Publications on the internet
CORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 980-i
House of COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE the
Annual report of HM Chief Inspector, Ofsted
Wednesday 13 February 2013
Sir Michael Wilshaw and Matthew Coffey
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1-139
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
1. This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
2. The transcript is an approved formal record of these proceedings. It will be printed in due course.
Taken before the Education Committee
on Wednesday 13 February 2013
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)
Mr David Ward
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Sir Michael Wilshaw, HM Chief Inspector, and Matthew Coffey, Director of Learning and Skills, Ofsted, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: Good morning and welcome, Sir Michael and Mr Coffey, to this session of the Education Committee, looking at the annual report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Ofsted. It seems quite a while since you were before us, Sir Michael, so it is a pleasure to have you with us today.
How are things among the leadership team at Ofsted? Are you a happy ship at the moment?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think in the main we are. I have set a clear course of how I want the inspection system to be developed, and I think I have got their support, in the main.
Q2 Chair: In the main, so not necessarily everybody, even in the senior leadership team.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: There is not unanimity on that one, but in the main I have got their support, for the frameworks and also for the regional structure.
Q3 Chair: We were expecting John Goldup to be with us this morning, and he is not.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: No, because we are reporting on social care in the summer. The reporting year for social care is March to April, and inspectors inspect social care institutions in the summer holidays, so we decided that we would have another annual report on social care in the summer. We will appear in front of you after that.
Chair: If we choose to call you, of course.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. I think it is also important to say, looking at last year’s report, the social care bit of it merged into the other sections. It is such an important area of our work that there needs to be a discrete report.
Q4 Chair: Good. There has been some criticism of Ofsted’s riskbased approach to inspection, and contentions that inspection is now a snapshot rather than a "state of the nation" view and that this gives a more negative view of the performance of the system, by identifying those areas where there is more risk. Do you think that the picture we get of the FE sector-which I think felt quite sore after this report came out-is a fair one of the overall state of FE colleges?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We have made a decision-and it was made before my time at Ofsted-to look at the poorest provision, and I think that is a sensible thing to do given the resources that we have got. If we had unlimited resources-and we will talk about those resources, I am sure, later in the session-then we could do much more. Given the resources we have got, we have got to prioritise those institutions that are less than good. That is what we are doing in schools and that is certainly what we are doing in the FE sector and in colleges.
Q5 Chair: As you may know, as well as this Committee I chair the AllParty Parliamentary Group on Home Education and take a close interest in this, and this Committee recently produced a report on home education. Last month I wrote to you with some questions on how home education is monitored by Ofsted. I have not had a response as yet, but I wonder if you could tell me whether Ofsted does view homeeducated children as being particularly at risk of poor education or otherwise as a particularly vulnerable group, and if so, why.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: They are vulnerable. Unless we know what they are doing and how their parents are educating and looking after them, then they are vulnerable. It is also important that they have access.
Q6 Chair: So, are children in the summer holidays with their parents vulnerable? We don’t tend to know what they are doing, either. That could be rather frightening: months alone with the parents. They could even take them abroad without official permission. Do you not think there is an issue there of seeing people as a risk if the state does not know about it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I just think it is important that all children receive a decent education, whether it is at home or in school. I noted your concerns about access to and funding for examinations, and that is something, certainly, when we inspect local authorities we will be asking questions about. Are local authorities supporting children at home and funding access to qualifications and examinations?
Q7 Chair: It does seem that the approach Ofsted is taking seeks to erode the statutory settlement, which recognises that parents, not the state, have the duty to provide education. Having a suspicion that unless you know what is going on, the state views those children as vulnerable is an inappropriate assumption, and leads to highhanded behaviour by local authorities who are fearful of Ofsted coming in and finding that they have not done enough to knock on doors, misrepresent the powers they have and basically act in a bullying and intimidatory way towards parents who are simply exercising and fulfilling their statutory duty to educate their children as they see fit.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: This is a deeply philosophical question. We could have a big debate on this one, but we know that some parents-and we will be talking about this at greater length in the summer when we issue our report on social care-do not treat their children well and the state does intervene when that happens. I think you are absolutely right that most parents educating their children at home want the best for them and do their best for them, and good local authorities support them. Where that does not happen, I think the state has a duty to intervene.
Q8 Chair: It does indeed. If it appears to a local authority that someone is not receiving a suitable education, then, in that case, they have a duty to act. They do not have the duty, or the power, to go and assume a negative without evidence to that effect.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: No, absolutely not, and there would be good reasons why parents want to keep their children at home and not send them to school, but if they are not treating them properly, then I think that becomes an issue for the state. As I say, I think it is really important that parents who are doing their best for children at home have access to the support that a good local authority will give them.
Q9 Neil Carmichael: As you know, this Committee is busy thinking about governance; we have got an inquiry underway. Are there any key messages you would like to give us as we think about governance?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We are spending a lot more time on governance arrangements when we inspect. I know this is something that has already been communicated to you by my colleague, Michael Cladingbowl. We are writing a separate paragraph on governance; it is going to be quite a lengthy paragraph. We are going to be asking whether governors are focusing on the right things and not on marginal issues. Are they asking questions about the quality of teaching, the progress of students and the outcomes of students? Are they looking particularly at the pupil premium and examination policy and earlyentry policy? Are they asking about the big things that governors should be asking about? If they are not, then we will be critical of governance and we will be saying so in our report and we will be saying, where we perceive governance to be weak, that external review is required. We have said that a number of times now. When we go back to look at whether governance has improved, we will be looking to see whether they have sought that advice and support.
Q10 Neil Carmichael: How forensic will you be in examining governance? Of course you can get a governing body that looks good on the outside, but one or two individuals let it down.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. All our reports say very much that: that a good governing board often is a result of a small core of individuals running with issues, taking responsibility and leading others on the governing board. Where a dysfunctional governing board is not working, you have not got that core group and they are not focusing on the big issues.
Q11 Neil Carmichael: You have emphasised leadership-not just with governance but also, obviously, the head teacher-but there are different styles of leadership. Do you think that there are appropriate differences between forms of leadership?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think there are, but in all my experience as a teacher and as a head, the best leaders are the ones that focus on the big issues. We say endlessly at Ofsted that the big issues are always the same ones, in schools certainly, and in colleges. I am sure my colleague, Matthew, will endorse this: it is the quality of teaching. A good leader will make sure they know what is happening in the classroom and in the workshop, will monitor provision carefully, and will make sure that there are good professional development programmes on offer to improve the quality of teaching, particularly for those who have just started teaching. A good head will make sure the culture is right in the school, so good teaching can go on and behaviour is sorted out. A good head will track the progress of students, particularly the most vulnerable students and those falling behind. A good head will ensure that he has a weather eye on outcomes, and that the outcomes are as good as they should be given the intake of the school.
Q12 Neil Carmichael: Absolutely. When inspecting a school, there are other influences, like, for example, a local authority and, indeed, the national level. How does Ofsted set about assessing those extra influences, notably the national level?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: As you know, we are looking at local authorities and how well they are supporting institutions. A major feature of our report was the variation in performance across the country. We have said quite clearly that it is unacceptable that local authorities with similar demographics, similar levels of poverty and similar numbers of children on free school meals perform very differently and we are going to be looking very, very carefully at the reasons for that. We will be inspecting schools within the worstperforming local authorities and, if necessary, we will inspect those local authorities that we perceive to not be supporting and challenging their schools in equal measure. We will be doing that over the summer term. Local authorities have a powerful part to play in school performance and I have said publicly that they have a powerful part to play in local authority schools-those schools they control-and those outside their direct control. If they identify underperformance in an academy, they should be writing to the chair of governors and the sponsor of that academy and contacting the Academies Division at the Department.
Q13 Mr Ward: Before we leave the issue of leadership, which you have stressed the importance of, there seems to be a correlation between good leadership and better schools-it is a determinant factor-but there also seems to be a correlation between better schools and more affluent communities, and less successful schools and deprived communities. Does it then naturally follow that the better leaders are in the more affluent schools?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: No. We have identified coasting schools in coasting local authorities.
Q14 Mr Ward: But disproportionately, that is the case, is it not? If the leadership is the thing that makes the difference and disproportionately more of the weaker schools are in deprived communities, does that not mean that fewer good leaders are in the schools serving deprived communities?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Where we see schools in deprived communities doing well, we see good leadership and good governance. Nevertheless, it is true to say when you look at the statistics on those who are national leaders of education, who are there to support other schools, more of them are in prosperous, more affluent areas with relatively low numbers of freeschoolmeals children. The great challenge for the future is to identify systemwide leaders in our poorest areas, because at the moment we have got more head teachers serving quite affluent communities who are national leaders of education, who are asked to go into disadvantaged communities and support them. I am not sure they have the necessary skills to do that-some will and some will not-and I think the great challenge for the National College for School Leadership is to identify more outstanding leaders in our most disadvantaged communities.
Q15 Chair: Do we not also need to get a playing field in which you are not incentivised to move? It seems that everything in our education system incentivises you to move away from the more challenging areas. The crude fiveGCSE accountability measure has meant that you are more likely to be found wanting in a school with lower prior attainment than higher prior attainment. As you go through your career, your spouse will probably want you to go and work in a good school in a nice leafy area, so that your children can get preferential access. Everything in the system is incentivised to move people away from the greatest need, is it not? Have you got any thoughts on how that could be turned round? If you are right about the leadership-and I am sure you are-then what we need to do is move the playing field so that great leaders are incentivised and would choose to be in a challenging school. At the moment it seems like the riskiest place to be is taking on those challenges. That is where you are going to get branded a failure, not in some leafy suburb, where the chances of you failing on your benchmark are bordering on nil, unless you are peculiarly incompetent.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I would like to say a few things on that one. The first thing is: we have given out the message from Ofsted loudly and clearly that progress is the most important issue that we look at, not outcomes. You can be a "good"-or, indeed, "outstanding"-school where you are achieving below national average outcomes, and even below the floor targets, as long as we see progress towards the floor targets being rapidly achieved. That is the first thing. The second thing is: I think you are absolutely right. How do we incentivise the best people in our system to go and work in the most difficult areas? We have not cracked that one yet. This is something I have had a conversation with the Secretary of State about. I think we can do two things. One is to introduce another grade. We have got "outstanding" at the moment; we are thinking of introducing another grade for leadership and calling it "excellent leadership" or a similar sort of description, which you can only achieve if you are prepared to move into a more difficult area and support an underperforming school in the most disadvantaged communities. That is not happening at the moment. You can support other schools in relatively prosperous circumstances and still be called a national leader of education. There need to be more incentives to encourage people to work in difficult communities, and I think there need to be financial incentives to do this as well. Government should think carefully about how we incentivise the best people to go into these areas.
Q16 Neil Carmichael: Following on from that, obviously the local authorities would play a role, and you have stressed the importance of local authorities, so what does a good leadership of a local authority look like?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have been to a number of really good ones who have not got as many resources as they had previously. I went to Wigan, where, with relatively few resources, they were getting really close to their schools; they knew exactly what was happing. They met with head teachers on a regular basis, and they were using the best heads to support less effective schools and less effective head teachers. They got that balance right between support and challenge. The weaker local authorities do not get that balance right; there is too much cosiness and too many fireside chats, rather than challenging schools on performance levels. Wigan was getting it right, Darlington was getting it right, and I have identified other local authorities in the country that have got that balance right. I have also said that local authorities have got a wide range of powers that they can use. One of the interesting things when we looked at the data was that some local authorities with large numbers of failing schools-"inadequate" schools and specialmeasures schools-have not sent one warning notice to those schools over the last five years. I could name them, but I am not going to. They have got to start doing that. They have got to serve warning notices and they have got to appoint additional governors.
Ian Mearns: Chris Woodhead would have done.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Okay, but we will take action against those local authorities unless we see an improvement.
Q17 Neil Carmichael: Good. Academies are slightly removed from local authorities, so how do you see the same sort of rigour being applied to them in the long term?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: That is a big policy issue. As more and more schools become autonomous and independent, how are we going to monitor their performance and intervene when decline sets in? It is a big policy issue. I have made it clear that I think it is something that has to be addressed. I have said that local authorities should do it. It certainly happened in Hackney, where my school was: the DCS there was quite clear that if he identified an underperforming academy, he was going to take action. I think all good local authorities should do that.
Q18 Neil Carmichael: What about academy chains? That is an issue that you have raised, and it is one that seems to be still uncertain.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We will be inspecting local authorities and we should inspect academy chains as well, if we identify underperformance. I have made that clear to the Secretary of State. It is only fair and equitable that we do that. We have not got the same powers at the moment, but I look forward to receiving the powers to do that.
Q19 Chair: Have you had any indication as to when that is going to happen?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: No, but it is an ongoing discussion I am having with the Department.
Q20 Chair: Has the Department accepted the need for the powers to be brought in?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think so.
Chair: So it is just about finding the right legislative vehicle.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think so, but even without those formal powers, we can do quite a lot. After all, academy chains-I was going to say "skim off the top", but I am not going to use that phrase-take money from the schools within the chain to subsidise their central services. That is taking public money away from schools for those central administrative services and I think that gives us the right to inspect those academy chains.
Q21 Ian Mearns: At the moment, based on raw data that comes out of schools within local authority areas, local authorities are ranked. If we are going to have inspections of academy chains in future, would you also suggest a ranking of academy chains in a similar fashion?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I don’t see why not. I would say that all our evidence-you have seen from our report-is that academy chains are doing pretty well. They are doing better than standalone academies, for a variety of different reasons. But I think it is sensible to do that, as I say, as more schools become academies and more chains are formed.
Q22 Pat Glass: Sir Michael, I am delighted to hear about your focus on progress, which this panel has long pleaded for, and raising the status of financial rewards for excellent leaders in challenging schools. I am delighted to hear it. On a less positive note, when you appeared before us last year, you told us that you felt that your remarks about staff morale had been misconstrued. Do you think that you have been misconstrued recently in remarks about stress on teachers and leaders?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely. I have just got used, in the course of my year at Ofsted, to being misinterpreted and misconstrued. Just by chance, I have got the quote I used in the speech I made at Brighton College, which was misinterpreted.
Chair: It is just fortuitous you just happened to wear that suit today.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely. It was an address to Brighton College, an independent school on the south coast. I was talking about the importance of leadership: that without really good, strong leadership in schools, we would not get the progress we required. I was a bit fed up with the response to moving the designation of "satisfactory" to "requires improvement"; there was a lot of moaning about that one. I said to the heads that I addressed at a previous conference that all schools are on a journey; any good head should want to get to "good" as quickly as possible.
What I did say in that speech at Brighton College was: "We need to challenge those who have power invested in them to make the difference, but too often make excuses for poor performance. It’s just too hard; the children are too difficult, the families too unsupportive, the job too stressful. So let me tell you about stress. Stress is what my father felt, who struggled to find a job in the 50s and 60s and who often had to work long hours in three different jobs and at weekends to support a growing family. Stress is, I am sure, what many of the million and a half unemployed young people today feel, unable to get a job because they have had a poor experience of school and lack the necessary skills and qualifications to find employment. Stress is what I was under when I started as a head in 1985 in the context of widespread industrial action, teachers walking out of class on a moment’s notice, doing lunch duty on my own every day for three years because of colleagues who worked to rule, covering five classes in the sports hall when there was no one to teach them."
Q23 Chair: Sir Michael, I think we have got your point. Are you coming to the killer line?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, this is the last line. "Stress was, in the days before local management of schools, writing letters in triplicate to the local authority asking for a brick wall to be built in the playground, or to ask for a bit of extra money to keep an excellent maths teacher, and not receiving a reply for weeks." That is what I said. I was not talking about the stress that the ordinary classroom teacher faces, although that is how it was construed. I have huge admiration for teachers in the classroom who try every day to teach effectively. This was about head teachers, who are in a really, really strong position now. I would love to be a head now. I miss headship greatly. Why should headship be such a great job to have now? Because everything is invested in them. All the money goes to the schools; they have more independence and autonomy than ever before; they have the power to influence and shape policy in a way that I never thought possible when I became a head in 1985. Heads now have got to grasp the nettle and shape change and improve their schools.
Q24 Pat Glass: Is there anything that we can do, or that Ofsted can do, to stop what happens very often when heads talk about the stress in their jobs? I think that is part of the reason why we cannot get deputies to take on headship, because heads talk it down all the time. Is there anything that we can do about that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: You are absolutely right. It was a point I made at the conference following this to another head teachers’ group. Despite the stresses and strains of leadership, it is the best job in the world, and it is better now than ever before-and it is a wellpaid job now. If they present and project a negative image-which some people do: "It is too difficult"-they are not going to get good people into their schools. They have got to talk up the profession, more now than ever before.
Q25 Pat Glass: Can I ask you about the Civil Service People Survey, which was disappointing in terms of leadership and managing change in Ofsted? Do you see that as reflecting on your leadership? What are you doing about it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: No, I don’t think it is reflecting on my leadership. In fact, if you look at that survey, it says that the great majority of people support the vision and the restructuring programme that I have set out. What it does reflect is the massive amount of change that Ofsted has had to undergo over the last few years, not just over the last year with the 30% cut in our budget and the 40% reduction in back office staff. It would be wrong and silly of me to say that the changes I have introduced have not caused a bit of anxiety; people have had to apply for jobs in the new structure.
Q26 Pat Glass: When you appeared before us previously, you said that in your first 100 days you were going to set some priorities, and some of those priorities were going to be about crosssection visits to institutions in areas in which you did not have a huge level of experience-nonschool areas. How much of that have you done?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have done quite a lot of it. It has been an incredibly busy year, but I think I have now visited all those institutions and remits that I was not familiar with. In my second week, I shadowed a safeguarding inspection in South London; I have been to a children’s home; I have been to a prison and a secure unit. I am sure there are other things I have visited. I have familiarised myself with most of those issues.
Q27 Pat Glass: Can I move off the agenda slightly and ask you a different question? When Matthew Hancock, the Minister, appeared before us recently, we were looking at careers advice and guidance, and he said he was looking to Ofsted to inspect and monitor that. I pointed out that Ofsted had said very clearly that they did not see it as their role to inspect the statutory duty in schools, and asked him if he was going to have a word with you. Has he had a word with you about it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Matthew might want to come in here. My view is that it is a good idea to devolve this funding to schools.
Q28 Pat Glass: There is no funding being devolved to schools; the only thing that is being devolved is the statutory duty.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. It is important that we do monitor it effectively. It is really important that impartial advice is given to students on progression routes, and I am not sure that is the case. In our adjustment to our inspection framework from September, we will give the inspection of careers advice a priority.
Q29 Chair: Can I momentarily take you back? You said that you did not think the staff survey was a reflection on your leadership, but the number of staff who say that change in Ofsted is wellmanaged is down a quarter in one year, from an already fairly frighteningly low base. 20% of staff believe that change within Ofsted is wellmanaged. That must reflect on somebody, surely. 80% clearly do not. Only 20% also said that when changes are made in Ofsted, they are usually for the better. They do not sound like happy staff members, or people with a great deal of confidence in the way they are being led.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I would ask you to talk to HMI and senior HMI about their perception of the changes that we are making, because one of the first things I did when I arrived at Ofsted in January-this survey was done in September; I had only been there six months-was to cut away what I thought was a bureaucracy that was getting in the way of inspection. Now we have a very clear and simple senior management structure at Ofsted, which is: executive board; national directors; eight regional directors; senior HMI in each region; and HMI. That is a very simple structure, overseeing the work of regulatory inspectors and additional inspectors.
Q30 Chair: Would you hope and expect that more than 20% of people in the next survey might think that change was wellmanaged within Ofsted?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely. Once we have been through this quite difficult reorganisation and have a good, slimmeddown, but effective inspection system and people in the jobs to which they applied, I think you will find that the next survey will be a lot more optimistic.
Q31 Siobhain McDonagh: You told the Committee last year that you wanted to restructure the annual report. What do you think are the biggest changes? Why are they important?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I hope you will have seen a difference if you read the annual report and compared it to the previous annual report. There are big differences. I said to you last time that my eyes glazed over-I think that was the expression I used. That was not a criticism of the authors of the previous report; it is simply that I think it is really important the annual report has a clear narrative and paints a clear picture of the direction of travel of the different remits, and I felt that the previous report did not do that. I have tried to do that with this report: to make it clear that schools are getting better-not as quickly as they should do, but they are getting better-that there is a real problem in learning and skills, and that social care, when we produce a report, is still under pressure. I have tried to do what I said I would do, but, at the same time, have the wealth of detail that was contained in previous reports online if people want to look at it.
Q32 Siobhain McDonagh: Who is the annual report mainly aimed at and what is its purpose?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is aimed at all the professionals in the education service; not just the Select Committee and the Department, but everyone, including parents. For the first time-we spent a bit of money on this-we have sent the annual report to every school and every college in the country. We have not done that in the past. We have sent it, and I would hope that head teachers, governors and staff have read it.
Q33 Siobhain McDonagh: Who did you consult on those changes, other than the executive board of Ofsted?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The executive board of course, but also Ofsted’s board of governors.
Q34 Siobhain McDonagh: You made the importance of leadership a key focus of the report. Are you concerned that other important information has had to be left out, as a result?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: All the relevant information on all our remits is either online or in the hardcopy report, so it is there for people to see if they want to.
Q35 Siobhain McDonagh: I thought the most interesting innovation was Data View. We, as constituency MPs, can get a good idea of where we are in relation to areas like our own. Is it a work in progress? Are you developing it further?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is a work in progress, but I hope you have found it interesting. Certainly the feedback we have had from everyone who has both read the annual report and looked at Data View has been very, very positive. It gives people a really clear picture of performance levels in different parts of the country, across the remits.
Q36 Siobhain McDonagh: We recently had one of your senior staff come to the Committee and say that you are giving a dashboard to all schools. Do you know if that information has gone out yet?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is going out in the next few weeks. In relation to the question on governance, this is going to be an absolutely fundamental change to the way governors perceive the performance of a school. They can look very quickly every year, in summary form, at how a school is doing in relation to similar sorts of schools. As you know, there is something called RAISEonline, which is a very datarich document that sometimes is a bit impenetrable and difficult to read. This is a summary of that, which will give governors a very clear picture of performance levels.
Q37 Mr Ward: We understand the differences in terms of the timing of the social care sector report, which is going to be published in the summer; is this a oneoff?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: No, that will be a practice that we will adopt each year.
Q38 Mr Ward: Did you consult on that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. We consulted the executive board and also the board of governors at Ofsted, and they thought that was a good idea, because it is something that is a highprofile report and should be presented separately.
Q39 Mr Ward: You are apparently the Secretary of State’s hero, and you are quoted as saying that you think the Secretary of State has got most things right. We have had some submissions that suggest this makes it quite difficult for you to be seen to be impartial and you are in fact politicising the role. Have you got any comments on that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am very conscious of those criticisms. I agree with many of the things that the present Secretary of State is doing and has done. Nevertheless, there are areas for disagreement. I hate to use the phrase "middletier", but I believe that we need to have a body in each region that Ofsted can report to. In regionalising the Inspectorate, we will be identifying areas of underperformance-schools, colleges and local authorities-and we will be making recommendations to the Secretary of State on poor governance in a school, poor governance in an academy chain, a failing local authority, etc. As more and more academies are introduced and we have an increasingly autonomous system, I think it is important that Ofsted is able to turn to somebody powerful in a region, who knows the region as well as we do, to take executive action. We do not have executive powers at the moment. If the Secretary of State wants to give us those executive powers, we could look at that and see whether we can combine both, but I suspect that will not happen.
Q40 Mr Ward: I won’t go on too long about this, but there are strong statements supporting Government policies in the report. An example of that would be: "substantial improvements have been achieved through effective partnerships with socalled ‘teaching schools’." These, as I understand it, only started taking on this role in September 2011. That is a pretty short period of time to come up with such a positive response, isn’t it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think schooltoschool support is the way forward. Although it is early days-you are quite right on that-our evidence suggests that it is making a big difference. With the sort of reduction in the size of local authorities’ school improvement services, their job now is to broker schooltoschool support. The best local authorities identify good practice and good practitioners, and get those people to support underperforming schools in federations and in clusters. That is the way forward. It is happening at a pace at the moment, and I think that pace will accelerate over the next few years. That is where local authorities have a key part to play: in brokering that and incentivising those chains of schools. I would hope that central Government provides the financial support to local authorities so that they can do that.
Q41 Charlotte Leslie: One of your key changes is moving the category of "satisfactory" to "requires improvement." It is also quite clear from your report that Ofsted plans to take a more active role in helping schools to improve. With all the reorganisations that are taking place, will you have the resources to ensure you can do that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is tight, but this was one of the first things I wanted to do. I thought "satisfactory" was always a nonsense word, and we had plenty of evidence to show that schools could plod along on that "satisfactory" level year after year after year after year. That was completely unacceptable. This has injected urgency into the system. Schools are worried about being described as "requires improvement" now much more than they were worried about being called "satisfactory." I think that has been a good thing. Some schools, just with that threat hanging over them of moving into that category, will move forward much more quickly. Others, where leadership lacks capacity, experience, etc., will find it really difficult. That is where Ofsted can come in through this regional structure to support schools, to point the way forward, and to disseminate and share good practice with the leaders of those schools.
After all, there is no other organisation in the land that has the wealth of data on school performance that we do. We know where good practice is in a particular local authority or a particular region and we can point and, if necessary, take the head teacher of an underperforming school to another school and say, "Look, this is what has been done over here with a similar sort of intake that you have." We are repositioning Ofsted, in the way that I have described in the annual report, to say, "Yes, we are an inspection body; yes, we will hold institutions to account; but we are also going to try to help schools that are finding it difficult to improve, to improve."
Q42 Charlotte Leslie: If you are helping a school to improve and there are subsequent reinspections, how frequent would you see those reinspections being? How will you maintain impartiality and independence in reinspecting a school that you yourselves have been helping to improve?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: First of all, we will reinspect. We have given schools up to four years in which to improve in the "requires improvement" and "inadequate" categories and we will be sticking with those schools. There will be an HMI assigned to that school to track its progress and to do what I have just described, but a different HMI will make the decision on whether that school then has passed or not, at the end of that period.
Q43 Charlotte Leslie: The annual report has quite a lot of criticism in it and does not contain so much best practice. Is that something that is going to change? Will you, in that way, form a resource of best practice that people can access should they need to?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think our surveys are good practice reports. We produce innumerable surveys in the course of a year and our good practice website is used regularly.
Matthew Coffey: There are over 100 good practice examples on our website.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is used extensively by those who want to look at good practice from inspection.
Q44 Charlotte Leslie: Have you monitored the popularity of your website in terms of hits? Has it become more popular? What is the trend?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It has become more popular. There are a huge number of hits on our website and on our good practice website. We will continue to look at how we make the website even more accessible than it is at the moment.
Q45 Chair: I don’t know if I missed your answer to Charlotte’s question on the frequency of inspections if a school is required to improve, or if you did not answer it. How often will they be inspected?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: There is a fouryear period and there will be at least two full inspections within that fouryear period. If we think things are not moving ahead as fast as they should be, there will be more frequent Section 8 monitoring inspections to tell the school whether it is progressing in the way that we expect.
Q46 Chair: So, a school is required to improve and gets that designation. If it then does not move forward, when would you expect someone to be coming in, and what will trigger that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Within the first few months a monitoring visit will take place and a letter will be written about the progress of the school. If the progress is not as good as it should be, we will be back sooner than we have outlined.
Q47 Ian Mearns: I touched on this earlier, Sir Michael. What is the point of local authority league tables for secondary schools these days, when more and more schools are becoming academies and are outside the direct control of local authorities? Not that they were ever in the control of local authorities; even maintained schools have a significant amount of autonomy and have had for quite some time.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It comes back to this issue of whether local authorities have a part to play in our education system and in school improvement. My view is that they do. That is why I have been keen to introduce these league tables of primary schools’ performance and will do secondary schools’ performance later, because, whether it is a local authority school or it is an academy, I think a good local authority will take an interest-in fact, they have got a statutory duty to ensure that all the children in that local authority are getting good provision.
Q48 Ian Mearns: The thing is, though, the capacity of local authorities to do anything effective these days is reducing because, particularly in my neck of the woods, the North East of England, they have taken disproportionately large cuts in revenue support grants from central Government. The sort of backoffice functions that a local authority education department has relied on in terms of things like legal services and personnel advice are significantly in danger because of all of that. I agree with you that local authorities should have an interest in what happens in schools in their locality, but their capacity to deliver on that agenda is becoming very, very dangerously impeded.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I suppose it is about what we mean by "capacity." Certainly they don’t have the personnel they once had; that is for sure. Some would argue that they did not use those personnel well; if they had, then we would not have academies, free schools and all the rest of it.
Q49 Ian Mearns: Some were good; some were bad.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. I think it depends what we mean by "capacity." In the good authorities that I have visited, and which appear in our report, you do not need many people. You need one or two really good people who get on with the heads and know what is happening. Certainly when I went to Wigan I saw that. The head teachers there were very close to the local authority; they enjoyed the meetings. They said quite clearly to me that the local authority understood how they were operating and what the strengths and weaknesses were, and were using good people to help and support. You do not need many people for that.
Q50 Ian Mearns: Are you confident that Ofsted has the expertise to properly assess local authorities around the country and compare one with another?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have been impressed with the HMI that I have visited-and these will be HMI who will be doing this. I made it a focus of my first year in this job to say that HMI must have as high a status as the best head teachers in the land and should be paid a better salary than they are being paid at the moment. We have used additional funding from the Secretary of State to enhance their salaries.
Q51 Chris Skidmore: In your own experience at Mossbourne in Hackney, the local authority was effectively taken out and replaced by a learning trust when it was proved they were failing. Would you take that model and wish that to be rolled out nationally if you have other failing local authorities? As a result of the league table, if they fall under a certain level, is there a role for adopting a learning trust model for failing local authorities?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Without trying to duck the question, that is a policy concern. Our job is to report on standards and to report whether a local authority is discharging its statutory function. If they are not and we do not see any capacity to improve, we will report that to the Secretary of State, who will make those sorts of executive decisions.
Q52 Chris Skidmore: But it could be seen as a logical evolutionary process-what you have already established, I guess.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, it could be. That could be a model of good practice. There would be others up and down the land of another good local authority taking over a weaker one.
Q53 Bill Esterson: On this issue you touched on of local authorities intervening with academies, could you just say a bit more about what areas you think local authorities should intervene in?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is quite legitimate and lawful for an academy to turn round and say, "We do not want anything to do with you. We do not want you to come in. How dare you write us a letter? How dare you phone up the sponsor?" They can do that. But I think a good local authority will alert the Secretary of State and the Academies Division about the concerns they have about the performance of that academy. A good local authority will know from the word on the street and the data that is being presented on examination performance how that academy is doing, and it is up to the local authority to raise the alarm bells with the people who can intervene directly, and that is the Academies Division at the Department for Education.
Q54 Bill Esterson: Just to be clear, you were not suggesting that local authorities should have a statutory right to intervene.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: No. I am saying the whole point of academies is that they are independent schools, outside local authority control, but the local authority still has a statutory duty to ensure all children within the area receive a good education, and any good local authority will know whether an academy is doing well or not and will alert the Department for Education to their concerns. I am saying that in the future, as more and more schools become academies and independent institutions, that is not going to be a model that will work effectively.
Q55 Bill Esterson: Do you think that local authorities are going to be strong enough to perform that role, given the impact of the financial settlement that Ian has touched on?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think some will. I have spoken to ADCS and also the chief executives’ association, SOLACE. They want to play a part. They are not backing off. They do not want to say, "Well, we don’t have enough money these days; we don’t want a part to play." They are saying, "We want to play a part." If they want to play a part, they have got to step up to the plate and show they can make a difference.
Q56 Ian Mearns: I am not convinced that everybody shares your agenda, though, about the importance of local authorities.
Chair: Who are you thinking of, Ian?
Ian Mearns: No one springs to mind, but I am sure people out there can write some answers on a postcard. The thing is that if a local authority would like to get involved in school improvement with an academy and the academy does not want to play, if the local authority writes a letter to Academies Division within the DfE, I have got a funny feeling somebody within the DfE would say, "Don’t park your tanks on my lawn, mate." I think there is a question there. I understand and I very much sympathise with everything that you have expressed about the will for a local authority, quite rightly, to make sure that every child within its jurisdiction is getting the best possible education, but I have got a funny feeling that there other forces at play who see the world a little differently.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am sure you are absolutely right on that one. We do have an office called the Office of the Schools Commissioner in the Department. I think it would be sensible to have an office of the schools commissioner in each of the eight regions where we have got Ofsted regional directors. We could report to that person to say, "Look, you need to close this academy down. It is not doing well. Bring in another academy chain."
Q57 Ian Mearns: If, under the local authority inspection framework, Ofsted judges a local authority to be ineffective, have you discussed, for instance, with the Secretary of State how he would take things forward at that point? Have you got a clear view, shared between yourselves and the Secretary of State, of what would happen and what Ofsted would do?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have raised the question. We will be reporting to him in the summer. He is putting his thinking cap on with his advisers to think of possible ways of intervening if we do fail a local authority.
Q58 Ian Mearns: But from Ofsted’s perspective, what would a judgment of "ineffective" against a local authority precipitate?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: That would precipitate a letter from the regional director to the Secretary of State. It is up to the Secretary of State then to take action.
Q59 Ian Mearns: Moving on, Sir Michael, I have to say that coming from the North East of England, I very much welcome the idea that Ofsted have embraced the concept of regions, which is not widely enthusiastically welcomed across governmental Departments. For instance, CLG do not particularly like the concept of regions.
Chair: Neither did the people of the North East when asked, of course.
Ian Mearns: No, they like the idea of a region, but what they were not happy about in 2004 was having a talkingshop of a regional assembly, Graham. I can talk to you about that at length on another occasion.
Do you consider that Ofsted’s new regional structure adequately fills the gulf between individual schools and the Department, or is there more to be done, by yourselves and others, to ensure accountability and oversight of, for instance, academies?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We are halfway there. It will help. Our intervention inspections and monitoring will help the system to improve, but when we come to a conclusion about a particular institution or a local authority or whatever, and believe that there is no capacity for improvement and that the only way to improve is by closing down the school, removing the governing board, removing the head teacher or removing the local authority, somebody has got to take action. That is not our job; that is the job of the Secretary of State.
Q60 Ian Mearns: I remember, in your preappointment hearing, asking you about whether you saw Ofsted as a school improvement function. I think you said at that stage you did not see it as such. You seem to be implying today-for instance, you said earlier on that if the Secretary of State were to give you those powers-
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I have had a bit of a Damascene moment on this one. I think we have a part to play. We have challenged the system to do better-in fact, a lot better-and there has been a lot of pushback on that. I think we have got a moral responsibility to try to help schools to improve, because, quite honestly, there is very little else out there. If you are a school in a poor local authority area, what are you going to do to get that help and advice? We have got a duty to try to help and support, but at the same time make sure that people are very clear we will hold them accountable if they don’t take that advice.
Q61 Ian Mearns: Possibly advice would be not to go to Damascus at the moment as well-but not to worry. If Ofsted engage in a power grab of local authorities’ school improvement role, will this not undermine local democratic control, or even oversight, of education?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: If you talk to most head teachers, they have been arguing this for ages. They want Ofsted to help and support. They want Ofsted to hang around and give that support. Certainly when I was a head, I used to say the same thing as many of my colleagues are saying now: "We want Ofsted to give the necessary professional advice and development" that we have at our disposal.
Q62 Ian Mearns: I must admit I agree with that to a large extent, because it is not just about measurement; it is about using what you have measured to try to make things better. I suppose it is a question of how you pull together the mechanisms for actually doing that. I don’t think it is good enough just to say, "This isn’t working."
Sir Michael Wilshaw: If you talk to the HMIs who are heavily involved in this process now, all of them will say-and I have talked to quite a few-that it is working. Their intervention is being welcomed by head teachers. Particularly struggling heads and those heads who are new to the job-younger people who have not had many years in headship-welcome this and welcome our involvement in school improvement.
Q63 Ian Mearns: Could you tell us how you envisage the role of regional directors developing? What kind of things would you see them doing on a daytoday or weektoweek basis?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We are in the very early stages of this. We have now appointed eight people. They are all experienced, powerful individuals. Each one of them has had to write a 100day development plan. It sounds a bit Stalinist, that.
Chair: Five years comes next.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. But they have got to prioritise, because they are covering big parts of our country. They have got to look at where the priorities lie and which are the worstperforming areas. They need to meet with the chief executives and the DCSs in those regions and decide on a plan of action-a campaign-to try to improve things. They will be working with senior HMI attached to those regions and will get to know the region really well and know what works.
Q64 Ian Mearns: Given the fact that you have got eight regional directors all being paid over £100,000 a year, all writing their own regional development plan for 100 days, I suppose there will be an awful lot of comparing and contrasting going on within Ofsted about how they see their own particular regional vision.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, there will. We are meeting once a month with the eight regional directors. I will be a bit like King Lear touring the country, meeting with these eight regional directors and finding out what is happening and whether things are improving. The first question I am going to be asking them is: "Are things getting better? How many more schools have you got to ‘good’?"-without introducing any perverse incentives; we do not want to do that. I think it will work. I am positive it will work. My reputation depends on it working.
Q65 Chris Skidmore: The salaries are extremely high; they are more than the Secretary of State is paid and almost as much as the Prime Minister is being paid. If they don’t work, will there be performancerelated pay here? Will you see salaries either rise or fall, depending on whether or not the people in the regions are successful? Surely you cannot sustain a £140,000 salary if there is no improvement, but maybe if there is significant improvement you could allow regional directors to be paid more.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: In terms of the level of salary, it has been a challenge for us. We initially advertised these posts on £90,000plus. We did not manage to get many good people to apply-there were hardly any at all. Salary is an issue. A mile or two from here, you will meet a number of secondary heads who are paid well in excess of £100,000, and chief executives of academy chains who are paid well over £150,000. That is not uncommon these days. Headship is wellpaid; that is why I think they should deliver. To try to attract really good people, you have to pay that sort of salary level, and I think we have got those people now. Yes, we will be tracking their performance. We will adopt robust performancemanagement policies, and if they are not doing a good job, we will hold them to account for that.
Q66 Chair: Will a centrepiece of next year’s report be the league table of the eight, cruelly laid out?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Of course you could be doing a really good job as a regional director but performance levels could have dropped. That is the paradox of all this.
Q67 Ian Mearns: That can happen with schools as well, based on the cohort, can’t it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. As I say, we don’t want to introduce perverse incentives. Saying to regional directors, "How many ‘good’ schools have you got?" produces an artificial figure, because improvement has not taken place. We have got to watch that one. I think I am quite a perceptive sort of person.
Chair: Most people think they are, in my experience.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I feel I can pick up when somebody is not doing a good job.
Q68 Ian Mearns: In terms of the regional directors, did you have some problems recruiting the right sort of people to begin with? I understand that you uprated what the pay rate would be around the country. Are you quite happy now that you have got the right people in the right places? Where have they come from?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We have got an outstanding executive head in the South West. We have got outstanding directors of children’s services from London and from Wigan. We have appointed senior HMI-internal appointments-to the post. HMI who had left and were working with the Department have also come into post. My colleague here is doubling up as national Director for Learning and Skills as well as being a regional director.
Q69 Neil Carmichael: The regional directors will need good teams behind them, and this Committee was worrying not long ago about the fact that some of the HMIs were not qualified as teachers or had not had experience in the classroom. How far are we putting that right?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We are putting that right. Half our HMI have had headship experience. I would like to see that number going up. The problem is in the secondary sector, for the reasons I have just outlined, because of the pay differentials. Under the headline of "national service for head teachers", we have introduced a training programme for national leaders of education to join Ofsted. We trained 50 last year; we have got another 50 this year; and we will have another 50 next year. So, we will have more outstanding leaders joining Ofsted over the next few years. We have put a stop to lay inspectors who have not had teaching experience. That has cost us a bit of money in terms of redundancy, but we do not now have inspectors-either HMI or additional inspectors-who have no teaching experience.
Q70 Neil Carmichael: What about the possibility of deployments from the front line?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: From teachers?
Neil Carmichael: Yes.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is something that I think we should think about. If you are an advanced skills teacher, for example, you will be paid on the leadership scale and be paid roughly the same amount of money as somebody who is a deputy head and in a more administrative position. We would welcome those applications. The other thing I have suggested to heads who have run outstanding schools for a number of years and have reached a point in their career where they are thinking of doing something else, but who are in their mid50s and find it difficult to leave because of pension arrangements, is that we could use money at Ofsted to incentivise those people through pension enhancements so that they can join Ofsted for the next 10 years of their careers.
Q71 Neil Carmichael: Have you got a clear idea about the range of inspectors in terms of their qualifications?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, we do. Before an inspection takes place, we send the profiles of individual inspectors to the school, so they know the sort of people that are coming.
Q72 Neil Carmichael: What about the role of lay inspectors?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: As I say, lay inspectors have now got to have a teaching qualification if they are going to observe people in the classroom. We have stopped the practice of appointing lay inspectors who don’t have a teaching qualification.
Q73 Chair: So they are not lay inspectors, basically.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: They are not lay inspectors.
Q74 Chair: I think the group of lay inspectors, some of whom, looking at their CVs, were very experienced and pretty impressive people, felt that they were rather summarily dismissed, after rather long and distinguished service, which had been recognised by various people. In fact, they had been turned into lead inspectors, they had been asked by various other bodies, parts of Government and otherwise, to advise and consult because they were so respected, and then they just got an email from whichever one of the subcontractors was responsible, saying that their services were no longer required. Do you think they were treated properly and fairly?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I hope they were treated properly. I would want everyone within our organisation to be treated properly, with the right processes gone through properly. This is a key issue for me. The thing is, now, in terms of inspection, we are looking at lessons more than ever before. When there were 27 judgments, one or two inspectors might have looked at those issues that had little or no relevance to what was happening in the classroom. That does not happen anymore. The real focus of inspection is what is happening in the classroom, so we need inspectors who know what good practice looks like.
Q75 Chair: For people who had been going that long, both the manner of their dismissal and the failure to make an assessment as to whether they were suitable does look a little brutal.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I will speak to my exDirector of Education on this one, and also our Chief Operating Officer. I did not handle this process myself, but I would hope that those people were dealt with well.
Q76 Chair: That is certainly not how they feel and how they experienced it. Is it possible that you could look again? It may be that you have got to make these tough decisions on balance, but it must be very hard for people who have had accolades all the way through and have been felt to be very good people, after such a long time to be thrown out on the basis they don’t have those three letters-QTS. It just feels like a more individual approach to assessing whether or not they are capable and suitable would make them feel that they were treated fairly after so much service for so long.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I will look at it, but you will know also the level of unrest and criticism Ofsted received for employing people who had not been in the classroom and did not understand how teachers operated.
Q77 Chair: We strongly encourage you to have more people with frontline experience, so we recognise the tension there, but if it was possible to have a look at that, please do.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: If it is possible, I will.
Chair: If it is found that they are not suitable, that is one thing, but it is a shame to throw them away after so long. Having a rule on new entries is one thing, but imposing it retrospectively is another.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am sure you would accept that it is hard to justify to a head teacher that somebody is inspecting lessons in a school without relevant and recent experience. It is hard to justify it.
Q78 Ian Mearns: Sir Michael, moving on to learning and skills, in your annual report it says that more 16 to 18yearolds study in the further education sector than in schools, but overall, the quality of provision in the learning and skills sector is not improving: "Almost 1.5 million learners are now being supported by providers who are not yet good and some colleges have now been satisfactory for over 10 years." The approach that has been adopted by Ofsted in looking at the sector means that the results for any given year are not comparable with other years, nor are they necessarily representative of the whole sector. Is Ofsted going to spend more time looking at further education?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I want to bring in my colleague, Matthew Coffey, in a moment. All I would say is that we are very worried about standards in the FE sector, and particularly in the colleges. We were worried last year and we are equally worried this year. Things have got to improve quickly. I would like to spend a bit of time talking about the sort of concerns I have as Chief Inspector, but can I bring in my colleague, Matthew, on this matter?
Chair: Please do.
Matthew Coffey: You asked earlier about proportionate inspection, and it is the case in learning and skills that we adopt the proportionate inspection approach. This year, about a third of all of our learning and skills inspections were brought forward on the basis of the risk that we felt they posed to us. For colleges, as part of that cohort, it was more like 55%. There are a number of issues in there. One is that it is right to target our resources where they are most needed, particularly when the cohort of people studying are only studying for a relatively short period of time-one or two years-so we cannot wait for a crisis point. That is one of the reasons we do go in in this particular way. Equally, though, that same proportion was the case the year before, and even in that oneyear period we have noted a decline. The previous year we had four "inadequate" colleges; this year we had 13 "inadequate" colleges. We approached it on exactly the same basis. We do recognise-and we have said very clearly in the annual report-that that cannot allow you to make accurate yearonyear comparisons in the way that we would like to be able to, so those figures such as 1.5 million are stateofthenation figures. Even so, taking that stateofthenation figure, it was 1.3 million the previous year, so an additional 200,000 learners are experiencing lessthangood provision.
Q79 Ian Mearns: Are there any particular reasons behind your assessment that progress has stalled within this sector?
Matthew Coffey: As the report sets out, there are very similar issues in learning and skills and particular colleges to how Michael set out the importance of leadership and, indeed, governance. Of those 13 "inadequate" colleges, in eight of them we identified governance as being a particular challenge. I have spoken subsequently to the council of governors of colleges and they have warmly welcomed the opportunity for Ofsted to work much more closely. In the way that Michael has set out for improving those schools that require improvement, we are going to continue to extend that arrangement to colleges, and it has been most welcome.
Q80 Ian Mearns: The sector is much more spread than schools. In my own area, Tyne and Wear, there are five FE colleges. It is difficult to compare them because they quite often provide very different menus to students. Have you identified, though, any quickwins-anything that can be done to improve standards very quickly in particular cases?
Matthew Coffey: I think you are right. We have looked at the regional breakdown and it is very difficult to draw any solid conclusions based on the number of colleges, because they are spread around differently. From a regional director’s perspective, what the new structure allows us to do is to look at provision in a particular area, for example for 16 to 18yearolds, whoever it is being delivered by-whether it is a school or a sixthform college-and to look more critically at the quality of provision. So, I think there are some quick wins there on a regional basis. If you start to tie in youth unemployment, you very quickly get your priority areas for action. There are areas around the country with very high pockets of unemployment, as I am sure you are aware. In terms of colleges, there is an urban college issue, and particularly a London college issue. We have seen some decline in inspection grades in London, so we are looking very closely with the Association of Colleges and a group of London colleges, and some from Birmingham as well, to see how we can share good practice. There are still-and we did celebrate in the report-some "outstanding" providers out there in learning and skills, and I think it is really important that we do not forget that but we draw upon them in the same way that Michael set out for "good" schools.
Q81 Ian Mearns: One of the things that I am concerned about is, when we talk about engaging employers in terms of what they are looking for from the output of colleges in terms of the skills youngsters have, we quite often concentrate on large employers. Large employers are not necessarily representative of the job potential out there in the market. Is there any way in which Ofsted can help in that process of engaging with a broader stream of employers to work with colleges in the future?
Matthew Coffey: I think we can help there. Clearly, it is the responsibility of the college or the provider to engage, but I think the chambers of commerce offer a real rich variety of local employers that clearly understand what their own individual needs are, and the regional directors that Michael has just announced will be meeting with the local chambers of commerce to try to bring about a better relationship that stops employers from having the ability to say either, "We are simply not getting our skillsshortage needs met" or, "We are not getting the people with the right qualifications." We also need to make sure that colleges are more appropriately represented across regional accountability forums like LEPs, as bodies of bringing experts together.
Q82 Ian Mearns: Given the raising of the participation age in education to 18, is the sector ready to cope? Is it geared up?
Matthew Coffey: Given what we have said in the annual report about some of the key challenges-and they are essentially about insufficient goodquality teaching, with some concerns very clearly articulated in the report about the teaching of English and mathematics at level two-we are concerned about the preparedness of the sector to be able to take on board what essentially will equate to another quarter of a million students by 2015. In terms of capacity, I think there are issues that we need to resolve urgently before we start to take on board more of these learners. Equally, I think it is important that we do recognise that it is not the stayingonatschool rate but the raising of the participation age, and we have got to be able to present a very good quality vocational offer for those young people who are making important choices at school.
Q83 Ian Mearns: A large part of the problem that I have certainly witnessed in the North East of England is the uncertainty of funding within the sector. Colleges as entities have had to very much chase different funding pots and look for different ways to innovate in order to attract funding to replace funding that has been extracted elsewhere. Do you think that has been at all problematic within what they have been able to produce?
Matthew Coffey: It has been at the heart of many of the problems that we have identified. The report does pose the question of whether the system is fit for purpose. Its main reference point is exactly as you have articulated: the financial incentives have all been wrong. They have led to very lowlevel qualifications being delivered across the board to a wide number of students-such as alcohol awareness and personal effectiveness-because they are funded and because it delivers the money, but chasing this money has taken the leadership’s eye off the ball of what really matters, which is teaching and learning.
Q84 Ian Mearns: Certainly I have had complaints from Sector Skills Councils, for instance, that some colleges have been offering people out there in the market NVQ Level 2 qualifications, which are functionally useless when it comes to people progressing in a particular trade or profession.
Matthew Coffey: Yes. I am pleased that the Minister for Further Education and Skills has started to address this area very clearly with the study programmes for 16to18yearolds and, most recently, the traineeship programmes, which take the funding away from the individual qualifications and focus on the learner, which is exactly what it should be. Our inspection arrangements do consider a broader basket of measures of success and I think it is right that we encourage that.
Q85 Ian Mearns: We talked earlier on about careers education. How youngsters end up in colleges can quite often have an awful lot to do with what careers advice and guidance they are getting within their school setting.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: That is why we have got to look very, very carefully at our school inspection framework and recalibrate it to focus much more on careers guidance.
Matthew Coffey: We are in the middle of a survey of that particular issue at the moment. We expect to report in the early summer on the new duty and how schools have taken on board their duty.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: That point about getting principals of the colleges to focus on what is really important is absolutely critical here. They have lost their way a bit. They have focused on capital investment, extending their reach, building programmes, going abroad to attract students, and so on. All those things are important, but equally, if not more important, is what is happening in the workshop and in the classroom and they have lost their way a bit on that one. As an eminent exprincipal said to me, they need to start worrying more about what is happening in Deptford, rather than Delhi.
Q86 Neil Carmichael: On the point about further education, earlier we were talking about the role of local authorities and their capacity to support schools in terms of performance and so on. What parallel structure do we need for further education?
Matthew Coffey: We need a structure. At the moment, we are in a hiatus where the intervention that comes when an "inadequate" judgment is delivered is less clear. Formerly, the Learning and Skills Improvement Service had a role, and with the announcement of its ceasing to exist from the summer, we are looking forward to a replacement to that intervention system that is going to be swift, is going to be robust and is going to understand very clearly that if improvement cannot be made, then decisive action is taken by central Government. There is an opportunity here and I look forward to the clarity that we all need here.
Q87 Neil Carmichael: Will your regional directors be playing a role here in spotting failing colleges?
Matthew Coffey: They absolutely will. When we go out and undertake our "requires improvement" visits, this is a support and a challenge role as well. It is incumbent on the HMI that if it is very clear that improvements are not going to be made, in the same way, we would be wanting to write to Matthew Hancock and his colleagues, or the respective funding agency, to let them know what our concerns are, so that action can be taken quickly.
Q88 Neil Carmichael: Presumably you would apply the same logic to the FE sector as Sir Michael has to schools in terms of the definition of leadership and the role that governors and principals play.
Matthew Coffey: Indeed. Michael has talked about the dashboard for school governors, and I shall be introducing exactly the same measures for governors in colleges. I think we need to do an awful lot more work with governors in colleges. They have been through a significant amount of change in the last 18 months, with greater freedoms and flexibilities, and I am not confident that they have been developed accordingly. I think that is why they are very open to some additional support from Ofsted, and we are happy to be able to invest in this area because it is so important.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: One of the reasons why schools are going that way and are improving their performance, but colleges are not, is that there are very clear consequences to failure and underperformance in the schools sector. If a school becomes "inadequate" and remains so, the head usually goes, something usually happens to the governing board, it becomes an academy, etc. We do not sense that there is that same sense that there is going to be a clear consequence for failure in this sector. That is where both the Department for Education and BIS have got to really take action to show that consistent underperformance and failure is addressed.
Q89 Neil Carmichael: You would like to see this Committee take a firm view about that particular problem connected with further education.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes.
Matthew Coffey: Yes.
Q90 Chair: The heavier the accountability, the higher the stakes and the more important it is to get that framework right. It is a concern to me whether in Government there is enough understanding of the FE sector, which is more complicated than the schools. Do you have anyone on your board who has ever worked in a further education college?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I believe we have. The Director of Education and Skills for BT I believe has.
Matthew Coffey: That is correct.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Andy Palmer.
Q91 Chair: It is a political issue in here. I never went to an FE college. When I go to secondary schools, I ask the teachers there if they have ever set foot in their local FE college and it is remarkably rare to hear them say yes. It is this phenomenally important but, from a policy point of view, often invisible area. How do we get it right?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Chair, I think you are absolutely right. It is the "Cinderella" part of our education service; it is sometimes described in that way by principals themselves. They feel neglected, and I think Government has got to shine a spotlight. After all, the millionorso young people who are unemployed at the moment probably will have gone to an FE college and I worry about the quality of provision they receive there. I worry about the quality of vocational education overall pre16 and post16. We are focusing on academic rigour and ensuring that our curriculum and qualification system is robust and compares with the best in the world. We need to worry about whether vocational education is as good as other countries’. We have just returned from Germany-I am sure you have been to Germany to look at their apprenticeship programme. It is light years away from what we have in this country; employers own the system and actively involve themselves in monitoring what is happening in the colleges. We have got to go down that pathway.
Q92 Chair: Going back to Ian’s question about raising the participation age, there is both a quality issue-which we have focused on-and a capacity issue. We have also got, in parallel, this political consensus that English and maths teaching needs to continue, certainly for those who have not got to a GCSElevel grade C, and there is a debate about whether it just needs to continue full stop. I know you have raised that in your report as an issue. Where are we going on that? How are we going to make sure that, with more children and young people going in and a requirement for them to continue English and maths, FE colleges are going to be able to deliver that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I am sure Matthew will expand upon this, but the statistic is a really frightening one: 80% of youngsters who do not get a C grade at 16 in either English or maths do not get it three years later, at 19, in FE. That is an issue that has to be addressed as the raising of the participation age moves forward.
Matthew Coffey: I don’t think we could have been any clearer in the report, in terms of the statistics and the language that we used to describe the urgent need to invest in betterquality teaching for English and maths, that is for sure. The doubleedged sword is that while we are delighted that the programme of study I mentioned before will have very clear programmes related to English and mathematics, that just enhances the need to bring in more teachers and invest in this particular area.
Q93 Chair: Are they out there? The need is fairly urgent, as well as severe.
Matthew Coffey: I think that they are out there. I think that what they need is some very clear invested support to help them improve. You asked what else we can do. I was very pleased to see the announcement on another programme that is going to increase pressure on capacity in colleges, and that is their right to be able to enrol 14yearolds from September. I was very pleased to see a very clear drive and focus from the Minister that this should be ringfenced to those providers that are judged to be "good" or "outstanding", or, at the very least, improving. To recognise that there is good provision out there and to build upon it is the right thing to do.
Q94 Charlotte Leslie: I want to go back to schools for a bit, and just look at some of the stuff in the schools report you have got. Firstly, there has been a statistical improvement in schools over the last decade. Are you confident that that is a real improvement, or is it just a statistical improvement?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think it is a real improvement. As somebody who was in it and saw it for myself, we have got better teachers coming into teaching now. The big challenge is to keep them. We need to make sure we retain the best teachers and that they move into leadership positions. That is something we have not done particularly well over the years; it is important that we do that. That is why they need to go into good schools, by the way. In the 1970s and 1980s, when I thought standards were dire, I saw some really good people coming into teaching who left because of what they saw around them. That has to change. We need better people coming in, better leadership, and greater accountability as well. We are tightening that accountability.
Q95 Charlotte Leslie: I note in the report it says that only 7% of the schools inspected last year serving the most deprived communities were judged "outstanding", but you make the point that that shows that it can be done.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It can be done, yes.
Charlotte Leslie: Can I just ask about the breakdown of the admissions criteria and what types of schools they were? Were they voluntaryaided schools? Were they church schools? Have you any information?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I will get that information to you. I think it is an important point you make; we need to break that down.
Charlotte Leslie: I think that was for primary; having secondary as well would be very interesting for the Committee.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. I will send you a note about that.
Q96 Charlotte Leslie: That would be brilliant. Looking at sponsorled academies, while 25% of them are "outstanding" compared to a 21% national average, I note that that is chain academies, and 8% of sponsorled academies were judged "inadequate." So there is a higher rate of "outstanding", but a higher rate of "inadequate." What judgment do you draw from that? What lessons are you taking from that to roll out to other areas?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: First of all, they have taken over some tough challenges and, where they have failed, they have not addressed those challenges effectively. The rate of improvement of academies overall is slightly better than local authority schools. Where improvement issues are not properly addressed and where governance particularly is not effective, those sponsor academies do not improve as much as they should. I think the second issue is one we have already alluded to: when decline takes place, who is going to intervene before failure sets in?
Q97 Charlotte Leslie: Are you confident that you have the remit to hold academy sponsor chains to account? Of the ones that are outstanding, is there a trend? Are they all in the same chain? Of the ones that are inadequate, is there a trend? Can you hold those sponsors to account satisfactorily?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Getting the data on academy chains is incredibly difficult at the moment. I have mentioned this to the Department. We need to make sure we get that information to Ofsted. There are a number of chains that are doing outstandingly well. I was part of the ARK chain, for example, that has taken over some really challenging schools that are doing well. The Harris chain is doing very well. But looking at some of the raw data that we have, some are not doing that well, and we need to worry about those chains.
Q98 Charlotte Leslie: Are you confident that you have sufficient ability to investigate those chains at the head-at the sponsor level-that are not performing?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I go back to what I have said: we don’t have the statutory powers to do that at the moment. I have discussed this with the Secretary of State and I am sure we will receive those powers, but even before we do, I am sure we can say, "Look, you are using public money; you are topslicing some of that money for your central services. We have got a right to look and see what you are doing."
Q99 Charlotte Leslie: Currently, if people do have concerns over an academy sponsor, where should they go to air those concerns and try to seek an investigation?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The Secretary of State. Or they can write to Ofsted, and we will look at it and inspect.
Q100 Charlotte Leslie: There is, again, a variation of standards among convertor academies and academies not in chains. Since the role of the local authority in school improvement is retracting and Ofsted is moving to fill that, how would you suggest that good converter academies share their best practice with others that may be struggling because they stand alone and they are not part of a chain?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: They should feel a moral duty to do it.
Q101 Charlotte Leslie: Are there any incentives in the system? Schools are all under pressure and there are lots of things to be done. How can we incentivise schools to use the time?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think this is a really important question. We want "outstanding" schools, and certainly converter academies that have moved from a local authority position to an academy to attract greater funding, to see it as a duty to support other schools. What has been really interesting for me in the time I have spent at Ofsted is to look at really poor performance on the south coast, where we have got failing primary schools, failing secondary schools and now a brandnew failing FE college, with "outstanding" schools on the perimeter of that coastal region who are not helping, not intervening and not supporting. I think we need to introduce into our education system incentives for those schools to do that-financial incentives, but also we can play a part here by saying, "You cannot be a national leader of education, and you cannot be a teaching school, unless you offer help to schools in disadvantaged communities with high numbers of freeschoolmeals children."
Q102 Charlotte Leslie: At the moment there is quite a momentum and a movement among the education profession to look at the scope for something like a royal college of teaching. That would be something that could be a home for and a disseminator of excellent practice. Is that something that Ofsted would welcome and not encroach upon? Do you see it as a valuable contribution to the education landscape?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We would welcome anything that highlights good practice. Teaching schools can do that. It is a good thing that we are developing the teaching school model. Teaching schools should be training good people to come into the profession and also disseminating good practice to those institutions where quality of teaching is an issue.
Q103 Chair: You said you were struggling to get data on academy chains. From the head of Ofsted that seems fairly shocking to me.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I agree with you, Chair.
Q104 Chair: What data is it you cannot get hold of?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is data from the Department.
Chair: They are just not releasing it.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think they have got to get their act together and make sure that we know which schools are in which academy chains, at what point they became academies, the performance levels before those schools became academies, etc. We have not got that, despite requests for us to receive it.
Q105 Chair: When did you first ask for it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Months ago.
Siobhain McDonagh: Can I make a helpful suggestion? You might want to contact all the MPs who have got academy chains, because I can tell you who is doing well and who is not in my part of London.
Chair: Still, if it is collected by the Department, it would be useful if they shared it with the main inspectorate, wouldn’t it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes, absolutely.
Q106 Ian Mearns: Possibly the Department is spending too much money on converting schools to academies rather than managing the system. I understand they are about £1.2 billion overspent on the programme, in terms of converting schools to academies. Maybe if they spent a little bit of money managing the system, it might help you with your endeavours.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think it is really important that the Department, which is responsible for academies, works well with Ofsted on this issue. Communication has got to be really good.
Q107 Alex Cunningham: Are you suggesting now that the relationship is not good-that it is actually a bad relationship?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Absolutely not.
Chair: You are in danger of being misconstrued here, if you are not careful.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Our relationship with the Department is good, but this is one area where I think both the Department and ourselves need to get our acts together.
Bill Esterson: Quite a fundamental area.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: You are right. I am not disagreeing with you. We have been requesting information on academy chains and constituent schools for a long time now, and that information has not been forthcoming.
Q108 Chair: Do you have any thoughts on the merger of the National College with the Teaching Agency?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: My first reaction to it is that it is a big job for Charlie Taylor, but there are positives to that and those positives are fairly obvious ones. I hope it will work. The National College has done great work in terms of identifying good leaders who can lead system change and that has been an enormous help to the system. It has improved standards, and certainly we are using national leaders of education for our inspection programmes, so I want to see the amalgamation working really well.
Q109 Chair: Teacher quality is the beall and endall, and the quality of continuing professional development after initial training is very important to that. Is that improving or getting worse? What are your thoughts on that?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: My thoughts are the same as I have always had. The best place for a teacher to train is in a "good" or "outstanding" school. The may be enrolled with a higher education institute, but they spend most of their time in a school on teaching practice. What has not been good, and we need to change quickly, is a poor training provider sending out a trainee to a school that is not good and that trainee not seeing good practice and then getting their first job in a poor school. We need to make sure that at the very earliest stages, trainees see good practice.
Q110 Charlotte Leslie: Going back to requesting more data on academies, would it be possible to send the Committee the dates on which you first made that request and any subsequent requests?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I can do that, yes.
Chair: We will supplement your efforts.
Q111 Chris Skidmore: On 31 January, David Laws was quoted in the Yorkshire Post as saying: "Ofsted are going to hold schools to account for closing the gap between disadvantaged pupils and the rest. Where a school is not effectively closing the gap, Ofsted will look at how pupil premium money is being spent." I see two days ago Ofsted published their guidance, or good practice, on how schools are spending funding successfully to maximise achievement. Aside from issuing goodpractice documents, what is the coherent framework on which you will assess whether the pupil premium money has been spent successfully in schools?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: On the outcomes of children. I would urge you to look at our most recent inspection reports, which will show very clearly the outcomes for nonFSM pupils and FSM pupils in terms of average point scores. That is something in every Section 5 report now. We sent a letter to head teachers a few weeks ago that said that when inspectors go in, they will want that information to make a judgment on how the pupil premium is being used and whether the outcomes for FSM pupils are as they should be.
Q112 Chris Skidmore: This is principally on key stage measures.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes.
Chris Skidmore: It means it is quite difficult, then, because there is a time lag here. There might be a really successful intervention that is going to take several years to deliver. Is this not frontloading the pupil premium money into shorttermist measures that might see a spike in achievement that might then plateau out?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I always worry when I hear, "We are using this money to do what we have always done." This is new money, and a large chunk of public money, to do things differently.
Q113 Chris Skidmore: Do you think it should be ringfenced?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Schools should ringfence it, and they should be clear on how they are spending the money. If I was a head, I would welcome £100,000 to spend on those issues that I know will make a difference.
Q114 Chris Skidmore: If schools are not ringfencing the money and Ofsted goes in to inspect a school and finds that has not taken place, is it likely, in your view, that that school will be marked down and penalised?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We would be critical of that. We see most of the good practice in schools with high numbers of freeschoolmeal children and poor practice in schools with low numbers. We need to get that right.
Q115 Chris Skidmore: On that point, if you have got a school that has a large number of highachievers and is naturally coasting along as "outstanding", it is likely that it may lose its "outstanding" rating if it fails to deal with closing the gap.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think that is a really important point, and it is something we will have to look at in terms of the judgments we make and the frameworks that we operate. A school can receive a "good" or "outstanding" judgment for overall attainment, but yet be neglecting its poorer children. That is not on, it is not fair, and we should identify that as an issue.
Q116 Chris Skidmore: But it is quite a subjective measure. You may find the gap can close at either end, or you may raise the performance of the poorlyperforming students but at the same time coast along the top. Focusing on closing the gap as a principal measure might encourage schools to not push highachieving pupils as well. Have you thought about a tracking mechanism?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I welcome these progress measures that are going to be used in the new accountability tables to see how all children are doing. Youngsters leaving primary school at level five should be getting an A or an A* and that will count as an APS score in the new accountability system. I think the Government is right to move from a raw outcomesbased approach to accountability to progressbased measures.
Q117 Chris Skidmore: Sir Michael, you spoke earlier about your dislike of the word "satisfactory", and one of the first things you did was to replace it with "requires improvement", but in the independent schools that Ofsted inspects, "satisfactory" has not been replaced with "requires improvement"; it has been replaced with simply "adequate." Surely "adequate" has just become the new "satisfactory." You, by nature of what you said earlier, must now dislike this term "adequate." Why are we using it? Why can there not be a level playing field in which we see all schools inspected by Ofsted-
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think you are right to raise the point. "Adequate" reflects the compliance bit. The independent schools are regulated by the Department, and it suggests compliance to rules and regulations, health and safety issues, and so on and so forth. I think it is a fair point. We are looking at removing "adequate" from social care inspection, and I think this is something we will look at in terms of removing it from the independent school inspections.
Q118 Chris Skidmore: In terms of those inspections, the fact that 10% of independent schools inspected in the past year were judged "inadequate" for welfare, health and safety is clearly a concern. What will Ofsted be doing to tackle what is something that, if it was happening in the state sector, you would be coming down on like a ton of bricks?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: The Department is the regulator on that one and they have got to issue a notice to improve and ask Ofsted to monitor it. That is what we do with those 10% of schools.
Q119 Alex Cunningham: Before I move on to childcare and early years, I am absolutely delighted to hear you say that the pupil premium should be ringfenced specifically for those children. What I would like to ask you about is lookedafter children. Schools have had additional funds for lookedafter children for donkey’s years, yet I can go into schools where the head teacher will not be able to tell me how many lookedafter children he or she has got, nor what they are doing with the money to support lookedafter children in that situation. Do you have a view about how those funds should be used? Should they be ringfenced and tacked to the lookedafter child? What do you think?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: In the same was as we should identify and focus on children on free school meals. When I was a head, there was a coordinator for lookedafter children who tracked those children throughout the key stages and made sure they progressed as well as others. Ringfencing the money for freeschoolmeal pupils, ringfencing the money for lookedafter children, and making sure you use that money to ensure that they progress well are issues of leadership.
Q120 Alex Cunningham: I know I am a little bit offline now, but I am very keen on lookedafter children provision. Can you tell me if Ofsted has got any plans at all to try to improve the awareness of schools of lookedafter children?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: This comes down to this central issue of the judgments we make about overall effectiveness and performance. If a school is not closing the gaps for its poorest and most vulnerable children, and particularly if they are not closing the gaps when they get substantial amounts of extra money for that, then I think we should be more critical than we have been in the past, because we have called schools "good"-and sometimes "outstanding"-when their raw outcomes have been above the national average but particular groups of children have not done well. We need to be more forensic in our inspections and mark down schools that do not close the gaps.
Alex Cunningham: I welcome that very much.
Q121 Ian Mearns: Given the amount of investment going into the pupil premium, though, Sir Michael, and how important it should be in school improvement and outcomes improvement for particular groups of young children, do you think it would be important to do some sort of qualitative, longitudinal study of the effects of the pupil premium?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. We will continue to do surveys. The Minister, David Laws, has asked me to continue to produce inspection reports on how well it is being used, and we will continue to do that.
Q122 Alex Cunningham: I will move on to childcare and early years. Your report says the quality of provision is not improving and, in the case of 4,700 providers, it has actually deteriorated. Other are said not to be improving fast enough. Is it clear why there has been this deterioration and failure to improve?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I would focus on two things. One is that the quality of teaching and leadership is not as good as it should be. The Nutbrown review said much the same thing: we need to invest more money in ensuring we get people with the right qualifications to be in our nurseries and childcare settings. She laboured that point, saying we pay more money to people looking after animals than to those looking after children. We need to redress that balance and we need to make sure we get good people in preschool provision, but also that we professionally develop them as well. Most of the poorquality provision is in childminding services. I think that is partly because the people who are looking after children in childminding settings sometimes have low qualifications and poor education themselves-although not always. We do not inspect every year; we inspect once every four years. They need continuous professional development and training. We cannot do it. These people often feel very isolated and alone and I think they need to be linked with other childminders and, better still, with "good" and "outstanding" nursery provision.
Q123 Alex Cunningham: Sir Michael, you are in danger of answering all my questions in two or three statements there. As a Committee, we were in Denmark and Holland last week, and in Denmark in particular we saw excellent earlyyears provision. It was quite expensive earlyyears provision-in fact, it was very expensive-but we saw this predominance of educators or pedagogues in the system, maybe outnumbering others by two to one. Is that where we need to be? Can we get there with the resources that are available?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Resources is the key issue; it is how we square the circle on this one. How can we get wellqualified, good people in preschool provision and ensure that parents have access to reasonably priced provision? I think it is a really difficult one. Thank goodness I do not have to answer that question; it is an issue for Government. I know they are thinking about it, but I don’t know how they square that circle.
Q124 Alex Cunningham: At the end of the day, if we are going to have more qualified staff, or higherqualified staff, we are going to have to see either more investment from Government or costs go up.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes.
Q125 Alex Cunningham: You have talked about children in some environments, particularly with childminders, maybe not getting the care, the education and everything that is required. I wonder whether the fact that childminders are exempted from certain aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage is a bad thing and what could be done about that.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It comes back to this issue of ensuring that they are trained, professionally developed, and supported. I would like to see childminders being part of the EYFS programmes; there is no reason why they should not be, as long as every week or every month they can go and talk to somebody within an "outstanding" nursery to show them how they do it. I think these people are often isolated and feel alone and don’t know how to support their children in those development targets.
Q126 Alex Cunningham: Again, we are in a situation where it boils down to resource at the end of the day, and how much money there is to go around.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes.
Q127 Alex Cunningham: Comparing this year’s annual report with the previous one indicates that inspections of earlyyears providers have fallen from 21,000 to 18,000. Why has that happened?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I cannot answer that question. I wish I could. Twothirds of our inspections take place in earlyyears provision, in both childminders and nondomestic premises. I will get back to you on why the numbers have fallen.
Q128 Alex Cunningham: I think you have indicated that the standard of inspections has to improve. My question was: are we getting fewer, better inspections? Have we actually seen an improvement in the standard of inspections that have been carried out?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I think so. We are very, very challenging to the ISP contractors. We meet with them regularly; we look at reports; we look at the training that they provide; and we mark them down if they do not provide the level of training and support that we expect. Through this regional structure that I have been waxing lyrical about over the last couple of hours, we will home in on it even more than we do at the moment. We have now got a national director for early years-we did not have one when I was appointed-and she will be focusing on early years inspection much more than we have done previously.
Q129 Alex Cunningham: Just going back to the qualifications, I wonder how much of a handle you have on the standard of qualification out there. Do you know, for example, what the highestqualified person is in every situation?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It must vary, but I know that the Minister wants everyone to have a level three qualification in early years, and I would support that.
Q130 Alex Cunningham: What timescale do you see for that to happen? We need it now, but we know that is not possible.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We need it now and we need more investment in early years. All the research shows, and we all know, that if good progress is made in early years, it makes a big, big difference, much more so than at any other stage in a child’s life.
Q131 Alex Cunningham: Naomi Eisenstadt told us a few weeks ago that "Ofsted do not know how to look at underthree provision." You have already said you are expecting to see some improvement with this new colleague, but it is a relatively new area for Ofsted. Are you convinced that you have got the right processes and people in place to enhance that? Do you know what you are doing?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We have got a national director. We are appointing more HMI to oversee the work of the inspectors appointed by the contractors, because it is a concern that the quality may not be as good as it should be. I am hoping that that will bring better outcomes in terms of inspection.
Q132 Alex Cunningham: What conclusions do you draw from the trends in inspection outcomes for Children’s Centres over the past three years? The Committee, as you may know, is carrying out an inquiry into SureStart centres. Are these entirely driven by the inspection of different phases of SureStart centres?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: All our evidence shows that Children’s Centres and SureStart centres that are wellestablished and have been going for some time are doing better than those more newlyestablished centres. What is also really important-and it was something I picked up when I visited a Children’s Centre in Ealing-is that when you have got a centre that is completely committed to outreach work, to bringing the poorest families in and supporting, helping and developing them, it works really, really well. That is why our inspection frameworks really focus on how much effort is being put into working with the hardesttoreach parents.
Q133 Alex Cunningham: What conclusions have you come to over the threeyear period about a shift, perhaps, towards more outreach?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: More outreach and betterquality people, who know what they are doing.
Q134 Chair: In Holland we saw a very healthbased approach, but the English vision of the Children’s Centre is all about partnership and integration. It is not just colocation; it is somehow creating genuine relationships and partnerships, built around the needs of the child and the family. How well positioned are you to sit in judgment on the partners and the way that they participate? If you have got reluctant Health, reluctant DWP and reluctant whoever else, it might be quite difficult for the Children’s Centre to achieve its aims by itself.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: We can comment on it. We would put those issues of partnership to the leaders of the Children’s Centres, but also to the local authorities, who have oversight of Children’s Centres. They have got to take a leading role in putting that one right.
Q135 Bill Esterson: Coming back to the point about increasing professional standards, the Government has also said that it wants to see an increase in the number of children cared for by each member of staff. The suggestion is that the one is to pay for the other. Do you share the concerns that have been put quite forcibly by many professionals that this will have a significant impact on standards?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I don’t know on that one. I am speaking as somebody who believes that the quality of the teacher is the most important thing. Not in early years centres, but I have seen teachers who teach effectively a group of 30 children and poor teachers struggling with fewer than 10 in a class. I think it is the quality of the professional in front of the children that is important. I am not a specialist in early years; I am employing people who are and who can make a judgment on whether an increase in ratio is going to be detrimental to the service.
Q136 Bill Esterson: Presumably that is a discussion that is going on within Ofsted.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: It is going on within Ofsted; it is also a discussion going on with Ministers.
Q137 Bill Esterson: Yes. There is a difference, I think you accept, with very young children. I cannot remember what the proposed change is, but going up from four to six for one age group is very demanding however wellqualified you are, and that is a very real concern.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I agree. As I say, I would have to seek advice on that one. It is a policy issue for Government. We will inspect the provision.
Q138 Bill Esterson: You have said that a number of times today, and I understand why, but you still have a view on it and it does still affect your work and your evaluation.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: As I say, my view is formed from my experience in schools. This is all about the quality of the leadership and the quality of the teacher in front of the children. The same principle applies in early years as well. I take your point that it is different with twoyearolds and threeyearolds. At some stage, this circle has to be squared in terms of providing parents with affordable care and ensuring that we have got good quality provision. I am not sure how it is going to be done.
Q139 Chair: There is a challenge. Thank you very much, Sir Michael and Mr Coffey, for coming in this morning. I look forward to receiving your response to my letter on home education, which I am sure will be coming promptly.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: I will chase that one up, Chair.
Chair: Excellent. You might say to them that it would have been a good idea for someone to chase that up and make sure it was done before you came before this Committee. But thank you very much indeed for coming.