Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum from OFSTED (OFS 19)

  We were pleased to meet the Committee on 5 December and grateful for the opportunity to discuss OFSTED's current work programme with you.

  I undertook to come back to you on a couple of issues relating to our new responsibilities in respect of child care regulation and college inspections. These are dealt with below. In addition, I am enclosing a copy of my September letter to all schools informing them of changes to the section 10 inspection system. I also enclose a copy of a letter I sent to schools recently advising them that, from next term, we will be dropping the profile of lesson grades. I believe this is a move that will be welcomed by teachers and comes about as a direct result of responses made to our recent consultation, "Improving Inspection, Improving Schools".


  The Committee was interested in our proposals for harmonising the different salaries of the inspectors who transferred to OFSTED from local authorities in September.

  OFSTED inherited a range of differing salaries paid by local authorities to inspectors who were, ostensibly, doing the same job. For example, in the West Country, inspectors could earn as little as £13,000; whilst in one London borough, salaries could be as much as £28,000.

  All staff transferring to OFSTED were assimilated to an appropriate grade following an assessment of their previous responsibilities. For Childcare Inspectors, they were assimilated into our B2 grade pay range (National £19,292—£23,916; London £21,792—£26,216). Senior Childcare Inspectors were assimilated into our B1 grade pay range (National £24,342—£29,897; London £27,008—£32,197). As a result, more than 20% of those transferring received an immediate pay increase to include them in the pay range. Those staff whose salary was above the OFSTED maximum will have their existing salary protected.

  OFSTED, like nearly all Civil Service departments and the majority of large private sector employers, operates a pay range across any given grade. Therefore, it will always be the case that staff in the same grade could receive different salaries. Such differences may come about as a result of different levels of performance over time. In the case of the former local authority staff, it may also reflect salary levels prior to joining OFSTED. However, all staff are guaranteed to reach a "Guaranteed Progression Point" within 5 years. The Point is approximately four-fifths of the way through the range for the grade.


  The Committee was also interested in the proportion of the college inspection teams that had experience of the work of colleges outside the conventional GCSE A-level programme.

  The selection of team members for college inspections is determined by the type of college and the nature of its provision. As most colleges include 16-18 year olds and adults, the inspections are carried out jointly with the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). In colleges that have a significant majority of adult students, ALI will lead and provide the Reporting Inspector. Conversely, Sixth Form College inspections are led by OFSTED. On all joint inspections, the contribution from the respective inspectorate reflects the student profile. Hence, colleges with an emphasis on 16-18 provision have a greater proportion of OFSTED inspectors and vice versa for colleges with a larger proportion of adults.

  Almost a full year ahead of the first inspections taking place, OFSTED recruited the Principal of a further education college to lead on our preparations for this new work. On 1 April 2001, when we assumed responsibility for the inspection of colleges, 31 FE Funding Council inspectors transferred to OFSTED. Since then, we have recruited a further eight specialist HM Inspectors, all of whom have middle and senior management experience in colleges. In addition, we have recruited over 400 Additional Inspectors who work part-time on college inspections. The vast majority of these Additional Inspectors have at least 10 years' teaching experience in colleges. The subject expertise of the Additional Inspectors covers Agriculture, Construction; Engineering; Hospitality; Sports, Leisure & Travel; Business; Information Technology; Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy; Health and Social Care; Visual and Performing Arts; Basic Skills provision for Students with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities, as well as conventional GCSE and A-levels.

  Inspectors from the ALI cover an even broader range of vocational disciplines and ALI has more inspectors with recent experience of work-based learning. This ensures that each college inspection team has team members who match the college's curriculum.

  To date, OFSTED has completed 43 college inspections. The average inspection team comprises 20 inspectors with five full-time inspectors and 15 additional inspectors. Other than on inspections of sixth form colleges, the vast majority of inspectors will have experience outside of GCSE and A-level, and in many instances it will be every member of the team.

  OFSTED has recently run a second round of recruitment for additional inspectors. As before, all applicants have had to be endorsed by their college principal and will undergo rigorous training before going on inspection. Of the 300+ who applied, nearly 200 have been selected for training. In addition, we have recruited six full-time secondees from colleges to work as inspectors. The secondments are for a minimum period of three months and we plan at least two intakes per year. The first six secondees are all senior staff in colleges.

  Although we do not provide detailed CVs ahead of inspection, colleges do receive pen portraits of the team members.

  I hope that the Committee finds this information helpful. We look forward to meeting the Committee again in the Spring.

Mike Tomlinson, HMCI

December 2001

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