Ofsted is still looking to introduce campus-level inspection grades for colleges – but the change will not be introduced this year.
Paul Joyce, the inspectorate’s deputy director for FE and skills, told Tes that Ofsted had met with a group of representatives from large college groups convened by the Association of Colleges and had carried out “a couple of fact-finding visits and a scoping exercise to see what the scale of the challenge is likely to be”.
Ofsted is planning to carry out pilots for this new approach. However, the change “certainly won’t be something that’s introduced in September 2020”, Mr Joyce added.
The move was first mooted back in 2016, following restructuring resulting from the area reviews of college provision. At present, however many campuses a college group has, it is still only graded once, at the central corporation level.
The approach has been criticised by large groups such as NCG. In 2018, its constituent parts, from Newcastle to London and from Carlisle to Kidderminster, were all inspected at the same time by a team of 33 inspectors – the largest single inspection in Ofsted history.
Ofsted campus grades 'on the cards'
Mr Joyce said: “I’ve been having meetings with sector representatives about campus-level inspections, about making inspection more transparent and more accountable to localities. This is a way off yet and this won’t be introduced this academic year.
“We are just starting to look at what campus-level inspection might look like, how we might do it. We’ll continue to be talking with the DfE and the sector , and we’ll have some pilots to look at how that activity will play out.”
He added: “This is not a straightforward [move]. The landscape is very complex so we need to think about this very carefully and plan what we’re going to do and make sure we introduce something that’s absolutely fit for purpose.
“This certainly won’t be something that’s introduced in September 2020. We will look at developing that methodology and if anything changes we will go out to consultation and give the sector plenty of notice.”