The Committee has completed this inquiry and published a Report on 17 April 2011.
The inquiry invited written evidence on 29 July 2010 addressing the following points:
- What the purposes of inspection should be (relating not only to schools but to all organisations, settings and services under Ofsted’s remit);
- The impact of the inspection process on school improvement;
- The performance of Ofsted in carrying out its work;
- The consistency and quality of inspection teams in the Ofsted inspection process;
- The weight given to different factors within the inspection process;
- Whether inspection of all organisations, settings and services to support children’s learning and welfare is best conducted by a single inspectorate;
- The role of Ofsted in providing an accountability mechanism for schools operating with greater autonomy.
The Committee received over 120 submissions from a range of sources, including representative bodies, local authorities, parents, academics, and the various settings inspected by Ofsted including schools, charities and childminders. You can see the evidence received in the publications section below.
Ten panels of witnesses gave oral evidence to the Committee during public sessions at the House of Commons. These included:
- serving professionals in education, skills and children’s services;
- professional representative bodies (including the British Association of Social Workers, National Governors’ Association, and teacher leader unions);
- local government representatives;
- former Chief Inspectors of Ofsted;
- academics working on school and children’s services accountability;
- charities concerned with children’s care and well-being;
- initial teacher training providers;
- senior officials from Ofsted, including the Chief Inspector (Christine Gilbert CBE); and
- the two responsible Ministers from the Department for Education.
Transcripts of the sessions can be viewed via the publication sections below.
Seminar with Ofsted inspectors
The Committee advertised, in the Times Educational Supplement and online, for serving and retired inspectors to attend a seminar at the House of Commons, as part of its evidence for the inquiry, and was very pleased to receive well over 200 responses. Twelve inspectors took part in the seminar and the others were invited to complete a non-attributable survey, which included questions on the role and remit of Ofsted, the quality of inspection teams, and the frameworks and inspection processes in use.
Visit to Finland
Five Committee members undertook a two-day visit to Finland, which has one of the best education systems in the world despite its lack of formal inspection. The Committee members met with academics, teachers, civil servants and politicians and gained a valuable insight into a different system of school accountability, which was able to directly inform the inquiry’s conclusions.