Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-44)


31 OCTOBER 2005

  Q40  Jeff Ennis: A follow on to the point David is making, if the two work areas are divorced—the inspection and the quality improvements—as the current planning, why cannot your union within Ofsted apply to do the commissioning work on behalf of the QIA?

  Mr Sherlock: I think that is exactly what we would do.

  Q41  Jeff Ennis: What is wrong with that?

  Mr Sherlock: Nothing. I think if one was looking at what Mr Marsden described as a ring-fenced structure where, in fact, you had a series of divisions within a large organisation which were particularly tailored to their own client groups, I think that might work very well and it might have the added-value of bringing together, as I said, the 14-19 strategy and the skills strategy which, at the moment, are somewhat detached.

  Q42  Jeff Ennis: Does your record of achievement in this field not give you a leading edge, as it were, in terms of getting the work from the QIA anyway?

  Mr Sherlock: Yes. The indication from QIA is that they would want to buy and that they value the Provider Development Unit that we operate, Excalibur that we operate, the Quality Champions programme that we operate and so forth. I think that QIA is certainly not an impediment in any sense, but I do not think the QIA either would provide those services itself or could provide those new services itself. If the new body, the enlarged Ofsted, were unwilling to continue to succour them, then they would simply disappear from the agenda, from the providers that we serve. All the indications are that that blend of quality improvement and quality assessment services—

  Q43  Jeff Ennis: One of your main concerns then is the disappearance of the quality improvement agenda?

  Mr Sherlock: That is certainly one of our main concerns, absolutely.

  Ms Perry: It is also the focus on the particularities of the different types of provision which we believe would be lost.

  Q44  Chairman: The Association of Colleges, they seem to be a bit ambivalent about you; is that to be expected or is that an incorrect reading?

  Mr Sherlock: I think it is to be expected, Chairman. At the moment 80-odd% of the students in the general FE college are adults. Nevertheless we work under the direction of Ofsted. I think we work very effectively. I think we have put together joint teams which have been pretty much seamless. Nevertheless, I think the AOC is justified in feeling it is a fairly cumbersome kind of arrangement. I think they would prefer it if there was a single inspectorate. I can understand that, even though Ofsted and ourselves have worked hard and long in order to try and mitigate any structural difficulties. I think they would like to have a single inspectorate. I think perhaps their hopes in that regard are somewhat exaggerated because QAA and others would continue to be involved but nevertheless I understand that and I have some sympathy with them.

  Chairman: I think that has been a very good session. David, Nicky and Denis, can I thank you very much for your evidence and because time is short for the consultation process, it looks like we have got to get our act together quite quickly to make an impact. Thank you very much for your attendance.

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 16 February 2006