The Office of Education Standards has turned the lens on itself and its approach to evaluating Cayman’s schools.
The OES surveyed 227 teachers, parents and education stakeholders on the current school-inspection framework through an online questionnaire on Survey Monkey between late May and late June.
The results of that survey were included in an OES report released in early August. The report and survey analyse the inspection framework, established under the June 2018 document ‘Successful Schools and Achieving Students’.
Between September 2018 and March 2020, the OES carried out 43 inspections under this framework, with 10 inspections postponed in March due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Survey respondents were largely satisfied with the current framework, with 96% indicating that it had ‘no omissions’. Written responses suggested further provision for students with special needs and evaluation of students’ emotional wellbeing. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, it was also suggested that the framework include reference to home learning.
The OES stated that it intends to review and incorporate the suggestions.
Respondents were split on the current three-week notice period given to schools prior to inspection. A third of those surveyed found the current arrangements suitable, while a quarter indicated they were not suitable. More than half did not respond.
Respondents who were unsatisfied were divided over whether the notice period should be shorter or longer. The OES said it intends to maintain the same notification period for the next round of inspections.
In addition, 22% of respondents suggested the OES improve the way it presents inspection reports. The office now plans to publish one report for each school inspected and a summary section at the beginning of each document to concisely indicate the main findings.
Around a third of respondents indicated they would like to see changes to the frequency of school inspections, currently carried out every two years. The Education Law requires school inspections once at least every four years.
Of those who wanted to change how often inspections take place, more than half wished to see more regular school visits by the inspectorate. The other major block preferred less-frequent inspections, suggesting a three-, four- or five-year cycle.
The decision to revise inspection regularity would be made by the minister of education. The OES indicated that the inspection feedback has been shared with the relevant parties.