Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Ofsted - to split or not to split, that is the question

I wasn’t very impressed with Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielmann's evidence to the House of Commons Education Committee yesterday.

Pressed on whether Ofsted should be split to create a separate inspectorate to focus on children’s social care, she said no. And that was about all she said. Her arguments against the split seemed to amount to nothing more than the claim that having two inspectorates would be more complicated than having one.

There is an account of the event in Children and Young People Now and, if you have nothing better to do, you can watch it all on Parliamentary video (they get to the split or not to split question about 11 minutes in).

I make no secret of the fact that I am an unreformed splitter when it comes to Ofsted.

Children’s social care, including child protection, is a very specialised subject and poses issues for inspectors which are very different from those posed by schools. It is now more than 10 years since Ofsted took over children’s social care inspection, and in my view all the evidence points to the organisation’s ineffectiveness at creating and sustaining an improvement agenda.

Too frequently Ofsted’s reports on children’s social care are formulaic and judgemental without providing proper analysis and insight. Ofsted is evasive and vague about its social care inspection methodology and there seems to be little or no expertise in the organisation about safety or management.

All of which suggests to me that some seismic shake-up is long overdue.