STANDARDS AND QUALITY IN EDUCATION: THE
ANNUAL REPORT OF HER MAJESTY'S CHIEF INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS FOR
RESPONSE FROM OFSTED TO THE SECOND REPORT
OF THE EDUCATION AND SKILLS COMMITTEE, SESSION 2001-02
Memorandum from OFSTED
The HMCI appointment process
1. We continue
to believe that Parliament should have a role in the appointment
of HMCI and that such a role would contribute positively to perceived
and actual transparency in the public appointments process and
the accountability of HMCI to Parliament. We would welcome further
discussion with the Secretary of State as to how future appointments
might be informed and supported by Parliament (paragraph 5).
This is a matter for the Secretary of State rather
than for OFSTED. However, we are not clear how this would make
HMCI more accountable to Parliament as the accountability is already
there through the Select Committee and through Parliamentary Questions.
Pupil behaviour and attendance
2. We welcome initiatives to tackle the issue
of pupil nonattendance and recommend that the Department,
in consultation with OFSTED, should encourage the development
of good practice guidelines for schools regarding strategies for
dealing with poor attendance, including the disclosure of personal
information (paragraph 16).
OFSTED's report Improving Attendance and Behaviour
in Secondary Schools (2001) was published in response to a
request from the Secretary of State. The report analysed what
works and made recommendations to schools. Since the publication
of the report, OFSTED has collaborated with the Audit Commission
on the dissemination of good practice by local education authorities
to improve attendance. This material appears on a special Audit
Commission website. OFSTED has also assisted the DfES with further
advice on attendance for schools and local authorities which has
been the subject of regional conferences and appears on the DfES
3. We support the
view that parental and community support will be central to any
successful strategy to address the pupil behaviour and nonattendance
problem. We look to the Department for Education and Skills to
work with schools to promote this, through policy and public information,
as a matter of urgency (paragraph 18).
OFSTED agrees that parental and wider community support
is vital in addressing behaviour and attendance at school. The
DfES is sponsoring a special behaviour improvement programme,
closely associated with the government's initiative on street
crime, focusing on 34 local education authorities. The programme,
which includes elements on attendance as well as behaviour, is
intended, amongst other things, to support better interagency
and community links. OFSTED is involved in evaluating the programme
as part of a joint inspectorate exercise led by HM Chief Inspector
4. We recommend that the existing penalties
for parents who collude in pupil nonattendance or who are
responsible for causing nonattendance should be reviewed,
and if necessary expanded, to ensure that they are sufficient
for the task (paragraph 19).
This is a matter of government policy. OFSTED will
continue to collect evidence about how schools and local education
authorities work to increase parents' awareness of the need for
full school attendance and to reduce absence, parentally condoned
Teacher recruitment and retention
5. We welcome the progress made in teacher
recruitment. We recommend that the Government should put greater
emphasis on retention in the profession in order that experienced
teachers and school leaders may be
retained within the profession (paragraph 22).
If schools are to have available to them the numbers
of teachers required to maintain the progress of recent years,
significant efforts will be required on both the recruitment and
the retention of teachers. The age profile of the teaching profession
makes it particularly important that we improve the retention
of teachers in early and mid career.
6. While we acknowledge the importance of
targeted inducements to for those joining and rejoining the teaching
profession, we remain concerned that these strategies may have
the effect of demotivating those teachers who have committed themselves
to the profession without the benefit of these additional incentives,
while adding to overall wage cost inflation (paragraph 23).
As noted above, recruitment and retention are both
important and it is for government to find the right balance between
them in the allocation of financial incentives. At the same time,
it is important to recognise the importance of factors other than
the purely financial that influence people to become and remain
7. We welcome innovative schoolbased
approaches to initial teacher training, particularly where these
have been shown to encourage entrants from previously underrepresented
minority ethnic groups. We are, however, concerned that the expansion
of the Graduate Teacher Programmes has been accelerated while
significant issues regarding the quality of the initiative remain
unresolved (paragraph 25).
In seeking to meet the government's projections for
teacher recruitment, it is clear that a greater diversity of routes
into the profession is required. In particular, we need to make
it easier for those who find that traditional routes do not fit
their requirements to obtain training, for example career changers
and those who cannot train fulltime. At the same time, it
is important that all trainees can be assured of high quality
training so that they can meet the same high standards expected,
regardless of the training route. OFSTED will continue to play
a key role in monitoring the quality of all routes to Qualified
Teacher Status, including the Graduate Teacher Programme.
8. We recommend that the GTP should be kept
under review and that further expansion of the scheme should be
contingent upon the introduction of an appropriate system of quality
assurance covering the whole Programme. In this way, the public,
the teaching profession and individual trainees may be assured
that the training available through the Graduate Teacher Programme
is consistent with that offered through other routes into teaching
and represents good value for money (paragraph 26).
See response to paragraph 25. OFSTED is actively
developing proposals for the inspection of the new Designated
Recommending Bodies for GTP. These proposals assume that these
bodies will become accredited ITT providers within a fixed period
of time and then subject to the same inspection scrutiny as other
9. We recommend that in the Annual Report
for 200102 Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools should
report on the evaluation of measures to reduce the burden of inspection
and on any further initiatives to reduce teacher workload (paragraph
We shall be pleased to report on the effectiveness
of OFSTED's and others' initiatives to reduce workload. Despite
the numerous changes introduced in recent years to reduce the
demands of inspection, we remain vigilant on the issue.
The Cabinet Office's Public Sector Team, jointly
with DfES, has been asking schools about reducing teacher workload,
including asking about inspection, as part of its "Making
a Difference Schools II project". Informal feedback
from the first few visits has been encouraging from an inspection
point of view. This is perhaps not surprising because the review
is concentrating on regular workload pressures and most schools
receive a section 10 inspection only once every 46 years.
We will consider carefully any emerging findings from the review
team and respond to them.
10. In order to ensure clarity for all parties,
inspectors and inspected, we recommend that OFSTED should publish
explicit guidance on expectations for sufficient and effective
planning (paragraph 30).
OFSTED does not have any expectations of particular
approaches to planning. We emphasised this in a letter sent by
the previous HMCI to all schools in September 2001, which also
asked headteachers not to ask staff to prepare lesson plans specifically
for the inspection. Our position is that lessons should have clear
objectives and that planning, whatever form it takes, should be
effective. Inspectors judge processes like planning on their contribution
to effective learning. Inspectors are expected not to carry into
inspection their own predilections about how schools should operate.
They must be sufficiently openminded to be able to judge
what they find on its merits.
OFSTED does, however, write many reports illustrating
effective practice in schools. One school's successful approach,
though, can be another school's burden. The current source of
guidance on planning for the national curriculum is the Qualifications
and Curriculum Authority. We understand that the DfES is exploring
possibilities for producing further guidance and that they would
wish to consult OFSTED in doing so.
11. We consider the current model for school
funding to be excessively burdensome. We recommend that Government
should review the strategy for school funding as a matter of urgency
in order to achieve a system that is less onerous in terms of
management and administration and offers a more efficient use
of public funds (paragraph 32).
Our major contribution has been to work with the
DfES and Audit Commission in defining a common approach to recording
financial information and reconciling our inspection data requirements
of schools with this common format.
12. We recommend that the existing rigorous
framework should be maintained to assure the personal and professional
suitability of individuals before they are engaged as supply teachers.
Any system should also take account of the continuing professional
development requirements of teachers employed through supply agencies.
We further recommend that supply agencies should be monitored
The increasing role of temporary (supply) teachers
in schools makes it vital that this important element of the school
teaching workforce is properly regulated. OFSTED will be reporting
on the use and impact of temporary teachers in schools in the
autumn. This report will not focus specifically on supply agencies
as we have at present no remit for monitoring their activities.
13. We note the enthusiasm with which Mr Tomlinson
suggested that OFSTED might, in future, take responsibility for
regulating teacher supply agencies. We welcome this openness and
we recommend that the Department should consider taking powers
to regulate teacher supply agencies (paragraph 37).
OFSTED has no statutory powers to regulate teacher
supply agencies. We would be happy to discuss with the DfES what
role we might play in the future.
14. We recommend that the contribution schools
make to their communities should be prioritised as each specialist
school becomes due for redesignation. We further recommend that
in cases where specialist colleges cannot demonstrate a significant
contribution to raising standards in neighbouring schools they
should be withdrawn from the scheme or required to undertake remedial
action (paragraph 39).
OFSTED's report, Specialist Schools: an evaluation
of progress (2001), provided analysis of specialist schools'
community roles and examples of good practice. The report has
been widely disseminated and all newly designated schools receive
a copy of it.
HMI continue to work closely with the DfES on the
guidance for new specialist schools and the assessment of applications
and on monitoring the progress of existing schools in meeting
their targets under the scheme.
The guidance for redesignation in phases 24
of the scheme highlights the importance of the community role,
in particular the emphasis on highquality learning outcomes.
It is expected that, in these new phases, targets will become
more ambitious and involve a greater number of partner schools
and community groups. When assessing a school's suitability for
redesignation, progress in meeting community targets in
schools' current plans is given equal weight with the progress
in pursuing inschool developments. A school which fails
to demonstrate sufficient progress and has not in its subsequent
plan provided details of how these deficiencies will be addressed
will be the subject of further scrutiny by the DfES assessors.
If, despite prompts, a revised plan remains significantly weak,
the school risks losing its specialist school designation.
15. We concur with the view that a more flexible
approach to specialist school designation is needed, particularly
in areas of economic and social deprivation and we look forward
to the publication of the Department's revised criteria for specialist
school status (paragraph 41).
A considerable number of existing specialist schools
are located in areas of socioeconomic deprivation. For example,
17 out of the 45 schools specially visited in the recent OFSTED
survey were in such areas. The DfES gives some preference to applications
from schools located in Excellence in Cities partnership areas
and in other areas of deprivation. In addition, the revised guidance
for specialist schools helps relatively small schools, many of
which are in such areas, by reducing the sponsorship requirement
for schools with fewer than 500 pupils. The same criteria for
judging applications for specialist status apply in all cases.
16. We look forward to a more detailed and
representative commentary on post compulsory provision in the
200102 Annual Report from HMCI. Moreover we would welcome
clear recommendations to support the improvement of post 16 provision
based on an analysis of strengths and
weaknesses and examples of good practice (paragraph 50).
The 2001/02 Annual Report will have a more detailed
commentary on the college sector than in last year's report quite
simply because there were only 5 inspections to draw on this time
last year. Next year there will be 17 AreaWide reviews and
96 further education sector colleges on which to draw, plus inspections
of independent specialist colleges and dance and drama institutions.
In addition, there will be commentary on OFSTED's
inspections of youth services, Connexions Partnerships, young
offender institutions and secure units. We shall report on the
effectiveness of the youth work supported by DfES grants to National
Voluntary Youth Organisations. We shall also, as always, report
on school sixth forms. There will be a clear focus on strengths
and weaknesses, with examples of good practice cited.
OFSTED is also preparing a joint report with the
Adult Learning Inspectorate on standards and quality in further
education colleges and in those geographical areas inspected as
part of our area wide inspection programme. This joint report
will be published in February 2003. We shall also publish a curriculum
review of each of the 14 designated areas of learning, drawn from
our inspection findings in the first year of operation under the
Local Education Authority Inspections
17. We support Mr Tomlinson's views on the
integration of local services and recommend that this issue should
be prioritised in any review of the effectiveness of outsourced
local authority education functions (paragraph 53).
OFSTED will continue to examine the effectiveness
of the integration of local services during the course of organisational
inspections of local education authorities, when such activity
impacts on educational provision. In addition, OFSTED has already
reviewed, at one local authority's request, that authority's proposals
for the integration of its education and social services departments.
18. We welcome this programme of work, and
look forward to contributing to the work of OFSTED through constructive
engagement as part of our scrutiny of its activities (paragraph
We look forward to future discussions with the Committee
about the evidence which emerges from these activities.
25 June 2002