The role and performance of Ofsted

The  Committee has completed this inquiry and published a Report on 17 April 2011.

Written evidence

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.

Oral evidence

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.



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    • Reports and associated evidence – Reports of Committee inquires. This category may also include Special Reports where they are used by a Committee to bring matters relating to conduct of its business to the notice of the House.
    • Responses to Reports - Responses may be published as a Special Report, or as a Command Paper. They may also be appended to a Report should the Committee have substantial comments on the Response, in which case they can be found listed under Reports. 
    • Other oral and written evidence - Evidence taken by the Committee that has yet to or did not result in the publication of a Report. This includes transcripts of recent meetings.
    • Estimate Memoranda - An Estimate memorandum is an explanatory note that accompanies a government department’s estimate (a means by which a department seeks authority from Parliament for its spending plans).
    • Correspondence - Correspondence sent from or received by the Committee or its Chair.