I'm back at home tonight after completing this term's round of SAIPs across the country. We set up Self Assessment & Improvement Panels a couple of years ago. Each term, three WEA regions in the north, centre and south of England meet with me to review progress with improvement actions, identify issues and share approaches to priority areas of work. The meetings involve the regional directors and the regional nominees in each case and me.
It's always a pretty tiring trip around the country but it is really valuable to me in finding out what's working and what's not, trying out ideas and hearing about problems (some of which I've created!).
It's good to have a smallish meeting of seven and, with the development of WEAMIS reporting, we can use data to explore the evidence behind some of the issues or raise questions that might be harder to find otherwise. In today's meeting in Leeds we were joined by two regional committee officers as observers.
Each round is based on an agenda set by the Education Board and each round is summarised as an in-year review report to AMT.
This week's visits (on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in London, Birmingham and Leeds) have been very encouraging. I really liked one comment that the data we use now 'takes us where it hurts'. I was also fascinated by the range of ways regions are using the Educational Strands with colleagues to develop curriculum planning within their local and regional circumstances.
Of course, inevitably some of the discussion turned to the imminent visit of colleagues from Ofsted. I was delighted with the way adjacent regions are working together to manage another very complex inspection - and their insistence that I should relax. As if!
Nevertheless, whilst they may not quite fit the QIA vision of peer review (and how hard has it been for the WEA to get into those in the FE landscape of diverse providers and consultants!), I think there's a lot to be proud about the way these termly meetings have driven self assessment and improvement in the WEA and I thank the colleagues involved this week for their hospitality.