Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
CBE, JOHN GOLDUP
22 MARCH 2010
Chair: I welcome the witnesses to this
sitting of the Committee. I think that without a shadow of a doubt,
it will be the last one before the general election, and we're
very glad that you have all been able to see us before then, particularly
because we know that Miriam Rosen is retiring in about 10 days'
time. Considering that you must have one of the records for the
number of appearances before the Committee, it's delightful that
we can wish you well, Miriamnot that we expect you not
to do anything in the next 10 days, but we do wish you well. We've
always found your evidence and your response to questions to be
good, clear and straightforward. Thank you. John, welcome. You
haven't been before us until now, so our duty is to give you a
really hard time just to get you into it.
John Goldup: So
Q74 Chair: Chief inspector, it
is very nice to see you, as usual. We usually give you a chance
to make some brief introductory remarks. Christine, would you
like to do that?
Christine Gilbert: Only to say
how pleased we are to be able to come today, given the recent
information that we published about the section 5 school inspection
framework results and the reviews that we've been doing on children's
services. It's a good time for us and, we hope, for you.
Q75 Chair: Thank you. We'll get
started with some questions, but may I open up by saying that
the last time we met, I put it to you, starting with child protection
and children's services departments, that there had been something
of a wake-up call for Ofsted in terms of what the role of Ofsted
was and how you viewed the inspection of children's services?
That wasn't an accusationit was a fact of the matter. Two
or three very high-profile cases had intensified the attention
of all of us on how children's services, and particularly their
child protection responsibilities, were assessed. Looking back,
do you think we were right in thinking that there had been a step
change in how Ofsted was operating?
Christine Gilbert: I'm not sure
I'd describe it as a step change. We published new arrangements
for the inspection of children's services way back in September
2008. You will recall that there had been some discussion of them
here, too. We saw quite some time ago that a very different approach
was needed from the annual performance assessment. It is true
to say that the tragedy of Baby Peter made us look more closely
at those proposals, and we did things such as double the time
that we spent during unannounced inspections. So there were some
changes after those events. But we've always been aware, I think,
of the importance and centrality of this area to our work.
Q76 Chair: But you remember that
my worry was that there wasn't enough face-to-face contact in
terms of the inspectorate and inspections. I would make the point
to you quite forcefully that I would like to have seen more inspections
going out with young social workers and real links, with inspectors
really being embedded. You didn't seem very keen on that at the
Christine Gilbert: I wasn't keen,
you will recall, about an inspector being based in a local authority;
I thought that would bring them far too close to that local authority
and that it was important for us to keep a distance. At the time,
we were talking about the linked role for Her Majesty's Inspectors,
which we introduced just a few months ago. It's really too soon
to see how that is working, but it is an essential point of contact
between the local authority and Ofsted, as well as an effort to
look back at what has been achieved in terms of inspection outcomes.
It's also an attempt to look forward with the local authority
to see what is happening.
Q77 Chair: Chief Inspector, I
was hoping that I'd made one contribution to the work of Ofsted
and that the link inspectorates were to do with something that
I had suggested. You've dashed all my hopes in that respect. John,
can I ask you something? Quite a few peoplemembers of this
Committee among themwere critical of, and worried about,
social care inspection and thought that it was a very demanding
role. We've seen the size of the inspectorate increase all the
time. When I took over the chairmanship of the Committee, you
were really a schools inspectorate, but then you got early years,
later years and children's services. Your empire has changed and
grown very rapidly, hasn't it? You had hardly put your feet under
the table when you hit back at social care inspection criticism.
One report said, "John Goldup, who took up the new post of
Ofsted's director of social care in July, labelled attacks on
the experience of inspectors of social care settings as `extraordinarily
unfair'." Why were you so quickly so upset about that?
John Goldup: I don't think it
was a question of being so upset; it was a question I was asked.
I actually came to Ofsted in September, so they got that slightly
wrong. I came in with no preconceptionscoming in from local
government, where I had had a long career. I have been extraordinarily
impressed by the experience and competence of social care inspectors,
particularly the inspectors who lead the inspections of safeguarding
services and looked-after children's services. I was becoming
aware at that point, and I have seen a lot more evidence of this
since, that when you got the feedback directly from departments
that have actually been inspectedI was getting similar
feedback from colleagues in the fieldthey generally spoke
very favourably of the competence and professionalism of the inspectors
meeting with them. That's why I made the point that I did. I am
also pleased that we've had the opportunity in the last six months
to begin to recruit new inspectors from outside, and we've been
recruiting some really outstanding people from senior positions.
Q78 Chair: But haven't some of
those recruitments been because of criticism of the focus? We
were hearing that people who were very good at inspecting schools
and knew a lot about education were getting into an area that
they didn't have the background and training for.
John Goldup: Two points on that.
Since the new programme of safeguarding and looked-after inspections
and unannounced inspections started, there has never been any
truth in the suggestion that they've been led by inspectors with
an education background; 100% of those inspections have been led
by an inspector and a team of inspectors who are experienced
Q79 Chair: All of them have been
from a social care background?
John Goldup: Absolutely. There
will be an inspector with an education background as part of the
inspection team, because one of the things we're looking at is
the quality of working with education services and, in particular
for looked-after children, the way in which education services
are or aren't meeting the needs of that particularly vulnerable
group of children. That's a different issue, but no, the recruitment
wasn't prompted by that at all.