Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120 - 123)



  120. Has that been drawn up from good practice that you have experienced as you have been inspecting? Finally, will you be confident that that will be ongoing and not, as we indicated earlier, something which is hurriedly done in preparation for an OFSTED inspection, because this ultimately has to be self-evaluation, week in, week out, to ensure the importance and value of it.
  (Miss Passmore) It is based on work that we have already done. We have a working group with head teachers, inspectors and advisers drawing on what we know already. We are continually updating that. We are working with the National College for School Leadership. Head First is a new programme of training for heads of at least two years' experience that we are involved with. We are making use of everything that is available to us so that we have something which schools will find useful. If OFSTED only visits a school once every four to six years, it is crucial that the self-evaluation goes on week in, week out and is of good and effective quality.
  (Mr Tomlinson) We are working with the National College on the development of a programme for heads of department and school coordinators because in secondary schools there is a key role to be played by the head of department in their capacity to undertake evaluation of the work of their department. That also helps to prepare them for what is going to be the next stage of their career. What is also emerging from the data is that, where you have a school that the inspection team judges has a very effective monitoring and evaluation system and which can take action, there is a strong association with a whole raft of features of what we regard as a good school. It is attainment, behaviour and so on. If we get that right and it operates effectively in schools, we will be in a position to say that the great likelihood is that they will also be effective schools in many other aspects of their work.

  Valerie Davey: How refreshing that is as compared to being told that OFSTED could only provide a snapshot in time.


  121. I think it was David Taylor who said that the FE section was a bit thin. It is the first year. I found prison education a little thin. On the one hand, I can hear a programme on Radio 4 celebrating the quilt making teaching and performance in Nottingham Jail at the same time as I suspect that there are tensions of basic skills in prison is something lacking and would equip prisoners to a life outside which is not a life of crime more effectively. It did seem to me that there was not a lot of substance yet in the prison education section of your report.
  (Mr Tomlinson) I did draw attention in the commentary to my concern about the literacy and numeracy issue. There is a report done jointly with the Prisons Inspectorate which gives much more detail and there has recently been undertaken an audit by the Youth Justice Board of the levels of literacy and numeracy amongst all young people in prison under the age of 18. It makes for very depressing reading.

  122. These are the most failed of the people in our education system?
  (Mr Tomlinson) Yes, they are.

  Mr Pollard: Perhaps the Committee should look at that.


  123. I think we will look at that. Could you give me a written report on the Tymms/Fitz-Gibbon analysis? We do not have time for that today. It is a penetrating critique of your methodology. I would like something on paper for the Committee on that. I would also like a little expansion on where schools are heading in terms of filling that gap in strategic planning. This has been a good session. I hope we have asked the right questions. You have certainly given us some interesting answers. We wish you well in your next challenge and thanks to all of you for coming before the Committee. We look forward to meeting your successor shortly. (Mr Tomlinson) Can I personally say thank you to you and Members of the Committee, both now and in the past, that I have sat in front of. They are enjoyable—a bit like an OFSTED inspection but they nevertheless do have an element of enjoyment. Thank you very much indeed.

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