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Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
Abbreviation Ofsted
Type non-ministerial government department
Region served England
HMCI Christine Gilbert CBE
Website http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/

The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) is the non-ministerial government department of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools In England (HMCI).[1] HMCI and Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools (HMI) are appointed by Order-in-Council and are thus office holders under the Crown. Though the inspectorate has existed since the mid-19th century, the office was reorganised under the Education (Schools) Act 1992, and is explicitly named in the Education and Inspections Act 2006.

Ofsted is responsible for inspecting the standards of independent schools and state schools, local education authorities, child day care and childminding in England. It also monitors the work of the Independent Schools Inspectorate.[2] HMI are empowered and required to provide independent advice to the United Kingdom government and parliament on matters of policy and to publish an annual report to parliament on the quality of educational provision in England.

The Education and Training Inspectorate in Northern Ireland, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education in Scotland, and Estyn in Wales perform similar functions within their education systems.

Ofsted's head office is in Kingsway, Holborn in central London.

Contents

History

In 1833, the government introduced an annual grant to the National Society and the British and Foreign School Society, which respectively provided Church of England and non-denominational elementary schools for poor children. To monitor the effectiveness of the grant, two inspectors of schools were appointed in 1837, Seymour Tremenheere and the Revd John Allen. Dr J.P. Kay-Shuttleworth, then secretary of the Privy Council education committee, ensured that the inspectors were appointed by order-in-council to guard their independence.[3] The grant and inspection system were extended in 1847 to Roman Catholic elementary schools established by the Catholic Poor School Committee.[4]

Inspectors were organised on denominational lines, with the churches having a say in the choice of inspectors, until 1876, when inspectors were re-organised by area. After the Education Act 1902, inspections were expanded to state-funded secondary schools along similar lines. Over time, more inspections were carried out by inspectors based in Local Education Authorities, with HMI focussing on reporting to the Secretary of State on education conditions across the country.[5]

The government of John Major, concerned about variable local inspection regimes, decided to introduce a national scheme of inspections though a reconstituted HMI, which became known as the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). Under the Education (Schools) Act 1992, HMI would supervise the inspection of each state-funded school in the country, and would publish its reports instead of reporting to the Secretary of State.[6]

In September 2001, HMCI became responsible for registration and inspection of day care and childminding in England. Previously this was done by 150 local authorities, based on their implementation by 1992 of the Daycare Standards provisions of the 1989 Children Act.[7]

In April 2007 the former Office for Standards in Education merged with the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) to provide an inspection service which includes all post-16 government funded education (but not Higher Education Institutes and Universities which are inspected by the Quality Assurance Agency). At the same time it took on responsibility for the registration and inspection of social care services for children, and the welfare inspection of independent and maintained boarding schools from the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).[8]

Inspectors

HM Chief Inspector is Christine Gilbert CBE, who started this role on 1 October 2006. One of her key briefs is to oversee the expansion of Ofsted's remit from April 2007 to include the inspection of children's social services, adult learning and aspects of court administration, as this relates to children.[9]

Ofsted directly employs Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI), who are appointed by the Queen in Council. As of July 2009 there were 443 HMIs, of which 82 were engaged in management, 245 in the inspection of schools and the rest in inspection of other areas for which Ofsted in responsible. All HMIs inspecting schools have teaching experience.[10][11]

Most school inspections are carried out by Additional Inspectors (AI) employed by external companies known as Regional Inspection Service Providers (RISPs). As of July 2009 there were 1,948 AIs, of whom 1,567 inspect schools. Almost all of these have teaching experience, except for a few retained from the previous regime in which each inspection team included a lay inspector.[11][12]

An HMI accompanies an AI on 6–7% of inspections,[11] including 75% of those of secondary schools.[6] Reports produced by RISPs must be checked and signed off by HMI, sometimes with amendments, before publication. New Additional Inspectors must be monitored and signed off by HMI before working independently.[13]

The number of RISPs contracted to conduct school inspections was reduced in 2009 from five to three:[12][14]

In addition, HMCI directly employs child care inspectors (CCI) who inspect and regulate early years settings and child care. Many of these transferred from local councils or from the Commission for Social Care Inspection when it was abolished in March 2009.[15]

School inspections

The Office carries out regular inspections of each school in England, resulting in a published evaluation of the effectiveness of the school. An adverse report may include a recommendation for further intervention in the running of the school.

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System of inspection before 2005

Critics of the system of inspection claim that the short amount of time in which HMI get to see the school does not accurately represent the day-to-day activities and can give a biased view.

Prior to 2005, each school was inspected for a week every six years, with two months notice to prepare for an inspection. This regime was criticised by teachers and school heads as greatly disruptive of the operation of the school, and by others as enabling schools to present an unrealistic picture of themselves that did not truly reflect the quality of teaching and learning in the school.[16][17]

Current system of inspection

In September 2005 a new system of short notice inspections came into being. Under this system the senior leadership of each school are strongly encouraged to complete a Self Evaluation Form (SEF) on a continual basis, which requires them to be aware of strengths and areas for development. Inspections are generally two or three day visits every three years, with two days notice. They focus on the "central nervous system" of the school – examining how well the school is managed, and what processes are in place to ensure standards of teaching and learning improve; the school leadership and management are expected to be aware of everything in the SEF. The SEF serves as the main document when planning the inspection, and is crucial in evaluating the quality of leadership and management and the school's capacity to improve.[16][18]

After an inspection of a school, Ofsted publishes a report on the school on its website. In addition to written comments on a number of areas, schools are assessed on each area and overall on a 4-point scale: 1 (Outstanding), 2 (Good), 3 (Satisfactory) and 4 (Inadequate). Schools rated Outstanding or Good might not be inspected again for five years, while schools judged less favourably are inspected more frequently, and may receive little or no notice of inspection visits.[18]

Special measures

Sometimes a school is placed into special measures if it is judged as 'inadequate' (Grade 4) in one or more areas and if the inspectors have decided it does not have the capacity to improve without additional help. Schools placed into special measures receive intensive support from local authorities, additional funding and resourcing, and frequent reappraisal from Ofsted until the school is no longer deemed to be failing. Furthermore, the senior managers and teaching staff can be dismissed and the governing body may be replaced by an appointed Interim Executive Board (IEB). Schools which are failing but where inspectors consider there is capacity to improve are given a Notice to Improve (NtI).[19][20]

Home educator inspections

Although home education is outside Ofsted's remit, they are actively involved in shaping policy for the inspection and regulation of home educators through support of the recommendations of the Badman Review. Ofsted's submission to the review indicated a wish to take inspections further and recommended that parents be subject to Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks before being allowed to home educate their own children.[21][22]

Child care inspections

Child protection

Ofsted also oversees Child Protection by English Local Authorities. In December 2008, Christine Gilbert revealed that Ofsted had been gullible: good ratings could be given, based purely on data submitted directly by local authority providers of care services, that could easily be concealing dangerously flawed practices. This was considered a factor, by The Daily Telegraph, in overlooking alleged inadequacies in Haringey Council's child care provision in the case of Baby P,[23] a child murdered by his parents and their lodger.[24] MPs criticised Ofsted for issuing a favourable report on Haringey Children's Services three months after the death, and for their policy of destroying all source materials on inspections of children's services after three months, which made it impossible to identify the mistakes made. According to Ofsted, three children died in England and Wales from abuse every week between April 2007 and August 2008. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children gives a figure of 1 to 2 per week.[25]

In popular culture

Ofsted has appeared in several forms of entertainment and popular culture in the United Kingdom.

  • Hope And Glory: a television mini-series featuring actor/comedian Lenny Henry gave an insight into a fictional portrayal of teachers dealing with a school in Special Measures.[26]
  • OFSTED! The Musical:[27] a musical which caused controversy in 2004 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The piece enjoyed a total sell-out run at Venue 45 and won the Writers' Guild Award for Drama 2004 and the List Magazine Award.[28] The musical was later broadcast on Teachers TV as part of their launch night schedule.[29]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Ofsted". www.politics.co.uk. http://www.politics.co.uk/briefings-guides/issue-briefs/education/ofsted-$366583.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  2. ^ Memorandum submitted by Mrs Stella R Davis, The Work of Ofsted, Children, Schools and Families Committee – Written Evidence, House of Commons, 9 February 2009.
  3. ^ Cannon, John (2002). "HMI". Encyclopedia.com: Oxford University Press. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O110-HMI.html. Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  4. ^ McLaughlin, Terence H.; O'Keefe, Joseph; O'Keeffe, Bernadette (1996). "Setting the scene: current realities and historical perspectives". in McLaughlin, Terence; O'Keeffe, Bernadette. The contemporary Catholic school: context, identity, and diversity. Routledge. pp. 1–21. ISBN 9780750704717. 
  5. ^ "Education: Inspectorate and HMI Reports". Domestic Records Information 127. National Digital Archive of Datasets. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=373&j=1. Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  6. ^ a b (7 January 2010) Children, Schools and Families Committee – First Report: School Accountability . House of Commons. (Report). Retrieved on 10 January 2010.
  7. ^ Plomin, Joe (3 September 2001). "Ofsted to inspect pre-schools". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2001/sep/03/schools.uk. 
  8. ^ Carvel, John; Ward, Lucy (28 March 2007). "Same name, new recipe". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/mar/28/childrensservices.guardiansocietysupplement. 
  9. ^ Wilby, Peter (27 November 2007). "Raising the bar". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/nov/27/schools.ofsted. 
  10. ^ "How to become an Additional Inspector for school inspection". Ofsted. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/About-us/Working-for-Ofsted/How-to-become-an-Additional-Inspector-for-school-inspection. 
  11. ^ a b c Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 6 July 2009, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 9 July 2009, column 997W.
  12. ^ a b "Our partners". Ofsted. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/About-us/Our-partners. 
  13. ^ Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 19 December 2006, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 19 Dec 2006, column 1882W.
  14. ^ Ofsted (25 March 2009). "New inspection contracts signed". Press release. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/News/Press-and-media/2009/March/New-inspection-contracts-signed. 
  15. ^ "Childcare regulation and the law". Merton Council. 4 April 2008. http://www.merton.gov.uk/community/familyinfo/childcare/childlaw.htm. 
  16. ^ a b McNulty, Bernadette (10 February 2004). "Teachers torn over inspection reform". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/feb/10/schools.uk1. Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  17. ^ Clare, John (10 February 2004). "Schools to get just 48 hours' warning of Ofsted visits". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/4793746/Schools-to-get-just-48-hours-warning-of-Ofsted-visits.html. Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Schools, Office for Standards in Education.
  19. ^ "Work with Schools Causing Concern". Ofsted. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/Forms-and-guidance/Browse-all-by/Education-and-skills/Schools/Follow-up-work/Work-with-Schools-Causing-Concern. 
  20. ^ "Schools Causing Concern". Department for Children, Schools and Families. http://www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/sie/si/SCC/. 
  21. ^ Memorandum submitted by Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), UK Parliament, September 2009.
  22. ^ Sugden, Joanna (14 September 2009). "Parents protest at Ofsted inspections for children taught at home". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6833054.ece. 
  23. ^ Gammell, Caroline; Simpson, Aislinn (5 December 2008). "Head of Ofsted Christine Gilbert admits failings over death of Baby P". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/baby-p/3569941/Head-of-Ofsted-Christine-Gilbert-admits-failings-over-death-of-Baby-P.html. 
  24. ^ Lakhani, Nina; Johnson, Andrew (16 November 2008). "Nasty, brutish and short: The horrific life of Baby P". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/nasty-brutish-and-short-the-horrific-life-of-baby-p-1020487.html. 
  25. ^ Gammell, Caroline (10 December 2008). "Three children die from abuse every week, Ofsted chief Christine Gilbert reveals". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/baby-p/3703059/Three-children-die-from-abuse-every-week-Ofsted-chief-Christine-Gilbert-reveals.html. 
  26. ^ "Details of Lenny Henry and OFSTED related Drama Hope And Glory". www.guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/20/education. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  27. ^ "OFSTED! The Musical". PIT Theatre. http://www.pit-online.co.uk/ofsted.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  28. ^ "BBC Article about the multi-award winning OFSTED! The Musical at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2004". www.BBC.co.uk. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/3601396.stm. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  29. ^ "OFSTED! The Musical online at Teachers TV". www.teachers.tv. http://www.teachers.tv/video/1393. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 

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