Two (Heads) are better than one

Wales Audit Office

Here, our guest blogger Mark Campion, HMI Estyn, explains how Estyn and the Auditor General for Wales together examined school improvement services delivered through regional consortia in Wales and the benefits gained from working in collaboration.  

With a common interest in how the four regional education consortia were developing, Estyn inspectors and Wales Audit Office staff worked together to share hypotheses, draw on each others’ expertise, and work more efficiently by pooling resources.

How did Estyn and the Wales Audit Office work together on this report? Video transcription

We planned our fieldwork visits together, spending four days as a combined team in each of the four regions.  While each organisation had particular areas of interest, we were mutually concerned about the leadership and management of the consortia.  We therefore held joint interviews with senior staff and elected members during the visits.  During the week we held joint team meetings…

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The power of working together: Why audit and inspection bodies in Wales need to connect more

Mandy Townsend

Hi. I’m Mandy Townsend and I’ve got an exciting new job I want to tell you about.

Working as the new Inspection Wales Programme Manager doesn’t sound very stimulating does it? But, believe me, it’s a really great role which is designed to help people in Wales.

How do I do that?

I bring together the main bodies in Wales that exist to help make sure public services are delivering what they should be. I help them work together, share information and coordinate their work as efficiently and effectively as possible. This work is called the ‘Inspection Wales Programme.’

The 4 audit and inspection bodies I’m talking about are the Wales Audit Office (led by the Auditor General for Wales), the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), Estyn (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales) and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).

Most of our work is very separate because each body has different purposes and different laws which govern what they have to do. But some of our work can have a common focus. For instance, we all have a role to play in checking particular public services; and there are other areas where 2 or 3 of us share responsibility in various combinations for scrutinising aspects of services.

While we know how our work relates to each other, most people don’t. So, we’ve written a short paper to explain it.

Personally, I like this visual summary:

Graphic showing the 4 inspection bodies linked together

You can see the linkages between the work of the 4 audit and inspection bodies and it means that joint working helps us all be more efficient.

Why?

There are many reasons for this – avoiding duplication of effort is one of them. It’s not just public bodies that don’t want us examining the same thing twice, importantly we don’t want to either, it is a waste of our time and energy. We could be using our limited resources to do something else.

But, the main reason, for me at least, is that when we work together we are more powerful. If we all contribute to the same thing and report (good or bad) on it, people take notice, and things change.

That’s why we want to work together as well as we can. After all, the reason we all come to work is to improve services for the people of Wales – to make things better.  If the Inspection Wales Programme can help our partners do this more efficiently, then it’s a success.

And that is why my job is exciting.

About the Author:
Mandy Townsend on holiday sat in a boatMandy Townsend started work as the Inspection Wales Programme Manager in February 2015 and is seconded to the part-time role for two years.
Mandy, who is based in North Wales, spends the rest of her week in her original role as a Health Performance Auditor at the Wales Audit Office.