Ofsted is finally offering local authority leaders responsible for maintained schools the same preview of a draft new inspection handbook that it had already given academy chains.
But Tes has learned that the approach to the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) was only made yesterday after we revealed criticism of its decision to offer multi-academy trust (MAT) leaders sight of the controversial handbook in advance of its release next week.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, had said that: “If Ofsted has given multi-academy trust leaders access to the new inspections but hasn’t given the same access to maintained schools' leaders or directors of council children’s services, then that is an act of political bias.”
Ofsted inspection changes
Ofsted’s director of corporate strategy, Luke Tryl, then took to Twitter, saying that unions that represented both maintained schools and academies had also seen the draft proposals.
Fact Check: Both school leader unions representing maintained schools and academies have also seen draft proposals. As indeed have Mary’s team at the NEU. No bias here. These informal discussions have helped improve the proposals for consultation. We’re grateful for their input.— Luke Tryl (@LukeTryl) January 7, 2019
But Ofsted did not answer Tes queries on whether local authorities had been given the same advance preview that academy chains were given.
But, to be clear, you didn't give local authorities that run maintained schools the same advance preview that you offered academy chains? I think that must be the 4th time we've asked Ofsted that question and it's still not been answered.— William Stewart (@wstewarttes) January 7, 2019
Now, despite its public position that school leader unions count as representatives of maintained schools, the watchdog has belatedly decided that representatives of local authority directors should be offered the same access.
The ADCS said Ofsted contacted it yesterday in order to set up a meeting, which is being arranged.
Ofsted national director Sean Harford said he expects the meeting to take place next week.
With the handbook: late November for the unions; mid-December for CST; next week for ADCS. Unions had already had a presentation and session in September.— Sean Harford (@HarfordSean) January 8, 2019
That would give the ADCS no more than two days to consider the plans before the official consultation launches on Wednesday 16 January.