42. The Learning and Skills Act 2000 extended OFSTED's remit
to include inspection of educational provision for 16-18 year-olds
in sixth-form colleges, tertiary colleges and further education
(FE) colleges from April 2001.
43. Five FE colleges were inspected in 2001 during the period
covered by the report and a summary of the findings were included
in HMCI's Annual Report. The picture presented by this very small
sample was generally negative, with a pattern of poor retention,
completion and pass rates, weak quality assurance procedures and
insufficient monitoring of teaching and learning in the classroom.
Two out of the five colleges were found to be inadequate overall
and in three out of the five colleges leadership and management
were found to be unsatisfactory. Teaching and learning was found
to be unsatisfactory in nearly one in five of lessons for 16-18
44. Subsequent press coverage and ministerial comment built
on this initial finding, suggesting that a small number of colleges
risk having funding withdrawn unless their performance improves.
Mr Tomlinson assured us that the Minister had been fully briefed
as to the emerging picture from all 68 post 16 inspections (63
plus the original 5 reported in the 2000-01 report). He added
that "We have to face the fact that even taking the 63 in
addition we are talking about ten per cent of our colleges near
enough that are inadequate. I am not going to be complacent. That
is not good enough."
45. In contrast to the small number of disappointing and highly
publicised inspection reports, Mr Taylor reported that "there
have been some outstanding colleges, both sixth form and general
FE, and those reports give full credit to significant achievements
across the board."
46. By mid March, a total of 68 post-16 inspections had accumulated
a significant database on performance in further education and
we were interested to know whether any overall patterns or issues
had emerged. Mr Taylor told us that:
"In some cases, there are some generic issues around
the governance and especially financial management of colleges
which was a problem we were aware we were inheriting. We are not
talking about widespread, very dramatic cases of the kind that
perhaps propelled us into this activity, but there are issues
about the corporate management in some of these colleges."
47. Looking forward to the next Annual Report, when 25 percent
of all post 16 provision will have been inspected, Mr Taylor predicted
a more thorough analysis of performance than had been the case
in the 2000-01 report. Mr Tomlinson suggested key issues in the
analysis were likely to be management training and personnel.
Mr Tomlinson agreed that further education colleges needed be
given the encouragement to improve so that they could deliver
on their vital role in academic and skills based learning.
48. Part of the role played by further education colleges
is to support the learning of students who have been failed or
excluded by other parts of the education system. The current OFSTED
model for judging institutional performance relies heavily on
the output measure of public examination results. This approach
takes no account of value added, the distance travelled
by individual students, often from a very low starting point and
therefore does not fully reflect the challenges and successes
of the post-compulsory sector.
49. Mr Tomlinson reported that OFSTED was currently working
on a number of new measures of school performance that will provide
a fuller picture of circumstances and achievement.
We anticipate that these measures will be applied across the inspection
regime for compulsory and post-compulsory education.
50. We look forward to a more detailed and representative
commentary on post compulsory provision in the 2001-02 Annual
Report from HMCI. Moreover we would welcome clear recommendations
to support the improvement of post 16 provision based on an analysis
of strengths and weaknesses and examples of good practice.
LOCAL EDUCATION AUTHORITY INSPECTIONS
51. The Annual Report identified continuing overall improvement
in the work of Local Education Authorities (LEAs) and noted that
all those LEAs which had received unsatisfactory reports following
inspection in 2000-01 had made improvements. Mr Tomlinson identified
the key factor in LEA improvement and effective management as
"corporate governance at the heart
of the local authority, the effectiveness and unanimity of purpose
of elected members and professional officers. Where that begins
to break down, its impact is all-pervasive in terms of the services
and the quality of those services."
52. On the outsourcing of LEA functions by local authorities,
Mr Tomlinson said that the evidence for the success of this policy
had yet to be seen. He added that a critical test for outsourcing
"... how well do all the other services coalesce with
education, because you cannot see it as a single entity. Some
of the children we have been talking about need a coordinated
effort of not only the education service but social services,
sometimes housing and the like."
53. We support Mr Tomlinson's views on the integration
of local services and recommend that this issue should be prioritised
in any review of the effectiveness of outsourced local authority
54. The HMCI identified several key issues on which OFSTED
will focus in the current year:
- the care and development of children aged 0-6;
- the impact of classroom assistants in primary schools;
- implementation of the Key Stage 3 strategy;
- provision for the 14-19 age group;
- support and guidance, including that offered by the Connexions
- schools in challenging circumstances.
55. We welcome this programme of work, and look forward
to contributing to the work of OFSTED through constructive engagement
as part of our scrutiny of its activities.
HC 500 para 29. Back
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Teacher Workload Study, December 2001
page 13 para 1.17. Back
See also First Report from the Education and Skills Committee,
Session 2001-02, The Work of OFSTED, HC 437, paras 5 and
HC 500 para 93. Back
HC 500 page 82. Back
HC 500 paras 35 & 100. Back
For example, The Guardian, 12 April 2002. Ms Gehring
was acquitted of all criminal charges. Back
Specialist Schools: An evaluation of progress, Office
for Standards in Education, October 2001. Back
HC 500 para 152. Back
HC500 page 54, para 192. Back
Hodge cracks down on failure, Times Educational Supplement,
13 July 2001. Back
Ev. page 27 (SQ07 para 6). Back
HC 500, Commentary, page 21. Back