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Baroness Walmsley: Before the Minister sits down, perhaps I may raise one short point. The Minister pointed out that during assemblies schools will tell pupils about the inspections, about which there is an obligation to inform parents because they do not attend assemblies and are not in school every day. I accept that.
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However, what will be the situation of those pupils who perhaps may be absent due to long-term sickness and who may have a view about how well the school is coping with providing them with work in that situation? What will be the position of students who may have been bullied, causing long-term absence because of the school's failure to be sufficiently proactive and effective in preventing the bullying? Such students would have very important opinions to give to the inspectors. Unless there is a good deal of notice of the inspection, which will not be the case under the new regime, the information may not get back to them via the grapevine that there is to be an inspection.
For those reasons in particular, I believe that it is important that the legislation should contain an obligation to inform all pupils of an intended inspection. It is very easy to inform the majority by making an announcement in assembly. However, for the kinds of pupils that I have described, it really needs to be picked up to give them the opportunity of expressing to the inspectors their views about the performance of the school.
Baroness Andrews: Those are very important points in respect of children who are absent as a result of long-term sickness or have a history of being bullied. That is not to say that that is the only or best way in which the information could be conveyed. It certainly would also be picked up through the response of parents. I should have thought that if there are concerns about such important matters, the parents themselves would want to look at the construction of the questionnaire to ensure that they are adequately reflected.
In terms of the pupils themselves, I should have thought that, in its own guidance, Ofsted may want to make sure that schools are aware that children who have particular experiences and views are not left out of the process and are positively encouraged to come forward. However, I shall take advice and return to the noble Baroness on that.
With regard to the publication of age-appropriate reports, as it currently stands, Clause 10 provides the chief inspector with the ability to publish any report made as part of his general or specific school inspection functions. That clause enshrines a general power, which protects one of the key principles of inspection referred to by my noble friend Lord Sutherlandthat is, the power of the chief inspector to publish reports. However, it is a general power. It does not specify particular kinds of reports or thematic subjects. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to single out individual school inspection reports for pupils in that context.
I understand that the noble Baroness wants to place on the chief inspector a duty to publish age-appropriate inspection reports, which I have addressed at some length in my reference to the school council or the school itself. The preparation of what I have described as the pupil-focused summary is simply the first step in that process. The idea is that the school council itself
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should become involved in tailoring those messages. We could not strictly say that any one report that Ofsted could publish would be appropriate for the pupils of the school. Furthermore, one of the key aims is to provide feedback to pupils on how their input had influenced the outcome of the inspection. Therefore, the information might not be as relevant to pupils outside the school who are not parties to the inspection process.
We do not want to increase the burdens on schools. We need to be very careful as we discuss changes to the nature of the inspections. Because of the shorter, sharper inspections, we do not want to do anything that will overcomplicate the processes and increase the burdens. We shall continue to monitor the involvement of pupils.
Finally, in one of the amendments under Clause 48 there is a short reference to religious education. That would place a duty on those conducting inspections of religious education in schools with a religious character to prepare an age-appropriate report and would place a duty on schools to make those reports available.
The Churches and other faith groups have demonstrated that they, too, are keen to move towards the arrangements piloted by Ofsted for Clause 5 inspections when conducting Clause 47 inspections in future. We are working with them on those detailed mechanisms. Our expectation is that they are likely to include the preparation of pupil-focused summaries in the way that I have described. We are working with all faith groups to secure the best practice, and I hope that at Report stage we can update the House on our progress.
Baroness Turner of Camden: I thank my noble friend for that long and detailed explanation of the Government's position. I am glad that she at least accepts the principles involved in all these amendments.
I understand what she said about the phrase "age appropriate". I should like to think about that and consider whether a more acceptable form of wording could be devised. She referred to pupil-focused information. I should like to take some advice on that, which perhaps would result in a better way of devising a suitable form of wording.
I believe that these are very important issues and that some attempt should be made to try to include them on the face of the Bill. A good deal has been said in the press recently about the alienation of some pupils from the whole school system. If steps can be taken to give pupils greater involvement in every possible process, including inspections, it would help to remove the feeling of alienation that may exist in some schools. We discussed that matter yesterday when we debated in great detail the issue of discipline.
(i) the headteacher, staff, parents, pupils of that school,
(ii) and in relation to a community, foundation or voluntary school, a community or foundation special school or a maintained nursery school, the school's governing body or, if the school does not have a delegated budget to the local education authority, and
(iii) in relation to a school falling within paragraphs (d) to (g) of section 5(2), the proprietor of the school"
The noble Baroness said: This is a probing amendment, which would place on the chief inspector a duty to make available a copy of an inspection report arising from Clause 5 to a school's head teacher, its staff, registered pupils and the parents of such pupils. Furthermore, it would need to be made available to a school's governing body, its LEA, or in the case of a non-maintained school to its proprietor.
I hope that the Minister can assure us that further parts of the Bill adequately deal with what this amendment attempts to achieve. That certainly appears to be the case under Clauses 13 and 15. However, there is no specific mention of making the report available to staff, students or parents of the school that has undergone an inspection.
Clause 6 places a duty on the appropriate authority to notify parents of a Clause 5 inspection, but it does not place a duty to make available a copy of the completed report. Surely that is an anomaly.
Further, given that the Bill includes scrapping the meeting between parents and the inspectorsan issue on which we have had a most productive debateis it not crucial that we do everything that we possibly can to ensure that parents are engaged in the inspection process, especially in their knowledge and understanding of a completed report?
Clauses 13 and 16 place a duty on both the appropriate authority and the proprietor of the school to make a copy of the report available to any interested member of the public. That is not the same as including in the Bill named individuals, such as staff and parents, who must be made aware that such a report exists.
Baroness Andrews: I hope that I can give the noble Baroness the assurance that she seeks. Clauses 13 and 15 provide that inspection reports are made available to all stakeholders. The provisions are wide, providing for the chief inspector to send copies of reports to specified persons and for the appropriate authority in the case of maintained schools, and the proprietor for non-maintained schools, to send copies of the full
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inspection report to parents and to any other persons who ask to see it. Staff have access to the report through the mechanisms of the school. All inspections are on Ofsted's website.
With regard to pupils, as I said, we are trying a new approach whereby pupils will get their own feedback, following inspection, which is tailored to them. We are involving the schools council in that.
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