Select Committee on Education and Skills Sixth Report


The New Ofsted

8. The new Ofsted is responsible for a wide range of services. Prior to April 2007 Ofsted was responsible for the inspection of child-care providers, maintained schools, non-association independent schools[1] following the Education Act 2002, further education colleges, provision for children and young people in secure settings and services for children and young people. From 1 April 2007 Ofsted has been the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. This new remit covers the inspection functions previously carried out by the Adult Learning Inspectorate, inspection of Children and Family Court Advisory Service functions in England, the inspection of secure training centres and the registration of children's homes, residential family centres, fostering agencies, voluntary adoption agencies and adoption support agencies. The role of the Children's Rights Director and Local Authority inspection function have been transferred from the Commission for Social Care Inspection to Ofsted.

9. The Education and Inspections Act 2006 also made provision for a non-executive board for Ofsted. The role of the eight-person board and the Chairman, Zenna Atkins, is to scrutinise the governance of Ofsted and the work of HMCI. The board is also intended to ensure that the voice of service users is represented.

10. Press reports state that both "Ofsted chiefs [Atkins and Gilbert] insist there will be benefits from the mergers. They promise a clearer focus on the 'cross-cutting issues' that some of all of the inspectorates have previously tackled separately, leading to broader, more comprehensive research."[2]

11. However, there has been some concern about the scope of the new Ofsted. Reports also suggest that "the concern among the professions coming into Ofsted's regulatory grasp is whether the organisation can understand and balance the interests of disparate groups of service users and providers."[3]

12. When asked about whether anything would be lost through the expansion of Ofsted, HMCI said "I do see the strengths of each [area], and I do not mean this in just the clichés I think that the strengths of each will really contribute to the whole."[4] She also considered that "it is important that we do not lose our specialism in some way […] So I do not see that we are just going to have generic inspectors but I think we might be doing things together across the organisation, in a way, and I think there will be a lowering of some of the boundaries that we have established or that we will be establishing from April."[5]

13. When asked about what had been gained from the merger HMCI pointed to providers, such as boarding schools, which had previously been subject to two separate inspections "having some greater consistency and coherence in the inspectors arriving at their door."[6] However, HMCI accepted that there was still work to do to develop joint working. Miriam Rosen, Director of Education, also said, of care and education, "We are not there yet, but we have a lot of potential for bringing that together in a better way."[7]

14. This is a time of great change for Ofsted and whilst we are sensitive to the challenges that this brings we are still concerned at the complex set of objectives and sectors that Ofsted now spans and its capacity to fulfil its core mission.


15. Some of the most high profile criticism among those people affected by the creation of the new Ofsted has been from David Sherlock, former head of the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). He argued that the dual role of ALI should not have been split, with Ofsted taking on the inspection work and the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) focusing on improvement. He said "I think ALI lost the battle but won the war, or will be shown to have done so. I think the role of pure regulatory organisations is not likely to be a strong one in the future."[8] The TES also reported that he had "warned that private trainers may lose patience with the new inspectorate because it will not be able to offer all the ALI's support services to help training companies improve."[9]

16. He also claimed that of the 100 or more ALI inspectors that had not gone to Ofsted, 60 would be available to work for Beyond Standards[10] on an ad hoc basis. The NUT expressed some concern about the merger, saying:

    "Anecdotal evidence of joint Ofsted and Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) inspections, however, has suggested that misunderstandings have arisen as a result of inspectors' lack of experience in, for example, adult or VI form academic provision."[11]

They added that

    "ALI and the Commission for Social Care Inspections (CSCI) offered active support to providers, for example CSCI worked closely with senior local authority staff to monitor local plans and progress. These developmental functions have been lost under new arrangements."[12]

17. When asked the effect of losing over half of the former ALI inspectors HMCI replied "We have not lost any. This is a myth […] Every single inspector has come over from the Adult Learning Inspectorate."[13] HMCI's statement contradicts press reports that a number of ALI inspectors had chosen not to join Ofsted. We accept that HMCI is more likely to have accurate and up to date information on Ofsted staffing matters and that her comments on how many former ALI staff have joined Ofsted are more likely to be correct.

18. HMCI did accept that there was some concern from employers over the merger. She said

    "I have been very conscious that employers were suspicious, I suppose, or waiting to be convinced that the new organisation would hear anything beyond the voice of schools. […] It is certainly less stark than it was when the new organisation was being created, but I think that people are waiting to see. They are giving us the benefit of the doubt, but they will want us to be engaging with them very constructively over the next year."[14]

19. Ofsted told us it is committed to improving the way they are perceived by employers. HMCI said

    "It is one of the reasons why, at this stage we have set up a separate directorate within Ofsted with a new director, to give confidence there. […] A number of various bits of information, booklets and so on, have been produced for employers, providers and so on, and a number of conferences and meetings held […] we are inviting and engaging responses on the Strategic Plan […] I see us now moving into a new gear, with the appointment of the new director".[15]

20. It is important that Ofsted continues to work with employers to ensure the new, Ofsted-led inspections of adult learning are viewed with as much confidence as inspections carried out by ALI. Some of the concern among employers and other services users has been that adult learning and related services will not be disadvantaged by the previous focus of Ofsted on schools and early-years provision. The creation of a new directorate for learning and skills is a sign that the new Ofsted will not ignore this part of its remit.


21. The merger of a number of organisations involved in inspecting and regulation of children's services, education and adult learning has the potential to reduce bureaucracy and the burden of inspection on providers while at the same time providing a more coherent inspection system. Both HMCI and the Chair of the Ofsted board have expressed the view that the new Ofsted will be able to take a more joined up approach to reporting on issues affecting children, young people and adult learning as a result of the additional information Ofsted will now collect. We welcome the potential for the new Ofsted to take a more comprehensive and strategic view of the issues affecting children, young people and adult learners but we are concerned at the increasing complexity of this large bureaucracy and the ability of its new non-executive board to rapidly grasp this complexity.

22. A number of sectors which are now under the remit of Ofsted have expressed concern about the effect that the creation of the new Ofsted would have on them. It is clear that some of these reservations are still present. Ofsted has already expressed a desire to engage service users and providers from all of the sectors they are responsible for. This is essential if Ofsted is to fulfil its potential and we encourage Ofsted to intensify their work in this area.

23. The new Ofsted has been operating only since April 2007. We will be interested to see what will be achieved in the first twelve months of the new Ofsted and what value has been added by its creation. We cannot disguise our concern as to the fitness for purpose of the organisation at the present moment. We ask our successors to return to this issue in future meetings with HMCI.

The Strategic Plan 2007-2010 and the work ahead

24. The Strategic Plan 2007-2010 sets out Ofsted's priorities for the next three years. The Board and Ofsted staff have already been consulted on the Plan and now a wider consultation is taking place. Ofsted has said it is trying to engage service users and other interested parties with the plan, and HMCI said "we decided that it would be completely inappropriate just to say, 'This is the new Ofsted's Strategic Plan'. We did feel that we had to engage with people in what we were saying."[16]

25. The introduction to the Strategic Plan states "We expect to be assessed publicly by the same rigorous standards we apply to others. This strategic plan sets out the priorities against which we believe our performance should be judged."[17] This introduction also states that a second version of the plan will be published in early autumn to reflect the consultation and other work that is being done.

26. One of the areas that Ofsted recognises requires further work is the targets that it will set for itself. HMCI said

    "we were determined at Ofsted that we did set ourselves measurable targets that we could be held to account for; but they had to have a sensible base. In many instances we do not know; so it is fine saying. 'We're going to make 20% improvement". We do not know whether that is really easy or whether that is stretching in some areas. We are doing quite a bit of work on those. Not all of them but many of them will be there by September/October time, when we hope to come forward with them."[18]

27. The Chairman of the Ofsted Board said

    "What is interesting about the development of the Strategic Plan is that it was very much led by the Board, and it is one of the roles of the Board to ensure that the document becomes living and breathing.[…]we are absolutely pushing that there are smart targets in that document. Where we do not have baselines, instead of guessing them, which is quite easy to do—and we did have a go at guessing them and pulled them all out because, to be honest, a five or 10% increase here or there is stuff that perhaps we should have been doing in our sleep. In some areas we should have been looking at a 60%, and in some areas a five per cent was a ridiculously too-far stretch."[19]

28. We welcome the work that Ofsted is doing to ensure that the targets it will be judged against are appropriate and await those targets with interest. Consultation on the Strategic Plan is an excellent opportunity for Ofsted to hear and act on the concerns of service users and service providers. We urge Ofsted to use the information gathered from the consultation to identify areas of good practice within the organisation and also identify areas that need improvement.

29. Zenna Atkins told us that

    "the Board is very much there to monitor that we actually deliver this [the Strategic Plan]. Where we have not—and it is one of the commitments that I strongly make that I do not think if we set really stretched targets we should be surprised if we do not make some of them—what we need to do is not change them, but to be honest about that. My experience has been that where you do not necessarily have shareholders[…] where you have people who are constantly saying, 'Hang on a minute, you said this but you've actually done this, and you've changed the target', the Board will be doing that and will be honestly publicising."[20]

We ask our successors to return to this issue in future meetings with HMCI to see both the progress that Ofsted is making towards the targets and priorities and also how successful the non-executive Board has been.


30. The 2006 Survey of Ofsted Staff revealed a high percentage of staff, 23%, claimed they had been bullied or harassed. Zenna Atkins said "as a Board […] we take that very seriously. It is not acceptable. Twenty three per cent reporting harassment and bullying, for whatever reason, is not acceptable."[21]

31. HMCI argued that "I am still not absolutely sure whether people do not like being managed, and see that as harassment and bullying."[22] However, she also said

    "We take the result of the staff survey very seriously. […] We have analysed it and we have an action plan to address it in a number of areas. The biggest issue is the continuing isolation of so many of the workforce based at home. [...] We really are taking this very seriously, and in the Strategic Plan you will see that we have set ourselves the target of Investors in People Profile, which is quite an advance stage of Investors in People—which you would never be able to get unless you had a staff survey showing that the staff were very positive about working in the organisation.[…] I will expect the Chairman of the Board to be assessing me on whether there are significant advances in that survey the next time that we do it."[23]

32. It is clear that nearly a quarter of staff reporting that they are being bullied is far too high. We accept that some work, such as reviewing anti-bullying policy and practice, is already taking place. The consultation with staff which began for the Strategic Plan is one way of fostering a culture of respect for the views and opinions of staff and should continue. We were not reassured by the comments on bullying made in evidence, and we expect regular updates on this issue for our successor Committee.

Inspection and Reporting

33. The Departmental Report 2006-2007 states that the purpose of the Ofsted is

Core to this aim is the inspection and reporting work that Ofsted does. When asked about the effect of Ofsted in initiating improvement Miriam Rosen said

    "We would be the first to admit that all sorts of things help to bring about improvement in schools. […] we do believe that Ofsted acts as a stimulus. […] I think we can say there is a correlation; we cannot say there is a direct causal effect."[25]


34. A new form of school inspection was introduced in September 2005 in accordance with the provisions of Section 5 of the Education Act 2005. The new system meant shorter notice periods prior to inspection, smaller inspection teams, more frequent inspections, and an increased emphasis on school self-evaluation. In addition to section 5 inspections, reduced-tariff inspections have been introduced for the best performing schools. Reduced-tariff inspections do not require inspectors to spend as much time in schools.

35. Part of the rationale for introducing Section 5 inspections was to reduce the burden on service providers. The new inspections are also meant to use the self-evaluation provided by schools to assess providers' capacity to improve. HMCI said "there is a very positive feel about the new inspection process, which people feel is less burdensome."[26]

36. NFER recently published an evaluation of Section 5 inspections which was commissioned by Ofsted. This found that 88% of respondents were either 'very satisfied' or 'quite satisfied' with Section 5 inspection.[27] The evaluation also found that 95% of schools found the Self-Evaluation form 'very helpful' or 'somewhat helpful' as a vehicle for self evaluation.[28]

37. The NUT also carried out a survey of its members and their views on Ofsted in autumn 2006 which found 60% of respondents felt Ofsted inspection was an aid to self-evaluation.[29] The NUT survey also found that on most issues respondents were more positive about Ofsted and Section 5 inspections than they had been when the NUT carried out a similar survey in 2004. When the first survey was carried out Section 5 inspection had not begun and respondents were expressing views about proposals rather than reporting their own experience.

38. The number of respondents who viewed inspections as supportive and motivating for teachers had risen from 17% to 35% and those who did not view inspections as supportive or motivating had fallen from 59% to 36%.[30] Section 5 inspections were felt to be an improvement on the old system by 75% of respondents, compared to 37% in 2004 who believed it would be an improvement.[31]

39. However, there have been some concerns about the new inspection arrangements. The TES claimed to have seen inspection packs, used for Ofsted inspections, which showed that school gradings are being based on exam results rather than the quality of teaching because of the reliance on performance data and a shorter time for teaching observation. The article claimed

    "Ofsted verdicts now place great weight on statistical judgments about how good a school's test and exam results are. The TES has seen copies of inspection packs in which inspectors are asked to use statistical tools in reaching a verdict on how high standards are in a school. Each of these tools is framed in the same way: a comparison is made as to how good the school's results are, compared to the national average. This can be plotted graphically, with the national average represented as a line in the middle. Those schools which finish well above the line are likely to be 'outstanding' for standards. Those slightly above the national norm will be 'good'; those on line or slightly below will be 'satisfactory, and those well below the national average will be inadequate.[...] 'inadequate could simply be translated as 'below average', while 'satisfactory', in a system defined such as this, simply means 'average'. It is not surprising[…] that many schools will be average, and many will be below average, since by definition all schools cannot be above average."[32]

40. HMCI refuted this claim, saying

    "I do want to emphasise that the categories are absolutely not norm-referenced[33] […] Some of the performance information, the CVA—the contextual value added—has a norm reference. […] this is part of the whole picture; it is not the whole picture. We do look at a number of things. The overriding thing—and I really do want to emphasise this—is the inspector's judgment; the debate in the school; what she or he sees in the school; what emerges from discussions; and what other information the school might have."[34]

41. Another area of concern is the reliance on self-evaluation and whether this provides an accurate picture of the quality of teaching within a school. Aspect, a union representing professionals working in educational improvement and children's services, said "the available evidence suggests that the quality of English schools' self-review remains uneven."[35] However, the NFER evaluation found that in 85% of schools the Section 5 inspection confirmed the schools' own evaluation.[36]

42. HMCI also reported a positive attitude to self-evaluation, saying, "the process has changed in a number of ways.[…]The second major strand I would identify is the increased focus on self-evaluation—much stronger now than ever before—and schools themselves are universally positive about the self-evaluation element."[37]

43. We welcome moves that reduce the burden of inspection on service providers but changes to the inspection system must ensure that a rigorous inspection framework that can identify under-performing schools is maintained. We recognise that self-evaluative work can be beneficial for schools, highlighting areas for improvement but we urge Ofsted to ensure that self-evaluations are of sufficient quality and accuracy to be relied on as part of an inspection.

44. There has also been criticism of reduced tariff, or 'light-touch', inspections and whether the light touch is, in fact, too light. Reduced-tariff inspections are used in the best performing schools but Aspect urged caution in "a significant widening of the category of high-achieving schools to be viewed as requiring only a single-day visit by one inspector […] to embrace 30% of all schools from April 2007."[38]

45. The NUT has also voiced concern that

    "many of these schools have not been inspected under the new Section 5 arrangements. Judgements on whether a school is eligible for a reduced tariff inspection are made therefore, purely on the evidence available from pupil performance data, with all of the dangers of relying too heavily on such an approach."

They have also criticised reduced-tariff inspections, saying

    "Under the new arrangements for the inspection of higher achieving schools, the process of inspection remains very similar to that for full Section 5 inspections. This means that inspectors undertake the same kinds of activities during the inspection visit, but have even less time to complete them."[39]

46. When asked if the new inspections arrangements were better at identifying weaknesses in schools than the previous inspection arrangements, Miriam Rosen said, "If anything it would be better at that because of this very sharp focus on the overall effectiveness of the school, aided by the data and the self-evaluation."[40] If Section 5 inspections are more effective at identifying weaknesses than previous inspection regimes it seems probable that even schools which are performing well would benefit from at least one full Section 5 inspection before moving onto reduced tariff inspections.

47. We are concerned that some schools could be eligible for reduced tariff inspections without undergoing a full Section 5 inspection. Ofsted should clarify whether schools are identified as 'high performing' on the basis of previous inspection, data such as exam results or a combination of the two. We urge Ofsted to monitor how successful reduced-tariff inspections are at identifying falling standards in schools. It is important that previously good schools which are either coasting or no longer performing at such a high level are identified early. Ofsted needs to ensure that inspectors do have a proper opportunity to test self evaluation against what is happening in schools. We recommend that light touch inspections are properly evaluated after two years in operation, as we are not fully convinced of their effectiveness.


48. When we last reported on the work of Ofsted we voiced concern that the interpretation of the term satisfactory had shifted and that this was causing concern. We stated that "It must be understood that satisfactory performance represents work that is adequate in all respects in the context in which it takes place."[41] This issue has continued to provoke debate. The Annual Report 2005-2006 said that "'Satisfactory' can never be good enough."[42]

49. HMCI said that

    "If you look at a 'satisfactory' judgement, it means that no aspect of that school's provision—no major aspect of that school's provision—is what we would describe as 'inadequate'. We would think, though, that that school had much further to go. I do not think that any parent would choose, in most cases, to send their child to a school that was described as 'satisfactory' […] So my personal ambition is that all of our schools are 'good' schools."[43]

50. It is clear that the idea that "satisfactory" is not good enough continues to be contentious. To be effective, the gradings that Ofsted use must be clear and understood by both service users and service providers. We fully support HMCI's view that satisfactory schools should be encouraged to improve and that a good school is preferable to a satisfactory one. However, statements suggesting that a satisfactory grading is in some way a failure are unhelpful. We urge Ofsted to ensure that they are clear that satisfactory schools are not failing. Care needs to be taken that the discussion on the quality of provision is constructive rather than accusatory.


51. As a result of Section 5 inspections only core subjects are inspected as part of a school inspection. The thematic reviews that Ofsted carries out pick up on individual subjects. Each year Ofsted looks at the provision of teaching in some subjects through a small sample of schools. Over a three-year period this data informs the report on that subject. The Royal Society of Chemistry and The National Association of Advisers and Inspectors in Design and Technology have expressed concern about the small number of schools that are involved in the formation of subject reports. The Royal Society of Chemistry claim "it would be most unwise to make robust generalisations on a visit to a sample of schools, possibly as small as 30 in number, given the diversity of provision across England."[44] The National Association of Advisers and Inspectors in Design and Technology argue that the yearly sample "is an extremely small sample and unlikely to provide valid and reliable information, even when combined in the triennial subject report."[45]

52. Miriam Rosen accepted that the sample used to write subject reports was too small to be statistically significant but said

    "We feel that this enables us to pick up on particular issues, on strengths and weaknesses, on trend that are happening, and for us to focus in on particular things that we are interested in. It will not be a statistically significant sample, because to be statistically significant you need a huge sample. We are not going to be writing state-of-the-nation reports but, even so, we will be able to write authoritative reports on the basis of these inspections, which tell us about issues in that subject and trends in it."[46]

53. The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have also looked and this issue and said

    "We do not believe that Ofsted's new regime for the inspection of individual subjects, based on a small and statistically insignificant sample of schools, will provide sufficiently reliable data on science teaching."[47]

We believe this is also true of other subjects.

54. We are concerned that, while thematic subject reports may identify general issues in subjects they will not provide a reliable picture of the standard of teaching in that subject. We are also concerned that the lack of subject focus in school inspections will lead some schools to neglect non-core subjects in order to improve their grading. We urge Ofsted to review the size of the sample used to produce subject reviews. We also urge Ofsted to ensure that some observation of non-core subjects is included in all inspections.


55. We continue to take an active interest in children's issues and the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda. Work towards the five ECM outcomes: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being, is vital for ensuring that children and young people achieve their potential.

56. Ofsted also recognise the importance of the ECM agenda. The Annual Report says "Every child matters: this phrase is central to Ofsted's mission."[48] When asked whether an emphasis on academic achievement had led to less work being done to support the safety and emotional outcomes for children and young people HMCI replied

    "I do not, because I think that the very best schools have a holistic view of the child and do not just look very narrowly at literacy, numeracy and test results. If you look holistically and you are worried about the child's safety or health, and make sure that you do what you can to support in those areas, the results of the enjoy-and-achieve part would improve too. So I think that it is a whole picture that is very important."[49]

57. While supporting the ECM agenda is commendable it is sometimes unclear how Ofsted and inspection can help the delivery of the ECM outcomes. HMCI said

    "I suppose the fact that we are inspecting in terms of the five outcomes will mean that the schools look more closely at the five outcomes, and that those five outcomes feed into the school's self-evaluation is key. I think that would be the major thing: that we are going to be shining a light on that area and the school's contribution to those areas."[50]

58. The NUT say that

    "The inclusion of the ECM indicators highlights a long-standing tension between what Ofsted uses to base its reports on and what parents and others want to know about schools. Ofsted, through its reliance on performance data to inform judgments, concentrates on that which is easily measurable. Fundamental questions, such as the happiness, well-being and engagement of individual pupils within a school are not so easily answered by a 'snap shot' approach and are more likely to be accurately determined by on-going monitoring and evaluation."[51]

59. The focus of Ofsted on the five indicators may have had some effect on schools' approaches to ECM. However, inspection alone, particularly reduced-tariff inspection, is unlikely to be able to report in any depth on how well schools are promoting all five outcomes. The formation of the new Ofsted and the consultation over the new Strategic Plan is a good opportunity for Ofsted to consider what additional support it can give to the ECM agenda. We urge Ofsted, when looking at the operation of the new, larger organisation, to explore ways to strengthen their monitoring of the five ECM outcomes.

Inspection and improvement

60. One of the main justifications for inspection is that it leads to improvement. In the foreword to the Strategic Plan the Secretary of State for Education and Skills said "Independent external assessment is central in the drive to reform and strengthen our public services."[52] HMCI also expressed the view that "inspection can lead and shape change."[53]

61. There is also some evidence that teachers and school leadership teams feel that inspections help to improve their schools. The NFER found that 85% of respondents felt that inspection had contributed to improvement to a great extent or some extent and 89% of respondents felt inspection was likely to contribute to school improvements to a great extent or some extent.[54] John Brennan, head of the Association of Colleges also said,

    "Colleges need Ofsted. They need an external, dispassionate observer to report without fear or favour, to set the benchmarks for success and show how far colleges have come to meet the needs of the people they teach. The professional judgment of Ofsted is respected by parents, politicians and civil servants alike."[55]

62. While inspection may contribute to improvement, HMCI has made it clear that the responsibility for improvement lies with individual schools, saying

    "I cannot stress enough that the responsibility for improvement rests with the institution, the organisation. We cannot do it from outside the school. […] That is not our role. […] What schools have told us is that the regular visits when a school is in difficulties help them become better at evaluation themselves, in assessing whether their progress has been as good as they think it has, but as to the real locus of responsibility for development and improvement, it seems to me absolutely essential that it rests with the school."[56]

63. ALI and CSCI both took a more active role in helping providers to improve their service. Improvement and support was, in both cases, provided by the same agency that carried out the inspection process. While Ofsted argues that it drives improvement it does not provide support to schools. Instead it highlights areas of weakness or areas where improvement could be achieved. The Quality Improvement Agency [QIA] supports improvement by being a 'critical friend' and identifying effective ways of improving performance. HMCI said that "it is absolutely accepted that Ofsted inspectors will continue to provide examples of good practice which would then be fed through to the QIA and so the resource will continue for the system in some way."[57]

64. While schools, in general, seem satisfied with Ofsted's role—assessing quality but not working with schools on the improvement process—other sectors are used to an inspection service that also does active improvement work. It is important that Ofsted clearly communicates to all service users what it does and does not do. It is also vital that Ofsted continues to pass examples of good practice to improvement agencies to ensure that they provide the best help possible for service providers.

65. It still appears that Ofsted has no capacity to give advice when a cluster of local schools suffer from systemic underperformance. This continues to be a weakness in the inspection system.


66. Ofsted has emphasised the importance of head teachers and senior leadership teams in ensuring the quality of schools. The Annual Report notes that "Good leadership and management are […] essential."[58] HMCI expanded on this saying "I think leadership and management are really important; but I also think that the quality of teaching is absolutely vital."[59] When asked about research from the Policy Exchange which suggests headteachers do not make a difference in a school[60] she said "All our inspection evidence is that the quality of leadership and management is very important and that head do make a difference."[61]

67. Brenda Despontin of the Girls' School Association claimed that between 2004 and 2005 the proportion of vacancies for head teachers that needed to be readvertised rose from 27% to 36% in secondary schools, and from 27% to 38% in primary schools.[62] At 2006 conference of the National Association of Head Teachers it was suggested that one of the reasons fewer teachers wanted to become heads was the pressure of Ofsted inspections and the consequences of a bad report for head teachers.[63]

68. When asked if Section 5 inspections would have an impact on the number of applicants for head teacher posts Miriam Rosen said

    "we have been told that the new inspection framework is less stressful overall, but there is more intensive focus on the senior leadership team. The self-evaluation means that inspectors have to hold quite a focused dialogue with the head teacher and with other senior leaders[…] So I do not know if we are going to see a link or not. I think there is a huge range of factors which contribute to workforce issues like this".[64]

69. A rigorous inspection regime is unlikely to ever be stress-free, especially for senior managers in a school. However, despite some reports that the pressure of Ofsted inspection is a significant reason for teachers not wanting to become heads, we were presented with little evidence that this is the case.

1   Independent schools that are not members of the Independent Schools Council. Back

2   "Same name, new recipe", The Guardian-Society Guardian, 28 March 2007, p 3. Back

3   Ibid Back

4   Q 34  Back

5   Q 35 Back

6   Q 161 Back

7   Q 162 Back

8   "What the inspector did next", The Guardian, 24 April 2007, p 9. Back

9   "Ofsted battles to quell distrust", TES FE Focus, 30 March 2007, p 3. Back

10   Beyond Standards is a new organisation, set up by David Sherlock which aims to carry on and expand the improvement work undertaken by ALI. Back

11   Ev 62 Back

12   Ibid Back

13   Qq 143-144 Back

14   Q 163 Back

15   Q 163 Back

16   Q 165 Back

17   Raising standards, improving lives: Ofsted Strategic Plan 2007-2010, April 2007, pg 4. Back

18   Q 166 Back

19   Q 170 Back

20   Ibid. Back

21   Q 155 Back

22   Q 151 Back

23   Q 150 Back

24   Ofsted, Ofsted Departmental Report 2006-2007, May 2007, pg 5. Back

25   Qq 208-209 Back

26   Q 174 Back

27   National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), Evaluation of the impact of Section 5 inspections, April 2007, pg iii-iv. Back

28   Ibid, p 14, table 2.4. Back

29   Ev 67 Back

30   Ev 68 Back

31   Ev 69 Back

32   "Verdict on inspectors: inadequate", Times Educational Supplement, 1 December 2006, p 19. Back

33   A norm-referenced assessment is on where the organisation or individual being assessed is compared to a sample of similar organisations. A norm-referenced system of inspection would compare schools with each other and grade them accordingly, rather than comparing all schools against set criteria.  Back

34   Qq 65-66 Back

35   Ev 48 Back

36   NFER, Evaluation of the impact of Section 5 inspections, April 2007, p 17, table 2.5. Back

37   Q 9 Back

38   Ev 48 Back

39   Ev 56 Back

40   Q 203 Back

41   Education and Skills Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2002-03, The Work of Ofsted, HC 531, 23 July 2003, para 13 Back

42   Ofsted: The Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools 2005-06, HC (2005-06) 1596, November 2006, p 9. Back

43   Q 65 Back

44   Ev 82 Back

45   Ev 52 Back

46   Q 99 Back

47   House of Lords, Science Teaching in Schools, Tenth Report of the Science and Technology Committee, Session 2005-06, HL Paper 257, para 3.7 Back

48   Ofsted Annual Report 2005-06, p 5. Back

49   Q 117 Back

50   Q 116 Back

51   Ev 57 Back

52   Ofsted Strategic Plan 2007-2010, p 3. Back

53   Ofsted Annual Report 2005-06, p 9. Back

54   NFER, Evaluation of the impact of Section 5 inspections, April 2007, p 58, table 4.8. Back

55   "Watchdog wanted", Education Guardian, 22 May 2007, p 8. Back

56   Qq 20-21 Back

57   Q 32 Back

58   Ofsted Annual Report 2005-06, p 8. Back

59   Q 82 Back

60   Policy Exchange, The Leadership Effect: Can headteachers make a difference, 2007. Back

61   Q 251 Back

62   "Recruitment of heads 'in crisis'", BBC News Online, 13 November 2006. Back

63   "School leaders have had enough", BBC News Online, 5 May 2006. Back

64   Q 95 Back

previous page contents next page

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

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 12 July 2007