organisational capacity

Design and Development of the School Standards Unit

“The success of this work can be seen in the positive feedback received from directors of education about the work of the Unit in the two terms following its establishment and in the Unit’s ability to carry out succession planning.”


What did we do?

We were commissioned to support the design and development of the School Standards Unit (SSU) - one of the Minister’s twenty priorities for reforming education in Wales.  We went about this by engaging a range of key stakeholders from across the education system including civil servants, Directors of Education in local authorities, the Welsh Local Government Association and academics/advisers, to shape the design of the unit.  This evidence was used alongside our experience of setting up similar units in other countries to tailor the design of the SSU to the context in Wales.  We helped train the original members of the unit and build their skills and core behaviours.  This involved coaching and training on the use of data, analysis and benchmarking to challenge the performance of schools and local authorities as well as how to ‘challenge’ effectively via influencing skills.  We also drew on our extensive experience of designing accountability frameworks to support the development of the first secondary school banding model and the routine of regional stocktakes.

What difference did we make?

The School Standards Unit was the first of the Minister’s 20 priorities to be delivered on time.  Feedback gathered from Directors of Education shows that the SSU are ‘living’ their behaviours and carrying out their role effectively.  The secondary school banding model has been successfully implemented and is being perceived by the education system as significantly increasing the challenge to raise standards.

What did the client say about our work?

“Isos carried out a range of support, facilitation and advisory services to assist the Welsh Government with the establishment of the SSU. All the services were delivered on or in front of time, to an agreed specification and to a very high standard. Isos were transparent in all their dealings with Welsh Government and its external stakeholders. Isos were consistent in their training and coaching of the SSU staff. In all their dealings with the SSU they clearly modelled the behaviours that the Unit staff would need to adopt. Isos staff provided constructive feedback to SSU officials and were available on line and over the phone for further coaching and capacity building. The success of this work can be seen in the positive feedback received from directors of education about the work of the Unit in the two terms following its establishment and in the Unit’s ability to carry out succession planning.”