Christine Gilbert: Ofsted <i>is</i> up to the task of policing our schools

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The Independent Online

Weak regulation serves nobody's interests, not even vested interests. Ofsted must not pull its punches – our job is to speak up for children and learners, and I make no apology for that. There can be no hiding place for poor practice.

Schools with a high proportion of pupils from deprived backgrounds are still more likely to be inadequate than those serving more favoured areas. There is a stubborn core of inadequate teaching and teaching that is only satisfactory; teaching that fails to inspire or challenge. If children are not taught well, they will not rise above low expectations, so the new inspection framework focuses more sharply on this issue.

There is a small but increased minority of councils that are performing poorly, principally because they are not ensuring that children are as safe as possible. Yes, Ofsted has become more demanding of local authorities and, again, I make no apology for this – because if our work saves just one child from abuse – then this is justified.

The best councils are doing a good job of safeguarding vulnerable children. So it can be done and it must be done with real determination and urgency.

Looking back over my three years as Chief Inspector, I see evidence of sustained improvement and I see excellence in the most difficult of circumstances. But across the range of Ofsted's remit, there remains too much that is mediocre and persistently so.

Christine Gilbert is Her Majesty's Chief inspector