Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
CBE, JOHN GOLDUP
22 MARCH 2010
Q80 Chair: Even at management
level? You're saying that the hierarchy of management was still
predominantly made up of people from social care? One of the criticisms
we picked up was that that's not truethe management structure
was made up largely of people with an education background, not
a social care background.
John Goldup: What I'm saying is
that all our inspections of social care safeguarding, without
Chair: No, I heard what you said about
that, John; I'm now moving to the management.
John Goldup: The wider management
of Ofsted? I think that's probably something Christine would want
to respond to.
Christine Gilbert: John wasn't
there and I did read with interest the proceedings of your meeting
when this was discussed. It's absolutely true to say that people
who came over were essentially inspectors, which is why I really
want to reinforce the point that John is makingthat the
inspectors are specialists and they're the same specialists who
worked in CSCI and so on. But you're quite right. People did have
very confused expectations. Social workers were really astonished
to see that they weren't going to be inspected by schools inspectors,
as they put it. But the inspectors came over. Some people did
come over with data analysis skills and so on. Nobody came overyou're
quite rightat director level. Indeed, when I was appointing
at director level, I asked the chief inspector from CSCI to interview
with us on the panel and so forth, and another director helped
with other interviews, so nobody came over at director level,
but it's also true that in that first year, some very experienced
inspectors who had come over from CSCI took on more and more senior
managerial roles. But it wasn't until this summer that we appointed
two people with social care elements in their background. You
didn't accept previously that my background as chief executive
covered social care, but it did. It covered social care and education,
but no, I'm not a trained social worker.
Chair: Okay. Let's get down to some more
detailed questioning. Edward?
Q81 Mr Timpson: May I return to
a theme that we regularly talk aboutthe remit of Ofsted.
It has gone through quite a transformation in quite a short time
and we now have, through the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children
and Learning Act 2009, your latest addition of children's centres.
Where do we draw the line? There seems to be a lot of expansion
in the role of Ofsted at a time when your budget is under constraint.
Have we reached the point where Ofsted can't take any more and
the Office for Standards in Education is not going to go any further?
What's your feeling from the increased role that Ofsted has taken
as to whether it has reached its zenith? Indeed, has it gone too
Christine Gilbert: I think the
issue about the extent of the remit is really related to the effectiveness
of the organisation. I would need to be sure that with the areas
that we're regulating and inspecting, we're doing as well as we
can be doing and that there's improvement in all those areasthat
we're ensuring improvement, but also improving in the way we inspect
themand we feel that we're at that stage and that we have
made improvements in the remits within our brief. Every time we're
asked to do something, we do reflect very hard on it and we consider
whether we think it's part of our core business. We say no to
a number of things. We want to be sure that what we're doing,
we're doing well, and we're told by people who are directors that
we are doing it well. We find a mismatch between what the representatives
of the organisations say, and what people say when they've actually
experienced the inspection. We've just been looking internally
at the results of the evaluation of the unannounced inspections.
Now, you would not expect people to be very positive about the
unannounced inspections. We have had a 60% return of those inspected
so far and 47 have responded. Every single one has said it has
been a positive experience. So we are seeing really high percentages.
The lowest percentage was three who disagreed with the statement
that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. So what people
say individually after they have been inspected by us is very
important to us. That isn't to say that there aren't things that
we can improve, but fundamentally there aren't problems with the
methodology in that area. We have to be absolutely certain that
we are focusing on the needs and best interests of children and
learners, and that we have got the best methodology to do that.
We think that we are on line with the things that we're doing.
Q82 Mr Timpson: You said that
when you consider whether to take on an extra role and the effectiveness
of your being able to perform that extra role, there are some
things that you said no to. Can you tell us when you have said,
"No, we're not going to take that on"? What might those
Chair: You see, the mind boggles that
there should be things that you have turned down in this rapidly
Christine Gilbert: In a way, I
have no right to turn some things down. That is up to the Government.
The Government could ask me to do various things and I try to
Q83 Mr Timpson: What do you have
Christine Gilbert: Hardly a week
goes by without Ofsted being mentioned as having to inspect x,
y or z. Let me take the week before last. There was a report about
race equality on the Friday of that week and there was a request
that Ofsted inspect local authorities to identify incidents of
racist behaviour and so onI think it was that. Also that
week, there was reference to Ofsted inspecting personal, social
and health education. Miriam will know better than I do the number
of things over the years that she has had to fend off from the
school inspection framework. People carry out a report, publish
it, they want it to have an impact and therefore they say that
Ofsted must inspect it. So we are constantly trying to keep our
focus on the things that really matter, to do the best for children
and learners and to effect the greatest change, really.
Q84 Mr Timpson: Have you ever
made a request to streamline an area in which you are already
involved and also to accommodate a new area of inspection?
Christine Gilbert: We have said
that we can't take things on unless there was some dispensation,
if you like, in terms of the Better Regulation Executive initiative.
So, the new Ofsted was linked to a budget figure based on the
year 2003-04 and the new organisation was expected to cut its
budget by 30%, or £80 million, by this current year. It has
done that. But the force of the requirement was that, if something
new was introduced, something else had to go. It was the Government's
attempt to reduce what was described a few years ago as the burden
of inspection. We find it hard to describe it as a "burden",
but that is what was being described at the time. Therefore, every
time something new is introduced, such as children's centres,
there has to be debate at government level about whether that
can be an exception to the Better Regulation Executive ruling
and, if so, how it would be funded. So we don't just keep taking
things on and funding them from current resources. Resources have
to be found for certain things.
Q85 Mr Timpson: You have mentioned
children's services. What will Ofsted look for when it inspects
children's services and how will that inspection be different
from the inspection of schools?
Christine Gilbert: Children's
Mr Timpson: Sorry, children's centres.
Christine Gilbert: Children's
centres are very different from schools and we have piloted about
60 different sorts of inspections of children's centres in about
29 local authorities. We have come up with a model that we will
begin using on 1 April. Because the children's centres are all
doing slightly different things up and down the country, we will
be looking at how a children's centre assesses what the needs
are in a particular area, how it then makes decisions about what
it is going to do in that area and how it evaluates the impact
of its work. A few years agoI think it was a couple of
years ago, but within recent memorywe looked at children's
centres and we found many positive signs. However, we found that
a major weakness was that the impact over time wasn'tthere
was nothing to help in the sense of looking at impact through
Q86 Mr Timpson: We've had a proliferation
in recent years of children's centres as we've gone through phase
2 and phase 3. As you say, some of them are so new that it is
almost impossible to evaluate them or look at evidence as to how
well they are functioning, as opposed to the information that
we have on schools. How is that going to translate into how you
go about inspecting a children's centre on a practical level,
when there is not yet that evidence base on which to determine
what the best indicators may be as to how the children's centre
Christine Gilbert: We are planning
to send two people in for at least two days. There will be a number
of days where they are looking at different bits of written information
and so on. They will look essentially at what the centre thinks
it is about, how the needs for the locality are determined and
what is being done about those. We look fundamentally at how the
centre is assessing itself. We will then do some observation,
and we'll talk to key partners about what they see and to children
and parents about what they feel the centre is doing. We will
look at what the centre is doing to evaluate itself, and particularly,
as I say, at its impact through time.
Q87 Mr Timpson: And what is the
specific expertise and training of these inspectors going to be,
to get to the nub of the issue as far as children's centres are
Christine Gilbert: We have chosen
the inspectors quite carefullythose with an interest or
experience in the broader range of issues. This is not just about
education and care, important as those are, but health, employment
issues and so on. A couple of inspectors from the learning and
skills area will also be working on this, and each inspection
will be led by an HMI. They are being hand-pickedcertainly,
the pilots were hand-pickedand the training for all of
them will be ongoing too. A reference group was set up during
the piloting of this, and it reported very positively about that
approach. That had practitioners on it; it had key stakeholders
involved in it and so on. The model that has been devised was
very well received and piloted very well.
Q88 Mr Timpson: Because of the
newness of this area of inspection, do you think that there is
a case for reviewing the way you inspect children's centres on
a constant basisyou may already be doing this, I don't
knowand in terms of an overall review, and for reporting
on how your inspectors are finding children's centres? That could
be done in a shorter period of review, or on a more regular basis
than perhaps would ordinarily be the case, and we would get a
fairly clear picture of progression, rather than leaving it a
year or waiting for the annual report. Is there not a case for
perhaps having some sort of interim report on how Ofsted is performing
in its role in the children's centres?
Christine Gilbert: With every
new inspection framework, we take time to review how it's being
introduced and how it feels on the ground and so on. We make minor
changes, usually, as the framework is being introduced. We will
be monitoring this one very closely, although we have monitored
the schools one closely too, and the new models on children's
services. We will be looking at this, and talking, and looking
at the evaluations that come out of it. I think, too, that before
the annual report phase, we'll be looking to make sure we're looking
at the right things and getting a sense of what's there. This
hasn't been decided yet, but we might well be doing something
such as we did for the serious case reviewsthe lessons
learned from the early onesto send messages out to the
Q89 Mr Timpson: May I bring John
in and just change tack slightly into your area. At the moment,
responsibility for inspecting children's social care rests with
you. Then we have adult social care, which is now with the Care
Quality Commission. I know there's beenI was about to say
"a war of words", but that's probably taking it too
fara difference of opinion in the press between yourself
and Kim Bromley-Derry from ADCS. How do you take his chargethis
isn't necessarily a direct criticism of Ofstedthat the
current set-up of inspection, where you have two different bodies
in an area where there should perhaps be more joined-up working
across inspectorates, is producing a situation where field work
activity and focus group meetings between CQC (Care Quality Commission)
and Ofsted inspectors show that they operate separately, in accordance
with what one might term traditional professional silos? In other
words, there isn't an integration between the work that they're
doing; it's more of a segregation. How would you address that
John Goldup: The inspections that
we carry out of safeguarding services and looked-after children's
services are wholly joint inspections, and we work closely with
CQC on them. Clearly, those inspectors who are looking particularly
at the social care aspect will be focusing on social care issues,
and the CQC professionals looking at health care aspects will
pay particular attention to the contribution of NHS agencies in
the area, but there is very much a coming together as part of
one inspection team and one report. It is a very close working
relationship, which is very much developing all the time, in my
experience to date.
Q90 Mr Timpson: Do you accept
that more needs to be done to try to improve the working relationship
between the two inspectorates?
John Goldup: I don't think it's
about improving the working relationship between the two inspectorates,
which is very good. I think it is the case that for a major new
approach to inspectiona major new inspection programme
was introduced last summerof course there are things to
be learned from the first six, nine or 12 months of implementing
that. We need to learn them together with CQC. We need to learn
them together in dialogue with directors and other colleagues
in the field. That's something we're very committed to doing.
Q91 Mr Timpson: How are you assessing
properly that the local authority's performance in both those
areas is at the level that it should be?
John Goldup: That's quite a complicated
question, because we are assessing the local authority's performance
as the lead agency, but, of course, we're also inspecting the
performance of agencies beyond the local authority and, increasinglyparticularly
with the new legislation and guidance being publishedwe
will be inspecting that, as we already do to some extent, in the
context of evaluating the performance of children's trusts as
a whole. The way we do it is the way we seek to approach all inspection,
which is by gathering a wide range of evidence of different kinds
and essentially cross-checking those different sources of evidence
against each other to come up with a validated picture.
Q92 Chair: Why is ADCS so upset
with you then, Chief Inspector? They have a whole letter of complaint
Christine Gilbert: I just wanted
to add here, because I've given a very positive picture about
what directors are saying, that I think it's really important
to also say one of the criticisms from the individual directorsforget
about the collective that's the ADCSis that we're not presenting
joined-up enough with CQC, even at the feedback. We're taking
those lessons back, and we'll learn from them. There isn't a fundamental
difference, as I said earlier, about the methodology. That's one
of the criticisms: they think we're insufficiently joined up.
Q93 Chair: Chief Inspector, you
look at 150 children's services departments. Are you finding evidence
that worries you about the testing nature of the job of being
a director of those two areas? I sometimes put it like this. On
the one hand, here is the local authority; it's in the middle
of an early wave of Building Schools for the Future, and all those
other problems; it's got Ofsted on its back, in its schools and
so on. On the other hand, in the light of recent events, it's
terrified that it's going to have a dreadful child casualtya
murderand child protection is going suddenly to put it
in the front line of the media. Is it that we are asking too much
of directors of children's services, with a job that demanding?
Christine Gilbert: I think the
job is a very demanding one, and I think when we're struggling
to understand the mismatch between what individual directors tell
us and what the collective tells us, I think it's because at a
very personal levelit's high stakes these days; and they've
seen a number of the directors go, and so on. I think it is high
stakes. I think it's absolutely right, of course, that you look
at the leadership and management of a local authority, but actually
it can never be one person, and things can go wrong in the best
led and best managed authorities. So I think there is a real concern
out there about what's happening in this area, but I have to say
too that directors have established arrangements in local areasthey're
different in different areasthat are enabling them to lead
and manage effectively.
Chair: We will come back to that.
Q94 Ms Buck: I want to ask a few
questions about the improvement work and some of the changes in
the regime for follow-through and improvement. I just wonder if
you think there is a gap now in the provision for following through
and working with local authorities in their ongoing improvement
strategies, and that work that was previously done within the
commissionactually working with the politicians, working
with the senior managers to ensure that there's ongoing work after
Christine Gilbert: I should say
that we would hope that all of our inspection work supports, drives
and encourages improvement, and I was interested in your school
accountability report, where you absolutely thought that the balance
was right as it was, in terms of support and challenge. So I think
that we have a role in terms of clear advice to the settings that
we're inspecting, to identify and share good practice, and so
on, and we're beginning to see outputs from work that we've been
doing on that. I think that the gap you talk about, if gap it
isyou discussed this, I think, at an earlier meetingis
that the development work went to the government offices, and
where you might draw the line in that development work is, I think,
for discussion. I wouldn't go back to a systemif it ever
existedas is being describedwith the monthly visit.
I think that wouldn't be right. We've written now a couple of
times to local authorities. A third of local authorities have
still not responded to our saying "Do you now want a link
HMI?", so about two thirds of authorities have said yes,
they do. I think the fundamental point of improvement has to rest
with the local authority and it's up to them to get the support
they need. The bit that worries me most, I suppose, is those authorities
in the area of greatest need, and we've been talking to the DCSF
about working in a clearer way with some of those. So, for instance,
you saw the director of Birmingham at an earlier meeting: at which
point does Ofsted go back to say whether it thinks it's improved,
or it's better? They have got an intervention team at the DCSF,
and so on. We think, and I think the DCSF has now agreed, that
we need to be clearer about Ofsted's role in some of that, and
give greater support to thosea bit, if you like, like the
special measures model of schools, where you give more intensive
support through monitoring visits, and so on. If you look at what
we've done with Haringey, the first monitoring visit was very
weak; the most recent one showed good progress, and I think people
felt reassured by Ofsted saying this, particularly in terms of
what it said before.
Q95 Ms Buck: I think that's right.
The Committee's view was very clear about the structure being
right, but I don't think that necessarily means one can be totally
confident about the quality of provision of the new regime. My
personal view is that I've never found that the government office
is the strongest arm of government. That does worry me, and it
worries me particularly when it's weak. You are confident, are
you, that the mechanisms are in place, even if they are not delivered
through youthat the local authorities will get the continuing
advice and support to enable them to carry on improving?
Christine Gilbert: I have absolutely
no evidence that would let me reassure you on that point. We just
haven't looked at it, so I don't have a real view.
Q96 Ms Buck: You don't think you
should have a view?
Christine Gilbert: I have always
tried in this job to base my views on the evidence. If somebody
asks us to do an assessment, to inspect the nature of the support,
I think we could do a survey or report in that area; but I do
think it is an area that needs looking at, for just the question
Q97 Ms Buck: How many link advisers
will there be, and exactly what will their role eventually be?
Christine Gilbert: I think there
are about 65.
Ms Buck: Inspectors?
Christine Gilbert: HMI have either
two or three local authorities each, and they could have an education
background or social care backgroundor, indeed, a learning
skills backgroundand be attached to that local authority.
We have costed a number of days for each advisera dozen
a yearand some of that will be them understanding what's
going on in the local authority.
Q98 Ms Buck: A dozen a year for
each local authority?
Christine Gilbert: Days; but that
is for the inspectors to get their heads around the information
and so on, so that when they go in to a local authority they are
able to talk with confidence about what is going on with what
they are seeing in terms of regulation and inspection.
Q99 Ms Buck: What's their relationship
with the children, and children-learning strategic advisers?
Christine Gilbert: At the government
Ms Buck: Yes.
Christine Gilbert: At the moment,
they have no formal relationship with it; it is entirely just
the work being set up with the local authorities. The relationship
with the government office is essentially through three regional
directors that we have at Ofsted. The country is divided more
or less into three regions. They don't each operate in different
ways; it is a national system, but with three regional directors.