OFSTED RESPONSE TO THE EIGHTH REPORT OF
THE EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE, SESSION 2000-2001:
STANDARDS AND QUALITY IN EDUCATION: THE
ANNUAL REPORT OF HER MAJESTY'S CHIEF INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 1999-2000
I am writing in response to the recommendations of
the Education and Employment Committee's Eighth Report: Standards
and Quality in Education: the Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief
Inspector of Schools for 1999-2000.
The work to transfer the regulation of early years
childcare from local authorities to OFSTED is progressing well.
Our first regional centre opened on 25 June and we began processing
new applications for registration from 2 July. Both Maggie Smith,
the Director of the Early Years Directorate, and I look forward
to discussing this new aspect of OFSTED's remit with the Committee
in due course.
Recruitment and retention of teachers
I welcome the statement that the Committee shares
my concerns about the likely impact on educational standards of
a failure to address adequately problems of teacher supply and
retention. OFSTED is monitoring these matters closely, including
the efforts of Local Education Authorities (LEAs) to support schools
in recruiting and retaining teachers.
I intend to report on the effects of teacher shortage
and subject mismatch in my 2000-01 Annual Report. OFSTED is also
conducting an inspection of the use and impact of supply teachers,
on which I shall report in 2002.
In recent years, OFSTED has taken many steps to reduce
the demands of inspection on schools, LEAs and other bodies while
maintaining the integrity of the inspection system. We recognise
the need not to add unnecessary bureaucracy. A joint report, Reducing
the Burden of Inspection, by OFSTED and the Standards and Effectiveness
Unit at the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), was published
in May 2001. The report included 24 recommendations for further
reducing the demands of inspection, and implementation of these
will start from September 2001. They will in our view make a real
difference. The key areas for change are in better co-ordination
between government agencies to avoid duplication, more effective
use of new technologies, and greater clarity about what is and
is not needed in preparation for an inspection.
It is too early to give a definitive judgement as
to whether improvement in writing as a component of English has
been achieved or whether boys' performance relative to that of
girls has improved. The National Curriculum tests at Key Stages
1-3, together with optional and progress test data for years other
than the end of a key stage, will provide further evidence when
aggregated results are available.
Retrieval from section 10 inspections and HMI inspection
work does provide evidence of a continuation of the problem. It
is likely to remain a priority for some considerable time. In
most primary and secondary schools attainment in writing still
lags behind that in the other English attainment targets and attainment
by boys in writing is poorer than that of girls.
Inspection evidence points to a number of trends
which should have a positive impact on boys' attainment in writing
over the longer term, though they may be insufficiently widespread
to affect radically results this year or in the immediate future.
- schools using data more extensively to pinpoint
the issue of boys' performance and look at its causes in more
- increased awareness of the link between curriculum
balance in English and boys' performance;
- greater emphasis on the direct teaching of writing,
through modelling and emphasis on word and sentence levels; and
- improved awareness of the need for literacy,
including writing, to be a cross-curricular priority, and for
writing to be expected and supported in all subjects.
We have been closely concerned for a number of years
with inspections of education for those under custody, both adult
prisoners and those in what is now termed the Juvenile Estate.
With the advent of the Adult Learning Inspectorate, OFSTED's responsibilities
for those over the age of 18 have passed to that body, but we
retain our responsibilities in relation to juveniles. Our concerns
have focused especially on the need for greater clarity and consistency
in the provision and for ensuring the quality of assessment and
curricular arrangements. We welcome therefore the recommendation
that the Committee should look closely at what is added to prisoners'
education and skills whilst they are in prison.
We agree with the conclusion that ICT skills should
be accorded the highest priority. We will therefore continue to
inspect the impact of the National Grid for Learning (NGfL) and
New Opportunities Fund (NOF) ICT training in schools.
Our recent interim report on the Government's initiatives
in ICT in schools indicates that the use of Standards Fund money
to develop the NGfL has succeeded in increasing ICT resources
in schools and has given many pupils and teachers electronic access
to such resources via the grid and the Internet. However, the
NOF training programme started slowly and we were therefore unable
to report any widespread impact of the training at this stage.
More recent evidence is beginning to suggest some positive impact,
although there is still too much inconsistency in the quality
The interim report also indicates that the support
for ICT in LEAs is inconsistent, with two-thirds of LEA services
providing inadequate support. Many LEAs, especially the smaller
ones, have not sufficiently recognised the level of funding needed
in addition to Standards Fund money to deliver the necessary support
to teachers. The Committee will be interested to note that in
the autumn 2001, OFSTED plans to run jointly with the DfES a series
of seminars for senior LEA officers to disseminate the positive
features found in those LEAs where ICT support is judged to be
The Committee will also be interested to note that
OFSTED will be inspecting the ICT strand of the national Key Stage
3 Strategy which aims to provide materials, training and support
for schools in their teaching of ICT as a subject. We believe
that the strategy should, in addition, seek to improve links between
this strand and the application of the ICT in English, mathematics
and science strands and in the foundation subjects strands. We
also feel that, more generally, there is a need for ICT to become
more embedded in other Government strategies, notably the National
Literacy Strategy and the National Numeracy Strategy, and that
we will hopefully find evidence of this in our future inspections.
Key issues and trends relating to ICT will, of course,
be reported in my 2000-01 Annual Report. In the summer term 2002,
we also plan to publish reviews of aspects of good practice in
relation to the subjects of the National Curriculum, including
Specialist schools and sport in schools
A report on specialist schools, to which reference
was made in the Committee's proceedings, is due for publication
shortly. The report covers the longest-established specialist
schools. It focuses on attainment in the schools, the quality
of the teaching in the specialist subjects, the impact of specialist
status on the schools' overall provision and their work with other
schools and the local community. The report will also include
reference to the extent to which specialist sports colleges raise
standards of attainment in physical education and sport as well
as in overall standards.
Since the implementation of the revised National
Curriculum in 2000, inspection evidence indicates that the majority
of schools meet their statutory requirement to provide a broad
and balanced physical education (PE) programme, although most
of the sport-related programmes take place as extra-curricular
activity or out-of-school provision. However, not all pupils in
primary schools have access to swimming and in many secondary
schools pupils receive a programme that is dominated by games.
Inspection evidence also indicates that the suspension
of the National Curriculum Orders in 1999-2000 in regard to foundation
subjects has reduced the time that some schools give to physical
education, particularly in Key Stage 1. OFSTED plans to continue
to monitor the effects of the revised National Curriculum on foundation
subjects in particular, including PE and sport. In the spring
and summer terms 2002, we plan to report on these effects in my
Annual Report, as well as in our website and in a range of other
subject-related publications, including good practice reports
and reviews. OFSTED will continue to monitor and evaluate the
development of sports colleges. It also plans to evaluate aspects
of the national sport strategy, in particular the role and impact
of the sports co-ordinator and primary link teacher in this strategy.
In conclusion, we look forward to engaging with the
Committee in the future and reporting on our forthcoming programme