Select Committee on Education and Employment Eighth Report



1.  We look forward to OFSTED beginning its work in the early years from September 2001 and to our next opportunity to scrutinise progress in this area (paragraph 5).

2.  We share the HMCI's concerns that much of the progress made in recent years could be put at risk if the problems of teacher recruitment and retention are not tackled in a comprehensive and innovative way (paragraph 9).

3.  We recommend that in its Annual Report for 2001-02 OFSTED should report specifically on the effects of teacher shortage and subject mismatch (paragraph 10).

4.  We welcome OFSTED's recognition of the part that it can play in reducing the bureaucratic demands made on schools. We recommend that Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools should report on the progress he has made in this area in his Annual Report for 2000-01 (paragraph 11).

5.  Whilst we recognise the progress made in raising levels of achievement in literacy, we are still seriously concerned at the apparent lack of achievement in writing, among boys in particular. We recommend that research into both the reasons for low levels of achievement and ways of tackling it should be a high priority for the Government (paragraph 15).

6.  We would expect our successor Committee in the next Parliament to take a long hard look at what is added to prisoners' education and skills while they are in prison (paragraph 16).

7.  ICT skills should be accorded the highest priority, both for the development of individual skills and for the competitive position of the nation. There is evidence that there needs to be a comprehensive national strategy to tackle ICT skills deficiencies at every stage of the educational system. This would be a fruitful area for a future inquiry by the Select Committee (paragraph 21).

8.  We would expect the contribution made to raising overall standards in secondary education by specialist schools to be among the highest priorities for an inquiry by our successor Committee in the new Parliament. We also see great merit in our successors holding a focussed inquiry on how sport in schools has fared since the introduction of the National Curriculum (paragraph 22).

9.  We welcome the decision to strengthen the independence of the OFSTED Complaints Adjudicator. We also welcome this further evidence that well-founded select committee recommendations may in time come to be accepted even if the initial response by the Government is not encouraging (paragraph 24).

10.  We recommend that a debate on standards and quality in education, based on of the HMCI's Annual Report, should be held early in the next Session of Parliament (paragraph 26).

11.  We would welcome further discussions with the new Secretary of State on what contribution could be made by the Select Committee to the process of confirming the appointment of a new head for OFSTED, which is a unique non-Ministerial government Department (paragraph 28).

12.  We welcome this programme of work, and we expect that our successors will continue as a Select Committee to play their part in ensuring that OFSTED remains independent, rigorous and fair in its reporting to Parliament and the wider public on standards and quality in education (paragraph 30).

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