Ofsted should be split in two, says MPs’ committee.

Ofsted head Christine Gilbert
“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.”

England’s education and children’s services regulator Ofsted is too big to function effectively and should be split in two, MPs argue.

The Commons Education Committee is calling for it to be divided into separate inspectorates for education and children’s care.

Ofsted broadened its remit to cover children’s services when the Department for Education did the same in 2007.

Ofsted said any re-structuring was a matter for the government.

The government said it would consider the findings and respond in due course.

The committee reported in 2010 that the growth of Ofsted’s responsibilities was causing it to “become an unwieldy and unco-ordinated body”.

But this latest report goes further and says having a single inspectorate has not worked well enough to “merit its continuation”.

Ofsted Chief Inspector Christine Gilbert faced criticism in 2008 about inspections of children’s services in Haringey, where 17-month-old Baby Peter died after abuse.

The boy had been visited 60 times by the authorities, including child protection staff, in the eight months before his death in August 2007.

Ms Gilbert faced a barrage of questions from the same Commons committee on the standard of child protection inspections carried out by her inspectors.

This latest report argues that Ofsted has lost “elements of specialism” that were in predecessor bodies, particularly in the area of children’s services and care.

It adds that different inspection regimes are needed for the different sectors Ofsted covers.

“In order to focus greater attention on children’s services and care, and to ensure inspection is respected by its customers, we recommend that the government splits Ofsted into two inspectorates,” it says.

A newly formed Inspectorate for Education should be responsible for the inspection of education and skills, including nurseries, schools and colleges, adult education prison learning and teacher training.

A new Inspectorate for Children’s Care should focus entirely on children’s services and care, including children’s homes, adoption services, childminders and Cafcass, the children and family court advisory service, it adds.

And the inspectorates should ensure that they have experienced practitioners who command the respect of social workers and childcare professionals, it says.

This would improve the credibility and quality of inspection teams, the report says.

It also says too few inspectors have recent or relevant experience of the types of settings they inspect.

A sizeable percentage of the inspectorate workforce “should be experts drawn from their fields”, it says.

In some regions, where inspections are contracted out to private firms or trusts, only 10% of their schools workforce are serving professionals.

This should be rapidly increased and more demanding targets need to be set, it says.

Ms Gilbert said there were many constructive recommendations in the report which she would consider.

She added: “The question of who inspects is much less important than the quality of inspection and the impact it has on raising standards and improving people’s lives.

“Ofsted is proud of the work it’s done across the whole of its remit since it took on its present brief in 2007.

“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.”

Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the report did not go far enough.

“It presents compelling evidence that Ofsted’s school inspections should end. We too believe that a supportive local accountability system focussed on improvement rather than professional humiliation is what is needed,” she said.

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Brian Lightman said education and children’s services had 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,” he said.

Do you have thoughts on how Ofsted should be changed? Are you happy with the way Ofsted conduct their inspections within your setting? Join the discussion by dropping your views below.

Source: BBC


9 thoughts on “Ofsted should be split in two, says MPs’ committee.

  • June 3, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    We have a nursery in Wales and are inspected and regulated by CSSIW every year and by ESTYN for the educational side of things every few years. In an early years setting it works very well with inspectors having a good understanding of the day to day running and needs of a nursery. I could not imagine any one person having the depth of knowledge required to keep upto date on every apsect of the law and regulations reguarding child care plus an indepth and upto date knowledge of the Foundation Phase education. I really do hope our inspectorate in wales remain as they are giving excellent and very useful inspections.

  • April 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I agree, as a Chuldminder i have recently endured an inspection and feel extremloy dissapointed and let down by Tribal. I have been childminding for 11 years and have never had such a short and inadequate inspection. I feel they were only interested in my paper work and even though I have worked really hard to keep up with all the new requirements insyead of praising and aknowledging my efforts they found tiny points that I could improve upon and used these as a negative. I have spent the last year studying for my NVQ Level 3 in Childrens Development and this is not easy when working from 8 till 6.30 5 days a week. They did not even mention this in my report and I was told it was not significant enough to be mentioned. Then why were the other rediculous little negatives used against me when they really should have been sugestions to help me rather than penalise me. I genuienly feel my Oftsed report does not reflect the service I offer and has only skimmed the surface.
    I have complained but got no were with Tribal and can take if further if I like . What should I do as the word is everthing is changing again? Why bother I ask you ? I know I do a fantastic job caring for children in my home and all my parents would agree. I have some outstnding qualities should should I relly care what my Ofsted says if I know in my opinion that they are not doing their job properly.

  • April 20, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I am a little apprehensive at yet another change, but do feel that the idea of splitting responsibilities is good within the Ofsted team.
    But I do have concerns around how education and care can be separated. In the EYFS principles and outcomes / ECM our role is to provide high quality education and caring environments that reflect the needs of individual children and the diversity of families that attend our pre-school provision.
    So often the inspections have been based on observations in brief areas of the setting, missing vital experiences and good care and practice that is happening in many other areas i.e.- while they observing inside the setting, they miss wonderful learning and experiences happening outside. Or on the other hand inspectors are critically analysing paperwork, rather than focusing on the good modelling, teaching and support that staff are providing to scaffold, enhance and enable children to become independent in their choices and individualised learning preferences.
    Will these inspectors truly have personal experiences of what a real nursery / preschool setting is like. Do they understand how flexible planning and child lead curriculum works, it is impossible to always mark down everything a child does in order to record it to demonstrate to Ofsted what happened? If we do this then the moment of interest for the child could be potentially lost because we stopped to record it. Will inspectors understand that just because a child / children might not use one area, it does not mean they are not interested, it’s just that their interests are elsewhere. How can inspectors know what happened the day before they came… Children’s interest change from one minute to the next no matter how effectively we try to plan and enable flexible opportunities to respond to their needs.
    Will inspectors understand progression programmes that enhance practice and how these are achieved i.e. – Quality assurance programmes that are very detailed and are accredited.
    Will the inspection be covered over two day as before? Will they be knowledgeable of the changes suggested from EYFS review?
    Will they understand that there’s is vast difference in interactions and support needed in a mixed setting of 2-5 years old, and that this differs greatly between cohorts of children within weekly attendance. Will judgement take into account differentiation of opportunities that differ greatly from full time Nurseries attached or within school grounds? This can be very different for private day-care and sessional preschools, but we are all inspected with the same set of judgements, but the levels of care and education are diverse from a baby, toddler, and preschooler to a child in a reception based nursery.
    I wait with anticipation to see where this will lead us all next!

  • April 20, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I have been working in Early Years for over 18 years and can remember when we had two inspections before. Education inspections by Ofsted, veery 2-4 years depending on the findings and Care inspections by Social Services, every year. Surely these proposals are taking us back to a similar system?

  • April 20, 2011 at 9:48 am

    hmmn perhaps I should have read a bit more before offering that as my point of view…… it appears they would both be under education – yet this still worries me – how can a setting open for 11 hours a day, caring for the youngest members of our society be inspected in the same way as a school open for 6.5? there is so much more ‘care’ involved in a day nursery – as there should be in a school nursery environment – these young children need cuddles, time to relax and have a home from home environment – many children do more hours in a nursery than the full time staff – I worry about nurseries being scooped up in to education, just as I was initially worried that school nurseries would be scooped up too.

  • April 20, 2011 at 9:46 am

    It is imperative that Ofsted employ staff who have a greater understanding of the day to day running of nurseries.
    They ought not to come in with their own agenda but be seen to be fair even if critical.

    In the main organisations such as Ofsted do themselves no favours when explaining what nurseries may need support on. They do not give any advice and that is understood, however they MUST be clear that their iinterpretation of any legislation is accurate and is not their personal view.
    At a recent inspection we were told of various issues relating to Health & Safety by the inspector, this was a diametrically opposed view held by the consultancy we use for advice and indeed had no bearing on the care of children. The attitude adopted and the atmosphere created by this person was one of fear. Fear is not the way in which to change for the better or to offer support. They must be highly trained in the area in which they are inspecting there are no excuses for poor quality staff

    • April 20, 2011 at 9:54 am

      Its true – its very interesting how early years ofsted inspectors are recruited – a friend of mine has gone through the process, no interview, invited to attend the training course after only a paper application, then 3 training days and voila – out in the open creating chaos in the world of early years care – still managing anursery too – surely this has implications for being biased or for having a conflict of interest? – I’d like to interview our Ofsted inspector prior to inspection!

  • April 20, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I am interested in how this will progress – what distinction will be made for example, for our many 3 & 4 year olds who are in school based nurseries – will they be inspected under education or childcare? – I still believe there is a huge divide between the delivery of the EYFS in a nursery or pre school setting and that of a nursery attached to a school. I guess I’ll watch this space…..

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