New contractual arrangements for inspection

30th May 2014 at 01:00

‘Ofsted to change the way it contracts its inspection work’ is not normally the sort of headline that you would expect to generate much comment or interest. Why would anyone care about how Ofsted arranges its contracts with the teams of additional inspectors (AIs)? It sounds rather technical and uninteresting.

But this change, announced today, will have a significant impact on the way Ofsted manages and controls its programme of inspection work.

The current contracts with our inspection services providers (ISPs), CfBT, Serco and Tribal, have run since September 2009 and are due to expire in August 2015, which meant that we needed to review our inspection delivery model.

Additional inspectors (AIs), who are currently contracted through ISPs to undertake a large proportion of inspections of behalf of Ofsted, will continue to form a significant part of the inspection work force along with Her Majesty’s Inspectors. However, from September 2015, they will be contracted directly to Ofsted.

Bringing the contracts with AIs in-house will give us greater flexibility in the deployment, training and quality assurance of inspection activities. The ISPs and their various predecessors have delivered great work for Ofsted since 1992, including over the last five years, and we will work with them closely in the transition period to ensure that the knowledge and skills built up over that time is not lost. Indeed a number of their staff may transfer to Ofsted. We also want many of the AIs to continue to work with us, including those inspectors who have a proven and successful track record and those who have recently retired from senior positions in schools and colleges.

As Sir Michael Wilshaw has repeatedly stated we are determined to maximise the number of current practitioners who work on Ofsted’s behalf. So we will use this change also to encourage even more serving heads, school and college leaders to join our ranks whether as an AI who undertakes a small number of inspections each year or as a serving headteacher or principal on a year-long secondment. There are real mutual benefits to this. Inspection work is enhanced by the experience provided by serving practitioners and, in turn, inspection gives heads or senior leaders fresh insight into their own school or college.

This change to the way we contract some inspectors will also allow Ofsted to have more flexibility in delivering the inspection programme. In future, Ofsted will be fleeter of foot in deciding where and when we need to send inspectors.

A great many talented and committed individuals have worked over the years for Ofsted via the ISPs and it would be wrong to view this change as reflecting discontent with their work. We are learning from what has gone before and making sure we build on the best elements of yesterday to provide an even better model for tomorrow.

I’m sure these changes will generate many more questions, and some will want to know what it may means for other areas of our work. For now I can confirm we won’t be making the same changes for our early years inspection contracts - we are working through wider changes in that sector and we do not think it is the right time for large contractual change.

In the meantime, I look forward to this exciting change to education inspection and the benefits it will have for the sector as a whole.


Michael Cladingbowl, National Director, Schools