Ofsted should be split in two, say MPs

Schools watchdog Ofsted has become unwieldy and must be split in two, MPs warned today.

The inspectorate has grown "too big" as it has taken on more responsibility and is no longer able to operate as efficiently as smaller organisations could, according to a report by the Commons education select committee.

Ofsted now has responsibility for inspecting children's services, including areas such as social care and adoption agencies, as well as schools.

In a report on the role and responsibility of Ofsted, the cross-party group of MPs concludes that splitting the inspectorate in two would boost confidence in inspections.

It calls for the creation of an Inspectorate for Education and a separate Inspectorate for Children's Care.

"We believe that having a single children's inspectorate has not worked well enough to merit its continuation," the report says.

It adds: "Ofsted has grown too big to discharge its functions as efficiently as smaller, more focussed and specialist organisations might."

The report also warns that too few inspectors have recent and relevant experiences of the type of institutions they inspect.

The committee concludes that the two new inspectorates should remain independent of Government, but calls for ministers to create two new positions - Chief Education Officer and Chief Children's Care Officer - to work alongside them.

The report adds that the new Education Inspectorate should make looking at the progress made by every pupil of every ability a priority, and these results should be given as much weight by the Government as other measures, such as the number of pupils getting five good GCSEs.

Graham Stuart, chairman of the committee, said: "Ofsted's reach is vast and its remit has grown substantially since its inception, but this has come at the expense of providing a more specialised service.

"We need a radical shift in how inspection operates in this country, with a more proportionate, specialist and focussed approach.

"Ofsted has, of course, made a great impact on the quality of provision across the country, but the evidence clearly shows that smaller, more focussed organisations could do even more so."

Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert said: "The question of 'who inspects?' is much less important than the quality of inspection and the impact it has on raising standards and improving people's lives. Ofsted is proud of the work it's done across the whole of its remit since it took on its present brief in 2007.

"Any proposal for further reorganisation needs to be very carefully considered and is ultimately a matter for the Government. There are issues about additional costs and a risk of distraction from the core business - namely continuing to deliver high quality, rigorous inspection which helps to drive up standards for children and learners everywhere."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said: "Education and children's services have very different needs and priorities. Separating inspection of education and children's services into two divisions linked by good lines of communication is the right move and will help to ensure appropriate expertise in each area."

In response to the Education Select Committee's review into the role and importance of Ofsted, Barnardo's deputy chief executive Jane Stacey said, "Acknowledging development and looking at how far a child has come is crucial. The proposal for Ofsted to prioritise measuring pupil progress is one that complements Barnardo's ongoing commitment to improving the lives of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people.

"Barnardo's agrees that a structural re-design to clarify Ofsted's extensive remit would be a positive step forward. A rationalised Ofsted should continue to play a vital part in ensuring that accountability remains a leading priority within the education and children's care sectors, giving each the expert focus it deserves."

"However, Barnardo's will be looking for reassurance that any proposed division will not compromise multi-agency working and the shared responsibility of schools and other agencies for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

"Inspectorates should be expected to work closely together to improve outcomes for children and dual-service settings such as nurseries and children's centres should not be left in limbo, unsure of whose watchful eye they fall under."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?