The Work of Ofsted - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440-442)



  Q440 Chairman: So you are very positive about the school report card?

  Christine Gilbert: I am positive about it. It has the potential to give far greater clarity to parents about the school's performance. There is quite a way to go, and I will be interested in what people are saying through the consultation, which I have not seen.

  Q441 Chairman: Theoretically, then, Vanessa, we could halve your budget and rely much more on the school report card. That would be a wonderful way of saving money, would it not?

  Vanessa Howlison: Even as an accountant, I would say that you still need inspection to get a full, rounded view of provision.

  Christine Gilbert: That is why I keep stressing all the time with the report card that it comes with inspection. However, it could help. One of the reasons why we looked at it hard was that we thought that we would not need to do our own risk assessments annually if there were an annual report card—we would use it. We still think that there may be a way to reach that, but the report cards will not be introduced until 2011, if they are introduced, and that is too far away for us. We need to have something in place before then.

  It is important that we do not confuse everybody out there by going one way while the DCSF goes another way, so we have been trying to work closely with the Department on this matter.

  Q442 Mr Stuart: A quick health check on diplomas, which you mentioned, Melanie. Exam boards told us that it was the most complicated qualification they had ever come across, and there are logistical difficulties, not least in rural areas such as the one that I represent. Are diplomas on track? Are you confident and happy about them, or do you have any warning notes to share with us today?

  Melanie Hunt: As part of the survey programme that I mentioned, last year's survey looked at local authorities that had begun to establish partnerships and to engage in planning. The results were actually quite positive. It appears that all the right things were in place. However, this year will be the true test, because, obviously, it is the first year that learners have been enrolled and the programme is running. It really is too early to say anything. There has been a variety of feedback from the first few visits that have taken place. It is important to bear in mind that the first partnerships that are going through—those that started in September 2008—were the forerunners and therefore perhaps the best. Many had a history and a track record of working together, so they put together strong proposals that enabled them to be part of the first wave. Clearly, it is important that we all learn the lessons from the best going first so that that they can feed out and inform those who follow.

  Chairman: Chief Inspector, we have had a good session with many varied questions and some positive answers. I am afraid that we will be seeing you again soon because we will be doing an inquiry into social work training imminently and another into the training of teachers. It will not be long before you are sitting in that seat again. Thank you for your attendance today and for your full answers to questions.

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