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Amanda Spielman at Stonewall
July 8, 2019
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Amanda Spielman spoke about some of the issues in the teaching of relationships education and how we approach all kinds of equality issues.

Good morning everyone.

It’s a great pleasure to be here at this conference about children and young people. It’s especially good to be following on from Ruth, who has led Stonewall with such vision and determination.

Many of us here today work in education or social care. As Chief Inspector, I do both. Our education role extends all the way from early years through schools and colleges to adult education, so it’s a broad remit.

Amanda Spielman

This morning, I will of course be talking about some of the issues that are particularly relevant from an LGBT perspective – including the current challenges in some primary schools around the teaching of relationships education. And I’ll give you some wider perspective on how we approach all kinds of equality issues.

For a hundred years or more there has been a healthy debate about how far education should extend beyond basic literacy and numeracy – the extent to which it should teach about wider life. The very first seminar in my own education MA many years ago was about the different concepts of education that came to be embedded in different countries’ schools, as their national education systems emerged during the 19th century.

And here we are today – in the 21st century – reflecting on the same theme: about how far education is about teaching life.

Stonewall is 30 years old. And its history is, to a large extent, bound to education. Major shifts in the education landscape book-end the struggles that have played out since Stonewall was founded 30 years ago, to challenge the introduction of section 28.

That clause told local authorities not only that they “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality” but also that they should not “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

A provision designed to quieten LGBT voices – and in particular to limit the influence of those voices on the young – had the opposite effect.

It galvanised opposition and mobilised a campaign – embodied in Stonewall – that ultimately defeated the legislation and, in doing so, played a part in liberalising society’s attitudes to same-sex relationships, to a remarkable degree.

In 1987, the British Social Attitudes survey recorded that just 11 per cent of people believed that same-sex relationships were “not wrong at all.” By 2017 that figure had risen to 64 per cent. This is an astonishingly rapid change, and there’s a clear link between effective campaigning, legislative change and the evolution of social attitudes.

State education has had an important role in this period of change:

  • it’s been the focus of changes in the law – generally moving in favour of liberalisation
  • it has helped prepare children for life in modern, diverse Britain, by teaching the values of individual liberty, tolerance and mutual respect
  • and, for good and sometimes for ill, it has often been the crucible of public debate about LGBT issues in society – from section 28, to the current arguments about relationships education
The role of Ofsted

Which brings me on to the role of Ofsted in education and social care – and in the particular context of LGBT issues.

Many of you here today work in education – whether as teachers or in another role. Some of you work in social care, youth support, or in other services that we inspect. So I will assume a fair degree of awareness about Ofsted.

In both education and children’s social care, we are the inspectorate and in some areas we are also the regulator. This means we are, to a great extent, the arbiter of quality in these areas.

There’s a lot of mythology about Ofsted, and it can be somewhat out of step with the work we do and the powers we have. This is particularly the case in education. First and foremost, we inspect. We do that impartially and without fear or favour; we judge each school as an individual institution; and the judgements we reach are based on that school’s relative merits.

I’m not naive about the effect our judgements have on schools and on teachers – especially the judgements at the top and bottom of the scale – but I’m also very clear that the system we use is a good one.

Parents understand it and it’s been replicated by any number of other inspectorates, because of its clarity.

And our inspection work gives us a unique insight. We are able to look right across the education and social care landscape.

That allows us to spot and comment on emerging trends. And we augment what we learn through inspection, with targeted research into the areas that matter most to schools and social care providers.

Taken together, our reporting and research clearly influences the sector and its practices.

It’s this soft power that we bring to bear, and we try to use it well to help improve the way all children are educated, and vulnerable children are looked after. Because at Ofsted, our aim is always to be a force for improvement.

Today I’m mainly going to talk about education and how we are changing the conversations we have with schools.

From September, we will be inspecting schools in a rather different way. The central aim of our new inspection framework is to encourage much greater emphasis on the substance of education – the curriculum that children are taught.

For too long, there has been a tendency to concentrate rather too much on results – sometimes to the detriment of other outcomes of education. And sadly, too much reliance on performance data can lead to unintended, and even unwanted, consequences.

Results matter of course, but education is about so many more things:

  • it’s about the acquisition of knowledge, for its own sake
  • it’s about the broadening of horizons through that knowledge
  • it’s about the development of the skills needed to make a success of adult life
  • it’s about encouraging harmony between different people
  • and it’s about the advancement of civilisation

All of these aims are brought together in the curriculum. This is the heart of education, where the ideas and principles meld together. So we have put it at the centre of our new approach to inspection. A coherent and well-sequenced curriculum is the best way to make sure that every child benefits from a high quality education – which of course, is what leads to high attainment.

By putting more emphasis on what is taught and how it is taught, relative to the results a school achieves, we can reward those who educate with real integrity.

Schools that think hard about what they teach and how they teach it – and put that ahead of efforts to improve their performance statistics.

Schools with integrity work to unlock the potential of every child.

In the new inspection model, we are particularly interested in how schools contribute to the personal development of children. This area is now a judgement in its own right. This makes more space in inspection for discussing things like the PSHE lessons in which wider life issues can be explored.

And we want schools to be valued for making a culture where differences of all kinds are valued and respected – and bullying of all kinds is marginalised. Examining the overall culture of a school in thorough inspection discussions is a far better way of assessing this, than deploying some kind of checklist to make sure every conceivable permutation of racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance or any other possibility is specifically tackled by one school rule or another.

Framed properly, inspection complements and counterbalances other kinds of measurement and reporting, by making sure that good outcomes flow from doing the right thing in the right way. This really does support schools and help them improve.

Equality, Education and Ofsted

Through our inspections of education and social care, Ofsted is also the main checking mechanism for the Equality Act, itself now nearly a decade old, which is part of the valuable framework of law and policy that provides for all children to be educated for life in modern Britain.

That’s why I have recently found myself speaking a good deal about equalities in education, and in particular defending heads’ rights and responsibility for making sure they are taken seriously in schools.

And to take one step back for a moment, in recent interviews and discussions in the context of the Birmingham protests, I have been reminding people that equalities legislation protects a whole range of characteristics, which between them reflect many of the dimensions of difference in our society.

Aside from those in which Stonewall has a particular interest, they include age, race, religion, disability and others. Some people hold many of these characteristics simultaneously, while others identify very strongly with just one or two – and make those a defining feature of their lives.

But as we know from many controversies of the past and of the present, the important rights we have established, and that we protect, are not in reality completely separable from each other. The exercise of one right can sometimes be seen as limiting of another right. The different protected characteristics can and do bump into each other. Many of the other rights are stoutly defended, just as Stonewall defends LGBT rights.

And Ofsted’s position, as the checking mechanism of equality, means we are obliged to make decisions in situations where the different protected characteristics are colliding. This is even more difficult where there are competing claims of individual rights, parental rights and group rights.

I’m reminded here of a story told by a woman named Agnes, who was finishing secondary school a century ago in 1918. A bright and ambitious girl, Agnes was encouraged by her excellent and forward-looking Catholic girls’ school in Birmingham to break with tradition and go to university.

But ambition is a personal trait – whereas tradition belongs to the group: and in Agnes’s life 100 years ago, that meant family and community, especially the parish church.

Agnes’s family, concerned that she should stay within that community, insisted that she attend a Catholic teacher training college, rather than a secular university.

That required an application supported by the parish priest. But he refused to sign, on the grounds that the only suitable life for a Catholic girl in 1918 was marriage and motherhood – for which any further education was quite unnecessary.

Agnes remained a staunch churchgoer her entire life, and was not embittered by the truncation of her education. But when she told this story to her only granddaughter, she did talk about her long-lost aspiration, and about how glad she was that her granddaughter and her contemporaries were now free to choose their own paths, in the light of their aspirations and talents.

That is my grandmother’s story. And I think it is interesting, because it illustrates neatly how group pressure, parental influence and religious authority can intersect – and sometimes come into conflict with – individual rights.

And of course, we are seeing that same kind of conflict playing out today.

The current protests against relationship education lessons began outside a primary school in Birmingham. From this one school, protests and campaigning have spread to other schools in Birmingham, Manchester and elsewhere.

You’ll all have seen the media coverage. At times, it has had echoes of the arguments about section 28: is it appropriate for young children at primary school to learn about gay relationships or gay marriage?

Should the state be able to teach children about things that the child’s parents do not approve of? Should the state decide what children should know about? Is morality an entirely private matter that ought to be kept out of the domain of politics and government?

A lot of charged rhetoric has been expended on this, so it is worth considering from first principles.

Relationships and sex education – RSE – is described in government guidance under this catch-all term. But at primary school, the expectation is unequivocally on teaching about relationships; despite some of the misleading rhetoric that has been pushed out from some quarters, we’re not talking about sex education here. That is an expectation only for secondary schools.

So a primary school child will normally learn about same-sex relationships in the wider context of human difference.

People are different in so many ways. Even the youngest children notice the various dimensions of physical differences between people. Going beyond what is immediately visible, children’s families may worship differently. And families may love and marry differently too.

For young children this last part can be as simple as teaching them that some families have a mummy and a daddy; other families may have two mummies or two daddies; some may have just one parent; and some children may not live with their mummy or daddy at all.

And by the way, nearly all schools are already doing this, and doing it well.

And this is important.

It’s important because most children will come across same-sex couples in their young lives, and they should be able to recognise these couples as the loving families they are.

And it’s also important that children who are beginning to recognise some difference in themselves, do not assume that this makes them bad, or ill, or alone in the world.

So it’s right that the values of tolerance and respect for these differences, are taught to children – just as explicitly as we teach them about arithmetic, or ancient Rome.

And we are an increasingly diverse country. Multi-cultural, multi-racial, increasingly socially liberal in many parts of society, but not in others. And the laws of this country, embodied in the Equality Act, are designed to ensure that we give equal weight to many of the facets of difference – the nine ‘protected characteristics’.

And that point about “equal weight” matters. There is no hierarchy in the law. One characteristic does not have primacy over another. And here’s the rub. When voices are raised in argument, it can result in what I’ve previously called ‘cause wars’: – as in, ‘my protected characteristic should be more protected than yours’.

Around relationships education, the dividing line tends to be between religion and sexual orientation – but there are points of friction elsewhere. Where protected characteristics bump up against each other, it can be hard to find common ground and to build a consensus.

But there must be some level of working consensus, if we are to tackle the scenes we are seeing outside some of our primary schools. It is profoundly disturbing for children to be faced by megaphone-wielding protestors as they arrive at school. Just as it is for teachers and school leaders to be intimidated over the lessons they teach.

Dialogue is essential to calm tensions and find pragmatic solutions that do meet the requirements of the law.

And given the religious nature of many of these protests, it’s important to point out that nearly all faith schools teach relationships education – and do it well.

These schools teach about same-sex relationships in a respectful way, but they also teach the tenets of their faith.

So they may teach that gay marriage is both legal and socially accepted in this country, but also that their own religion does not countenance same-sex relationships. That approach will not find favour with everybody in this room, but it balances and respects both protected characteristics.

And as it happens, recent protests have been at non-faith schools.

The Department for Education has recently published guidance in this area, which is a welcome step forward, but there is still latitude for headteachers on what is taught and when.

More generally, in England we do give schools a great deal of latitude and flexibility in the curriculum and other decision-making – it’s part of what makes teaching so rewarding, and it’s what gives schools their unique flavours – but in this area I do believe it would be more helpful if primary heads, in particular, had more certainty over what they should be teaching and when. As things stand, heads are largely left alone to manage what can be very fraught and sometimes angry discussions.

It would be better, surely, to have one national conversation about Relationships and Sex Education, rather than hundreds of local discussions, each coming to a slightly different conclusion.

So coming back to Ofsted’s role in all of this.

We are an inspectorate – we inspect. And this area is one of the very few where we have to carry out a compliance check. We check that schools are meeting the minimum requirements set by equalities legislation. And, in the vast majority of schools, this is happening.

What we don’t do is set a maximum. We don’t say what constitutes a good lesson plan for relationships education. And we don’t endorse a particular approach – but we do and we will continue to defend the rights of schools to decide how they meet their obligations, after consulting with parents.

Because it is increasingly challenging for schools to prepare young people for life in modern Britain.

The increased diversity of the country – and in the case of LGBT, the visibility of the diversity that has always been there – is a great thing. But with greater diversity and a greater willingness for people to promote and defend their particular view of the world, comes more space for disagreement.

And alongside this we see a wider shift in the tenor of debate. An emphasis on single issues – sometimes to the detriment of real consideration of different perspectives and willingness to find that working consensus, putting children’s interests first.

I spoke recently about the challenges children face in this new “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” age: where there is a lack of tolerance of divergent views and where this intolerance is entrenched in the echo chamber of social media.

I stand by the solution that I suggested then: arm our children with knowledge. Teach them well. Prepare them for a modern world – in which many people will try to tell them what to think – by giving them the knowledge to contextualise those arguments and the skills to express their own views and put them into action.

And teach them about the wonderful diversity of humanity in modern Britain: a diversity of race, gender, faith and love. Education shouldn’t sow the seeds of discord, it should prepare the citizens of tomorrow to create a more tolerant, respectful and hopeful world.

Thank you.

Apprenticeship Providers: What You Need to Know About Ofsted
July 2, 2019
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One of the topics keeping new apprenticeship providers awake at night is the prospect of Ofsted inspection. The regime for inspection of new apprenticeship providers changed in 2018, here’s a summary of what you can expect. (Article first published in December 2018)

If you’re a new training provider directly funded for delivering apprenticeships from or after April 2017, rather than the usual full or short inspection, you should expect a new monitoring visit from Ofsted.

When?

Normally within 24 months of the start of the funding, that’s when you first start delivering funded learning not the date you first got onto the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers which might have been much earlier.

How?

You’ll be given two working days’ notice. The visits normal last up to two days and the report will be published on https://www.gov.uk/find-ofsted-inspection-report.

Inspectors will make judgements against different themes to the previous full or short inspections. They are:

“How much progress have leaders & managers made to ensure….?

  • the provider is meeting all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision.
  • apprentices benefit from high-quality training that leads to positive outcomes for apprentices
  • effective safeguarding arrangements are in place.
  • learners benefit from high-quality adult education that prepares them well for their intended job role, career aims and/or personal goals” (only applicable to providers delivering adult education).

Rather than being graded from grade 1: Outstanding to grade 4: Inadequate, monitoring visits use a new judgement grading:

  • insufficient progress: progress has been either slow or insubstantial or both, and the demonstrable impact on learners has been negligible.
  • reasonable progress: action taken by the provider is already having a beneficial impact on learners and improvements are sustainable and are based on the provider’s thorough quality assurance procedures.
  • significant progress: progress has been rapid and is already having considerable beneficial impact on learners.

These judgements are awarded against each of the four themes as well as an overall judgement being awarded.

What happens after your monitoring visit?

You can expect your first full inspection within 24 months of the publication of the report from your monitoring visit.

Unless:

  1. You have had one or more ‘insufficient progress’ judgements which results in full inspection within 6 to 12 months or:
  2. The effectiveness of your safeguarding arrangements was awarded an ‘insufficient progress’. This results in one further monitoring visit to review only safeguarding within four months of the visit, rather than publication of the report as that may be some weeks after the visit.

If your only insufficient progress judgement relates to safeguarding and following the second monitoring visit you receive a judgement of reasonable or significant progress for safeguarding, you will not then have an overall judgement of insufficient progress. The full inspection will then take place within 24 months from the publication of the first monitoring visit report.

Why the change?

This change seems to have been brought about as a response to three key factors:

  1. With the proliferation of apprenticeship providers since the launch of the ROATP, many of whom have no track record of apprenticeship delivery, there have been increasing concerns about assuring the quality of these new providers. Ofsted inspections are an evidence-based process, using achievement rates as a key measure of quality. With apprenticeships varying in length from 1-4 years, that achievement data just isn’t available for new providers.
  2. The change also recognises the transition from Frameworks, which are made up of component aims which are achieved throughout the duration of the apprenticeship, to Standards which may contain no component qualifications.
  3. Ofsted seems to be shifting its focus from achievement rates and exam results to measuring outcomes for learners. These might include securing employment or promotion to a different role, progression to further learning as well as softer outcomes such as increased confidence. This is a much fairer basis on which to judge the effectiveness of provision because it takes into account the distance a learner has travelled, rather than relying heavily on achievement data.

Ofsted plan to launch a consultation in January 2019 to overhaul the Common Inspection Framework (CIF), although we already know that the biggest change is towards an outcomes-based approach. 

Other things to consider 
  • What are “….all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision”?   Have a look at the Common Inspection Framework as well as the  Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) Quality Statement which sets out  the requirements of an apprenticeship. How do you prove that you have the processes and controls in place to ensure that all the requirements are met? Don’t forget that they are looking at progressyou have made to ensure that you can do it, not necessarily whether you have already achieved it. For example, for off-the-job learning, they will  look at  the quality of the training being delivered, rather than the detail of exactly how many hours each learner has spent off-the-job. It’s only if they think that you are delivering less than the 20% requirement or crucially that the quality of delivery is lacking, that they may look at recorded actual hours.  
  • Progress: how do you manage exceptions? How do you identify and support learners who are behind target – or just as importantly, how do you add challenge and stretch for learners who are racing ahead? To measure progress against targets you need to know your learner’s starting points based on an in-depth initial assessment and understand and record their personal and learning goals. Eportfolio tools such as eTrack can help you monitor each learner’s progress.
  • Is your safeguarding policy effective? This doesn’t just mean having a safeguarding policy in place. Does everyone in the organisation know about the policy and how it relates to them, from apprentices to the CEO? And can you prove what you have done to ensure that they know about it, understand it and know what to do if they identify a safeguarding issue? If you’ve had any safeguarding issues, how have these been handled, and do you have records of this?

With FE Week recording that “a quarter of apprenticeship providers that have received early-monitoring visits from Ofsted so far have been rated ‘insufficient progress’”, preparing for Ofsted should be a top priority for new providers.

The Four New Key Judgments of the Ofsted Inspection Framework
June 27, 2019
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Dr Chris Jones sets out the focus of the watchdog’s new framework, which will be in place from September

It is always a great pleasure to attend, deliver workshops and speak at the AELP conference, especially now, as we all prepare for the new inspection framework that comes in this September.

The new Ofsted framework has four key judgements. It seeks to rebalance what we look at on inspection by focusing on the substance of the curriculum and supporting leaders and teachers who act with integrity; namely, those who do the right thing for their learners and apprentices and who resist the temptation to take shortcuts.

The framework puts the curriculum back at the centre of inspection to ensure young people and adults receive the high-quality training and support they need to improve their knowledge and skills, get a new job or promotion, or gain the qualifications they need to go to university or higher levels of training.

A new quality of education judgment will evaluate the education and training that providers offer to all their learners and apprentices. Previously, we looked at the curriculum as a small element of leadership and management, and not through a teaching and assessment lens. With this framework, we will look in greater depth at what the provider chooses to offer, how well the curriculum is ordered and structured, and whether it is taught well.

With that focus, it is also important that we look at what happens to learners and apprentices after their education and training. Did they gain the qualifications or apprenticeship they were working towards? Did they develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for their next steps? Did they progress to their intended destination?

A separate behaviour and attitudes judgment will allow inspectors to consider how effectively providers and employers set expectations for a calm and orderly environment for teaching, training and work. Central to this is a strong focus on attendance and turning up on time for learning and work. Simply put, if a learner or apprentice is frequently absent and often late, they are not developing the employability skills they need.

On our personal development judgment – this is about looking at the things that affect all of us at every stage of our lives: mental and physical health, equality, diversity, British values and the prevention of radicalisation and extremism in all its forms. It is also about effective careers information and guidance. For apprentices, it means covering more than just the “job” they are doing and giving them chances to learn about the range of occupations and wider skills that their training prepares them for.

Finally, the leadership and management judgment focuses on how well leaders and managers support teachers, trainers and assessors to improve their subject knowledge, teaching and assessing skills and the integrity with which they select the subjects they teach and run the organisation.

Central to the leadership and management judgment are questions about who helps the provider to develop a clarity of vision, ethos and direction. Governance is a challenging principle in further education and skills, especially in small, independent training providers. This is why, in our handbook, we focus on the process of governance and not on people called “governors”.  Who holds leaders to account for performance? Who makes sure that public money is well spent?

I would also like to address the issue of safeguarding and keeping young people and vulnerable adults safe. It is about understanding local risks relevant to where your learners and apprentices live and work. If, for example, knife crime, sexual exploitation or far-right extremism are issues that your learners could face daily, then these are risks facing all learners and apprentices, regardless of age. Leaders, managers and teachers must ensure that the curriculum provides learners with access to the support they need to deal with those issues.

Finally, the framework consultation feedback made us aware of concerns about the lack of review around further education and skills research, so today we publish research activity specifically for the sector. You can read more here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-inspection-framework-overview-of-research

The Education Inspection Framework: What this Means for Governors by Amanda Spielman
June 12, 2019
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Amanda Spielman spoke at the National Governance Association (8 Jun) about the response to the consultation on the education inspection framework and what the new framework means for governors.

Thank you for inviting me here today. I’m not in the least surprised to see so many governors out at the weekend.

I was a governor myself for 7 years and I really understand the commitment, the thought, the amazing energy that goes into the work that you do. I’m looking forward to going back into the world of being a governor one day.

A big thank you for engaging so fully with our recent consultation, and for the thoughtful and comprehensive NGA (National Governance Association) response. Today I hope to expand on some of the issues you highlighted and unpack some of the detail for you.

It’s been a few weeks since we published the final framework and handbooks. I hope that some of you have had a chance to look at them, as they lay out how we’ll inspect and what we’ll be looking at on inspections from this coming September. Read more

Ofsted’s New Inspection Arrangements
May 14, 2019
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Ofsted has published the outcome of the consultation on its new education inspection framework, which will take effect from September 2019.

From September 2019, Ofsted will refocus inspections of schools, early years settings and further education and skills providers, to make sure that learners are receiving a high-quality education that puts them on a path to future success. Read more

Amanda Spielman Speech at the 2019 Annual Apprenticeships Conference
March 28, 2019
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The Chief Inspector discussed the apprenticeship landscape, current challenges that providers face and Ofsted’s approach.Amanda Spielman

The following speech was delivered on 27 March 2019 (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)

Introduction

To say that the last few years have marked monumental changes for the apprenticeship market is no exaggeration. We have seen the introduction of the levy, standards, the off-the-job training quota, and of course degree apprenticeships – to name just a few.

This is a heady mix, and understandably, the sector’s had to work hard to adjust.

Since I spoke to you last year, apprenticeships remain in the headlines, and not always for the right reasons. The continuing fall in starts, highlighted again by the National Audit Office (NAO) earlier this month, is still a major cause for concern.

I am well aware that apprenticeship providers have a lot to contend with. The wider context that means that many of you are struggling to make apprenticeships available.

Read more

Amanda Spielman at the Youth Sport Trust 2019 Conference
March 4, 2019
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Ofsted’s Chief Inspector discussed the new education inspection framework and what it means for physical education and sport. 

Good morning. I’m delighted to be joining you today. Thank you for inviting me.

This morning I’m going to talk about the new Ofsted inspection framework that we’re consulting on, and what that might mean for PE and sport. As well as some of the research that lies underneath that framework, and how it links with the Youth Sports Trust’s own research on what’s happening to PE in schools.

Exercise and sports are hugely important for children. That should go without saying. Schools and colleges have a vital role to play in inspiring the next generation to lead healthy, active lives and to build resilience. But it’s more than that. The pursuit of sporting excellence is a fine thing in itself. While there isn’t a single definition of excelling, a good PE education can take each child down different pathways to find what they’re really good at. And on a bigger scale, it can take the whole of humanity forward.

Read more

Ofsted’s New Provider Monitoring Visits
January 18, 2019
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Chris Jones, HMI, Specialist Adviser for Apprenticeships, on Ofsted’s new provider monitoring visits (8th January 2019)

Since April 2017, any provider wishing to train apprentices must be included on the register of apprenticeship training providers. We inspect all providers that receive apprenticeship funding from the Education & Skills Funding Agency or through the apprenticeship levy and that deliver apprenticeships at levels 2 to 5. A number of these providers are now eligible for inspection for the first time.

We usually inspect a new provider within 3 years of it beginning to deliver education and training programmes. But, because of the large volume of these new apprenticeship training providers and the potential risk to quality, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, announced in November 2017 that inspectors would carry out early monitoring visits to a sample of new apprenticeship providers. The Department for Education (DfE) has since provided additional funding to make sure that we have the resources to carry out monitoring visits to all these providers.

We will now be carrying out a monitoring visit to all newly funded apprenticeship training providers that have been delivering level 2 to 5 apprenticeships since April 2017. This visit will normally be within 24 months of their starting to deliver funded training. They will then have a full inspection normally within 24 months from when we publish their monitoring visit report.

By the end of November 2018, we had published more than 90 reports from monitoring visits to new providers.

Themes that inspectors look at

Monitoring visits for new providers are different to full and short inspections. They normally take place over 2 days. Inspectors do not cover all aspects of the inspection framework. Inspectors make progress judgements on 3 themes: Read more

Ofsted Annual Report
December 5, 2018
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Amanda Spielman presented her second annual report as Ofsted’s chief inspector this morning.

She used it to highlight improvement in overall FE outcomes in the face of funding pressures, as well as concerns that the apprenticeship levy isn’t being used as intended.

FE Week has the nine key findings for FE and skills providers.

  1. Full inspections are down but overall outcomes are up

Ofsted carried out 329 full and short inspections of FE and skills providers this year – down from 392 in 2016/17.

Of these, four per cent resulted in an ‘outstanding’ rating, 66 per cent ‘good’, 24 per cent ‘requires improvement’ and six per cent ‘inadequate’.

That means that 70 per cent of providers inspected this year were rated at least grade two – an increase of one per cent on last year’s outcomes.

FE Week revealed last month that full inspections carried out by Ofsted in 2017/18 plunged by a third. Read more

AOC Response to Ofsted’s Comments
November 26, 2018
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The boss of the Association of Colleges has told his members Ofsted is “quite right” after the inspectorate found some colleges risk giving students “false hope” by putting them on courses where there are slim job prospects.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector, drew gasps from delegates at the AoC conference this week when she questioned whether some colleges are chasing income over students’ best interests

She was referring to the inspectorate’s new report on level-two qualifications which found some subjects, namely arts and media, “stand out” as areas where there is a “mismatch between the numbers of students taking courses and their future employment in the industry”.

“Some students get a bit deflated and lose that momentum they built when they discover it is an impossible dream for most of them,” she said.

There was push back from the audience during a question-and-answer session, in which Grimsby Institute principal Debra Gray pointed out that the arts and creative industries contribute “£92 billion to the UK economy, two million people work directly in creative industries and three million work in allied professions where people are creative in non-creative businesses”.

“That doesn’t sound like an impossible dream to me, and it isn’t one that we sell to our students,” she told the chief inspector, before receiving a round of applause from the audience.

AoC chief executive David Hughes stepped in on the debate and said that colleges need to “face up to the fact”. Read more