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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 1819-i
House of COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE the
Annual Report of HM Chief Inspector, Ofsted
Wednesday 29 February 2012
Sir Michael Wilshaw and john goldup
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 130
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Taken before the Education Committee
on Wednesday 29 February 2012
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Sir Michael Wilshaw, HM Chief Inspector, Ofsted, and John Goldup, Deputy Chief Inspector, Ofsted, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: Good morning gentlemen. Thank you very much for joining us today to talk about the Ofsted Annual Report. As this is your first appearance, Sir Michael, in front of our Committee since the pre-appointment hearing, we welcome you to your new post and congratulate you on taking over. You have come into Ofsted as an outstanding headteacher of an outstanding school, so you will have dealt with Ofsted over many years and been familiar with its work. What most surprised you about the reality of Ofsted when you were on the inside of it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think surprised is the wrong word. I always knew as a head and as a teacher that Ofsted was a rigorous organisation. If it was not so, I would not have joined it. In the eight weeks I have been at Ofsted, that view has been confirmed. I have met a lot of people. I have met obviously the executive board and a lot of the managing inspectors and inspectors. They are very professional people who work extremely hard and are driven by a moral imperative to improve the life chances of children and young people.
Q2 Chair: Obviously, before joining Ofsted, your experience of children’s social care was a great deal less than your experience of education. Can you talk us through how you plan to make sure that Ofsted gives sufficient import and emphasis to the specific needs of children’s social care as well as education?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I will take an active interest in all that goes on in terms of inspecting social care and related services. My colleague John Goldup is now Deputy Chief Inspector, and that is one of the first things that I did in coming to Ofsted, so I will be leaning very heavily on his advice and expertise in dealing with that area of our inspection work. I think I said in the pre-appointment hearing that I thought there were important principles that covered all of Ofsted’s remit, and that has been confirmed in the eight weeks I have been there and in the Annual Report as well. It is to do with high quality leadership, high expectations, good intervention, and good support. All those principles underpin much of what we do at Ofsted and across the seven remits.
Q3 Chair: John, how do you think we can best improve children’s social care? Looking at your report, "Nine local authorities inspected this year were not effective in keeping children and young people safe." This represents around one-fifth of the sample inspected, although one should recognise that the inspection sample is chosen partly because there are concerns rather than as a representative sample overall. "This, combined with a lack of outstanding safeguarding services this year, is a serious cause for concern." Can you talk us through what is happening to ensure that situation improves?
John Goldup: There are very common themes in the way we support and promote improvement in children’s social care-the things that Sir Michael has been talking about-and they are very common themes across Ofsted. We do it by setting very clear expectations and raising expectations. We have done that most recently, for example, with the publication earlier this week of our new approach to adoption and fostering inspections. We do it by being very clear about where and what improvement is needed and by reinspecting to ensure that improvement is taking place.
We have now reinspected seven of the 17 authorities that were found inadequate at their first inspection, and two of those remain inadequate. Five had improved sufficiently to be coded as adequate. We have reinspected every local authority where we did the first unannounced inspection of front door, duty room, contact referral and assessment arrangements, and found very significant improvement there as an outcome of the first inspection. There are very common themes across Ofsted that apply as much to social care as to the other areas we have been talking about.
Q4 Chair: Sir Michael, is the Government right to put so much emphasis on academy status as the way to turn around failing schools?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is one of the ways you can do it. You will see from the Annual Report that there are academy schools that are doing outstandingly well. Some are doing a good job and some are not, so it is one of the ways of improving a school. I come from an academy background. There are two key issues: one is governance. Governance is always important in a school. It is even more important in an academy because they are autonomous institutions.
Q5 Chair: My own analysis is that, before you move to a much more autonomous system, you would think you would strengthen the system of governance to ensure that it was fit for purpose; if there is not going to be the same external scrutiny, you need to ensure that you have absolutely excellent internal scrutiny and accountability. Do you think the Government could perhaps have done more to improve and strengthen governance prior to embarking on a massive increase in autonomy?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is an important issue. I am not going to sit here and say that it is not. It is really important that the Department thinks very carefully about governance arrangements and makes sure they have the right governors in place and the right leaders in place, because leadership is even more important in an academy because they have to know how to handle autonomy and freedom in a way that perhaps an LEA’s headteacher does not have to do. It is one of the ways you can improve the school system, but there will be other ways of doing it as well, which I am happy to talk to you about.
Q6 Chair: Okay. Hopefully we will be able to come back to that. You also mention having school superintendents-
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Commissioners, yes.
Q7 Chair: Commissioners-and having a tier between the Secretary of State at his desk around here and individual academies in the country.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes.
Q8 Chair: Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: If there are going to be more academies and more independent, autonomous schools both in the primary and secondary sector-that is likely to happen-we need to think about how we are going to manage underperformance. Who is going to do it? Is it going to be the Secretary of State and his officials at the centre or is it going to be another form of intermediary organisation? It seems to me that, if we do not think about this one carefully, we could have a situation where Whitehall is controlling an increasing number of independent and autonomous schools, and finding it very difficult to do so.
Q9 Chair: Or perhaps Whitehall is responsible for an increasing number of autonomous schools. It is not actually controlling them of course, because it does not have the power to do so.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We will have to see on that one. It just seems to me there needs to be some careful thinking about this. Ofsted will go in and make a judgment on how a particular institution is doing. By that time it is often too late. If we are inspecting every five years, for example, we do not know what is happening in that institution for that period of time. It seems to me there needs to be some sort of intermediary layer that finds out what is happening on the ground and intervenes before it is too late. But when failure does take place, who is going to broker support? Who is going to intervene at the right time? Who is going to approach the successful school and a successful head or an academy chain to come in in support?
Q10 Alex Cunningham: From the way that the Secretary of State decides to deal with failing academies, whether it is social care or education, it appears to me that he favours bringing in other academies, umbrella organisations and things to deal with it out there rather than in here. Is that how you understand it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think so. Schooltoschool support is working, and I think it is going to be a model that is going to continue to work as more schools become autonomous.
Q11 Alex Cunningham: Does that not take away autonomy, though, if we end up sticking umpteen schools under one umbrella organisation? Isn’t it just replacing the local authority, for example?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: There is a danger of large clusters of schools, federations of schools, chains of schools, becoming mini-LEAs. There is a danger in that and I think we all recognise that, but where it is carefully thought through-and I work on one of the chains-where you have a limited number of schools and get very close to them, you can make it work. One of the issues in terms of failing schools, and failing leadership particularly, is that those headteachers often do not know how to improve an institution. They lack the capacity to do that, and I think it is a good way of supporting them through schooltoschool support so they see what good looks like.
Q12 Alex Cunningham: Rather than an intermediary inspector level that you-
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, but somebody has got to broker that; that is the point I am making. Somebody has got to. At the moment the Secretary of State and his officials are doing that. The point I am making is that we have about 1,500 academies at the moment. When it becomes 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, who is going to do that?
Q13 Damian Hinds: Sir Michael, forgive me if I am confused when you ask how the Secretary of State will control independent and autonomous schools. Presumably, you are either independent or autonomous or you are not, and, if you are being controlled by somebody else, that would suggest you are not. I think we would understand, if there were a fiveyear gap between Ofsted inspections, that is a very long time and a lot of things can happen, but I think we have been under the impression that there are early warning indicators that would trigger much earlier inspection or some kind of surveillance: things like the exam results going wrong or large numbers of letters from parents or whatever it might be. Is it really a five-year gap or is it not really that dramatic?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: There is a risk assessment exercise that we conduct, and we will find out through, for example, the new parent website what parents are thinking about the school and we will look at data in terms of examination results. If we perceive there to be a risk, we will inspect at an earlier stage. The point I am making is that monitoring schools is really important, and we cannot wait for that end-of-period judgment to intervene. If the Secretary of State is going to do it, fine, but I am suggesting that, as the number of academies grows, an intermediary body needs to monitor provision more effectively and more regularly.
Q14 Damian Hinds: But when you say an intermediary body, do you mean somebody whose job it is for a particular region or whatever to be looking at those indicators and seeing if there is some reason to be concerned, and therefore to pull the trigger on the inspection, or something else in line-management terms?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am suggesting intervening and drawing in support before it gets to the point of failure.
Q15 Damian Hinds: But is that based on the reading of indicators or on their travelling round the country in their car visiting schools and making their judgments by way of a linemanager-type relationship? They are quite different functions.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: As I say, there needs to be some thinking about this. Some sort of intermediary layer of monitoring needs to be put in at some stage. You asked me when I appeared in front of you in the preappointment hearing whether Ofsted should get involved in the school improvement business itself, and I said no at the time. I said that it would seem a bit silly to inspect ourselves, but the more I think about it, Ofsted and HMI have a role in not walking away from an institution and looking at how, once a school is in trouble, we can improve it over a period of time.
Q16 Pat Glass: When we had Michael Barber here in front of us, I was asking these very questions. If we look at the scaffolding of school improvement that exists around schools, most local authorities are losing their school improvement services now. Some very experienced people are going. National Challenge has gone, National Strategies-whatever you think about them, they were there as scaffolding around school improvement. He thought about it and said, "Yes, I can see this is where perhaps the vacuum would be in Michael Gove’s experiment." There was a general sigh of relief when you came out and said, "There needs to be some intermediate body that will step in when schools look as if they are collapsing." How has the Secretary of State reacted to that? Have you had any response?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have only had a few words with him about it, and I know he is thinking about it and realises what the issues are. Let me make it clear where I stand in terms of autonomy in academies and free schools. I believe that freedom and autonomy, as long as it is matched with accountability, works. Giving resources and power and freedom to people on the ground works as long as we hold them to account, but we have got to face the issue of failure and underperformance, because often these academies are going into very difficult and challenging places where things do not work out. What happens when there is failure? Who is going to intervene before Ofsted goes in and fails an institution?
Q17 Chair: Is there a question even before that though? In business, yes, you want autonomy for your budgets, but it is also an earned autonomy, not a blanket assumption that autonomy in all cases, with accountability, is good. There are people for whom it is not suitable, for whom you have supervised, highly managed, structured systems until they prove themselves able. Is there a danger that we think that autonomy when given to great leaders of course helps them improve, but that we could give it to people for whom it is simply inappropriate? We might give autonomous status to school leaders who are not in a position to exploit it but are more likely to fail than succeed.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: That is the danger of the system and, as I said, we have seen academies fail because they have appointed the wrong leader and they have got the wrong sponsor and governance, so there are dangers in that system. I am simply saying that we need some response to underperformance and failure when that happens.
Q18 Lisa Nandy: You have talked and written quite a lot about your mission as Chief Inspector. Is it right for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector to have a mission?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is not different from the mission I had as a headteacher. I was passionate about seeing children doing well. I was passionate about seeing disadvantaged children especially doing well, and that is my mission as Chief Inspector: to see that all children do well, particularly those from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Q19 Lisa Nandy: What levers do you have in your current role to actually achieve the step change in school standards that you have talked about?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Influence is a lever. The things I say are going to be very important, and I would hope to say things regularly about school standards and not just at the end of the Annual Report in November, and to talk about all those issues that parents and teachers and children are worried about: are standards improving? Are the standards of literacy and numeracy improving? Is behaviour improving in schools? Are we competing well with our international competitors, and so on? I will be speaking out on those issues on a regular basis. It is a job with huge influence, but the other lever I suppose is in terms of the inspection frameworks that we operate. If they are good and they are tight, then schools will improve. If they are loose and people do not understand them and they are not focusing on the most important things, they will not work particularly well. You will have seen the recent announcement on the grading criteria for schools.
Q20 Lisa Nandy: One of the things that you said that prompted a great deal of comment, including in a recent session that we held with the Secretary of State, where we asked the public to tweet questions to us to ask Michael Gove, was that if anyone says to you that staff morale is at an all-time low, you will know you are doing something right. We had a great deal of commentary from the public, as I have said, about that. Do you regret those comments?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: A lot of the things I have said have been misconstrued. I have learnt in the short time that I have been here that the press will pick up on particular issues and run with them. I was speaking about school improvement in the most challenging and the most difficult circumstances, and I have been in a number of failing schools, special measures schools, to improve them. I read out a letter at one of these sessions on school improvement written to me by a member of staff I had tackled for underperformance-all the usual issues: he was not teaching well, he was not marking books, etc. This was way back in the eighties. He wrote a fourpage letter that said what an awful person I was and that staff morale was that an alltime low, which is a tactic people use. Actually, it was not low. There were a few people that I was challenging about their performance who were moaning about me, and he used this as a way of trying to intimidate me. I read it out specifically because I was speaking to people in the same position, who have to go in and tackle very difficult circumstances, and it was taken completely out of context. High morale is very important. I would be silly not to say that.
Q21 Lisa Nandy: Have there been any lessons for you from that experience?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Lessons on how to deal with the press, yes.
Q22 Lisa Nandy: One of the really striking things when we had a public response was that obviously it is incredibly important to take the teaching profession with you if the mission is to raise standards, and what concerns me about those comments is that it can cause you to lose sections of the teaching profession. Do you recognise that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I tried to put it right and make sure that the true meaning of those words was understood. I have been a teacher for 43 years, as I said, in very difficult schools in the inner city. I would not have been a successful teacher, deputy head or head unless I worked with people from a range of backgrounds. Teaching is a noble profession, and everyone who has worked with me knows how I feel about the teaching profession, but it is also important to say that we need to tackle underperformance when it occurs.
Q23 Lisa Nandy: Was it your decision to appointment a deputy with responsibilities for social care?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It was eventually my decision, but it was also the decision of the board of trustees at Ofsted, and obviously I spoke to Sally Morgan, the chair, about it as well.
Q24 Lisa Nandy: What was the basis for that decision?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: There needs to be a Deputy Chief Inspector. That is sensible, and it seems to me sensible to appoint a Deputy Chief Inspector who is in charge of an area that is less familiar to me.
Q25 Lisa Nandy: How much autonomy does Mr Goldup have? I will ask him the same question in a moment.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: He has a huge amount of autonomy. He knows much more about the social care sector than I do. So I lean upon his advice and expertise very heavily. At the end of the day, though, if things go wrong, it is my head on the block. I realise that.
Q26 Lisa Nandy: So, essentially it is you taking decisions with his advice?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Not decisions, but taking accountability for all that happens. I meet with John and the other members of the executive board on a daily basis, so he will inform me about issues that I need to be concerned about.
Q27 Lisa Nandy: Can I ask, Mr Goldup, how your role has changed since you took up this position with this specific responsibility?
John Goldup: I think it is both a change and a development. I have led the social care work as a senior person with a social care background now for two and a half years, and I think Sir Michael’s decision to appoint me as Deputy Chief Inspector was really a very clear signal of his view that social care was a crucial area of Ofsted’s activity and needed to be seen to be led from the most senior level. That is the basis on which I have taken it on and taken it forward, and just as in Sir Michael’s brief time there have been some very significant announcements about proposed changes to the inspection of schools, we have also in that same period made some very significant announcements about the future shape of social care inspections. So I think we are very much moving forward together on that.
The change, clearly, is that I have a formal deputising role for Sir Michael. That gives me a particular responsibility to look across Ofsted’s work and to identify some of the common themes that unite Ofsted and its approach as well as the issues that clearly require very specialist professional expertise and concentration. When I said at the beginning, for example, that I thought the issues about securing improvement in social care-the themes-were very similar to the issues in other areas of our work, I think that would be an example of that.
Craig Whittaker: I think you will find it is Ian.
Chair: Let us go to you then, Ian.
Ian Mearns: Thank you Chair.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Is this confuse the witness time?
Q28 Ian Mearns: Sir Michael, good morning. Now that you are relatively well-established in Ofsted, how would you judge that the schools and children’s services aspects of the service work together, and do you think there would be any advantages in separating the two main sides of Ofsted’s work between schools and children’s services?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: First, I would not call myself well established after eight weeks.
Q29 Ian Mearns: Well, in the brief it said "comfortably".
Sir Michael Wilshaw: You will have to ask my colleagues about that. As I said at the pre-appointment hearing, a lot of work has gone into putting the different parts of Ofsted together. I do not particularly want to spend a lot of time pulling it apart. I am not sure the Government would sanction that anyway. They do not want more public bodies; they want to reduce the number of public bodies.
The key issue is: does it work? Does Ofsted work for the services we inspect? It is too early for me to make a judgment on that one. So, my answer to you is not ducking out of the issue; it is simply saying it is too early for me to make that judgment. But if I did feel that it was too big, it did not work, I could not focus my time and energy on seven remits, effectively, and it needed to break up, I would come back to you and say so.
Q30 Ian Mearns: That in itself prompts a question, because like so much of the public service, you are being asked to do a lot more with less. Do you see that as an insurmountable challenge?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We are slimming down Ofsted at the moment. We have got to reduce the budget by 30%. We are doing that and we are on target to achieve it. There has been a 40% reduction in backroom costs. We have to make sure that frontline inspection remains the same and is as effective as it always has been, and if we cannot do that, I will be coming back to you and saying, "Our inspection service can’t do what it is set out to do." So I will inform you what my views are on that over the course of the next year.
Q31 Ian Mearns: It is a huge responsibility if you do not get that frontline work right.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely. We have tried to rationalise that in terms of proportionate inspections and so on, but it is really important that we do not lose the impact of frontline inspection. I have been back to the Secretary of State on one issue of additional funding, which I am happy to talk to you about.
Q32 Ian Mearns: What are you doing to improve the information available to parents through your website and inspection reports, and how can you ensure that the richness of this information is not somehow dissipated when stripping out the jargon to make it much more accessible?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: There is too much jargon in Ofsted reports. It was one of my criticisms as a teacher and head. You had to work your way through four or five pages before you found out what Ofsted inspectors were saying. I think that is an issue. We are going to do something about that, though. We are going to change the first two pages of the Ofsted report to make it much clearer and use jargonfree language. For example, if it is a school that is not yet good, we need to say to parents: "This is a school that is in a requirement to improve category. It is not yet good because…" We are going to make that absolutely clear on the first page and say it in a way that people will understand, and the second page will be giving easytoread data on how the school has moved on since the last inspection.
Q33 Ian Mearns: In terms of governance, how are school governors supposed to hold heads to account when some performance management information is actually kept from them, and how will you involve governors effectively in nonotice inspections?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Can I talk about governance generally first? We have already touched upon it. I think we need to spend a lot more time on governance arrangements. When schools do poorly or badly, it is not just the issue of the school leader, the head, and the school leadership team; it is the way the governors have held the leadership to account. I have already said that our new inspection arrangements will focus more on governance and the effectiveness of governance than ever, and there will be a subsection under leadership and management to say important things about governance. My view is that when a school is doing poorly we need to think about paid governance. I am on record as saying that, and my view is if a school goes into a requirement to improve category on the first occasion, the Secretary of State should intervene and think about paid governance there. That is my general view about governance.
Performance management is a key issue. It is going to be a key issue for me as Chief Inspector. From my experience of going into many schools, there is a lack of robustness in performance management. We talk a lot about failing teachers and incompetent staff. I actually think we deal with that pretty well in schools. The half-decent head knows who is really incompetent and moves those people out, through one way or another. I think it is the issue of the teacher that does just enough but still expects a pay rise at the end of the year; that is a much bigger issue for schools. If you talk to 100 heads, 99 out of 100 will say that is the big issue. There is almost an expectation of waving people through to the next point on the salary spine, whether they are a good teacher or not, and of course the threshold arrangements and the upper pay spine arrangements do not help that one little bit.
Q34 Ian Mearns: Yes, increments are not often withheld, are they?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. Well, they are sometimes withheld.
Q35 Ian Mearns: It is not often, is it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: They are not often withheld. I will have to look at the statistics. Something like 90% of staff go through the threshold, and that is a £5,000 increase, at the end of their main scale term, and yet, when inspectors go in, sometimes they see the teaching is less than good. I think we need to tackle that.
Q36 Ian Mearns: When it come to Ofsted’s role in giving the initial report and therefore that spurt of potential improvement, do you think that Ofsted should report directly to governors rather than to headteachers in the first instance?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We do both. Every time Ofsted has fed back, my chair of governors and vice-chair of governors has always been there, and Ofsted spends a significant amount of time with governors. I am saying we need to spend even more time now, for all the reasons I have suggested.
Q37 Ian Mearns: Do you accept the argument that, if schools have greater autonomy, there will be less and less need for Ofsted? How do you see Ofsted’s role developing in that context? You mentioned chains before. Academy chains over time will have changes of leadership and personnel, so do you think that there may be a role for Ofsted in inspecting the leadership and management of academy chains?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. I think there is a role for that, and in fact I was speaking to the heads of the academy chains about this issue only the other day. When we inspect individual schools in the academy chain, if most or all of them are good, we know that the chain is working effectively and the central team are doing their job properly in terms of monitoring performance. When we inspect constituent schools of an academy chain that are doing badly, we know probably that the chain is not doing particularly well and the central team is not doing particularly well. What happens then? Who is going to hold that chain to account? It goes back to the issues we were talking about: intermediate layers of accountability. Is it going to be the Secretary of State and his officials, or is it going to be somebody else?
Q38 Alex Cunningham: Will you be telling the Secretary of State that you want the powers to enquire into the performance of the chains?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It will require legislation to do that. It is not part of our remit at the moment to inspect chains.
Q39 Alex Cunningham: Clearly, you think it should be.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, possibly, as I say, as the academy programme grows-as it will-it might be something that we have to do in the future.
Q40 Alex Cunningham: So we need to press the Secretary of State to do that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. As I say, it will require legislation in terms of our remit to be able to do that.
Q41 Chair: On the issue of governance, academies have trustees-I am not an expert on this-and then they have the governing body. Who appoints the trustees, and if we have a head who is not doing a very good job, how do we ensure that they can be held to account by the internal systems in the school?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The trustees are usually appointed by the sponsor. That was the case at Mossbourne, where I was head. The sponsor appointed the trustees and then additional governors joined, who were representatives of the teaching force.
Q42 Chair: What if you are not a sponsored academy? If you are a converter academy, who appoints the trustees then?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I assume that the founding body, the foundation or the-
Q43 Chair: It could, de facto, end up being the head. I am just concerned whether the head can effectively pack a governing body and the trustees.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I suspect that will not happen. If that happens, there is a problem with the governance of academies. No, I think the sponsor appoints the trustees, and at a converter academy, the existing governing board moves across.
Q44 Chair: Yes. So in order to escape further inspection by your good selves that is likely to mark them down, you could see a school that is good with outstanding features, and therefore technically eligible, scrabbling to get academy status and moving over while being able to control trustees and the governors, and becoming independent of much in the way of outward scrutiny. Is that a danger within the system?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: You know we are inspecting more outstanding schools over the next few years under the risk assessment headline. You can be outstanding only if the school has outstanding teaching, which is not the case at the moment, but we will be looking at the data coming through from outstanding schools to see whether we should reinspect or not. But if we have got that dominant personality there who is not leading a particularly good school, that is an issue that we will pick up.
Q45 Chair: You have said that the danger is that, by the time Ofsted gets there, it is too late.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, I cannot say this more regularly. I think there is an issue of being close to the schools, knowing what is happening on a regular basis between inspections, and intervening when necessary before Ofsted makes a judgment after the inspection has taken place.
Q46 Chair: If a Member of Parliament had concerns about a school in their local area along these lines and they were to report that to Ofsted, what would happen?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We would take action if we thought the complaint was of such a nature that we needed to go in.
Q47 Ian Mearns: I asked the Secretary of State a similar question. I was speaking to a group of heads, some of whom were also inspectors, and one of them was telling me that she had witnessed a rather poor lesson in a school that was meant to be very good, and she went to the registered inspector and told the registered inspector, and she was told in no uncertain terms, "In this school, there is no poor teaching."
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The quality of teaching in a school is fundamental. It has been a concern that a school can get a judgment of outstanding without having outstanding teaching, and we are changing that from September.
Q48 Craig Whittaker: I just wonder how useful you feel the HMIC Annual Report is and how valid the evidence base is if the findings in some sectors are based on representative samples or, indeed, as we know, the inspection framework changes from year to year?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: There has to be proportionate inspection on the basis of the previous judgment, otherwise we will run out of money very quickly. I have already mentioned what we are doing on outstanding schools, and we are seeking additional funding from the Secretary of State to inspect those schools that we are going to be calling "requirement to improve" schools. Sorry, what was the last part of your question?
Q49 Craig Whittaker: I was asking you specifically about the Annual Report and how useful it is.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: How useful the Annual Report is, sorry. My eyes started to glaze over when I first read the Annual Report. I should not say that as Chief Inspector. That is not to say that there is not a wealth of very important information there on our inspection systems. I just think we need to present the data and the judgments differently, and I am in discussion with the executive board at Ofsted about changing the format of the Annual Report to make it easier to read.
The narrative has got to be stronger. People want to know whether standards are improving or not. They need to have some context for that, not just in terms of whether they have improved on last year but whether they are improving over a period of time. They need to know about variations in performance across the country as well, and I do not think we do that particularly well. We need to identify areas of the country that are doing well and areas of the country that are not doing so well, and make the necessary comparisons. We also need to benchmark our performance in relation to our performance internationally.
Q50 Craig Whittaker: Even though you glazed over on the Annual Report, do you agree with the picture that was painted in the current Annual Report of the state of our education system and the way things are going?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, I do. The central issues of good performance and poor performance need to be presented in a more effective way-in an easier-to-read way. That is what I hope to do for the next Annual Report: a much greater focus on an easytoread narrative.
Q51 Craig Whittaker: Finally, with there being a variance between how inspection frameworks are happening, is it possible to draw conclusions from all the sectors that are looked at in the Annual Report, or are there some sectors that you cannot draw conclusions from at all?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We can draw conclusions from each sector. For example, in the schools sector and the college sector, we can say there is a real worry about approximately a third of schools and colleges not doing well enough-educating millions of children and students, and simply not doing well enough. We can draw that conclusion. John has mentioned inspecting local authorities on safeguarding issues-that one in five has not done well. So, we are drawing those conclusions.
What we need to do is make those conclusions much clearer in the report, so that the nation knows that there is a real issue at a third of the institutions that we inspect in the schools and colleges sector. That does not come out clearly enough.
Q52 Craig Whittaker: Is your intention then to produce the next Annual Report in the format that you desire: clear and transparent?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely. We are working on that at the moment.
Q53 Pat Glass: I would like to talk about some of the key challenges facing Ofsted, starting with tackling failure. The Annual Report shows very clearly that schools are emerging from special measures faster now than they have in the past, and that a fifth of them came out not as satisfactory but as good. Now, having worked in school improvement, and having worked with some schools where the leadership simply will not see the issues and thought, "Actually a failing report would be better for this school than scraping through to satisfactory," I can understand some of that. It gives not just a shock to the system but allows the leadership who take over the licence to tackle some sacred cows. I can see some of that. Are there any other lessons we need to learn from this?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The lessons are that, when a school does badly and goes into a category, intervention takes place and schools come out within 18 months. I have said that we should do the same in terms of schools that are satisfactory, although that designation is going to change. Satisfactory is not satisfactory because it is not good, and if it is given this designation of "requirement to improve", that gives powers to the Secretary of State to intervene. I talked about paid governors being appointed to the governing boards of those schools, but it also means much greater intervention by those who want to support and intervene in that school. I think the lesson is, when Ofsted signals that a school is not doing particularly well, intervention takes place with greater intensity.
Q54 Pat Glass: One of this Committee’s reports on Ofsted recommended that the Government should make a distinction between satisfactory schools that were improving and those that were not, and I think you have changed that distinction and are now looking at all satisfactory schools as requiring improvement. Didn’t you think that was a useful distinction?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I thought long and hard about it, I have to say, before saying that all schools below good should be given that designation of "requirement to improve". What I hope will happen, because they have got 12 to 18 months to improve and then another 12 to 18 months to improve before they go into special measures, is that it will focus heads’ and governors’ minds on the necessary changes that have to be made. I would hope also that inspectors’ judgments will try to differentiate by saying, "Although this is a school requiring improvement, we have seen what the head and governing board is doing to make the necessary changes, and by the time we next go in, we expect this school to be a good school, given the trajectory it is on."
Q55 Pat Glass: To be clear: if a school is judged as requiring improvement as opposed to satisfactory, will it be subject to the same kind of monitoring procedures as previously a school that was failing?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. Absolutely.
Pat Glass: I think that is a good idea.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: My view on this one, as I say, after giving it a lot of thought, is that all children deserve to go to a good school. All parents want to send their children to a good school. We have had something like 3,000 schools in that satisfactory category over a period of six years. That is ridiculous, so we need to do something about that.
Q56 Pat Glass: It will be interesting to see whether it gives the same shock to the system as a "failure" report.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I hope it will. It is not being treated with universal acclamation, I have to say.
Q57 Pat Glass: I can see why. I was interested in what you had to say about your reflection on the role of Ofsted, because we have looked long and hard at the issue of whether Ofsted should be an inspection regime or whether it should be a regime for improvement. Would you like to tell us a little bit more about that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Only to reinforce what I have already said. We should not get involved in actually improving the school, because I think we would leave ourselves quite vulnerable there, but I also think it is a mistake just to walk away-just cast a judgment and walk away. Given what I have already said about brokering support, intervening between inspections and so on-that intermediary level of intervention-I think Ofsted has a role to play. It might require additional funding: regional HMIs who look at overall provision in an area and then suggest to the governing board and the headteacher of a school that is not doing well that they should contact this particular school for support; a chain that might want to intervene and support, or a consultancy in particular areas of school improvement work and so on. There could be a role for HMI operating in that intermediary layer that I spoke of.
Q58 Pat Glass: A significant proportion of FE colleges are falling into that failure category. I am going to leave you to tell me why you think that is. The Secretary of State has suggested that all teachers, whether they are in colleges or in schools, should be treated the same and paid the same, and yet they are not qualified to the same level. Do you think that is part of the reason for the failure, and do you think that the Government’s policy is a good idea?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is a big issue, this one. I would expect all the teachers in my school to have qualified teacher status. That is not the issue in colleges. We have got people there who have been in colleges for a period of time without receiving endorsement in terms of being a qualified lecturer. They can go on for up to five years, I believe. They have to register with the Institute for Learning, but after five years they are then supposed to collect a portfolio of evidence to endorse them and validate their status as a lecturer or teacher. I think that is far too long. I know Lord Lingfield is chairing an inquiry into this. It will be interesting to hear what the inquiry says, but if there is going to be parity between the status of teaching in a school and a college, we need to make sure that qualified teacher status and qualified lecturer status amount to the same thing.
Q59 Craig Whittaker: Sir Michael, is doing away with satisfactory and replacing it with requiring improvement a bit close to the terminology used for a school in special measures, which is "notice to improve"?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: "Notice to improve" is different from special measures.
Q60 Craig Whittaker: I understand that, but the wording is very similar.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It signals: "This is not good enough and you have got three years in which to improve." It is a reminder to those with responsibility for school improvement that they have got a job ahead of them. The problem at the moment is that they can be called satisfactory year after year, and everyone thinks the school institution is doing okay.
Q61 Craig Whittaker: I understand where you are coming from. I understand the reasons why you are doing it, but I know two of my schools locally have recently been inspected under the new provision, and the rumours going around the valley, of course, are that we have got two schools that are in special measures. I know there is a communication thing, but do you not find that is a little bit retrograde from two schools that have been good to-
Sir Michael Wilshaw: There is that issue, of course, and I am not going to say it is not one, but I think if you are any sort of leader and you are any sort of governing board, you will really seize that and get on with improving the school. That is the issue. My concern is the children. We do not want millions of children in our country not experiencing good provision over six years-the whole life of a child in a primary or secondary school. We just do not want that. Any headteacher getting that judgment will do one of two things: they will either roll up their sleeves and face up to the issues, or not.
Q62 Craig Whittaker: A few weeks ago the Secretary of State was giving evidence to the Committee, and he said that the balance between the number of qualified teachers and nonqualified teachers was a matter for the headteacher and the school governing body. How do you think that sits with your statement a few minutes ago, where you said you would expect "all the teachers in your school to have qualified teacher status"? Are we ready for the sergeant major coming in from the army or the businessman or businesswoman coming in and starting work at the chalk face?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: When we were short of teachers in the schools that I have led, I would occasionally employ an unqualified person, but they would have to be monitored very carefully over a period of time. They had one year in which to show that they had the capacity to become a teacher, and we put them through something called the Graduate Teacher Programme for that to happen, but they knew they had to get to qualified teacher status within a prescribed period of time. My concern in the college sector is that they can go year after year without receiving that validation.
Q63 Craig Whittaker: We could actually face a situation-the model has been proposed-where we could see more unqualified people coming into both schools and colleges, but you would want to see some very specific regime for rapid training. You have mentioned your own graduate programme.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Any head has used the Graduate Teacher Programme from time to time and drawn in people from industry and commerce, for example, who have not gone through the normal, traditional routes. I would want all heads and teachers to ensure that they can teach and teach effectively, and, when that has been demonstrated, they are given QTS status.
Q64 Pat Glass: In my experience, because of the way in which Ofsted has in the past judged schools, where raw results count for a significant amount, we have coasting schools not just in the satisfactory category but also in the good category. What are you going to do about the coasting schools?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We have got 300 socalled coasting schools serving the most prosperous areas-the 20% most prosperous children. I know the Prime Minister is exercised about that in terms of schools in his own constituency, and those coasting schools will be put into that category I have already referred to, "requirement to improve", because although they may be achieving above the national average in terms of performance, they are actually not doing well enough.
Q65 Pat Glass: I have always had particular concerns around that group of children who achieve Level 4 at the end of Key Stage 2 and yet go on to achieve Cs or Bs at GCSE and are clearly capable of achieving much more. Will that be part of what your inspectors will be looking for?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: That will be part of our assessment. In fact, you say Level 4, but we have got one in five children, 20% of children, on Level 5 leaving primary school who are not getting five A* to C grades. That is quite shocking. The requirement to improve category will cover the coasting schools as well as others.
Q66 Pat Glass: That brings me on nicely to something that this Committee has looked at very hard over a period of time and been very supportive of, and that is the importance of progress. I note that you are saying that no school can be outstanding unless teaching is judged to be outstanding, but is there room for measurement of progress and not just raw results?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely, and I would strongly support that issue. You can be an outstanding school if you can demonstrate that children are making outstanding progress, and we have got something like 7% of schools in the country serving the most deprived communities that are not achieving to national norms in terms of national averages but are showing that children are making outstanding progress.
Q67 Alex Cunningham: I want to take a step back to this idea of high-performing schools being given notice to improve. We could have a school with 70%, maybe 80% success rate with A*s to Cs, and you could be giving them that notice to improve and intervention associated with that. Is that what you are saying? That is a very strong message.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am saying a grammar school can be given that designation.
Q68 Alex Cunningham: A very good comprehensive school is just as good as a very good grammar school, but is that what you are saying? You are saying, "You might be the best in the region, but you are not doing well enough; therefore, we are going to intervene and monitor your progress."
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It depends what you mean by best, though, you see.
Alex Cunningham: Well, best-sorry, I beg your pardon.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: What has made a huge difference over the last few years is the wealth of data that we have on schools: RAISEonline and the Fischer Family Trust. All heads know where they should be in terms of start points or end points. They know that. They know what progress they should be making in terms of other schools with a similar intake. They know that, and they will know that before Ofsted walks in. So, if they are not achieving that, they know what might happen.
Q69 Alex Cunningham: So they will now get intervention directly as a result?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes.
Alex Cunningham: That is great. Thank you.
Q70 Pat Glass: I have two more questions. One is about the gap between the students coming from the most affluent homes and those from the least affluent families. That has widened over the years and really is a national disgrace. Is that something, again, that you and your inspectors will be looking at? Will you be looking at the achievement of lookedafter children, children with SEN, and children on free school meals?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely. As I said, I am passionate about that, and I have a track record of showing that we can do it in the poorest communities. We have got to get away from this idea that, because a youngster is poor, they cannot achieve. We have got too many heads who make excuses in terms of background. Children are not born unintelligent. They may be born poor, but they are not born unintelligent, and we have got to make sure that all our children achieve, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and we have got to move to that "no excuses" culture.
Sure it is tough; sure it is challenging, but a lot of these people are paid more money to work in these places. We have plenty of good examples. We have 700 schools in the country working in the most challenging environments that are doing exceptionally well with their children, and we have got to make sure that their good example is replicated.
Q71 Pat Glass: Finally, moving on to CPD, I read your speech to the London Leadership Strategy’s Good to Great conference, and you were very clear in there that you saw CPD as incredibly important. Now, 90% of initial teacher training is judged as good, and yet we fall significantly when we look at teachers who have been working some time, and I know that it is really hard to get headteachers to focus on those areas where they really need to improve, so how are you going to do that around CPD?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: One of the things that we will be doing is focusing on the most important responsibility that a headteacher has, which is to monitor the quality of teaching and to professionally develop staff to improve their teaching. That message has not been consistent enough over the years. We have got to look at why heads have had so many different views about the nature of leadership.
For me, leadership in a school is about the leadership of teaching. That means getting out of your office, wandering down the corridor, going into classrooms, seeing what is happening, identifying good practice and doing something about poor practice. It is getting the message across that that is the fundamental nature of good and outstanding leadership in schools and elsewhere, and one of the things that we will be doing as Ofsted is asking very important questions about your role as a leader in terms of monitoring and professional development and performance management.
Q72 Pat Glass: Teaching is about two things, isn’t it? One is about the knowledge; the other is about the delivery. Will that also be looking at those things like differentiation, management of behaviour-those as well?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely. This also has implications for teacher training. You will have seen from the Annual Report that our judgment is that 96% of teacher training providers were good or outstanding. That is a very high figure, and I looked at that twice. Maybe it should not be as high as that. We need to make sure of that, because the view is that schools do the pedagogical bit well in terms of teacher training and the HE institutions do the subject training well. We have got to move to an idea that, if we are moving teacher training into schools, they do both well and work in partnership with HE institutions.
Q73 Ian Mearns: I absolutely and utterly applaud your view about particular teachers in particular sorts of schools where they have the sausage machine mentality that "you get these sorts of results with kids like these". I applaud your view of that, but in some schools there are particular additional features that complicate the matter. By the time the kids who were in Key Stage 1 get through to Key Stage 2, 30% might have changed because of roll churn. How do you deal with that when it comes to inspecting improvement in schools?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We take that into account, but there will be schools among the 700 schools working in challenging areas that are doing phenomenally well. They will have that mobility issue to take account of. My view is that any good head, any outstanding head, looks at their intake, looks at their environment, looks at the particular issues at their school and takes that into account and comes up with all sorts of solutions to improve the school.
Q74 Chair: How will Ofsted inspect the use of the pupil premium in order to deliver improvement?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We are doing a survey on that in the course of the next 12 months so we will be able to report to you on what the survey is saying on how the pupil premium is being used. It is an issue for us.
Q75 Chair: From your experience, does it seem like the right kind of measure?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The right kind of measure?
Chair: In closing the gap.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. I think it is. Differential funding is very important. The funding a school and institution receives to take account of deprivation is very important. It is how that money is used that is the key issue.
Q76 Damian Hinds: Thank you, Sir Michael, for joining us this morning. How to find ways or spot the ways of having ambition for all children, whether at the very top or very bottom of the scale, is a constant theme of this Committee, and I think, from the mood of the Committee this morning, we are very encouraged to hear some of the things you have been saying. I want to talk about the early years, but just before I do, on the very last point that the Chairman was asking you about, the pupil premium, will you be interacting with-I forget the exact name-the Education Endowment Foundation on those points?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The Sutton Trust-sponsored EEF, yes.
Q77 Damian Hinds: At the end of that, is there a piece of brilliant analytical research that tells the schools, "These are the ways in which you can best deploy resources in terms of narrowing the gap"?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I do not know how the survey is going to be conducted, but as I was sitting in the bath the other day thinking about the pupil premium-
Damian Hinds: We will just erase that from our minds, if that is okay, but go on.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I do all my bluesky thinking in the bath. I did think we should, when we are conducting that survey of the pupil premium, get in touch with the Sutton Trust and the exChief Executive of Tower Hamlets, who is now in charge of that Trust, to see how that money is being used.
Q78 Damian Hinds: I wanted to talk about the early years, and we know there is this enormous gap between the rich and the poor that is apparent very clear already at age five. For decades the education economists have said, "Do not spend the marginal million on tertiary education. Spend it on early years education and you get the biggest impacts." We also know that if you track the progress of the millennium cohort of children, the gap between the rich and the poor between the ages of three and five has not narrowed and, anecdotally, when we talk to people in schools as a Committee, they complain about school readiness and suggest that not only might it not have improved but it might even, on average, have got worse. These children have been alive throughout the Sure Start era. So in terms of the inspection rating, obviously the Early Years Foundation Stage framework is key. Is it actually right? What do you hear in terms of what is in the framework and what should be different?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: What I hear is that, where the EYFS is properly applied, it works.
Q79 Damian Hinds: Really?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. Where it is not properly applied, it does not work particularly effectively, and it is just an issue of care and support, not education. The difference in outcomes between nurseries, children’s centres and childminders is quite stark if you look at the report. My view is we should really look at the future of how we inspect early years and, particularly, child minders, to make sure that the very large numbers of children in childminding settings are given a good delivery. I went to a children’s centre the other day. I think a lot of the children’s centres, Sure Start centres, are doing good work in terms of outreach, making sure that disadvantaged families access children’s centres and Sure Start. I think the issue is for childminders, and it becomes a childminding care and support issue rather than subscribing to the EYFS education goals.
Q80 Damian Hinds: Do you worry slightly, as candidly I do, that on the Sure Start question of why is there still a school readiness problem and why has the gap between the rich and the poor not narrowed, the kind of stock answer now is "because of self-selection", because Sure Start is not sufficiently reaching out to the most disadvantaged families? That might well be true, but what if it is only half the answer or a quarter of the answer? Who is asking the questions about everything else that is happening in early years and making sure that it is actually delivering what that child requires to access primary education and get the most out of their education?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The early years inspection framework is changing from September, and there is going to be a lot more emphasis on outreach work and making sure that children’s centres and Sure Start centres reach out and get to the most disadvantaged families and subscribe to the EYFS goals. One of the issues is that, at the end of the foundation stage, there is no statutory requirement to report on standards achieved, and I think that is something that might require legislation in the future. Before a youngster starts at reception and in an infant school, the head of the primary or infant school has access to how that child has achieved in early years provision, and at the moment that is extremely variable. The Annual Report mentions the worrying issue of the absence of data from early years institutions on the progress of children. The centre I visited, a nursery centre in north London, had a wealth of data on how children are progressing, but I suspect that data is not there when inspectors go into childminding settings.
Q81 Damian Hinds: Presumably, though, you would get the ageold problem that in any stage of education, or indeed, anything else in life, at the point of exit you will get a measurement that says all the children have done very well, and at the point of entry to the next stage you will have a slightly different take-that perhaps the material coming in, as it were, was not quite as strong as reported at the previous stage. How do you get around that problem?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I had that problem as a secondary school head. The youngsters who came to us at the start of their secondary school life were poorly prepared for secondary provision, so we had to put a lot of intervention into year 7 and that was one of the reasons we succeeded with them. It would be the same across the different phases, and that is why I think the data that comes to an infant school, a primary school, at the end of the foundation stage is going to be critically important.
Q82 Damian Hinds: A different aspect of early years is cost, and we know that cost of childcare in this country is particularly high and it is difficult to break that down into exactly what the causes are. This is apart from the question of who pays and how much subsidy there is; it is just the raw cost of provision. It seems that one of the factors may be regulatory burden. Is that something that Ofsted takes into consideration when it decides what the inspection framework will be?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, I think it does. In childminding the registration process is pretty expensive and we spend a lot of money on it, but we need to think about the future and how we inspect childminding institutions. I do not think we can carry on doing it as we are doing it at the moment: every time a youngster goes into a childminding setting, we have to inspect. That is unsustainable.
Q83 Damian Hinds: Absolutely.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We need to think about how we network childminding institutions with high-performing children’s centres and Sure Start centres and nurseries.
Q84 Damian Hinds: What timetable are you working to on the changes on childminding or more generally?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We are consulting with the Secretary of State to see what we can do to make our inspection system more efficient and more effective and to provide greater value for money.
Q85 Neil Carmichael: Good morning. Management and leadership in schools-what needs to be done to improve it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: First, saying things that might be unpalatable but are necessary, which is that not all leadership is good or great and we need to do something about poor leadership. That is the first thing. I am pretty optimistic on the future of leadership for two reasons. One is that, in over 40 years of teaching, I have never seen such good people coming into teaching as I have seen over the last few years, and they will, if they stay in teaching-and that is the key issue-
Neil Carmichael: Retention, yes.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: They will go up the promotional ladder and eventually become heads. So I am confident about the next few years, even though the demographics show that a lot of heads will be leaving or retiring. I am confident about that. I am also optimistic because I think we are working on this model now of schooltoschool support. No, we have not got 33,000 good headteachers or outstanding headteachers, but we have got a growing number of good and outstanding heads who are taking control of the system and supporting other heads and showing them the way. That schooltoschool support issue is going to be one that we need to support.
Q86 Neil Carmichael: So is it a question of additional training sometimes for existing heads?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is a whole range of things. We mentioned governance. A good governing board will hold a headteacher to account and ask the important questions. When I say the important questions, it will be: "Are these children making progress in line with expectations?" A good governing board will understand RAISEonline and the data. A good governing board will hold a headteacher to account on a whole range of important issues: the quality of teaching, for example. A poor governing board will be marginalised by some heads talking about unimportant or relatively unimportant issues: school meals or uniform or whatever. There are key issues in terms of school improvement, and a good governing board will ask key questions about the progress of children. That is one issue, so governance is really important, and that is why I have said that Ofsted will be doing something on governance, and why I think the Government needs to think carefully about governance arrangements.
Secondly, heads have got to be brave people, and people who do not make excuses and whine a lot. They have got to be people who say, "This is a terrific job." I worked in some pretty awful places, but I thoroughly enjoyed the job because you are working with children, often in very challenging circumstances, and you get great joy and pleasure from doing that. We have got to recruit people who enjoy the job, do not make excuses for poor performance, roll up their sleeves and get on with it.
Q87 Neil Carmichael: I have one more question. It is about the findings on alternative provision, which seem to be a little bit on the mixed side in terms of performance and apparently highlight the lack of regulation in this area. Is that something you agree with and what measures do you think should be implemented to assist?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is an unregulated area-worryingly unregulated. It is something that we need to tighten up. I do not know what percentage of children are in alternative provision; all I know is it is rising, and we need to think about what happens to them, the provision they receive, and inspect it.
Q88 Chair: Ofsted evidence suggests that just looking at the existing measures of performance in schools is not enough to judge it accurately. It is a constant theme in this Committee: how can the accountability system for schools be altered to reflect that finding?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Obviously, inspectors look at RAISEonline and the Fischer Family Trust and all that data, but they will also look at what happens in the classroom. They will look at progress in the classroom and exercise books, talk to children and teachers, and look at whether they are making progress in the lesson.
Q89 Chair: You infrequently inspect, which is the nature of it, and you are emphasising that you have got the new frameworks, you are focusing on the more important things and you are trying to make sure that you use data constructively as well to look at the progress of every child. I think we would collectively applaud all that. Nonetheless, in secondary schools the single metric that drives behaviour most is the five good GCSEs, and we hear again and again, and it seems obvious, that if you incentivise leaders, especially those who are struggling to meet benchmarks, to maximise their performance on that score, they will focus their best resources on the borderline pupils at the expense of both the brightest and the weakest, who are too often the poorest. The central driver for secondary schools is to meet that benchmark of five good GCSEs. At the same time you say policy is about closing the gap. It certainly would be my suggestion that there is something incoherent about that. How can we get a system of accountability that incentivises heads to give equal weight to the progress of every child?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Inspectors will be looking at this, in relation to your question on coasting schools. We will be looking at the data for each child and looking at where that school should be in relation to end points and starting points. The data tell us a lot about schools now. You are absolutely right, Chair, in highlighting this issue of schools focusing on that A to C boundary and particularly on the C to D boundary. It is important that heads and inspectors focus on the progress of all children. As I say, we have got this scandal of 20% of children achieving Level 5 at the end of primary school and not getting five A* to C grades. It is a scandal that children who should be getting A*s and As are not. We will be looking at the data very carefully.
Q90 Chair: What interaction do you have with schools outwith inspections and is there more you could do? If you are going to have longer periods, should there be an annual letter from Ofsted informed by those data and expressing concerns? At the moment the heads tell us they are driven by the benchmark, A to Cs at GCSE, and if we are going to get this broader and more just approach, we need to reinforce it in certain ways, and is there any way that Ofsted could do that with the limited and reducing resources at your disposal?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have already mentioned that we will be looking at the progress of all children from starting points to end points, but it is an issue also for Government. I was a head and, therefore, I was driven by the league tables, and the league tables have changed considerably. I was focusing before I left on the English Baccalaureate. If the Government, in its wisdom, said, "We will also introduce a league table that shows progression to university, and particularly to the Russell Group and Oxbridge," I would be driven by that. So there are all sorts of drivers, I think. Ofsted is a driver but so is the Government.
Q91 Chair: Yes, and is there more you could do between inspections?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We look at data, and if the data show that there has been a decline in performance, we go back and inspect. We will do that for outstanding schools and we will do that for good schools and so on.
Q92 Chair: But you strictly do inspections. You would never send any missives to them for any other purpose?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We do not, but I am suggesting that, if we get into this issue of Ofsted becoming a school improver, an institution improver, we should think about how we engage with schools that are declining in performance.
Q93 Chair: Right. You are not at cross-purposes with John, are you, on this? In John’s recent lecture he agonised long and hard about whether Ofsted should be an improvement agency or merely put up the mirror to the service.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have not clashed with John yet, but he might clash with me outside this room; I do not know.
Q94 Chair: He explicitly said in that speech, which I enjoyed, that you "are not an improvement agency".
John Goldup: But we are, and we have to be, an agent of improvement; I think that was the critical distinction I was making. I think there are some different issues in the context of social care. I do not think it is about clashing but about recognising the context. One of the key issues in social care, just as schools are becoming more active and more aware of the need for the good schools to support the poorer schools, is a very strong movement for the sector itself to take much more responsibility for the improvement of the sector. The issues about peer review, peer challenge, peer support are getting very strongly embedded in the social care sector, and I think inspection has a very important and very dynamic relationship with that, but we are doing different things in supporting each other as part of an overall system.
Q95 Damian Hinds: I am just wondering about this role of Ofsted that you are talking about: as a force to drive improvement. Given the explosion of measurements that is about to be visited upon us, in terms of different valueadded measures, as well as the EBac and everything else, could there be a role for somebody in Ofsted, or indeed somewhere else, to interpret that into a few sentences for the consumption of parents? So rather than being faced with all sorts of different lists and measures, and then there are all sorts of caveats and exceptions, and "Oh, we did not get the English Baccalaureate just because we do RE rather than history," and all the rest, why not have a dispassionate professional-not the DfE and not the school itself-interpret that into a short description that you could also link to your most recent inspection and mention any areas, very briefly, of concern, but do it every year? I appreciate it is probably quite a lot of work, but it would be damned useful for parents.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Unfortunately, schools are becoming much more complex places for a whole range of reasons, including the issues of qualifications and attainment levels. It is an important issue you highlight: how parents can really understand how a school is doing, what the strengths and weaknesses are, and I have said to you that I am making a commitment to simplify our reports and make them clearer.
Q96 Damian Hinds: But that only deals with your reports, which happen once every x number of years. The stuff that people are faced with more often is all the numbers, basically.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: That is a Department issue. The people in charge of performance tables have got to make them understandable to the people who read them.
Q97 Damian Hinds: I suppose what I am asking is whether there is a role for somebody-and Ofsted, I think, is the only candidate-to say, "All this adds up to doing quite well," or "Given the intake and so on and given performance they have managed in the past, they should be doing better than this."
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We do that already, of course. We do that in terms of the judgments we make: "This school is doing well because it is doing well at GCSEs; it is doing well at Key Stage 3; it is doing well at Key Stage 2."
Q98 Damian Hinds: But that is only in your periodic report.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. If we had more money, we might think about doing this, of course.
Damian Hinds: Thank you. On that happy note.
Q99 Ian Mearns: Is the learning and skills sector in a good position to deliver what is required of it in the context of the Wolf Review?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am very concerned about the quality of provision in the learning and skills sector. You have seen the report and the number of colleges, particularly FE colleges, that are not doing well. We have got to do something about that and it is the same issues as in schools. It is quality of leadership, quality of teaching, overall quality of provision, attainment levels, and so on. So it is a worrying sector, and we talked about qualified teacher status in relation to that.
In terms of the Wolf Review, it is saying that there should be a balance between vocational education and a focus on core subjects: English and Maths. I have a different view from Alison Wolf on that balance and the ratio. She is suggesting 20% for vocational studies, 80% for core. I think it should be more like 40:60-40% for vocational, 60% for core-because you cannot do anything worthwhile, it seems to me, in 20%: something that is really practical and combines good practical stuff with the theoretical stuff. I would disagree with that balance.
I am encouraged by the number of students who want to do apprenticeship programmes. There has been a steep rise in the number of young people who want to do those programmes. They have got to be seen as worthwhile. They have got to be rigorous and not seen as soft. They have got to be seen as giving the necessary qualifications to move on to employment. It will be very interesting in our inspections over the next few years to see how apprenticeships are doing. They are popular with students; it is whether in fact they are leading to progression-whether they are leading to jobs. We have got to make sure that they are rigorous and not going down the soft option route.
Q100 Ian Mearns: I was at a conference in central London yesterday that was looking at some of this work. If I may be so bold, a member of the governing party suggested that careers information, advice and guidance work in schools was in chaos. That is going to be important for youngsters progressing into post-16 in particular, isn’t it, in terms of where they go, how they get there and why they get there. Is that a concern from your perspective?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: A good school will have a good careers service. I have worked in plenty of good schools that employed good careers officers and made sure that youngsters knew what the progression routes were and what qualifications were necessary to go down a particular path.
Q101 Ian Mearns: I accept that a good school would, but do you think they are there?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: They are not there if a school is not particularly good. Now that the Connexions service and so on have gone, I think we have got to make sure that a good school-and Ofsted needs to comment on this-has a good careers service that advises children appropriately.
Q102 Ian Mearns: What can you do from Ofsted’s perspective to ensure that happens?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Comment on it in our reports.
Q103 Ian Mearns: I welcome that. Thank you very much. I will certainly be following that up, thank you very much indeed. The Wolf report shows that a high proportion of good colleges declined and a high proportion of satisfactory colleges did not improve over the last year of inspection. What were the main factors behind this? You have mentioned leadership was one, obviously.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is the same. If you look at all the issues in the Annual Report that contributed to decline and failure, it is the same ones as for schools: poor leadership, low expectations, leaders not monitoring what is happening and using the excuse not necessarily of disadvantage but of size. "We have got 10,000 students here; we are working on 25 different sites. We are working with employers here," and so on-using the complexity of FE as a cover for not doing what they should be doing, which is monitoring the quality of teaching.
Q104 Ian Mearns: Do you think there is a crisis of CPD in this sector?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, I think there probably is. We need to look at it carefully. We cannot carry on with these figures, especially when we have got 1.5 million people unemployed and so many colleges failing. It is crackers.
Q105 Ian Mearns: Three out of 10 independent specialist colleges were judged to be good. So three out of 10, good; seven out of 10 not so good. Why do you think that particular sector has performed so poorly?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is probably doing a little better than the FE colleges. I think it is for the same reasons: poor leadership, poor monitoring of teaching, poor CPD, poor advice to students, not challenging students enough because so much funding follows retention. It is important to keep your student on a particular course, and therefore not challenge them sufficiently to go on to a course that they might find difficult and then drop out. It is an area that you need to look at as a Select Committee over the next few months and years, and you will be, no doubt, asking people from BIS to come along and talk to you.
Q106 Ian Mearns: I know that you are not comfortable in the job; you are relatively still settling in from the outset. I would guess that, for instance, prison and young offender institutions in terms of their education services is something that you need to think about. Are you still getting your head around that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have not been to prison yet.
Ian Mearns: I am very glad.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am looking forward to visiting. I have visited most of the other things we inspect, but I have not been to the prison education services yet. But you will have seen from the report that it is particularly critical, and Matthew, my colleague on the executive board, and I were discussing this shortly before coming in, and his views were that it is fairly low down on the priority list for governors. They have got other issues that they are more concerned with. When prisoners move from prison to prison, their attainment levels and progress levels do not follow them. Quality of teaching is an issue as well. I will be interested in looking at that when I visit Wormwood Scrubs or wherever.
Q107 Ian Mearns: It may be low down in priority, but we need to think in terms of what it can save the global public purse in future-education being the spur to avoiding reoffending, for instance.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely. I could not agree more. It should be higher on a governor’s priority list if we are going to ensure people do not reoffend and they have the skills to get a job, but it starts earlier than that, doesn’t it? We all know that a large number of people in prison have got very low qualifications and low basic skills, and we have got one in five children leaving primary school without the basic skills to move on to secondary. That is nonsense.
Q108 Lisa Nandy: In relation to the inspection of education in young offenders’ institutions, do you have any concerns about the Government’s emphasis on payment by results and the new programme that they are rolling out, which will tie payment by results to a strong focus on getting young people into work through education?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have not seen that. I will have to get back to you on that one. I would not want to pronounce on something I know very little about, but I will gladly write to you on that issue.
Q109 Neil Carmichael: On prisons, I was just going to draw the Committee’s attention to the fact that BIS, for example, is a key funder in prison education, not surprisingly, because it is post-16 and so many prisoners are illiterate. What sort of plans do you have in terms of Ofsted’s role to get a grip on that situation, because it is actually pretty serious?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is pretty serious and the report does not read well. We need to think about it carefully and think about the framework for inspecting prisons. One of the things I need to do very quickly over the next few weeks is meet with Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons to make sure that we have a joint approach to this one and that he flags it up in his sector as a key issue. It is something that I will be looking at very carefully over the next weeks and months.
Q110 Alex Cunningham: You caught me smiling a few minutes ago and that was because you were using such simple language. I just love simple language and when you say "crackers", it says everything.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am just a simple headteacher.
Q111 Alex Cunningham: I wanted to talk a little about children’s social care. The report describes children’s social care as remaining a system under pressure. What are the main pressures and are they increasing or decreasing, and does Ofsted not add to the pressures?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Do you want to answer that one, John?
John Goldup: It absolutely is a system under pressure. There is huge variation between local authorities on how well they deal with that pressure, so the simple fact of pressure is not an explanation for performance, but the pressure is increasing: the number of referrals is increasing and the number of children on child protection plans is up by 8%. We have seen very recently the statistics about a really dramatic increase, which is no longer a post-Baby P spike but an embedded increase in the number of cases being brought to court. I think the pressures are absolutely there.
Some of that, particularly in relation to the number of cases coming to court, is, in a rather sad and perverse way, nevertheless a good news story, in that I think one of the key drivers for more children coming before the courts is that social workers are not delaying making some of those really difficult decisions about whether this child can continue to live in these neglectful circumstances for any longer without suffering lasting damage to its welfare and development. I think there is an increased awareness that is bringing more cases into the system, and ultimately that is good for children.
In terms of whether Ofsted adds to the pressures, clearly inspection itself can be a stressful experience. We do everything we can without compromising the rigour and independence of inspection. We are moving to wholly unannounced inspection, which has been broadly welcomed by the sector. The inspection process itself engages staff, particularly staff at the frontline, rather than simply being something that is done to staff. I do not think inspection adds to the pressure. Inspection is really key in identifying where those pressures are being responded to effectively and where they are not, and helping to share the practice of the best in order to improve the standards overall.
Q112 Alex Cunningham: How far does Ofsted make allowance for the pressures in the system and does that actually best serve our children if you do make allowances?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: That is a difficult issue because inspection takes place in the real world, makes judgments in the real world and has an impact on people in the real world, but actually our expectations are what we think children should expect and we do not tailor those expectations in relation to pressures, resources or whatever. We may acknowledge those pressures but, as I say, some of the very best authorities are dealing with some of the highest levels of demand and some of the highest levels of pressure. There are also things that local authorities can do, and do, to manage and mitigate pressure. For example, while the trend of referrals to social care across the country is upward, there are authorities that have managed to stem it and it is going in the opposite direction.
One of the key issues is about really shared, understood, consistently followed understanding right across the partnership that is involved, so not just at the local authority but with schools, health professions, the police, etc, as to what the right threshold for referral to social care is, and where problems might and can be better responded to by interventions at an earlier stage in a different kind of way. It is very clear in the Annual Report that, of the nine authorities we found to be inadequate, one of the shared weaknesses was that those thresholds were very poorly understood across the system. That led to more and more referrals to social care, because people did not think they had anywhere else to go. It also led to systems in danger of drowning under an unmanaged demand.
Q113 Alex Cunningham: So resources have got to be a very important element of all of that and, of course, tackling some of the bureaucracy that people might have blown out of all proportion. To what extent has the Munro agenda, reducing bureaucracy and streamlining processes, been implemented locally? Is it happening? It must be if they are able to concentrate on other issues.
John Goldup: I think it is happening, but the pace of change is variable. For example, one of the key recommendations of the Munro report was a very significant streamlining of statutory guidance, for example, which had grown fiftyfold since 1974, or whatever. That is being pursued but the 450 pages or whatever they are of Working Together to Safeguard Children are still, as of today, the 450 pages that are in force. There are variations in pace.
Q114 Alex Cunningham: Yesterday I met Action for Children, who say that social workers are telling them that they cannot intervene as early as they would like. You have said in the inspection report that you want child protection services tracked from the very first time that problems occur, and both Action for Children and I would welcome that. Are you confident, though, that children’s social care have the resources to intervene at the earlier stage and what are you going to inspect to make a judgment on whether the authorities are doing what we agree is in the best interests of the children?
John Goldup: I am not sure that the question of resources can be answered in a global fashion, because clearly there are variations between local authorities. Local authorities have been making very difficult decisions over the last year or two and having to set some clear priorities. The issue of early intervention is key, because the temptation is to see that as your target area for the first round of cuts, because the thing you have to protect is the front-end, sharp-end child protection services. Many local authorities, however, recognise that would be a very shortsighted approach and have worked very hard to avoid doing that.
In terms of what we are going to inspect, particularly around this issue of early intervention-of how effectively a system responds at the point where problems first become apparent, rather than waiting for them to escalate to a point where they become a formal referral to child protection services-we are looking at two things. We are looking at the range of services available and how well those services work together, because you can have an awful lot of services, but if they are uncoordinated, if they are scattergun, if they are not working well together, children will still fall down the gaps in the middle. I think that is one of the things we will be looking at.
Of course, we do not spend our time in inspections looking at policies or strategies. We do not base everything on data. Data tell us what questions to ask, but they do not necessarily tell us the answers. We spend our time looking at a large number of cases of real, individual children, and how effectively they were helped and how well they were protected. In looking at those cases, one of the key questions that will come up is: what was the response when problems first became apparent and how effectively was it responded to? We build the answer up by looking at the detail of individual children’s experiences.
Q115 Alex Cunningham: I have always felt that long-term notice for school inspections was a bad idea because, especially if it was three months or so, it distorted the result that they could possibly get. Applying that to social care, how do you expect unannounced inspections to actually improve the performance of children’s services?
John Goldup: One of the issues is that it does reduce the burden of inspection. That is one of the issues. We have worked very hard at testing out how to make it work in practice to ensure that it continues to deliver a really robust and effective inspection. We are confident it is going to do that. We have learnt a lot from that testing and we think it is definitely the way forward.
Q116 Alex Cunningham: How will the evidence from partner agencies such as the police and schools be used to judge children’s services? Are these partners not part of the overall service and also accountable for performance?
John Goldup: They absolutely are and that feeds into inspection. There are limitations to doing inspection on a single inspectorate basis only. We have now got an agreement with the other inspectorates involved that we will develop a wholly joint inspection model, which we are working on now. That is very much following on from the Munro recommendations, and we will be developing that over the next year for introduction in 2013.
Q117 Lisa Nandy: Why has Ofsted decided to inspect local authority adoptions on the basis that they place children within 12 months?
John Goldup: What we have done with our new adoption framework is to make sure it is focused on the things that really matter, and for local authorities that is whether they are identifying the children who need to be adopted early enough and finding the right families for those children in the right time, and that does mean with the minimum of unnecessary delay. We have got a strong focus on delay and we think that is right. Clearly that is part of a whole package of things we will be looking at, but we think that is right.
Q118 Lisa Nandy: Does the framework take account of the fact that the focus on 12 months could lead to perverse incentives-for example, some children not being considered for adoption when they ought to be?
John Goldup: Yes. If you look at the framework as a whole, it absolutely does take account of that. We do not have an approach to inspection that ticks off a set of criteria, and if you meet all those criteria you get a certain result, if you do not, you get another result. We weigh up the evidence in the round, absolutely.
Q119 Lisa Nandy: What account do you take of factors that are outside of the local authority’s control-for example, court delays or other factors?
John Goldup: In making a judgment on the local authority’s performance, we will not hold the local authority to account for things that are outside their control. Clearly, the quality of liaison and partnership work at a local level is a key issue, but we do not hold the local authority accountable for what it cannot be held accountable for.
Q120 Lisa Nandy: Would you specifically look at that as part of the inspection? So where there were factors that were outside of the local authority’s control, would you consider those as part of the inspection?
John Goldup: Again, through understanding the experiences and the outcomes for the individual children whose experiences we build the inspection up from.
Q121 Lisa Nandy: I was interested earlier in your response to Alex, when you said that the increase in court applications to take children into care was in large part a good thing, in that it was increased awareness and willingness to take action, but I wondered if there were other factors driving that you felt were more problematic?
John Goldup: Yes, there are other factors driving it. Clearly, we saw a very dramatic upsurge in the wake of the Peter Connelly case, and I am sure at the time some of that, inevitably, was about anxiety, defensiveness and playing safe. It is too established now for that to be the explanation given. Another key variable is this issue of early intervention. It certainly does indicate that there is still more to be done to really embed thinking about early intervention and not waiting for problems to escalate within the system. If we see that really taking hold and becoming the driving agenda that many people see it as being, that will be a factor that starts to pull in the other direction.
Q122 Lisa Nandy: I suppose in a sense it relates to the questions that Alex was asking you about resourcing as well, because obviously constant and repeat interventions to support families can be time consuming and costly. Do you detect any reluctance to do that? Do you think the rise in court applications reflects the fact that it is seen as a quicker solution?
John Goldup: No, I do not think there is evidence to suggest that. I am certainly not aware of evidence to suggest that. People are on the whole doing it because in the circumstances in which they are making those decisions they think it is the right thing to do for children, and I think it very often is.
Q123 Lisa Nandy: One of the things that has really exercised this Committee and previous Education Select Committees is the low educational achievement of lookedafter children, particularly given that those children often have very high aspirations and a strong drive. They are often extremely intelligent and yet they do not get the results that they deserve. Your Annual Report made reference to virtual schools and virtual headteachers as a highly effective model for raising the attainment of lookedafter children, which is a view that I share. Do you think that this should be applied in all local authority areas?
John Goldup: It is a model that has demonstrated that it is capable of being applied pretty universally, yes. What needs to be applied in every local authority area is sustained attention to the progress and the achievement of every single individual child who is in the public’s care, whatever particular model in the local circumstances they use to deliver that. Yes, I do.
Q124 Lisa Nandy: Finally, I just wanted to ask you about something that also came up in the Annual Report, and that was reference to concerns about your inspection of the use of physical restraint in secure training centres. What are those concerns and what have you done to address them?
John Goldup: Clearly, it is an issue of great concern to anybody when young people have to physically restrained, and there have been some tragic cases where young people have suffered serious injury and indeed have died as a result of restraint. I think the concern is absolutely understandable and legitimate. It is something we look at incredibly closely through a whole range of different sources of evidence during those inspections. Because the issue is an issue of such concern, people of course are always wanting to say, "Are you giving this sufficient attention? Is Ofsted really getting to the bottom of this?" and I think that is legitimate. We are confident that we are, and we have looked at this very closely.
Q125 Lisa Nandy: Do you think it is fair to say that Ofsted is complacent about inspecting those techniques?
John Goldup: I think it is utterly unfair and absolutely a reversal of the truth.
Q126 Lisa Nandy: Can you tell the Committee what it is that you are doing to address those concerns that have been raised?
John Goldup: We are ensuring that this is an aspect of care in secure provision to which we give very close attention. We talk to the children and young people, we examine the records, we look at CCTV footage, we meet with independent monitors and reviewers, we look at the provision that is there for independent advocacy for young people. We look at a whole range of sources available to us in order to satisfy ourselves that practice is of the highest standard.
Q127 Lisa Nandy: Do you think Ofsted is the right agency to carry out those inspections?
John Goldup: The inspections that we are the lead agency for are the inspections for secure children’s homes and secure training centres. The Prison Inspectorate is the lead inspectorate for young offender institutions. Yes, I think we are the right agency, because the institutions we inspect are providing for children as young as 12. They are extremely vulnerable children. We think a focus on their needs as vulnerable children as well as young offenders is incredibly important. We are developing a joint approach to inspection of those facilities with HMI Prisons. That is the way of the future, but yes, I do think we are the right agency to lead those inspections.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Can I just come back on the lookedafter children issue you raised? You are quite right to say that they underachieve. It is part of our inspection framework that we look at the achievement levels of all groups of children in school, particularly those that are vulnerable, SEN children and so on. We look very carefully at the outcomes for lookedafter children, and inspectors track the progress of a child through primary and secondary school. I cannot emphasise this enough: it is really important that schools have coordinators for this-somebody in charge of lookedafter children who tracks the progress and also liaises with the children’s home or the foster carer.
Q128 Chair: In local safeguarding children boards, how effective are the relationships between the individual chairs, directors of children’s services and lead members?
John Goldup: Again, it is variable. All the evidence is that the much greater degree of independence with the introduction of independent chairing has significantly improved the effectiveness of local safeguarding children boards. In weaker authorities what you will find is that the board meets, the right people get round the table every so often, they have the right discussions. What difference does it make? Not very much. Really good local safeguarding children boards challenge and hold to account the partner agencies, and that is a shared culture within the board. Weaker boards do not do that, and that leads to poorer protection for children.
Q129 Chair: You said that generally they are not very good at engaging with young people and families. What could be done to improve that?
John Goldup: That is something that boards find more difficult. We produced a report a few months ago on good practice in local safeguarding children boards, which was widely disseminated. Part of our role is sharing best practice. There were some very creative examples of ways some of the better boards have found of taking that forward. It remains a challenge. Child protection is a difficult issue to directly engage children’s and families’ views in.
Q130 Chair: Sir Michael, earlier on in the session you said that you had been to see the Secretary of State to make an additional funding bid and you were happy to discuss that with us. It would be rude not to let you share with us what that is.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am quite happy to discuss that. You will know that, if we go ahead with this proposal to move from satisfactory to requirement to improve and give schools a threeyear window in which to improve before going into special measures, it means more inspections-and many more inspections, possibly. We worked out a funding formula for that and we have been to the Secretary of State with a bid. He has shown himself to be very sympathetic. I have made the case to him, as I have made to you, that this is a really important way of improving standards for children in our country and he is very sympathetic to that. He is very sympathetic towards it. Whether people in the Treasury are, I do not know, but I am sure the Prime Minister is using his powers to persuade them.
Chair: You are eight weeks into the job and you have already been to see the Secretary of State, pressing him for additional resources to sharpen up the operation. We wish you luck in that and your other endeavours in raising standards for children across the board. Thank you both very much for giving evidence to us this morning.