Memorandum submitted by Ofsted |
1. Ofsted carries out independent, expert inspections
and regulatory visits in order to drive improvement across the
full range of its remit, and reports to Parliament annually.
Ofsted also produces in-depth studies of curriculum subjects and
aspects of provision in social care, education and skills, to
advise the Government and inform the public on quality and standards,
and to provide evidence to Parliament and its Select Committees.
2. Local authorities and funding bodies use inspection
reports when making their decisions about support for children
and learners. Local communities and those using services, including
parents, influence inspections and have access to published inspection
reports, enabling them to hold services to account.
3. Ofsted's inspection reports provide learners,
parents, employers and the wider community with independent and
trusted information. This helps them make informed choices about
their schools, nurseries and colleges. Ofsted's website, where
around 2,900 new inspection reports are published each month,
receives up to 570,000 unique visitors and eight million hits
4. Inspection should be an agent for change,
not just of scrutiny and challenge. Ofsted publishes what inspectors
look for during inspections in inspection "frameworks",
both to ensure consistency and set out clearly the features of
outstanding, good, satisfactory and inadequate provision. Ofsted
regularly consults on, and revises, its inspection frameworks
to take into account rising public expectations and to drive continuous
5. Ofsted's inspection reports contain specific
recommendations so that those providing services know what to
do to improve. Ofsted also monitors weaker providers more closely
to ensure they know what to focus on and that appropriate steps
are being taken. Ofsted draws on its findings to highlight what
is working well, and shares good practice so others can learn
6. Ofsted has a regulatory role in relation to
childcare and some children's social care services. When inspecting
these providers, Ofsted checks that the government's minimum standards
are being met and takes proportionate enforcement action to ensure
children are safe and well looked after.
7. The creation of the new Ofsted in April 2007
brought together the work of four predecessor organisations into
a single inspectorate for children and learners.
There are always challenges involved in implementing and embedding
a large organisational merger, but Ofsted has continued to deliver
and improve the full range of its inspection and regulatory activity
whilst achieving significant savings. Ofsted has consistently
met its inspection and regulatory targets.
8. The majority of education, children's services
and skills providers inspected by Ofsted report they are satisfied
with Ofsted's work. For example, since September 2009, around
nine out of 10 headteachers responding to post-inspection surveys
said they were satisfied with the way their inspection was carried
out and that the inspection had identified clear recommendations
for improvement. A similar number of children's home managers
responding to a survey in 2010 said they thought Ofsted's inspections
helped them improve what they do, and every college inspected
in 2009-10 agreed that the Ofsted inspection report provided a
sound basis for action and development.
9. Inspection develops over time, and since April
2007 Ofsted has introduced improvements across the full range
of its remit, including:
- increasing the time spent directly observing
services for children and learners. Under the school inspection
framework introduced in September 2009, for example, inspectors
are spending around twice as much time in classrooms as under
the previous framework. New unannounced inspections now directly
observe child protection arrangements in local authorities.
- focussing on the experiences of children, young
people and adult learners, and in particular those who are amongst
the most vulnerable: those who are looked after by, or leaving
the care of, local authorities.
- making inspections more proportionate to risk.
Under the current school inspection framework, for example, all
schools are inspected at least once in a five year period, but
weaker schools are inspected with greater frequency. Ofsted is
currently working on new proposals to cease routine inspections
of outstanding schools and colleges unless there are concerns
about their performance.
- making it easier for front-line staff to tell
us when things are going wrong. In 2009, for example, Ofsted introduced
a new whistle-blowers' hotline to enable council employees and
others working with children and young people to raise concerns
about safeguarding practices and procedures. In addition, new
surveys of social workers and those working in the third sector
were introduced in 2010.
- bringing together some inspections, such as of
education and welfare in boarding schools, reducing demands on
services and making more efficient use of resources.
10. Ofsted has continued to reduce its overall
expenditure whilst meeting its inspection and regulatory targets.
It now costs the taxpayer around a third less to carry out its
work when compared to the cost of the predecessor organisations
carrying out those functions in 2003-04, a saving of around £80
11. Savings have been made through a combination
of: more proportionate inspection; re-tendering outsourced school
and college inspection contracts (in September 2009) and outsourcing
early years inspections (from September 2010); and efficiencies
brought about through restructured and streamlined corporate support
services. Ofsted is a leader in the use of outsourced provision
in the public sector. At the same time, Ofsted has continued to
ensure its staff has the learning and development necessary to
deliver high quality inspection and regulation and was awarded
Investors in People status in 2008.
12. Independent evaluations have found that inspection
has a significant impact on school improvement, especially in
the weakest schools. Inspection can act as a catalyst for improvement
and helps ensure schools are focusing on the right areas for development.
Over the four years of school inspections ending in 2008-09 there
was a steady increase each year in the proportions of good and
outstanding schools, with this figure reaching 69% of schools
inspected in 2008-09.
13. The areas on which Ofsted focuses in inspection
frameworks can help target improvement. For example, safeguarding
arrangements have markedly improved since Ofsted introduced a
more rigorous approach to this area. In 2006, an Ofsted study
found that 32 of the 58 schools inspected were not acting in accordance
with the government's safeguarding requirements. Ofsted subsequently
introduced a greater emphasis on this area, and during 2009-10
less than 2% of schools were judged inadequate for safeguarding.
14. The National Foundation for Educational Research
(NfER) evaluated Ofsted's impact between 2006 and 2009.
NfER emphasised the importance of classroom observation, high
quality feedback and clear, specific and straight-forward recommendations
in published inspection reports. Teachers, in particular, reported
that inspection helps identify where change is needed. Nearly
90% of teachers responding to the NfER survey stated that they
thought inspection helped schools to set new priorities for the
future and 85% agreed that inspection led to improvements in teaching
15. Ofsted has an important role in driving improvement
in the weakest schools. When a school is placed in "special
measures", for example, Ofsted holds a school improvement
seminar with the headteacher, the governing body and a representative
of the local authority to discuss the improvements needed. Ofsted
inspectors then carry out monitoring visits of the schools, at
a frequency of up to three visits a year, to support and check
16. Since September 2005, 83% of schools improved
sufficiently to have special measures removed by the time of their
fifth monitoring visit. School leaders, teachers, and local authorities
will have brought about the necessary improvements but headteachers
of schools coming out of special measures say that Ofsted monitoring
visits had a major impact.
The Ofsted visits helped the school
to focus on the right areas, kept the school on track, and imbued
a rapid pace.
17. All Ofsted's HMI and social care regulatory
inspectors undergo rigorous selection, induction and training
processes, and all have experience and skills relevant to the
sectors they inspect.
18. Ofsted employs HMI to undertake and quality
assure inspections of schools and colleges, and contracts with
three private inspection service providers (CfBT Education Trust,
Serco Education and Tribal Group) to supply Additional Inspectors.
There are tight contractual arrangements in place with the inspection
service providers, with key performance indicators setting stringent
Ofsted has worked with private inspection service providers since
its creation in 1992 and has a comprehensive programme of quality
assurance in place.
19. HMI quality assure the work of the Additional
Inspectors on their team and check the suitability of new Additional
Inspectors before signing them off for further deployment. Most
of the current cohort of Additional Inspectors have substantial
experience of inspections, often working with HMI since 2005.
Some Additional Inspectors are serving headteachers. HMI continue
to lead many of the most complex inspections, including 75% of
secondary schools and 85% of schools causing concern.
20. Ofsted employs Social Care Regulatory Inspectors
to carry out inspections across the range of children's social
care settings. Social Care Regulatory Inspectors must have a recognised
social work qualification or at least a level four professional
qualification relevant to working with children. They must also
have significant experience of leadership and management in a
social care setting or service for children and young people or
at least three years post-qualifying experience as a fostering
or adoption social worker.
21. Ofsted also employs expert HMI (Social Care)
who in addition to leading inspections of social care settings
and welfare in boarding schools, inspect and evaluate safeguarding,
child protection and looked after children services in local authorities.
They are also responsible for evaluating serious case reviews
and are all qualified and registered social workers with appropriate
senior leadership and management experience.
22. As with school and college inspections, Ofsted
has a dedicated quality assurance process to ensure children's
social care inspection standards are met and reports are consistent.
Local authority children's services are surveyed following either
a full inspection of their safeguarding and looked after children's
services or an unannounced inspection of child protection referral
and assessment arrangements. In 2009-10 all but one local authority
reported satisfaction with the way the inspection was carried
out, and not one expressed concerns about the skills and experience
of the inspection team.
23. Ofsted inspections are designed for the particular
service or sector inspected. Some of these, such as independent
schools and children's homes, are defined by the need to ensure
that providers are meeting legal requirements and minimum standards;
others, such as schools and colleges, are more focused on evaluating
24. The weight given to different factors within
the inspection process depends upon the type of inspection but
Ofsted's inspection frameworks normally have overall judgments
on: "Overall effectiveness" (often informed by a judgement
on "capacity to improve"); "Quality of provision";
"Outcomes for children/learners"; and "Leadership
25. In relation to the school inspection system
introduced in September 2009 children's achievement, and in particular
their learning and progress, is the driving factor in determining
a school's overall effectiveness, with a lesser link to raw attainment.
In the first two terms of the new school inspection framework,
in over a quarter of the schools judged to be outstanding and
half of the schools judged good, pupils' attainment was not above
average for the country.
26. Under this current inspection framework,
if a school is found inadequate for safeguarding or promoting
equal opportunities of pupils' achievement, it is highly likely
to be judged inadequate overall. Serious weaknesses in either
of these areas usually reflect more general serious weaknesses
in the school. In the first two terms of the new inspection arrangements,
Ofsted undertook 3,990 school inspections and no school was found
inadequate solely as a result of minor safeguarding concerns.
27. In learning and skills inspections, Ofsted's
inspection frameworks have a similar focus on improvement, particularly
the outcomes for, and the needs of, different groups of learners
including underachieving groups and those in vulnerable circumstances.
Ofsted's inspection arrangements encourage services to focus on
the interests of learners and employers who use them. Learning
and skills providers tell us they value the inspection of sector
subject areas. These are sampled and graded on all inspections
and offer a specialist view for the benefit of learners and employers.
There is also an emphasis on the judgement on "capacity to
improve", recognising the Further Education and Skills sector's
drive for increased self-regulation.
28. Ofsted introduced new arrangements for the
inspection of services for safeguarding and looked after children
in the summer of 2009.
The arrangements have two main elements. The first is the annual
programme of unannounced two-day inspections of front-line child
protection contact, referral and assessment arrangements in local
authorities. The second element is the full two-week rolling programme
of inspections of safeguarding services and of services for looked
after children held over a three year timeframe.
29. Both types of inspection consider front-line
practice and place emphasis on the quality and impact of the service.
During the unannounced inspections, inspectors spend their time
observing work coming in, how it is responded to, and how it is
prioritised and managed in real time. Inspectors talk to front-line
staff and managers about their experience and perspectives and
they examine a sample of cases in detail with the workers involved.
In the full inspections, HMI look at the whole range of ways in
which local authorities and other services deliver their responsibilities
for keeping children safe, both as individual agencies and in
30. The new inspections have been well received,
and Ofsted is working with the Association of Directors of Children's
Services to improve the arrangements and make sure they are fully
Whether inspection of all organisations, settings
and services to support children's learning and welfare is best
conducted by a single inspectorate
31. Ofsted has demonstrated that it is possible
for a single inspectorate to carry out high quality inspections
of individual learning and welfare services by using expert inspectors.
Having these carried out by a single inspectorate brings a number
of attendant advantages, including:
- being able to investigate themes relating to
both welfare and learning, such as poverty, special educational
needs or outcomes for looked after children and produce insightful
reports sharing best practice and making recommendations for improvement.
- being able to look across services for children
and learners in local areas to see how well they are joining up
in a way that was not done before; for instance, in its reports
on safeguarding and looked after children's services in local
- creating efficiencies for providers and local
authorities. Ofsted can carry out "single inspection events",
for example where schools also run registered childcare, thereby
reducing demands whilst making judgements on the full range of
services on offer in one location.
- reflecting local and national government structures
and helping ensure coherent accountability mechanisms.
32. Having a single inspectorate has also resulted
in efficiency savings as mentioned above. This has included reductions
in the per capita cost of in-house staff such as research, IT
and administrative teams.
The creation of the new Ofsted in April 2007 resulted in immediate
savings of around £15 million, principally through economies
of scale and sharing back-office functions.
The role of Ofsted in providing an accountability
mechanism for schools operating with greater autonomy
33. Ofsted inspection has an important role to
play for schools operating with greater autonomy. Independent,
expert inspection will enable such schools to be held accountable,
will encourage their continuing improvement and give parents the
information they need to compare all schools on a consistent basis.
34. Ofsted has been introducing increasingly
proportionate inspection over the last few years to ensure there
is a strong focus on underperformance. A move to no longer routinely
inspecting outstanding schools will build on this. Ofsted will
continue to undertake essentially desk-based assessments of the
performance of such schools so that concerns can trigger an inspection.
Ofsted will also continue to carry out survey inspections in these
schools to ensure others can learn from the very best.
35. There is no conflict between Ofsted's inspection
role and schools having greater autonomy in terms of management
and curriculum. This is already reflected in the inspection arrangements
for academies. Ofsted judges schools on the basis of the quality
of their provision and the outcomes for their pupils, not by compliance
with statutory requirements or particular models of provision.
Ofsted recognises that different approaches to leadership and
management can work equally well in different contexts. What matters
is the impact of leaders and managers on the quality of teaching
and learning, and the outcomes for the school's pupils.
1 The latest of which is The Annual report of Her
Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and
Skills 2008/09, Ofsted, 2009. Back
In 2009-10 Ofsted carried out around 38,500 inspections, including
nearly 3,800 inspections of children's homes; over 18,000 childcare
providers, over 6,300 schools, 167 colleges, 122 prisons and secure
estate settings, and 98 inspections of local authority child protection
contact, assessment and referral centres. The 2009-10 Annual Report
will be published in November 2010. Back
In an independent survey carried out by Ipsos MORI in 2009, only
9% of parents said they were not in favour of school inspection,
with most valuing the information it provides and saying it stops
schools from coasting and/or helps them improve. Back
Ofsted's inspection frameworks and associated guidance for inspectors
are published on Ofsted's website, www.ofsted.gov.uk Back
Ofsted also looks into complaints about regulated childcare and
social care providers. In 2008-09, for example, Ofsted looked
into 7,200 complaints about childcare provision and required action
to bring about improvement in 31% of these cases. (Ofsted Annual
Report 2008-09). Back
The new Ofsted brought together: the work of the Adult Learning
Inspectorate, the children's work of the Commission for Social
Care Inspection, the inspection of Cafcass from Her Majesty's
Inspectorate of Court Administration and the Office for Standards
in Education. Back
See, for example, Ofsted's Annual Report 2008-09. Ofsted
is able to draw on the inspection of individual providers; its
new inspections looking at looked after children's services within
local authorities and the work of the Children's Rights Director,
who is based within Ofsted. Back
The proportion of schools found good or outstanding since September
2009 was lower than this. However, this is in the context of a
more-risk based approach to inspection where more satisfactory,
inadequate and declining schools were selected for inspection. Back
The NfER evaluations of the impact of section 5 inspections are
available on Ofsted's website, www.ofsted.gov.uk Back
Independent survey conducted by NFER, Teacher Voice Survey
2009, available on Ofsted's website, www.ofsted.gov.uk Back
78% of the headteachers surveyed reported that their schools would
not have made the same progress at the same rate without the monitoring
visits; 16% responded that they would have made the same progress
but not at the same rate. [Impact of special measures monitoring:
headteacher perspective, Internal briefing, Ofsted (2007)]. Back
In the period April-June 2010, none of the 1152 inspections conducted
required formal intervention by Ofsted to secure the judgement
and none of the additional inspectors presented for sign-off failed
to meet the criteria. During the same period there were only four
upheld complaints about the manner in which inspections were conducted
(1 in 288). Back
Of the 35 post-inspection surveys carried out, 32 local authorities
agreed or strongly agreed that the skills and experience of the
inspection team matched the areas inspected (one did not respond
and two neither agreed nor disagreed). Back
Ofsted published an FAQ section on its website in response to
myths arising around the time of the introduction of the new school
inspection framework that made it clear that schools would not
be found inadequate for minor safeguarding issues. Back
Ofsted consulted extensively on these new arrangements and published
its initial proposals in September 2009. Back
As noted at paragraph 22, feedback from those inspected about
these inspections has been overwhelmingly positive. Back
Had Ofsted existed in its current form in 2003-04, its staffing
would have been 3,082. At the end of March 2010, the new Ofsted's
headcount was 2,142. And with the outsourcing of early years in
September 2010 it is as of 1 September, 1,539. Back
Ofsted is working on new school inspection arrangements for consultation
in 2010 and introduction in 2011. This will focus on the quality
of teaching; the effectiveness of leadership; pupils' behaviour
and safety, and pupils' achievement. Back