Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
CBE, JOHN GOLDUP
22 MARCH 2010
Q120 Chair: But Chief Inspector,
in Warrington's case, as Helen has said, there was a work force
that thought they were good to better than good. Suddenly, under
the new regime, they obviously have got some real challenges.
You could say that about Haringey. Are you really saying that
none of the media attention that Baby Peter brought to this whole
area had any impact on Ofsted at all?
Christine Gilbert: No, I'm absolutely
not saying that. I keep saying that it made us go back and look
at what it was we proposed, but I would also ask you to look at
the papers that I published, when I published them, to suggest
the sorts of changes we were making. I should also say that Warrington's
performance in almost every single area other than safeguarding
is very good indeed, and by any assessment would be in the "performing
well" box, but in the area of safeguarding it is worrying.
We've identified the sorts of concerns
Q121 Helen Southworth: But Ofsted
is the body that should be making sure that safeguarding is safe.
Christine Gilbert: Well, that's
what we did in the unannounced inspection, and that's why we went
in for the two-week inspection.
Q122 Chair: How do you compare
that with the Haringey experience, where it was understoodcertainly
evidence was given to the Committeethat the 2008 inspection
was good, and outstanding in part, and the 2009 one that you never
published was good, and outstanding in part? There was a suggestion,
which I think you have refuted, that that was about to be published
when the Baby Peter case hit the media, and you asked for it to
Christine Gilbert: You will know
that I have been given legal advice; I am not supposed to get
into discussion about Haringey. However, I think I can answer
this one: the APAand we state this in public, actually,
in the information that was published at the timewould
be subject to the outcomes of joint area reviews. An emergency
JAR was undertaken for Haringey and that influenced the judgment
that we then made in 2008.
Q123 Chair: How many emergency
JARs have you done?
Christine Gilbert: I think that's
the only emergency JAR that was done during my time. We now do
the unannounced inspections and the rolling programmethe
safeguarding and looked-after children rolling programme.
Q124 Chair: So the emergency JAR
was because of the media strop?
Christine Gilbert: The emergency
JAR was because the Secretary of State asked us to do it.
Q125 Helen Southworth: Could I
ask if perhaps we could have information forwarded to us about
how many other authorities have had that kind of variation between
their annual performance assessment and the full inspection?
Christine Gilbert: Yes.
Chair: If Helen has finished, it's over
to Edward, who is going to look at serious case reviews.
Q126 Mr Timpson: I'm afraid these
questions are for you, Chief Inspector. The most recent annual
report showed quite a wide disparity in the number of evaluated
serious case reviews by Ofsted from 2007-08 to 2008-09up
from 92 to 199. Why did that number more than double, despite
the fact that the number of notified incidents went slightly down?
Christine Gilbert: All the evidence
that we have suggests that local safeguarding children boards
are really seeing this as a top priority and are very conscious
of decisions in a way that they might not have been previously,
but all the evidence, too, is that the serious case reviews overall
are having a real impact. At the end of the first year evaluation,
40% of them were inadequate. In the beginning of Marchabout
10 Marchit was about 17%, but if you look at the last quarter,
we now have more "goods" than any other grade and only
two "inadequate" marks. I say only two; two is still
serious, but it is very different from the picture that we had.
There has been a steady pattern of improvement in the whole area.
Q127 Mr Timpson: Is that based
on the same framework of evaluation?
Christine Gilbert: Yes.
Q128 Mr Timpson: That leads me
on to my next question about the review of that framework evaluation.
What progress are you making with that? I know that the review
has been welcomed across the board, including the Association
of Directors of Children's Services. Where are you with that,
and when can we expect better and further information as to what
that new framework will be?
Christine Gilbert: We've had some
informal consultation, if you like, and discussions with directors.
We had a conference with the chairs of local safeguarding children
boards and so on, to look at a very early draft of the proposals
for change. They've fed into that, and we've more or less got
the document ready for formal consultation. We think that it is
probably not appropriate to go out for formal consultation just
before the election silence period, because this is going to be
an area of real debate. We want to have that debate and we don't
want it to be silenced by the election period. I don't know if
John wants to add to that.
John Goldup: I've had a lot of
discussions about that early draft, particularly with groups of
directors up and down the country. It has been a very positive
and stimulating engagement and has been very much welcomed.
Q129 Mr Timpson: So we're looking
at June or July to start the formal consultation. How long will
the formal consultation take?
Christine Gilbert: As soon as
the election is over, we will be ready
Mr Timpson: I wasn't trying to ask you
when the date of the election is. How long is the period of the
Christine Gilbert: Generally,
three months is the norm, but we might be able to shorten that,
given the extent of the informal consultation that we have had.
We hoped that it would be something like eight weeks so that we
could be ready to introduce the changes, probably from September.
Q130 Mr Timpson: Regarding the
terms of reference for the review, does that include addressing
concerns that have been raisedwhether you agree with them
or notabout the over-emphasis on the process of producing
a serious case review rather than, as people like to say, "learning
the lessons" as a serious case review should do from the
practices of all the agencies involved with the child in question?
Christine Gilbert: That has been
the focus of the discussion during the informal consultation.
Are there things that we might be doing to learn the lessons more
effectively? That has been the whole thrust of it.
Q131 Mr Timpson: For instance,
one of the comments from the evidence we received is that the
serious case review can be marked as inadequate on the basis that
the terms of reference are not right. Is that right and is it
something that is going to be looked at?
Christine Gilbert: I think that
the terms of reference do have to be right. People have to think
about what they are doing very clearly, or else you could get
all sorts of people going off in different directions. I haven't
been involved in discussions about thatI don't know if
you were, Johnbut I would argue that you had to be really
clear about what it was you were doing with the terms of reference.
John Goldup: The terms of reference
are extremely important. Whether it is correct to say that any
serious case review has been judged as inadequate solely because
the terms of reference were poor is a different issue, and I couldn't
tell you that categorically. What I absolutely can say is that
the whole focus of the work we're now doing is on trying to ensure
that we develop our framework for evaluating serious case reviews
in a way that absolutely supports the fundamental purpose of doing
the serious case review in the first place. That is to make sure
that the necessary lessons are learned from the things that have
happened, and that the right actions are taken to improve the
protection of children in the future. That is absolutely the central
point around which the whole thing turns.
Q132 Mr Timpson: Just one last
question. Are you in a position to give the Committee your view
on whether you think serious case reviews shouldn't be published
in full, or whether the executive summary is a sufficient amount
of information for us to understand exactly what the issues were
in those cases to make them so serious, and how we can be confident
that everything is being done to improve the areas of deficiency
that led to the unfortunate incident in any particular case?
Christine Gilbert: We've had a
debate about this in Ofsted, and the consensus is that the risk
to children and families is too great for meaningful publication.
We would have to redact too much. We think that the guidance that
has come from the Department about what the executive summary
should look like will be helpful in giving a clearer picture about
the report, without mentioning the names of individual children
and their families.
Chair: Edward, thank you for that. We
move on to Karen, on Ofsted's new inspection framework for schools.
Q133 Ms Buck: You will be aware,
of course, of the controversy that greeted the publication of
the most recent statistics, which appeared to show on the face
of it a significant reduction in the number of schools getting
outstanding or good results. Would you just talk us through to
what extent any of this is to do with grading, and how much of
it is a statistical consequence of the shifting of inspection
priorities towards the schools that have not been achieving so
Christine Gilbert: It is exactly
the second of those; the sample is skewed, because good and outstanding
schools are now inspected once every five years. The sample is
always going to be skewed towards weaker schools. I give you an
example: I think it was 6% of the schools that we inspected in
the autumn termfrom the beginning of September to the end
of Decemberwere previously outstanding; the previous year,
11% had previously been outstanding. The difficulty is that until
you get a year's look, it is difficult to be able to present in
any other sort of way. I think the media are used to looking at
it in a particular waythat they get a range. It just didn't
do that, and it won't do that in future.
Q134 Ms Buck: Do you have a clear
sense of how you would present this, when you have a full year's
data, in such a way as to minimise the risk of the media presenting
it as a catastrophic decline in standards?
Christine Gilbert: There is a
statistical tool we could have applied to this, but we thought
that that would look too much like spin if we did that, so we
thought we should just publish the figures. We haven't come up
with an absolutely clear picture of how we will present things
at the end of the year. My own feeling is that we'll have to signify
the number of schools that we looked at, and decide that progress
looked to us to be good enough to leave them without inspectionthat
they were still good or outstandingand maybe count those
as good and outstanding. Certainly, the picture that we're seeing
is not very different from the picture that was seen in the first
year, 2005-06, when the new section 5 as it was then introduced.
Q135 Ms Buck: The Times Educational
Supplement commentary picked out a couple of schools that
had been judged as good in an earlier inspection but were then
found to be inadequate. Is it simply that there are always going
to be some schools that changeand so they should, otherwise
there would be something wrong with the inspectionsor is
it just that the TES was able to find some examples of
schools where their grades genuinely had changed, to illustrate
a story that you believe is almost exclusively to do with statistical
Christine Gilbert: We found that
50% of schools stayed the same, 25% went up and 25% went down.
I think this is rightgenerally not so many would have gone
down; we wouldn't have expected so many to have gone down. That
relates to the skewed sample. But we also found 35% of some satisfactory
schools became good or outstanding.
Ms Buck: So there's selective reporting?
Christine Gilbert: Yes. We found
often that schools are saying X or Y or Z, but we look at the
reports generally published and they bear very little relationship
to what is being said about the school in the press.
Q136 Ms Buck: The reports on the
new inspection regime were also asserting that schools were falling
to an inadequate rating on the grounds of relatively specific
and minor failingsnot greeting inspectors or asking for
inspectors' ID, and offences relating to heights of door handles
and so on. What's your response to that? Is it exaggeration? Is
it simply wrong?
Christine Gilbert: We followed
up every single example and I asked for examples, and there wasn't
a single one where that was the case. The school that was being
mentioned at the time of the annual reportI think it was
called Lawnswoodhad been designated inadequate because
of safeguarding and was inadequate across a whole range of issues.
That was one of a whole number. The children were describing themselves
as being bullied, achievement was inadequate and so on. That story
had been picked up by national newspapers and run with, and when
we pulled it off the web it bore no resemblance at all to what
was being said. What we decided in the end was that a number of
myths were being spread round, and we put on our web a whole series
of frequently asked questions to deal with that, but we also said,
"Come back to us." When we looked at the assessmentwe
inspected, I think, 2,140 schools in the autumnonly 17
were inadequate for safeguarding, care, leadership and management.
Those two things might have been related to the safeguarding,
but it was only 17 schools, and 70% were good or outstanding for
Q137 Ms Buck: Another of the common
complaints from schools is that the new inspection regime reinforces
a pre-existing complaint, which is that so much emphasis is placed
on a grade assessment and therefore it is difficult, if not impossible,
for a school that is achieving remarkable things with a very disadvantaged
intake to reach the highest standards of assessment. You assert
that that isn't the case, but what's the statistical basis for
that assertion? What analysis has been done by Ofsted to look
at the schools in each category and then apply the socio-economic
profile of the school to that assessment? Do we know specifically
that there are schools ranked as "outstanding" that
are below, say, the national average in terms of their Key Stage
Christine Gilbert: I think it
was 8% of schools in disadvantaged areas that had "outstanding"
from this sample that we're looking at in the autumn, and 9% was
the overall figure, so there was hardly any difference.
Q138 Ms Buck: But is that a disadvantaged
neighbourhood or a disadvantaged profile, because they are different,
Christine Gilbert: It will be
the area that the school is located in. That will be the base
Ms Buck: That worries me, because we
all know that a school can be located in a privileged area, yet
have an exceptionally disadvantaged intake, and vice versa.
Christine Gilbert: SorryI
see what you mean. I imagine the free school meals figure will
be looked at, for instance, so it would have caught the population
of the school. Miriam, is that correct?
Miriam Rosen: Yes, as I understand
it, it's looking at the free school meals data, so it will have
been the population of the school.
Ms Buck: Okay, so it's not just that
the school is located in a ward or
Christine Gilbert: No. It will
be the population of the actual school.
Q139 Ms Buck: Is this exclusively
on free school meals?
Christine Gilbert: I would need
to check that and get back to you.
2 See Ev 35 Back
Note by witness: Ofsted uses free school meal eligibility,
and the degree of deprivation associated with pupils' postcode.
Information about free school meal eligibility and pupil postcode
is gathered by the DCSF through the School Census, whilst the
degree of deprivation is calculated using the IDACI, an Index
of Multiple Depreivation produced by the Department of Communities
and Local Government. Also, see Ev 35 Back