Select Committee on Education and Skills Second Report


The HMCI appointment process
1.We continue to believe that Parliament should have a role in the appointment of HMCI and that such a role would contribute positively to perceived and actual transparency in the public appointments process and the accountability of HMCI to Parliament. We would welcome further discussion with the Secretary of State as to how future appointments might be informed and supported by Parliament (paragraph 5).
Pupil behaviour and attendance
2.We welcome initiatives to tackle the issue of pupil non-attendance and recommend that the Department, in consultation with OFSTED, should encourage the development of good practice guidelines for schools regarding strategies for dealing with poor attendance, including the disclosure of personal information (paragraph 16).
3.We support the view that parental and community support will be central to any successful strategy to address the pupil behaviour and non-attendance problem. We look to the Department for Education and Skills to work with schools to promote this, through policy and public information, as a matter of urgency (paragraph 18).
4.We recommend that the existing penalties for parents who collude in pupil non-attendance or who are responsible for causing non-attendance should be reviewed, and if necessary expanded, to ensure that they are sufficient for the task (paragraph 19).
Teacher recruitment and retention
5.We welcome the progress made in teacher recruitment. We recommend that the Government should put greater emphasis on retention in the profession in order that experienced teachers and school leaders may be retained within the profession (paragraph 22).
6.While we acknowledge the importance of targeted inducements to for those joining and rejoining the teaching profession, we remain concerned that these strategies may have the effect of demotivating those teachers who have committed themselves to the profession without the benefit of these additional incentives, while adding to overall wage cost inflation. (paragraph 23).
7.We welcome innovative school-based approaches to initial teacher training, particularly where these have been shown to encourage entrants from previously under-represented minority ethnic groups. We are, however, concerned that the expansion of the Graduate Teacher Programmes has been accelerated while significant issues regarding the quality of the initiative remain unresolved (paragraph 25).
8.We recommend that the Graduate Teacher Programme should be kept under review and that further expansion of the scheme should be contingent upon the introduction of an appropriate system of quality assurance covering the whole Programme. In this way, the public, the teaching profession and individual trainees may be assured that the training available through the Graduate Teacher Programme is consistent with that offered through other routes into teaching and represents good value for money (Paragraph 26).
Teacher workload
9.We recommend that in the Annual Report for 2001-02 Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools should report on the evaluation of measures to reduce the burden of inspection and on any further initiatives to reduce teacher workload (paragraph 27).
10.In order to ensure clarity for all parties, inspectors and inspected, we recommend that OFSTED should publish explicit guidance on expectations for sufficient and effective planning (paragraph 30).
11.We consider the current model for school funding to be excessively burdensome. We recommend that Government should review the strategy for school funding as a matter of urgency in order to achieve a system that is less onerous in terms of management and administration and offers a more efficient use of public funds (paragraph 32).
Supply teachers
12.We recommend that the existing rigorous framework should be maintained to assure the personal and professional suitability of individuals before they are engaged as supply teachers. Any system should also take account of the continuing professional development requirements of teachers employed through supply agencies. We further recommend that supply agencies should be monitored (paragraph 36).
13.We note the enthusiasm with which Mr Tomlinson suggested that OFSTED might, in future, take responsibility for regulating teacher supply agencies. We welcome this openness and we recommend that the Department should consider taking powers to regulate teacher supply agencies (paragraph 37).
14.We recommend that the contribution schools make to their communities should be prioritised as each specialist school becomes due for redesignation. We further recommend that in cases where specialist colleges cannot demonstrate a significant contribution to raising standards in neighbouring schools they should be withdrawn from the scheme or required to undertake remedial action (paragraph 39).
Specialist Schools
15.We concur with the view that a more flexible approach to specialist school designation is needed, particularly in areas of economic and social deprivation and we look forward to the publication of the Department's revised criteria for specialist school status (paragraph 41).
Further Education
16.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 (paragraph 50).
Local Education Authority Inspections
17.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 education functions (paragraph 53).
Future programme
18. 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 (paragraph 55).

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