“Ofsted chief defends inspection processes”

By Cathy Wallace

| 12 December 2007

The head of inspectorate Ofsted has said she is very secure about the processes used in this year's annual performance assessment of local authorities.

CYP Now revealed how directors of children’s services have expressed concerns over inconsistencies of data used in the assessment.

They also raised concerns over Ofsted making the test harder, meaning councils who maintained their performance from last year were downgraded.

Speaking to the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee of MPs Christine Gilbert, HM chief inspector, said: “I’m absolutely secure about our processes.

“I was reassured at every stage, and I spent nine to ten hours involved in processes of the final moderation of some of these local authorities.”

However, Gilbert dodged direct questions over whether the data used was consistent in all local authorities.

She said some councils have found themselves downgraded because even though they had processes in place their outcomes were not as good as they should be.

For example, she said, some authorities have put facilities in place to give advice on contraception to tackle teenage pregnancy.

In previous years this might have been enough to meet Ofsted’s criteria, but where centres have been set up the inspectorate is now expecting to see positive outcomes.

Gilbert and her team of senior Ofsted officials also faced searching questions about how the organisation will manage to save its target of £80m over the next two years.

The MPs, who call in Ofsted to give evidence on a range of subjects twice a year, were also interested in the regulation and inspection of faith and independent schools.