Leading article: No place for gigantism

Share
Related Topics

Any regulatory body has to tread a fine line between showing off its own competence, as demonstrated by improvements in what it regulates, while justifying its existence by pointing out continuing flaws. Yesterday's annual report from Ofsted, the education and children's watchdog, did precisely this. It presented a generally positive impression of developments in schools and children's services, while noting "a stubborn core of inadequate teaching" that held some schools back. It also criticised children's services in "a minority of councils".

Despite this expert balancing act, however, there must be two causes for concern. The first relates to Ofsted's findings, as set out in its report. While performance ratings, especially in childcare, showed improvement, almost 10 per cent fewer colleges of further education were assessed as outstanding or good. So there has been deterioration, too, in some key areas. In local authority children's services, the quality of serious case reviews – conducted, for instance, after the death of a child on the "at risk" register – less than one third were judged "good". It is hardly consoling to think that Ofsted may have shown more rigour in its assessments in the wake of the Baby P case, before which Haringey social services had been rated "good".

The second cause for concern relates to Ofsted itself. This is one huge regulator, covering everything from nurseries through schools to further education colleges, and taking in children's services in between. Its remit reflects the breadth of responsibilities that reside in the Department for Children, Schools and Families. And it makes sense that the department and the regulator should cover the same ground, which is why Ofsted's brief was extended.

But is it really such a good idea for either to have such broad and simultaneously disparate responsibilities? The desire for better coordination among the many different children's services is laudable, but where this really matters is at grassroots level. The creation of the DCSF, as of the new Ofsted, has spawned a labyrinthine bureaucracy and smacks of empire-building. The next government, whatever its complexion, should think seriously about breaking it up.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Analyst -International TV Production

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Recruitment Genius: Project Management Support Assistant

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...

Sauce Recruitment: FP&A Analyst -Home Entertainment

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Account Manager - OTE £80,000+

£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children who fled the violence in the Syrian city of Aleppo play at a refugee camp in Jabaa, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley  

A population bigger than London's has been displaced in Syria, so why has the Government only accepted 90 refugees?

David Hanson
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Ukip on the ropes? Voters don’t think so

Stefano Hatfield
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project