The role and performance of Ofsted - Education Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum submitted by CfBT, Serco and Tribal

Further to our meeting with the Committee last month, I am writing on behalf of the three Inspection Service Providers (CfBT, Serco and Tribal) to submit a further report in support of our verbal evidence. I hope the Committee finds it helpful and we are not too late to inform its conclusions.


1.  At the Education Select Committee hearing on 12 January, evidence was presented by HMCI and her colleagues, and by representatives of the Inspection Service Providers (ISPs). During the session, clarification on a number of points was sought by Committee members. Consequently Ofsted is providing further data, including information on specialist qualifications of inspectors, time away from the classroom and quality assurance systems operated by Ofsted and contractors.

2.  A recurrent theme in the evidence received by the Committee both in writing and at previous hearings has been that inspections led by Additional Inspectors (AIs) are of a lower quality than those led by HMI. Data presented in evidence to the Committee by both HMCI and the ISPs does not support this incorrect anecdotal view.

3.  Views presented to the Committee have not always been supported by a detailed knowledge of how inspections are currently carried out. For example, there has been much confusion over the percentage of inspections across and within each remit that are led by HMI or AIs. In Learning & Skills and in ITE inspections, HMI lead all inspections. Nevertheless some submissions have suggested that AIs lead less effectively in college as well as school inspections.

4.  In the light of the contradictions and inaccuracies apparent within anecdotal views, we wish to help the Committee to reach its judgements based, where possible, on accurate factual information. We thus submit some further points of fact and detail below.


5.  The maintained AI workforce is of complex composition. As the Committee has heard, it is largely made up of seasoned professionals (98%) who currently or have previously worked in schools, colleges other educational institutions, local authorities or as training providers, invariably at a senior level and are seeking to apply their knowledge and skills as inspectors. An increasing proportion of the workforce (around 26% at present working in schools and 50% in colleges) are classified as practitioners. A very small proportion of the most experienced inspectors (2%) have gained their experience largely in other educational or professional fields, such as educational psychology or child care. All L&S / ITE inspectors are or have previously been professionals from their specialist area and practitioner status is high at above 50% across the ISPs.

6.  However, these classifications do not tell all. For example, there are inspectors who combine inspection with supply teaching, though they will not necessarily be classified as practitioners. Others combine inspection and placements as interim heads, deputies or in other senior leadership positions, often in failing schools. They return to inspection work with updated knowledge and new experiences. Some are in full time employment as LA advisors and others work also as SIPs or educational consultants. Across the ISPs close to one hundred inspectors are former HMI who retain their capabilities, notwithstanding a change of status. All these highly experienced professionals show skill and accuracy in judging teaching and learning, for example, borne out of seeing a wide variety of practice across schools, key stages, remits and LAs. Whilst the diversity of skills and experience is a strength of the provision, ISPs do require a minimum number of days of training and delivery to be undertaken annually by every inspector. This minimum is intended to ensure that those who inspect less often use their skills and knowledge at a sufficient frequency to support consistent delivery.

7.  The following table gives an indication of the training and professional expectations and standards demanded of AIs in the school remit:


Stages in process:

1.  Register interest

2.  Initial filter

3.  Comprehensive training over approximately 12 months, including face to face sessions (up to 7 days), assignments and attachment to inspection as a trainee (up to 2)

4.  Sign off inspection by an HMI
Number of applicants*171 331164
Number accepted for assessment59 18882
Number actively trained46 17982
Number successful45 17080
Number "signed off" to date by HMI** 244834

* The variation in numbers of applicants reflects the situation that two contractors brought forward an inspector workforce from the previous contract

** A schedule is in place to support an ongoing "sign off" programme as opportunities are made available by Ofsted

Training and professional development provision by ISPs for existing inspectors in 2009 -2010 typically included:

  • Annual Conferences and regional meetings.
  • Ofsted required training (safeguarding, SEN, equality and diversity).
  • ISP required training.
  • Performance management requirements—individual and group.
  • Inspector led self-assessed training.
  • Development training.
  • New lead training.
  • Reader training.
  • Skills or phase enhancement training.
  • Improving writing (secondary & primary).
  • Early Years Foundation Stage training.
  • Protecting children training.
  • Parallel Inspection Event training.
  • Section 8 training.
  • Data handling training.

Additional professional development is delivered via the knowledge bases on each ISP portal which contain the latest developments in education, not just inspection, accessible on demand.

Each ISP publishes a monthly newsletter and regular professional bulletins containing updated guidance for inspectors and related educational developments.

8.  The scheduling of inspectors to inspection events is undertaken assiduously, supported by sophisticated data systems. Inspectors provide ISPs with details of their qualifications, experience and potential conflict with institutions. ISPs then match suitable individuals to the institutional setting, with further risk assessments carried out by inspection managers prior to deployment. The depth of information held on individual inspectors' skills and specialisms is demonstrated in two anonymised inspector profiles included as appendix "A". The effectiveness of this process, common to all ISPs, is evidenced by the high levels of satisfaction with inspection teams with the institutions they inspect.

9.  In all but the smallest school inspections there is a minimum of two inspectors. In larger schools and in all colleges, the lead inspector will be accompanied by more than one team inspector. In both planning for the inspection and when it takes place, the ISP and lead inspector closely match specific tasks and areas of focus to the particular qualifications and experience of the team, thus ensuring specialist requirements are met. The environment in which schools and colleges operate is constantly changing as are the management structures and organisation of the institutions themselves. For example, there is significant growth in the number of executive leaders in secondary schools whose background and role differs from the traditional routes to, and responsibilities of, headship. To provide relevant inspection in such institutions, ISPs must maintain broadly based inspector pools. Inspectors with wide ranging experiences work effectively in tandem with those in the team most recently in the classroom. Additionally, ISPs use practitioners to provide regular training updates for experienced inspectors.

10.  At the Select Committee session on 12th January there was discussion about consistency and the recruitment and role of practitioners. ISPs were challenged as to why, if inspection quality is so good, (at 94% according to providers subjected most recently to inspection) there is a need to increase the percentage of practitioners through targets. ISPs, in response, put forward the view that whilst performing very well, 100% satisfaction is the goal. "Refreshing the workforce" has been and continues to be a priority for ISPs, to ensure balanced and suitably skilled teams can be scheduled in the years to come. We are wholly committed to maintaining and indeed growing practitioner numbers, to reach in the region of one third of inspectors in schools by 2015. Consequently, recruitment at present is almost entirely from practitioners and will be for the foreseeable future.
School Inspection Survey feedback
(Since September 2009)
% of responses received about the inspection process that are positive 90%94%90%
% of responses received satisfied with the clarity of the inspection report 95%97%95%


11.  ISPs do not take lightly the challenge to achieve consistency across inspections. As mentioned in the recent session, there is a price to be paid for employing more practitioners because their release can be difficult and usually for short periods only. It results in a significantly larger workforce than would otherwise be the case—thus increasing the potential for inconsistency. Achieving the right balance in the pool and in inspector deployment takes careful management.

12.  This is, however, only one thread in the establishment and maintenance of consistent practice and judgements. The answer does not lie in HMI leading all inspections. As Mike Tomlinson, a former HMCI said in an earlier witness session, there always was and will be inconsistency between HMI as much as between AIs because of the sheer number. There is no one simple solution. Our approach is to work in partnership with Ofsted to align the performances of HMI and AIs as much as possible. In many inspections they work closely alongside each other, learning from each other's practice. For example, around 80% of secondary school inspections have a mixed team. School Inspection Survey data bears out the similarity in performances.

13.  It is also the case that AIs and HMI attend each others national and regional professional events, share training materials and undertake moderation and retrieval exercises on training satisfaction data, inspection practice and the use of inspection instruments such as evidence bases and published reports. HMI and AIs also undertake quality assurance visits to an agreed programme of inspections each term, with each covering both HMI and AI led inspections.

14.  AIs are required to undertake a minimum of 5 days training per year and to interact with the regular updates and guidance produced internally and received from Ofsted. As described by HMCI, ISP trainers are trained by HMI using their materials which are subsequently used with the AI workforce. Work is underway to secure validation of ISP initial training programmes by HEI, approved by Ofsted, to underpin and give public confidence in the high quality and consistency achieved. The detailed Quality Assurance procedures submitted to the Committee by Ofsted show the range and depth of processes in place to underpin consistent inspection practice. Specific analyses—such as reviews of the evidence collected by inspections teams—show good levels of consistency in processes, judgements and underpinning evidence are being achieved but we are not complacent. Joint Strategic Training and Quality Assurance groups set direction in this work and provide forums for sharing outcomes and triggering dissemination.

15.  Finally, in any major new initiatives or a change in inspection framework AIs and HMI work jointly in pilot inspections and in providing feedback, to inform the more general training on both workforces. This joint working is highly valued by Ofsted and the ISPs.


16.  Through this brief paper we have endeavoured to provide the Committee with a deeper understanding of the composition and nature of the Additional Inspector workforce, which has been the subject of a number of personal opinions, rather than evidence based submissions, to the Inquiry. We are disappointed that the highly professional inspectors in our teams have been subject to such a high degree of minority, inaccurate and unsubstantiated views.

17.  The Committee has received some submissions suggesting that, in particular, AI led inspections are of a lower quality and inconsistent in comparison with HMI led inspections. In our view, measurable evidence and data (SIS and complaints data) show this view to be wrong. Responses from the institutions inspected demonstrate equal confidence in AI led inspections to those led by HMI, including making full use of inspection findings and recommendations to bring about improvement.

18.  The notion that all school inspections should be led by HMI is both undesirable and unachievable. As HMCI stated in 12 January witnesses session, the employment of a minimum of 150 additional HMI in the current financial circumstances is unrealistic. We are equally convinced by the evidence which shows it would not improve the quality or relevance of inspections either. We are optimistic that the Committee, in its final report, will recognise the contribution and value of the ISP workforce to school improvement.

19.  As Inspection Service Providers, however, we seek continuous improvement in our work. We are confident that future inspection frameworks will bring more focus to inspections and that we can further improve the quality of delivery through the strength of our partnership with Ofsted, our rigorous recruitment and professional development processes.



SpecialismsFD/1/MFoundation Stage/Primary/Mainstream
FD/1/SFoundation Stage/Primary/Special
SN/1/MSpecial educational needs/Primary/Mainstream
SN/1/SSpecial educational needs/Primary/Special
SN/2/SSpecial educational needs/Secondary/Special
SN/3/SSpecial educational needs/16 Plus/Special
EN/1/MEnglish / English literature/Primary/Mainstream
EN/1/SEnglish / English literature/Primary/Special
EN/2/SEnglish / English literature/Secondary/Special
EN/3/SEnglish / English literature/16 Plus/Special
IT/1/MComputing / Information science / systems / studies / Information & communication technology/Primary/Mainstream
IT/1/SComputing / Information science / systems / studies / Information & communication technology/Primary/Special
IT/2/SComputing / Information science / systems / studies / Information & communication technology/Secondary/Special
IT/3/SComputing / Information science / systems / studies / Information & communication technology/16 Plus/Special
MA/3/SMathematics/16 Plus/Special
GG/3/SGeography/16 Plus/Special
HI/3/SHistory/16 Plus/Special
AR/1/MArt and design / Art/Primary/Mainstream
AR/1/SArt and design / Art/Primary/Special
AR/2/SArt and design / Art/Secondary/Special
AR/3/SArt and design / Art/16 Plus/Special
DT/1/MDesign and technology/Primary/Mainstream
DT/2/MDesign and technology/Secondary/Mainstream
DT/1/SDesign and technology/Primary/Special
DT/2/SDesign and technology/Secondary/Special
DT/3/SDesign and technology/16 Plus/Special
PS/1/SPersonal / social / health education/Primary/Special
PS/2/SPersonal / social / health education/Secondary/Special
PS/3/SPersonal / social / health education/16 Plus/Special
RE/1/SReligious education/Primary/Special
RE/2/SReligious education/Secondary/Special
RE/3/SReligious education/16 Plus/Special
AU/3/SSEN—Autism/16 Plus/Special
LD/3/SSEN—MLD/16 Plus/Special
MD/3/SSEN—PMLD/16 Plus/Special
PD/1/SSEN—Physical Disability/Primary/Special
PD/2/SSEN—Physical Disability/Secondary/Special
PD/3/SSEN—Physical Disability/16 Plus/Special
Conflict Institution106966 Newman School
118146St Hugh's Communication and Interaction College
118144King's Mill School
118011Haxey CofE Primary School
134728Hob Moor Oaks School
Contract Type90 Days
Contract Start Date01 Sep 2010
Contract End Date31 Aug 2011
Contracted Days90
Scheduled Days87.33
Attached Documents

Role—Lead Inspector
Role—QA Report Reader
Pupil Referral UnitS5
Role—Inspection Team
PrimarySCC, SCC
SpecialSCC, SCC

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 17 April 2011