top of page

New Estyn template for school self-evaluation and improvement planning.

Schools and PRUs in Wales

We have been working with schools in Wales for over ten years - and today we are pleased to announce the release of a new template to help schools (and PRUs) with self-evaluation and improvement planning using the latest Estyn guidance.

Quick video introduction.

Watch the short video below.

Estyn School Inspection

This highly effective abacus template is based on the five inspection areas:

  1. Learning

  2. Wellbeing and attitudes to learning

  3. Teaching and learning experiences

  4. Care, support and guidance

  5. Leadership and management

The template is preloaded with relevant Estyn guidance and streamlines the process of self-evaluation, evidence collection, analysis - and action planning.

Existing customers will find this in their template library. If you're not already using iAbacus and you'd like to try it - simply create an account at using the licence code: ABACUS123WALES.

For more information about iAbacus Wales - visit


Here's a transcript of the video above...

I'd like to, in this video, show you a brand new template for schools and PRUs in Wales. It comes included in iAbacus edition for Welsh schools, and you'll find it in your template library. We've pushed it to the top of the list because we feel that it's of key importance at the moment. So you create the abacus based on this Estyn guidance, the very latest guidance. You'll see that the abacus will load onto the screen. Down the left hand side are the different areas that you can evaluate. Across the top, you've got these colour coded levels of effectiveness. We've avoided using labels, just in line with Estyn's guidance at the moment to not label various judgments. But you can still use the abacus tool to give you a visual indicator of effectiveness or performance in each of these areas.

So the usual abacus process where you pick up a bead and you slide it to your level of effectiveness, it's an initial gut judgment. We're not looking at criteria at this stage. You might make a judgment and then might move on to some of the other areas to evaluate those. At some point, we'd like you to use the tool to follow the agreed abacus process that we use. Obviously, we start with criteria because we've made a judgment, it will be good to reflect on what's considered in this area. So we will, at this point, pull in any Estyn guidance, grade descriptors, challenge questions, to help you reach an accurate judgment. It might be that after reflection on this area and looking at this criteria, you move the bead further to the right to better reflect your judgment, and that's fine.

The process is all always displayed at the top here. I've just noticed that actually we've also included a link to the guidance. So if you wanted to, you could open up this PDF document and then you could browse through it or print it or download it. You can see it's bang up to date because it's looking at maintained schools and PRU inspection from 2022.

Back into the process. Obviously once you've made a judgment, one of the things that you'll want to do is signpost any evidence that you have to justify that judgment. We make that quite simple in the abacus tool, you've got a text box, the ability to upload any file attachments or hyperlinks. And it would be a case of just writing clear, concise, succinct, evaluative statements that signpost are various pieces of evidence that you have. I would probably use bullet points and that keeps it nice and clean and straightforward. I mentioned hyperlinks. I think they're a good use of the tool to include any files that you've got in Microsoft or Google drive. Your school will probably have its own data systems. They'll all be able to integrate with the tool, just signpost the files or upload them.

When you finish considering the evidence, you perhaps want to move on to the analysis. Here, we can consider any helping factors. So things that are pushing our bead in the right direction. It's just a case of entering those on the left hand side. There may be certain things that have helped to a greater degree. And what we can do is just prioritise those. On the right hand side, we diagnose any hindering factors, any barriers to progress or issues that we're facing with this area that we're actually evaluating. And again, we can prioritise those. There may be issues relating to COVID that you have in here. Hopefully as time goes on, we'll see less of those.

We then move on to the final stage, which is the action planning. So you'll see here that we've got our diagnostic, our helps and hinders. We can't focus on everything in our action plan, so there'll be certain issues that we might want to just hide from the action planning. Or even things that we know help that we really can't do anything about at the moment, so we'll leave those. But there will be issues that we can pick up and prioritise. So it could be that this issue we want to put to the top of the list, and then actually we want to expand on this issue and add our detailed action plan.

So something that was in the analysis, one of the hindering factors, is now in the action planning. We can expand it. We can describe what it is we intend to do about it as a school, or a department, or as an individual. Who's going to lead on that, or who's going to have a contributing factor, a part to play. Our own success criteria. It's good to put that in so that we have somewhere to aim for this action. We will know when it's making an impact or making a difference. A deadline is always useful to focus us. It could be a frequency, so it could be something we need to do once a year or once a term. So we could enter that in there if we want to. Here, we can update any progress. Over time, it might be that actually we add some notes in here.

So essentially, we're just following the abacus process, looking at criteria based on the Estyn guidance. We're evidencing that judgment just by signposting the evidence. We're diagnosing the helping and hindering factors, why is this bead not further to the right and what can we do to improve. And then we're actually just defining our action plan.

At any point of the process, you can move the bead to reflect a judgment that's perhaps seen an improvement. I would suggest that over time, actually you might want to pick up a new bead, make a new judgment and show your progress. So that you can drop this bead onto your abacus, it recognises that you've made a new judgment. And in this case, we might want to move across the evidence and the analysis so that on our next cycle of self-evaluation and we can log in, we can say actually this issue related to COVID, that's no longer a problem. Perhaps we have a new issue that we need to focus on, and that might be something that we can then build into our action planning as we progress into the action planning area here and work on that.

Have you noticed here that we've got this transparent bead now just to show that we've made progress in this area? Of course, performance effectiveness could go in this direction, but at least we'd be able to put in our evidence and our hindering factors, why it's moved in that direction and then what we plan to do about it.

Any of the abacuses we can create a report from. So it's nice to have it in the online format because that's easily editable and we can collaborate online and share this with colleagues and even ask for other people in the school to slide their bead. Where do they think we are? Interestingly, if that happens, they might put the bead in a different place. But at least we'd be able to look at their evidence and their diagnostic, why they think that. But at any stage, you can create a PDF document. We just download the PDF document. And what we have is a nice, clear, concise self-evaluation with our judgments on there. And then if we follow that through, into the detail, you'll see that in this PDF document, there's your evidence, any files that you might have mentioned or linked to, we have our helping and hindering factors, so our detail diagnostic, and then our action plan strips here with our progress.

So this new template, we think it's going to be really beneficial for schools and PRUs. It's incredibly simple to use. It just uses the abacus process and it takes into consideration all the relevant areas and all the relevant guidance. If you need any support in using this, you have the live chat down here. But feel free to get in touch with us. We're more than happy to use Zoom or Teams or Google Meet to give you a slower, more detailed walkthrough, and help your school self-evaluate and plan strategically.


Subscribe to our newsletter

bottom of page