- Early childhood care and education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Primary and secondary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Tertiary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
The Education Act 1996 (as amended in 2020) and Education Act 2002 (as amended in 2021), which govern education from early childhood to secondary level in Wales (and England), define an “independent school” as “any school at which full-time education is provided for five or more pupils of compulsory school age…and which is not a school maintained by a local authority or a special school not so maintained”. In the Independent Schools Registration and Operation Guidance 2014 published by the Welsh government, a “proprietor” in relation to an independent school is defined as “the person or persons responsible for the day to day management of the school. The proprietor can be an individual person, or a group of persons sitting on a governing body, trustees or directors of a company”, while the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003 refer to the “proprietor” as either an “individual” or “corporation”. According to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (applicable to both England and Wales), a school maintained by local education authorities (“maintained school”) can be a community school, foundation school, voluntary school (comprising of voluntary aided schools and voluntary controlled schools), community special school, and a foundation special school. A “foundation” in relation to a foundation or voluntary school is defined as “any body of persons (whether incorporated or not but excluding the governing body) which holds land on trust for the purposes of the school or a foundation body”. A “foundation body” is then defined as “a body corporate established under this section to perform, in relation to three or more schools each of which is either a foundation or a voluntary school, the following functions, namely (i) to hold property of those schools for the purposes of the schools, and (ii) to appoint foundation governors for those schools”. The National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare 2016 state that day care may be provided by an “organization” which includes a “body corporate or an unincorporates association”. At the higher education level, the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015 defines a “governing body” as “any person responsible for the provider’s management”, while the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (applicable to both England and Wales) additionally refers to a designated higher education institution “conducted by a company”.
Most education (95.2% of all schools and 97.8% of total enrolments in 2019) at primary (ages 5 – 11) and secondary (ages 12 – 18) level in Wales is provided by the Welsh government through local authorities. Education is free from the ages of 5 – 18 and compulsory from the ages of 5 – 16. Almost all schools are mixed sex (all primary schools and most secondary schools), while a small proportion of primary and secondary schools are Welsh-medium schools (with Welsh-English bilingual education being the norm in some areas).
In Wales (as in England), state schools (as understood by the government) are referred to as ‘maintained schools’ and comprise of community schools, voluntary aided schools, voluntary controlled schools, and foundation schools. Only community schools are owned and run by local authorities, with other maintained schools owned by non-state actors and ‘maintained’/funded by local authorities (see non-state education provision). While community schools deliver statutory religious education and the daily act of collective worship (similar to all maintained schools), they may not have a distinctive religious character (in contrast to other maintained schools which are mostly faith schools). Community schools receive full funding by local authorities for both revenue and capital expenditure.
Non-state managed, state schools
No information was found.
Non-state funded, state schools
No information was found.
Independent, non-state schools
Independent schools are fee-paying non-state schools which receive no funding from local authorities or the Welsh government. Besides charging fees for attendance, these schools may also be funded by individuals, companies, or charitable institutions. They are not required to follow the national curriculum. According to the 2020 Annual School Census published by the Independent Schools Council (ISC), most independent schools (73%) in the United Kingdom (including Wales) are registered as charities and must abide with legislation that applies to charities. Their charitable status also makes them eligible to benefit from tax concessions. Approximately half (48.6%) of all independent schools in Wales cater wholly or partially to students with special educational needs. Some independent schools also have a specific religious character. In 2019, independent schools accounted for 4.8% of all schools in Wales, covering 2.2% of total enrolments.
State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools
In Wales, government-aided schools are part of the maintained school system and include voluntary aided schools, voluntary controlled schools, and foundation schools (most of which have religious character). The religious character of the school is reflected in the religious education curriculum, admission criteria and staffing policies of the schools. According to the Faith in Education report published by the Welsh government in 2011, approximately 14% of all maintained schools in Wales are faith schools, with most associated with either the Roman Catholic Church or the Church in Wales (Anglican). All maintained schools are registered as charities and do not charge tuition fees.
Voluntary aided schools are owned by school trustees or the founding body of the school (such as the Church in Wales, Catholic Church, or other faiths). They receive full funding by local authorities for revenue expenditure, with expectation that the school and/or faith community will contribute to a small proportion (around 15%) of their capital costs. Voluntary aided schools have authority over their admissions and employ their own staff. These schools may choose to either follow the national syllabus or an appropriate denominational/religious syllabus.
Voluntary controlled schools are (similar to voluntary aided schools) owned by school trustees or the founding body of the school (such as the Church in Wales or the Roman Catholic Church), but receive all their funding (including capital costs) from local authorities. Local authorities also regulate the admissions in these schools and employ their teachers. Voluntary controlled schools may follow a religious syllabus if parents request it, but otherwise follow the national curriculum with input from the Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACRE) similar to community schools.
Foundation schools are owned by the school governing body or trustees of the school and funded similar to community schools and voluntary controlled schools (with all their revenue and capital costs covered by local authorities). The governing body of foundation schools has authority over their admissions and employs their own staff. Trust schools are a form of foundation school.
Contracted, non-state schools
No information was found.
In Wales, parents have the right to educate their children at home without seeking government approval. Under the Education Act 1996, there is a duty to ensure their child receives “efficient full-time education” which may be provided “either by regular attendance at school or otherwise”, provided the education received is “suitable”. They are not required to follow the national curriculum or be in possession of any teaching qualifications to home-school their child.
During the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, all schools were required to adapt their learning to prevent the spread of the virus, which mainly included the use digital learning platforms for the majority studying at home. They were then encouraged to develop a blend of in-school and out-of-school learning through the blended learning guidance. The Minister of Education committed to support digitally excluded learners in maintained schools through the Stay Safe, Stay Learning initiative, in which 3 million GDP was invested. Nearly all mainstream independent schools remained open during the lockdown, either physically or through online classes.
Market contracted (Voucher schools)
No information was found.
In Wales, it is illegal to operate an unregistered school, with any school found to be unregistered removed from the register and required to be closed. Estyn may inspect an establishment if it believes it is operating as an unregistered independent school, in which case it will assess whether the establishment meets the definition of an independent school, which will include assessing whether or not it provides all or substantially all of child’s education, taking into account any other forms of education that might be provided from other sources. According to the Independent Schools Registration and Operation Guidance 2014, if an educational establishment falls outside the official definition of an independent school, it is not required to register with the Welsh government. However, local authorities will need to be satisfied that the education received is “suitable” to the child’s age, ability and aptitude as defined by law. Educational establishments that provide education solely for students over the age of 16 are not required to be registered with the Welsh government, as these establishments fall outside the scope of the definition of an independent school.
While Wales shares several structural features and much of their legal framework with England (reflecting their common political history), education policy has developed since devolution (Government of Wales Act 1998) to meet Welsh needs and priorities and reflect its cultural identity.
The Minister for Education (within the Welsh government) is responsible for the governance and regulation of all education (state and non-state) in Wales. The Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) is responsible for the administration and monitoring of day care and childminding services at the early childhood care and education level (state and non-state), while Estyn, the office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales, is responsible for inspecting pre-schools and schools at primary/secondary level (maintained and independent). Religious education in maintained schools (including voluntary and foundation schools) is determined by the Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACRE). Higher education is monitored and funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), which the Welsh government plans to replace with the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER) (confirmed in 2019). The CTER will be an independent government-sponsored body which will oversee all post-compulsory education and training in Wales.
All independent schools are members of the Welsh Independent Schools Council (WISC), which is the umbrella body representing independent schools in Wales. The WICS is affiliated with the Independent Schools Council (ISC), which represents independent schools in the United Kingdom.
Vision: In Wales, faith organizations have a long tradition of providing education and are viewed as playing an “invaluable role as first-class providers within the system” that “help to make an increasingly diverse Wales”. In the Faith in Education document published by the Welsh government, state and faith communities are considered “partners in the provision of education” through a dual system, offering parents an “additional choice when it comes to high-quality school provision”. This principle is reflected in the significant funding and promotion of voluntary and foundation schools with religious character, which are considered “at the heart of the state school system in Wales”. Independent schools are not aided by the government and enjoy additional freedom compared to the maintained school system in terms of curriculum and fees. These schools are subject to specific legislation and registration requirements, such as the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003 and the Independent Schools Registration and Operation Guidance 2014.
In 2017, most early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings in Wales were owned and operated by private (65%) and voluntary (18%) providers, with the state (through local authorities) owning and operating 12% of these settings. ECCE settings include nursery schools, maintained primary schools, private and voluntary settings, and registered childminders. Private and voluntary services are financed by parental fees, but may be eligible to receive some government funding for free part-time ECCE provision for ages 3 – 4 (and 2 for disadvantaged children).
Registration and approval: Non-state day care providers and childminders catering to children aged 0 – 12 are required to be registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) as stipulated in the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 (amended by the Regulation of Child Minding and Day Care (Wales) Order 2016). Independent schools are only required to register with the CIW if they cater to children under the age of 3, while day care providers can be registered as independent schools if they have at least 5 pupils of compulsory school age. If the establishment solely caters to children under the age of 5, it must be registered with the CIW. Applicants can be individuals or organizations (body corporates or unincorporated associations). Individual applicants must be registered as day care providers or childminders with the CIW, while registered organizations must appoint a responsible individual that supervises the provision of the services. All day care and childminding services must comply with the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare 2016, which set out the minimum standards in quality, management, physical environment (including space requirements), health, safety, and staffing that all providers are required to meet.
License: If the applicant meets the minimum standards and statutory requirements, the Welsh Ministers grant the provider a certificate of registration (subject to certain conditions).
Profit-making: At the ECCE level, private providers are self-employed individuals or commercial businesses (which may operate on a profit-making basis), while voluntary providers are not-for-profit organizations.
Taxes and subsidies: Most non-state ECCE providers receive government funding for part-time ECCE services catered to children aged 3-4 covering 10 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year (with parents allowed to pay for additional provision on top of the free part-time ECCE they receive). Working parents are entitled to 30 hours per week for 48 weeks a year. To receive government funding, providers must meet the statutory requirements of the Foundation Phase framework. Funded places are provided in a range of ECCE settings, including primary and nursery schools, integrated children’s centers, and private or voluntary settings. Moreover, the early years pupil development grant gives early years providers additional funding to improve outcomes for children of disadvantaged backgrounds.
Curriculum and education standards: All funded ECCE providers are required to follow the Foundation Phase Framework, which is the statutory curriculum for the Foundation Phase (covering ages 3 – 7, including the first 2 years of primary school). The framework emphasizes early literacy, numeracy, and personal and social development. In 2017, the Welsh government announced a new Curriculum for Wales for 3 – 16-year-olds, which is expected to be adopted by all government-funded ECCE providers in mid-2022. Welsh-medium early years education is offered by independent providers and childminders and mainly provided in the voluntary sector.
Teaching profession: The National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare 2016 list the minimum qualifications required for child minders and day care staff, which include (for child minders) a successfully completed pre-registration course recognised in the Care Council for Wales’ current list of Accepted Qualifications for the Early Years and Childcare Workforce in Wales. In day care services, at least 50% of the supervisory staff must hold an early years qualification and (for full day care) at least 80%. The standards also include adult-child ratios (according to age) and separate requirements for staff catering to children under the age of 2.
Fee-setting: Most private and voluntary ECCE receive some government funding via local authorities to provide part-time care and education to children aged 3 – 4 free-of-charge. Funding covers free services for 10 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, with working parents given access to 30 hours per week up to 48 weeks per year. Parents may extend this provision by paying for additional hours of care.
Admission selection and processes: Local authorities have a statutory duty under the Education (Nursery Education and Early Years Development and Childcare Plans) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to provide funded ECCE places to children aged 3 – 4 in their area. This provision is planned with voluntary and private partners locally (which are funded to provide these places), with expectation to pay particular attention to rural and disadvantaged areas. Moreover, under the Equality Act 2010, independent nursery providers are prohibited from discriminating against students with disabilities in their admissions.
Policies for vulnerable groups: Targeted and free ECCE provision is provided to parents of eligible 2 to 3 -year olds in some of the most disadvantaged areas in Wales as part of the Welsh government’s Flying Start programme. Local authorities may decide whether to adopt this program in maintained institutions or a mixed economy model through voluntary/community/independent settings. Irrespective of the provider, all Flying Start settings must be registered with the CIW and meet the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare 2016. Moreover, as part of the Enabling Gypsies, Roma and Travellers Plan, the government has pledged to explore different ways to raise awareness of the entitlement to funded ECCE provision in order to reduce the inequalities experienced by the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice are also one of the standards in the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare 2016 which apply to all ECCE providers (irrespective of ownership).
Reporting requirements: All registered childcare services (irrespective of ownership) must have effective quality assurance and monitoring systems in place. Providers are required to keep child records and develop an operational plan (which must be periodically reviewed). Moreover, if requested by the CIW, services must keep financial records relating to the provision of care, as stated in the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare 2016.
Inspection: Registered ECCE providers are inspected in accordance with The Child Minding and Day Care (Inspection and Information for Local Authorities) (Wales) Regulations 2010 and The Regulation of Child Minding and Day Care (Wales) Order 2016. The Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), which is the independent regulator and inspector of day care and child-minding services in Wales, works closely with Estyn, the office of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales, under a joint inspection framework in the inspection of private and voluntary ECCE providers that receive government funding for services catered to children aged 3 – 4. In these inspections, the CIW focuses on childcare, while Estyn inspects education quality and standards. These include full inspections (scheduled and at least every 2 years) and focused inspections (short inspections that aim to ensure standards are being complied with in cases where poor outcomes have been identified). Under the revised childcare framework introduced in 2016, inspections cover well-being, environment, care and development, and leadership and management.
Child assessment: Child assessment is not a statutory requirement in the pre-compulsory years, although the Foundation Phase Framework provides a structure for continuous assessment based on observation of the child’s everyday activities. According to the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare 2016, records must be kept the child’s progress and activities, which is then shared with parents.
Sanctions: Under the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010, the Welsh Ministers have the authority to suspend or cancel the registration of an ECCE provider (day care provider or child minder) if they no longer meet the registration requirements, fail to comply with a regulatory provision, or fail to pay the prescribed fee. Regulations additionally provide for a person to be disqualified from registration as a day care provider or child minder.
Registration and approval: All independent schools that fall inside the scope of the official definition of ‘independent school’ in Wales stipulated in the Education Act 2002 (as amended in 2021) are required to be registered with the Welsh government in accordance with the 2002 Act, the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003, and the Independent Schools Registration and Operation Guidance 2014. Proprietors can be an individual person, group of persons (such as trustees or governing bodies), or a corporation (such as a limited company). The responsible person must be subject to a check undertaken by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Registration requirements include the quality of education provided, health and safety of students, suitability of proprietors and staff, and school premises that comply with the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 (applicable to all schools in England and Wales), which include washroom standards, building structure, and accommodation. Classroom size must ensure both the health and safety of students and the effective delivery of teaching. All applications are sent to Estyn for review, which then visits the school to determine whether minimum standards have been complied with. In case of a boarding school, the CIW is also consulted. Independent schools that wish to cater to students with special educational needs must be both ‘registered’ and ‘approved’ by the Welsh government, which are two separate systems within Welsh legislation. Independent schools may also apply to the National Assembly for Wales for a religious character status, as stipulated in the Independent Schools (Religious Character of Schools) (Designation Procedure) (Wales) Regulations 2003.
Voluntary and foundation schools are registered with the Welsh government as maintained schools in accordance with the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. These schools may be established by ‘any body of persons’ (whether incorporated or not) or a foundation body (body corporate) and are subject to similar minimum standards to community schools (state schools).
License: Independent schools receive registration status from the Welsh Ministers while voluntary and foundation schools receive similar registration to community (state) schools.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 (which apply to all schools in Wales) include special provisions on washroom standards and water supplies. These include all schools having adequate washing facilities having regard to the age, sex, and number of students, with washrooms for male and female students over the age of 8 being separate. The Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003 additionally specifically stipulate that all independent schools are required to have sufficient washrooms for staff and students (including facilities for students with special needs) in accordance with the 1999 Regulations.
Profit-making: While it is not a legal requirement for registration, most independent schools are registered as charities under the Charities Act 2011, which means they have non-profit status (established for a charitable purpose) and must demonstrate that they are for the ‘public benefit’ (with no statutory definition of what this means). According to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, voluntary and foundation schools are required to be registered as charities and therefore are not-for-profit entities.
Taxes and subsidies: The Welsh government does not provide any funding to independent schools, which are responsible for their own financing (mainly through charging fees, in addition to receiving donations and grants from benefactors). However, independent schools registered as charities may benefit from various tax concessions available to all charities in Wales. Independent school charitable activities may include fee assistance schemes, collaborations with maintained schools, and allowing maintained school students to attend certain lessons or events. In September 2019, the government stated that it had no plans to change the tax status of independent schools.
Voluntary aided schools, voluntary controlled schools, and foundation schools on the other hand receive full funding from the government through local authorities. Voluntary aided schools receive full funding for their revenue expenditure, contributing only a small proportion (approximately 15%) to their capital costs, while voluntary controlled schools and foundation schools receive full government funding for their revenue and capital costs, as stipulated in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.
Curriculum and education standards: Independent schools are not legally required to follow the national curriculum of Wales. The curriculum is the responsibility of the school provider, but should give students experience in specific areas, which school plans, curriculum policies and work schemes should illustrate (as assessed by the Welsh Ministers as one of the major aspects of school inspections). The range and depth of the curriculum must also be appropriate for the age, ability, aptitude, and any additional learning needs of the students in the school. Independent schools may teach in a language other than Welsh or English, but lessons in written and spoken Welsh and English must be provided, as stipulated in the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003. Voluntary and foundation schools (as part of the maintained school system) follow the national curriculum and must study Welsh as part of the compulsory curriculum (with the creation of a truly bilingual Wales being one the goals of the Welsh government). Voluntary aided schools may adopt a religious syllabus developed by the denominational body of the school, while voluntary controlled and foundation schools follow the religious guidance of the Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACRE). This includes having a compulsory religious subject and a daily act of collective worship.
Textbooks and learning materials: The Welsh government published the provision of textbooks and learning resources for pupils in 2018 which applies to maintained schools in Wales. There is no requirement for independent schools to use specific textbooks or learning material.
Teaching profession: There is no legal requirement for teachers in independent schools to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in Wales, but those who do are not qualified should have relevant experience or expertise (which is assessed by the Welsh Ministers upon the school’s registration). Providers must ensure however that all their staff have been subject to recruitment and vetting checks (including criminal background checks) and give parents a summary of their staff qualifications. Working conditions and salaries are determined by the independent school providers in accordance with employment and equality law (with salary scales usually similar to teachers in the maintained school sector). Independent school teachers are additionally not bound by the professional standards for teaching and leadership, nor by the regulations on performance management that apply to teachers in maintained schools. Independent schools and voluntary aided schools with religious character may give preference in their teacher recruitment matters to teachers with similar religious belief as the school, as stipulated in the Independent Schools (Employment of Teachers in Schools with a Religious Character) Regulations 2003 (for independent schools) and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (for voluntary aided schools).
Voluntary aided schools and foundation schools employ their own staff, while voluntary controlled schools have their teaching staff appointed by the local authorities. Voluntary and foundation schools are additionally required to abide by the Staffing of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2006 (with separate provisions for each type of school) and the Education (Teachers' Qualifications and Health Standards) (Wales) Regulations 1999. The Education Workforce Council (EWC) is responsible for keeping a register of all teachers in maintained schools in Wales.
Corporal punishment: Corporal punishment is prohibited in all educational settings in Wales (maintained and independent). While originally only applicable to government-aided schools, the prohibition was extended to cover independent schools in England and Wales in 1998. The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 includes a provision on the abolition of corporal punishment in “any school”.
Other safety measures and COVID-19: All independent schools must have written policy on bullying and safeguarding and promoting the welfare, health and safety of students.
Fee-setting: Independent schools can set their own fees, with no fee-setting regulation in place. Voluntary and foundation schools on the other hand are prohibited from charging student fees as part of the maintained school system in Wales (with all their expenses covered through government funding).
Admission selection and processes: The admissions process in independent schools is subject to provisions in the Equality Act 2010, which make is illegal to discriminate against students with special educational needs in their admissions. All independent schools are required to keep registers of their admissions and attendance and acquaint themselves with the Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010. Parents must also be provided with all the information regarding the school’s admissions policy. Students with special educational needs may be provided with a funded placement in an independent school, in which case the school must ensure that appropriate arrangements are put in place for admitting students with special educational needs. Maintained schools (including voluntary and foundation schools) are subject to the fair admission arrangements set in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and the School Admissions Code, with strict restriction on selecting students on the basis of aptitude or ability (with certain limited exceptions). Voluntary aided and foundation schools act as their own admissions authorities, while voluntary controlled schools have their admissions strictly regulated by the government (similar to community schools). All maintained schools must offer places to any student that applies and have admissions criteria in the event of oversubscription that are “reasonable, clear, objective, procedurally fair, and comply with current legislation” and not select students (directly or indirectly) based on social group, race, or special educational needs. Moreover, all maintained schools (including those with religious character) must give highest priority to looked after children in their oversubscription process. Schools with religious character are permitted to give preference in their admission arrangements to members of a particular faith or denomination.
Policies for vulnerable groups: All independent schools are required to prepare accessibility plans to improve the school’s physical environment for disabled students, increase the extent to which students with special needs can participate in the curriculum, and improve the delivery of information to students with these needs. Moreover, independent boarding schools that mainly provide residential care to students with special educational needs are required to meet the National Minimum Standards for Residential Special Schools. The Charity Commission has also provided several examples of ways in which charitable educational establishments (such as independent schools registered as charities) can make provision to benefit poorer students.
Maintained schools receive funding for additional student needs, which, according to the School Funding (Wales) Regulations 2010, must take into account factors related to social deprivation among students (such as the number of children with special educational needs and number of students whose first language is not English or Welsh). This funding includes the Pupil Development Grant (based on the number of students eligible for free school meals and number of looked after children) and the Supporting Service Children in Wales Fund (targeted support to children of Armed Forces personnel). Local authorities have a statutory obligation under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 to promote the educational achievement of looked after children. Each maintained school must additionally designate a member of staff that is responsible for ensuring the needs of looked after children.
School board: All maintained schools (including voluntary and foundation schools) are required to have a school governing body (set up as a corporate body) in accordance with the Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005. The composition of each governing body (which is comprised of between 9 – 20 members) is specified in the Regulations, with separate provisions for foundation schools, voluntary controlled schools, and voluntary aided schools. Compulsory members include parent, teacher, staff, community, and local authority representatives, as well as foundation governors for aided schools. There is no such requirement for independent schools.
Reporting requirements: Independent schools are independent institutions and are mainly accountable to parents who pay their fees. All independent schools are required to develop self-evaluation processes and improvement plans, detailing the school’s strengths and weaknesses (which are then evaluated by Estyn). According to the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003, schools must additionally submit annual audited income accounts to the local authority when a student is fully or partly funded by the government to attend the school, while all providers are required to have their school registers available for inspection. Maintained schools are accountable to their local education authority for the discharge of their functions in accordance with the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.
School inspection: Independent schools are inspected by Estyn at least every 6 years to monitor whether the schools continue to comply with the registration standards in accordance with the Guidance Handbook for the Inspection of Independent Schools , with more frequent inspections when the school has given any cause for concern. Independent schools that cater to students with special educational needs are inspected on an annual basis. Estyn may also enter an educational establishment that it believes may be operating as an unregistered independent school to assess whether the establishment meets the definition of an independent school. As the registration authority, the Welsh government also has the power to require an inspection of an independent school. The CIW is responsible for the inspection of independent boarding schools at least every 3 years (announced or unannounced), and annually for boarding students with special educational needs to assess whether the establishment meets the National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools. Following an inspection, the independent school receives a report detailing the extent to which is meets the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003.
Estyn is also responsible for the inspection of all maintained schools under the Education Act 2005 and the Education (School Inspection) (Wales) Regulations 2006. Maintained schools are inspected at least once within a seven-year period, with 15 working days' notice.
Student assessment: All independent schools must have a student assessment framework in place for how student performance will be evaluated, as stipulated in the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003 and Independent Schools Registration and Operation Guidance 2014.
Diplomas and degrees: Qualifications Wales is an independent statutory organization that is responsible for regulating qualifications other than higher education degrees in Wales. Qualifications are assigned levels of difficulty in accordance with the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW).
Sanctions: The Welsh government may remove an independent school from the Register of Independent Schools (and require the school to close) if it is satisfied that one or more regulatory standards are not being met and that students are at risk of serious harm. According to the Education Act 2002 and the Independent Schools Registration and Operation Guidance 2014, it is illegal to operate an unregistered independent school in Wales and any person who operates such a school will be guilt of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine and/or imprisonment. According to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, the Secretary of State may also direct the immediate closure of any maintained school (including voluntary ad foundation schools) with a period of notice of at least 2 years.
Tertiary education in Wales shares a number of characteristics and structural features with the tertiary education sector in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. In 2020, there were 10 universities in Wales (including the Open University in Wales) and over 20 further education colleges. Higher education institutions account for 94% of total tertiary enrolments in the UK. Most higher education institutions (HEIs) receive government funding, although they are not owned or managed by the state (government-dependent private institutions). These HEIs are autonomous, independent organizations, with their own legal identities and academic and managerial powers which have been empowered by Royal Charter or an Act of Parliament to develop their own courses and award degrees. Higher education programs are offered by government-aided HEIs, further education colleges and alternative (independent private) providers. HEIs in Wales can mainly be categorized into pre-1992 universities (having university status before the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 came into force) and post-1992 universities (or ‘new’ universities). Further education colleges traditionally only offered technical and vocational courses but have since broadened their role to also offer general and higher education programs. Alternative providers do not receive regular government grants and can be for-profit, non-profit, and of any corporate form.
Registration and approval: The legal basis for the establishment of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Wales (most of which are not owned by the state) varies, with pre-1992 universities established by a Royal Charter and ‘new’ (post-1992) universities operating as higher education corporations under an Act of Parliament established in the Education Reform Act 1988. The Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015 additionally allows providers to apply to Welsh Ministers for the establishment of a designated HEI in Wales. In this case, providers must be registered as charities under the Charities Act 2011. The Further and Higher Education Act 1992 also includes provisions for the designation of institutions conducted by companies. All HEIs are independent, self-governing bodies that have been empowered to develop their own courses and award degrees. Degree-awarding powers and access to a ‘university’ title are controlled by the UK government on a UK-wide basis. The Privy Council is specifically responsible for approving the use of the word ‘university’ by a HEI in accordance with the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, while institutions may additionally obtain approval under the provisions of the Companies Act 2006. Further education colleges are established or designated under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, being legally constituted as a further education corporation. Programs offered by further education colleges are usually approved by a HEI with degree-awarding powers under a formal recognition arrangement.
License: HEIs in Wales are established by a Royal Charter, Act of Parliament, or designation by Welsh Ministers.
Profit-making: HEIs and further education corporations that receive government funding and are regulated by the HEFCW must be registered as charities, as stipulated in the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015 and Further and Higher Education Act 1992. This means they must operate as non-profit entities. Alternative (independent) providers on the other hand may operate on a profit-making basis and any other corporate form.
Taxes and subsidies: The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) is responsible for distributing annual government grants to HEIs in Wales (most of which are not owned by the state, but receive direct government funding). The conditions for receiving government grants are laid out in the Memorandum of Assurance and Accountability , which is made between each higher education provider and the HEFCW. In addition to government grants, HEIs receive funding from student fees, student services, endowments, charitable donations, sponsoring, or research commissions. Moreover, funding for research is allocated by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on a UK-wide basis, while research infrastructure is supported by block grant funding allocated on the basis of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Further education institutions may be funded directly by the HEFCW or via a franchise agreement.
Curriculum and education standards: HEIs in Wales are independent bodies that have freedom to develop their own programs, courses and awards, with program structure not regulated by law. However, all HEIs tend to structure their programs along broadly similar frameworks which incorporate undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs which conform with the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) qualifications framework. Higher education programs offered in further education colleges are designed and approved by a HEI with degree-awarding powers under s formal recognition arrangement.
Teaching profession: Academic staff working in HEIs in Wales are not civil servants, but employees of individual HEIs. Institutions are free to recruit their own teaching staff, with no general requirement for academic staff to undergo formal training programs or hold specific qualifications. HEIs themselves decide whether to make it mandatory for academic staff to have certain qualifications, with most HEIs usually requiring academic staff to have a bachelor’s degree on the subject to be taught and a master’s or a doctoral degree. Many HEIs also offer training programs according to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) developed and managed by the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Pay structures and employment conditions for all higher education staff within the UK are negotiated through the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (New JNCHES), with higher education employers represented by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).
Fee-setting: The HEFCW is responsible for regulating the undergraduate fees at HEIs, which includes setting a fee limit and making sure HEIs comply with the general requirements of their approved fee and access plan. Under the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015, if a HEI in Wales wishes for its undergraduate courses to be designated for student support, it must submit a fee and access plan to the HEFCW, in which course fees are limited to maximum of 9,000 GBP (12,553 USD) and students may receive financial support up to that amount. Since the introduction of the revised tuition fee regime in 2012, HEIs in Wales (like those in England) are only allowed to charge tuition fees up to 9,000 GBP. Only registered charities are eligible to apply for fee and access plans, with applications assessed on the basis of the institution’s financial viability, financial management, and quality of education. Moreover, a fee and access plan must set out the institution’s objectives in relation to equality of opportunity. These measures aim to widen access to higher education for students from under-represented backgrounds. Since 2018/2019 (following the Diamond review), students have had access to a tuition free loan to cover the full undergraduate fees. Fees for postgraduate study are not regulated.
Admission selection and processes: According to the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015, HEIs are required take measures to attract applicants in their admissions who are members of under-represented groups in higher education and retain these students. The Reaching Wide Program established in 2002/2003 aims to increase higher education participation from priority communities and groups in Wales.
Board: As autonomous institutions, HEIs are responsible for their own internal organization (although broadly similar patterns are followed by all institutions). The arrangements for the selection of the head of the institution (vice-chancellor or principal) may be directed by institutional statutes. In pre-1992 universities, the governing body is commonly known as the Council, with governance structures laid down in the institution’s incorporation instruments. In post-1992 universities, the managing body is known as the governing body (or otherwise board of governors), with their authority set in the the Education Reform Act 1988. These governing bodies are also subject to Articles of Government made by each institution and approved by the Privy Council. HEIs’ governance and management arrangements are additionally monitored by the HEFCW, which is responsible for ensuring that institutions are run as effectively and efficiently as possible, securing their long-term sustainability.
Reporting requirements: HEIs are accountable to the HEFCW and the National Assembly for Wales for their use of government funds. Through the development of the Financial Management Code, the HEFCW monitors the financial management arrangements of regulated institutions. The Memorandum of Assurance and Accountability: circular W15/32HE made with each university specifically sets out the terms and conditions for the payment of government grants. Each funded higher education provider must have a robust system for controlling and managing their finances and is required to send its audited accounts to the HEFCW on an annual basis in addition to submitting 5-year financial forecasts, which are prepared in accordance with the Statement of Recommended Practice: Accounting for Further and Higher Education (SORP). The HEFCW details any additional information required from HEIs in their Annual Accounts Direction.
Inspection: The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is responsible for quality assurance services in the UK (including Wales). This includes the UK Quality Code for Higher Education and the operation of the Quality Enhancement Review, which assesses higher education providers against baseline regulatory requirements. The QAA works closely with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), which the Welsh government plans to replace with the Tertiary Education and Research Commission for Wales. Under the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015, the HEFCW is responsible for making assessments of the quality of higher education in Wales and overseeing the Quality Assessment Framework for Wales (which provides an annual external assessment of the quality of HEIs). The HEFCW additionally scrutinizes the governance and financial performance of funded universities and conducts Quality Enhancement Reviews, which examine how effectively a HEI provider operates their internal quality assurance system. As part of its responsibilities, the HEFCW also has the authority to appoint an authorized person to enter and inspect the premises of a regulated HEI and examine any relevant documents.
Assessment: HEIs are responsible for developing their programs and assessments.
Diplomas and degrees: HEIs in Wales are independent bodies that have been empowered by Royal Charter or an Act of Parliament to award their own degrees (degree-awarding powers) and determine the conditions on which these degrees are awarded. The degrees and other higher education qualifications are legally owned by the awarding institution (not the state), with only the power to award UK degrees regulated by law. Degrees covered by legislation in Wales are taught degrees, research degrees, and foundation degrees, each of which have its own criteria against which applications for degree awarding powers are assessed. Applications for degree awarding powers are made to the Privy Council (which refers to the Welsh government and the QAA) in accordance with the Guidance and Criteria for Applicants in Wales 2017. Most HEIs design their qualifications based on the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (FHEQ) developed by the QAA, although this is not a legal requirement.
Sanctions: According to the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015, the HEFCW has the power to intervene when the quality of a HEI is assessed as being, or likely to become ‘inadequate’, as well as when an institution has failed (or likely to fail) to comply with the Financial Management Code, its Fee and Access Plan (see fee-setting), or equality of opportunity measures. If a funded institution is found to not meet these requirements as part of a Quality Enhancement Review (and fails to improve following a warning), this will trigger the HEFCW’s policy for addressing unsatisfactory quality in institutions, which may withdraw the institution’s approval of their fee and access plan.
According to a 2018 survey, 14.4% of Welsh secondary school students receive private tuition. When surveying students aged 11 – 16 in both England and Wales in 2018, the phenomenon appeared most pronounced in London (41%), with 27% of the rest of the country (including Wales) suggesting that they had received private or home tutoring. The private tuition industry in the UK is considered a ‘free market’, in the sense that it is free from regulation by a specific governing body and the government.
Private tutoring agencies can operate on a profit-making basis, as they are registered as limited companies.There was no education regulation found on the financial operation and quality of private tutoring agencies, as they are not covered under education law.
Tutors that work for a private tutoring agency in the UK are required to present a certificate from the Criminal Records Bureau that indicates that they have not been convicted of a crime. Private tutors who run their own business (self-employed) are required to be registered with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), where they declare their income similar to any other form of self-employment. There are no standard qualifications for private tutoring in the UK.