA 2000, this report must include an account of the exercise of the Chief Inspector’s functions in relation to post-16 education in Wales.
Right of entry/inspection
Section 79 of LSA 2000 provides that, when conducting an inspection, the Chief Inspector has a right of entry to premises on which the education or training being inspected is provided and a right to inspect and take copies of records. This includes a right to access and inspect any computer used in connection with the records. Section 79(5) of LSA 2000 makes it a criminal offence to wilfully obstruct the Chief Inspector in the exercise of functions in relation to an inspection under Part IV of that Act.
Where an institution is inspected under section 77 of LSA 2000 and the Chief Inspector publishes a report, the provider of education or training that is the subject of the report must prepare a written statement of the action it proposes to take in light of the report and the period within which the action will be taken.
Where an area inspection is carried out under section 83 of LSA 2000 and the Chief Inspector publishes a report, the Welsh Ministers can direct a local authority whose area is partly or wholly in the area covered by the report to prepare a written statement of the action it proposes to take in light of the report and the period within which the action will be taken.
Any action plan produced by a provider or a local authority must be published within 20 working days of the date on which the body concerned received a copy of the inspection report (see regulation 4 of the Inspection of Education and Training (Wales) Regulations 2001). A copy must be sent to the Welsh Ministers, the Chief Inspector and any body providing financial support in respect of the education or training inspected.