Memorandum from the Association of Inspection
Providers (OFS 04)
The Association of Inspection and Training Providers
(AoIP) is the trade body representing the views of member contractors
to Ofsted and meets on a consultative basis with Ofsted as and
Representing just under half of the total number
of contractors allocated contracts in 2001/2002 its members cover
all three phases and include contractors from the private sector,
LEAs and university inspection services. Our members provide over
60 per cent of all inspections for Ofsted.
1. We welcome the recent consultative document
issued by Ofsted on the future of S.10 inspections from September
2003 onwards as part of their commitment to securing a widespread
response from those who will be affected.
Our partnership with Ofsted has grown in strength
over the last two years and contractors have played a valuable
role in the development and maintenance of the current inspection
Contractors have responded flexibly to new demands
part way through the current five term contract, for example,
to develop the new post-16 inspection arrangements and to share
the pre-inspection commentary (PICSI) with schools from September
of this year - a requirement only announced in early August.
Our experience is that where Ofsted works in
partnership with us the end result is a better informed and more
successful inspection process to which contractors are fully committed
having had part-ownership of the changes to that process.
There are major changes proposed in the consultation
document on the future shape of the inspection system from September
2003 onwards. The AoIP is responding to that consultation exercise
as its members will be heavily affected by whatever the outcome
of the consultation is.
We would seek two commitments from Ofsted:
To ensure that a "weighting"
is given to the views of the Association as our response will
be just one among many BUT our members will be the ones to respond
to the need to adopt new practices, new administrative/ICT systems,
to provide training and so on.
The second commitment therefore flows
from the firstOfsted must discuss with its contractors
at a very early stage the implementational issues arising from
any changes to the inspection system.
2. The opportunity should be taken to redefine
the purpose of the inspection system.
If the purpose of the inspection system is to
check and report on the standard of education being delivered
and subsequently to improve standards generally but of teaching,
learning and pupil attainment specifically, then we, and Ofsted,
need to be clear what that means.
Increasingly, it seems that inspection is also
being used as an umbrella to achieve other goals, eg a mechanism
for teacher professional development, a training device to improve
schools' self-evaluation procedures, a mechanism for gauging the
effectiveness of DfES initiatives etc.
From a contractor point of view we do not have
a problem with this `mission creep' providing:
It is explicit what we are being
asked to do,
we are involved in its inception
and subsequent implementation,
we can recruit and train people in
the necessary skills' and
we can seek proper remuneration for
the tasks undertaken.
Contractors are also willing to respond positively
to the growing demand for inspection findings to lead to advice
and subsequent support for school improvement.
3. Ofsted should pay more heed to the principles
of Best Value in deciding its work programme.
Although the inspection of schools, nursery
settings and some training is contracted out, Ofsted seems to
seek to secure most other elements of work for its own in-house
HMI workforce which has been expanding significantly over the
last year or so.
Given the size and nature of the independent
market it has been the case for some years now that the greatest
expertise in school improvement and effectiveness is within the
market and not within Ofsted.
It is a cause of concern to contractors that
Ofsted does not seem to utilize the principles underpinning Best
Value in deciding what to do and where to allocate work other
than direct inspection - we would strongly urge them to do so.
It should be remembered that the contracting
market, as reflected by our membership, includes LEAs, universities
and the "private sector" which itself includes many
former HMI and current or former LEA advisers/inspectors, past
and currently serving headteachers, teachers and education consultants
and so on.
The expertise that resides within the market
is, in our view, insufficiently engaged with Ofsted in any activity
other than inspection and inspector training.
We hope that you will find these three issues
of interest and we would be happy to respond again to the Select
Committee on any issue if the opportunity arises.
Association of Inspection Providers