Ofsted to regain control of school and further education inspections

By Laura McCardle

| 29 May 2014

Ofsted will bring the management of all school and further education inspections back in-house, the inspectorate has confirmed.

Ofsted will regain control of school and further education inspections from September 2015

Ofsted has said it will not renew contracts with CfBT Education Trust, Serco Education and Tribal Group for the inspection of schools and further education institutions when they expire in August 2015.

However, the future of the management of Ofsted’s early years inspections remains uncertain.

The inspectorate had been expected to announce plans to bring the inspection of early years settings back in-house, but Ofsted said the existing arrangements, which are due to expire in September 2015, will continue.

The inspectorate currently has contracts with four inspection providers for early years settings – CfBT Education Trust, Serco Education and Children’s Services, Tribal Group and Prospects Services.

Today's announcement means the inspectorate will regain control of school and further education inspections service in September 2015 – managing the selection and training of inspectors, as well as the quality assurance process.

Nick Jackson, director of corporate services at Ofsted, is confident the move will improve the inspection service.

He said: “For the last five years our inspection service providers have delivered a successful and professional inspection programme for Ofsted.

“With the conclusion of these contracts the time was right to look again at how Ofsted can best deliver a service that is both efficient and flexible.

“We are confident that this is the right model.”

June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, said she believes the early years inspection service will also be brought back in-house before the current contracts expire.

In April, practitioners raised concerns about the quality of staff employed by Tribal Group to deliver inspection services on the inspectorate’s behalf during an Ofsted Big Conversation event.

O'Sullivan said: “We are pleased to hear that Ofsted is beginning to overhaul its services.

“Ofsted inspections have been a concern for the sector since the new framework came into force and led to sector action through the Ofsted Big Conversation.

“Whatever Ofsted do, they must continue to listen and address key issues of quality and consistency and articulate what they understand is quality of teaching and learning.

“Bringing early years inspections in-house would mean our concerns, especially about consistency of inspections and the quality of outsourced inspection staff have been carefully considered.”

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “As we are working through wider changes in the sector we do not think it is the right time for large contractual change.”

The announcement follows comments by Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw in March, when he said: "Inspection, as far as I'm concerned, is just too important for Ofsted to simply have oversight of third-party arrangements."

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