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Inspection is key to success

Published 28/09/2012

I, AS chief inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI), wish to respond to your article regarding the inspections of two schools (News, September 25).

In the case of St Bronagh's Primary School in Rostrevor, the Ombudsman investigated a complaint by one member of staff relating to the June 2010 inspection report. The governors and employing authority of the school had fully accepted the inspection findings.

All the information was available when the inspection judgments were made at the post-inspection conference. The contemporaneous inspection evidence notes were not retained once this meeting had taken place, in line with the retention and disposal schedule in place at the time.

This schedule had been agreed with the Public Records Office. The Ombudsman found that, as these notes were no longer available to investigate the complaint, the report should be withdrawn.

The Ombudsman did not challenge the inspection findings. He did not recommend changing inspection; he recommended changing our record-keeping which in fact we had already done. The June 2010 report has been superseded by the June 2011 inspection report. In relation to Crumlin Integrated College, the Information Commissioner did not pursue the matter further than recommending that we retain information for longer. Information is now retained for seven years.

In relation to the very serious claim that trade unions and inspectors had inappropriately discussed inspection findings, the ETI refutes this entirely.

Inspection remains at the centre of raising standards for all learners; it ensures best practice is highlighted and poor provision identified and improved.

In 2011-12, there was improvement at the follow-up inspection in 81% of instances. We continuously review our inspection procedures as part of our normal processes.

NOELLE BUICK

Education and Training Inspectorate

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