Supplementary memorandum submitted by
Ofsted (OFS 13)
At the hearing last month, I said that I would
provide you with some further information on PFI issues through
our inspection of local education authorities and the workload
of lay inspectors.
PFI AND OUR
The Audit Commission takes the lead on the scrutiny
of how effective an LEA is in managing its resources, including
its involvement in PFI activity. As part of its joint work with
Ofsted on LEA inspections, the Audit Commission inspects asset
management planning and capital funding. We are currently reviewing
all the criteria for reaching judgements in LEA inspections. During
the course of that work we will take the opportunity to examine
more closely at how we consider PFI in future. This will be informed
by the Audit Commission's report on PFI and schools, and our growing
body of evidence from LEA inspections as more PFI projects have
developed and been completed.
The Audit Commission intends to publish its
report on PFI and schools on 17 December. The report examines
the quality and cost of buildings and services delivered by the
early PFI schemes involving schools, and users' initial experiences.
The report also considers implementation issues, including the
capacity of LEAs to manage PFI schemes, and the key lessons that
can be learnt from the early schemes. I have asked the Audit Commission
to send a copy of the report to your Clerk when it is published.
I also agreed to write to you about the concerns
expressed by lay inspectors that their workload has increased.
Ofsted has been making every effort to reduce the demands on schools
for paperwork in advance of their inspection. We have been much
clearer about what limited sources of documentary evidence inspectors
need to take away from schools before an inspection and what should
be left in the school to be used during the inspection period.
Inspection is not a document-chasing activity. It is about observing
schools' outcomes and practices, and making use of school-based
documentation to support evaluations. The current inspection Framework
and guidance expects inspectors, including lay inspectors, to
use documentation wisely in this way.
The original inspection Framework required inspection
teams to record their corporate judgements on a judgement recording
form (JRF). This has been replaced by the record of corporate
judgements (RCJ), which, as its name suggests, requires inspectors
as a team to make corporate judgements about the school. There
are 23% more whole school judgements, mainly because we have separated
aspects into their component parts. For example, "the leadership
of the school" which covered the work of the headteacher,
senior staff and governors, has become "the leadership and
management of the headteacher and key staff" and "the
effectiveness of the governing body in fulfilling its statutory
The submission from the Association of Lay Inspectors
(ALI) suggests that Ofsted has placed an ever-increasing load
on lay inspectors. This is far from our actual stance, as we showed
at the training events for lay inspectors held in the summer term
2002. The main purpose of the training was to revitalise the notion
that lay inspectors should bring a different perspective to an
inspection. We advised against lay inspectors always taking on
responsibility for aspects of the school's work traditionally
allocated to them by registered inspectors. Instead we suggested
a wider-ranging role for lay inspectors, who can view the quality
of a school from the perspective of those who depend on it. Many
lay inspectors have responded to this advice with enthusiasm.
Some, however, have shown reluctance to lose their detailed responsibilities
and writing tasks in favour of this approach.
Inspection is a demanding job and we know that
inspectors work hard. The in-school work of inspection is particularly
challenging, and many inspectors put in great efforts to ensure
that they complete their work on the inspection before they move
onto their next activity. We do not require inspectors to work
long hours and our monitoring has shown that team meetings, for
example, are much shorter and more efficient under the current
inspection Framework than for previous Frameworks.
13 November 2002