MPs call for Ofsted to be split into two

15 Apr 11
Ofsted should be split into two different inspectorates, MPs have recommended.

By Vivienne Russell

18 April 2011

Ofsted should be split into two different inspectorates, MPs have recommended.

A report from the Commons education select committee, published yesterday, called for two new watchdogs to be set up: one for the inspection of education, the other for the inspection of children’s care.

The MPs said Ofsted was too big to function effectively and needed a greater degree of specialism to raise confidence in inspections.

Committee chair Graham Stuart said: ‘Ofsted’s reach is vast and its remit has grown substantially since its inception, but this has come at the expense of providing a more specialised service.

‘We need a radical shift in how inspection operates in this country, with a more proportionate, specialist and focused approach. Ofsted has, of course, made a great impact on the quality of provision across the country, but the evidence clearly shows that smaller, more focused, organisations could do even more so.’

The report also said the new education inspectorate would need to support schools towards a robust system of self- and peer-evaluation, thereby reducing its own role.

Commenting on the proposals, Ofsted head Christine Gilbert said: ‘Any proposal for further reorganisation needs to be very carefully considered and is ultimately a matter for the government. There are issues about additional costs and a risk of distraction from the core business – namely continuing to deliver high-quality, rigorous inspection which helps to drive up standards for children and learners everywhere.’

The National Union of Teachers said it would have prefer Ofsted to be abolished altogether but was pleased that the committee had taken on board many of its other suggestions. NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the union particularly welcomed the ‘conclusion that the longer-term aim should be to move to a system of self-improvement by schools, where the education inspectorate’s role would be much reduced’.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers also backed the committee’s main recommendations. General secretary Brian Lightman said: ‘Education and children’s services have very different needs and priorities. Separating inspection of education and children’s services into two divisions linked by good lines of communication is the right move and will help to ensure appropriate expertise in each area.

‘We welcome the commitment to proportionate inspection provided that targeting is not based on simplistic quantitative indicators but a broader assessment of the school. Inspection should be done with and not to schools and colleges, and should be conducted by people with expertise and recent relevant experience in the sector.’

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