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Ofsted wants legal power to inspect more alternative providers

A 'large proportion' of alternative provision, for pupils who are not able to be educated in the mainstream, is currently exempt from inspection, warns chief inspector

Need to know: Ofsted's new inspection framework

A 'large proportion' of alternative provision, for pupils who are not able to be educated in the mainstream, is currently exempt from inspection, warns chief inspector

The current laws exempting part-time alternative provision from Ofsted inspection are of “great concern”, chief inspector Amanda Spielman told MPs today.

Asked about what Ofsted was doing to ensure the quality of alternative provision for pupils who are not able to be educated in mainstream education, Ms Spielman replied that a “large proportion” of alternative provision does not fall under the watchdog’s remit.

“We are only able to inspect some of the alternative provision that exists,” she told the House of Commons education committee.

“We can inspect pupil referral units and alternative provision that constitutes a registered school but a very large proportion of alternative provision is in unregistered schools, typically not offering a full-time provision, and so they don’t satisfy the registration requirements.

'We can't see the quality there'

“It is a matter of great concern to us that we cannot see the quality there. We think it is very difficult for anybody to what know the quality is. These are children who don’t consistently have parents doing a good job of making sure their children are getting a good experience.”

She said that a change in the law would be needed to allow inspections to be carried out.

“We would like to be able to look at all kinds of alternative provision,” Ms Spielman said. “We are very uncomfortable about providers being able to use the full-time requirement to say they are not offering full-time provision and so, therefore, they are exempt from registration and inspection.”

The committee has already launched an inquiry into alternative provision, with committee chairman Robert Halfon saying that he wants to establish whether children attending are receiving "the best possible support".

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