Splitting Ofsted into two new organisations—the Inspectorate for Education and the Inspectorate for Children’s Care—will help to focus and improve inspection in this country, concludes the House of Commons Education Committee.
In its report on the role and performance of Ofsted, the committee says a single children's inspectorate is too big to function effectively, and needs greater elements of specialism to give people increased confidence in inspections.
Splitting Ofsted would raise confidence that the inspection of all settings is being carried out by inspectors with relevant training and experience. Different approaches to inspection would flourish, and the profile of Ofsted's non-education remit, which the committee says Ofsted has not adequately communicated and of which many people are unaware, would be given a welcome boost.
Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the Committee, 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 focussed 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 focussed organisations could do even more so."
The committee says it is essential that the new Education Inspectorate prioritises reporting on progress made per pupil across the full range of ability groups and the Department for Education should seek to give these progress measures prominence comparable to other key measures, such as 'five good GCSEs' and the new English Baccalaureate.
Too few inspectors have recent and relevant experience of the types of settings they inspect. Frontline expertise is vital, says the Committee, and current targets for the percentage of school inspectors who are serving senior practitioners on secondment should be raised.
Voluntary Childcare Register
Urgent reform of the Voluntary Childcare Register is needed, says the Committee. It heard evidence that the current operation of the register is seriously flawed and, far from providing a reliable system of registration and safeguarding, might mislead parents by suggesting a level of quality assurance that has not been undertaken.
Changes must be made, through legislation where necessary, and immediate action should be taken by Ofsted to improve the existing system, for example by adding expiry dates to registration letters – something which it does not currently do.
The report also recommends that:
- the Department for Education states clearly its plans for the direction of Ofsted’s non-schools remit – current policy has focused almost entirely on schools
- consideration is given to the creation of two new positions – the Chief Education Officer and the Chief Children’s Care Officer – to ensure policy is informed by recent and relevant schools experience
- inspection reports should be more parent-friendly while at the same time still containing a greater depth of intelligence useful to practitioners