Ofsted head promises lighter, more collaborative approach

13 Jun 02
Ofsted is to move toward a lighter-touch inspection regime for local education authorities, its chief inspector told the CIPFA conference.

14 June 2002

David Bell said that the next cycle of Ofsted inspections will put a stronger emphasis on self-evaluation, with education directors playing a key role.

In a speech that echoed recent local government moves towards greater reliance on peer reviews, Bell called for a 'a more differentiated approach' to inspection, as part of a corporate, collaborative process. This would signal a 'significant and profound shift of emphasis', he said.

The new approach will allow inspection to be incorporated more into the day-to-day management process: something Bell described as a 'real challenge'. Ofsted's role will increasingly become one of 'inspecting self-evaluations'.

However, this did not herald 'an outbreak of niceness at Ofsted', he said. Local education authorities will be subject to 'severe but fair' tests of their capacity to demonstrate improvement.

Bell acknowledged that some authorities face 'very burdensome' levels of inspection, and said it was an 'open secret' that a national debate is taking place over how to take inspection forward in the context of the new Comprehensive Performance Assessment regime.

Generally, LEAs' performance has improved over the past six years of Ofsted inspections, said Bell. But some real problem areas remained. Support for pupils denied access to the school curriculum, for example, was poor, with only two out of 150 authorities graded 'good' at tackling social exclusion issues.


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