Kent is a good example of the dramatic changes in the inspection and advisory service. Between 1992 and 1993, Kent lost all its 28 advisory teachers, retaining only 10 inspectors employed by the local authority. The rest of the service was restructured, providing 70 "consultants" working within the LEA but on a commercial basis. Twenty-four of the consultants are subject specialists, 26 are school development consultants and 20 are project officers .
Only 40 per cent of the funding for the consultants comes from the LEA. Freelance commissions from schools account for another 40 per cent and the final 20 per cent is made up from OFSTED inspections.
"What has been lost is the sense of teamwork," said Roy Pryke, the chief education officer. "We have to put in a lot of effort to ensure that subject specialists are interacting."
The loss of the "back-up army" of advisory teachers is another disadvantage, as there are fewer chances to support teachers in the classroom. And there are only limited opportunities for good teachers to spread good practice by moving out of the classroom for a year or so.
But Kent is determined to maintain its standards; it is using central funds to appoint six new inspectors from next January.