Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
WEDNESDAY 5 DECEMBER 2001
TOMLINSON CBE, MISS
OBE, MR DAVID
100. But do you plan to be a little bit more
radical in how you push down this line, in the sense that there
is a real issue, you can observe that there is a problem, but
are you going to try to push further down this line of making
positive recommendations and seeing them through?
(Mr Tomlinson) Yes; the first line is to get the evidence,
going back to what was said earlier, to have clear evidence, also
to have, within that, clear ideas of what might then be done,
as a result of the findings that we have, and my job then would
be to offer advice, with those findings, to the Secretary of State
and officials, and say, `this really does need to be tackled.'
And that is my proper role, offering advice and help to the Secretary
of State, based upon good and firm inspection evidence.
Chairman: Chief Inspector, we want to finish
this session on the professional development of teachers. Jeff
101. I wanted to ask a supplementary on an issue
that was raised earlier by Mr Shaw, in terms of the inspection
of local education authorities, Mr Tomlinson. How do you see the
relationship between your department of OFSTED and the Audit Commission
developing, in terms of delivering better value for money, and
spreading best practice amongst LEAs?
(Mr Tomlinson) First of all, the current inspection
of local education authorities is done jointly with the Audit
Commission, the teams are drawn from OFSTED and from the Audit
Commission, and the reports are joint reports. So that, in that
sense, we are working very closely indeed with them.
102. Are you equal partners then, Mr Tomlinson?
(Mr Tomlinson) No, because the Act gives us responsibility
for taking the lead on the inspection of local education authorities.
The Act actually does not require us to involve the Audit Commission
in every inspection, but we took the policy decision that we would;
and, therefore, the involvement of the Audit Commission has been
throughout in every inspection report. And we have developed now,
in fact, more recently, both logos, for example, appear on reports,
so it is quite clear, and other reports have had both logos on
them as well. So at that level we work very closely, the two teams,
if I may put them in that way, meet together to discuss inspection
and practice, and all the rest, and I think both the Audit Commission
and ourselves regard this area as being one of considerable success,
in terms of careful joint working. The wider issue, of course,
is about our responsibility, along with other inspectorates, for
best value, and that, as you know, is currently subject to considerable
review about the rate of inspection that falls upon a local authority
and its services, and the amount of work that local authorities
have to do in preparation for the best value. And we are all involved
in discussions about how better to co-ordinate all that inspection,
how better to reduce the burden on local authorities, and, in
doing that, how better to use the inspection as a real tool for
helping authorities to improve the quality of their services.
103. Turning to the professional development
of teachers, the General Council have welcomed the involvement
of teachers serving as part of an inspection team. And a headteacher
in my constituency has been involved, has been a member of an
inspection team for a number of years, and with the agreement
of his governing body he has spent three weeks a year inspecting
schools. It seems to me, that is quite valuable, not only for
him but also for the school and in terms of spreading good practice,
etc. Is that something that you envisage seeing happening further,
with deputy heads and other teachers being given time, not just
once but being able to develop their skills, as inspectors, because
we do not want them just to be an add-on, as part of the team,
we want them to be an integral part and get something out of it,
as well as putting something qualitative into it?
(Mr Tomlinson) Yes. Just by way of background; a quarter
of our inspectors presently are practising headteachers, deputy
headteachers, heads of department, or classroom teachers, a quarter,
which is a surprise to some people, that so many members of the
profession are actually involved, and, as you say, they may do
up to three inspections a year, by agreement with their governing
body. We have surveyed those involved and their governing bodies,
and all are agreed, all are agreed, that it is one of the most
professionally and personally stimulating activities they have
ever been involved in, in inspection.
104. Apart from teaching?
(Mr Tomlinson) They say that their teaching improves
as a result of the activity.
105. Is there sometimes an issue of pay; because,
obviously, the school continue to pay the teacher?
(Mr Tomlinson) Indeed. There are agreements between
the individuals and the governing body about how to handle the
payment made to the individual, and that is not our affair, that
is clearly a matter for the individual school to resolve.
106. The example I am thinking of is that the
money goes back to the school, that they get from the inspection,
but a lot of inspectors are former teachers, obviously, they have
all worked in the field, and there have been redundancy packages,
and enhanced pensions, and then they pay them again. I wonder
if there should perhaps be an arrangement where we could just
pay people once and involve more teachers?
(Mr Tomlinson) I think that relates to an awful lot
of Employment Acts, and all the rest of it, which I am not going
to get into. Going back to your main point though, however, yes,
we would like to see more teachers not only acquire the skills
that are associated with inspection but also to be able to practise
it. We have joint work with the National College for School Leadership
at the moment, where we are jointly developing courses for aspirant
or new headteachers to introduce them to the skills of inspection,
which, not surprisingly, are precisely the skills they need for
good school self-evaluation, and indeed for performance management,
and what we are looking at is how then we can involve those headteachers,
potential headteachers, in inspection work. Thirdly, we have opened
up the training for inspectors, again, through contractors, and
in the first wave we have had 300 teachers and others nominated
by contractors for training, such that they can become inspectors
and practise inspection through those contractors, which for us
has been a welcome development.
107. Some more teachers and heads involved in
inspection; that is what you want?
(Mr Tomlinson) Yes; and we consulted on that, by the
way. That was one of the questions we consulted on, which I understand
we are likely to find has got a large measure of approval.
108. Chief Inspector, we are coming to the end
of the session, it has been, certainly from our point of view,
a good one, but I just want to ask you one thing. The Second Reading
of the Education Bill went through the House last night, and much
stress is put on putting more power into schools themselves, more
responsibility to run themselves, but very much an emphasis on
giving group innovation and enterprise and change. Where does
that innovation and change come from, in your view?
(Mr Tomlinson) I will go back also to my own teaching.
A lot of it comes from within the school, that is often supported,
and perhaps the catalyst might be outside the school. For example,
I can think of, in my early days of teaching, the developments
in Nuffield science, both at what was then O level and A level;
now that had external support and encouragement, but a lot of
the development actually came from within the schools themselves,
a lot of the innovation. I think it is a mixture of all of those.
I think, first and foremost, schools have got to feel confident
that they have the power to innovate, they have also got, if you
give them the power to innovate, to accept that on occasions it
may not work, but that they will not be severely criticised for
the fact it does not work, because that is the nature of innovation,
it does not have, necessarily, a positive end in every instance.
109. But the Government started off trying very
hard to look to the private sector for innovation and new ideas,
and seems to have almost discarded that, in terms of now winding
up the Education Action Zones; is not that a sign that the Government
is getting more and more desperate to find inventive, innovative
experimentation in the school system?
(Mr Tomlinson) I do not know. I think you would have
to ask the Government that question. I think, if you asked teachers,
they would say there is an awful lot of innovation coming down
on them, and change, from the perspective of implementing new
110. But you have been in the profession, Chief
Inspector, a long time; are there any sources of innovation?
(Mr Tomlinson) I have indicated that some innovation
comes from external sources.
(Mr Tomlinson) Academic, yes; as I said, Nuffield
is a classic example of where a lot of innovation came, not just
in science, I think there was a Latin project, was there not,
David, through Nuffield, yes. So they can be the catalyst for
significant innovation; and, of course, a great deal of private
enterprise, not least industry, does often support innovation
in schools, through the funding that it has and through the personnel
that it gives to that. So there are all sorts of ways. I do not
think it could be considered to be the realm only of one group
of people, in one group of circumstances.
Chairman: Chief Inspector, thank you for your
time, and we look forward to seeing you again in the spring. Thank