Save cash? Let's scrap inspectors

1st December 2006 at 00:00
So 10 per cent of colleges think Ofsted inspections aren't worth doing, which implies the majority welcome the inspection process.

Perhaps this willingness to suckle the teat of Ofsted is symptomatic of the fact that we have all become too accustomed in our daily lives to the intrusion of the nanny state.

Ofsted is there, we are told, to make sure colleges, schools and nurseries provide good education and value for taxpayers' money.

Yet there is no conclusive proof to demonstrate that the state, or any individual inspector, actually knows more than the average principal about what good education looks like. There is certainly no rule that says you must have an untarnished record in education to be an Ofsted inspector. Far from it.

Furthermore, it would be a courageously self-confident politician who claimed that Government's expertise in providing value for money was beyond question.

One way of getting better value for taxpayers' money, of course, is to spend less of it. So how about scrapping Ofsted?

Let's return to basic principles. A college needs three things at its core to succeed: a clear understanding of its mission, a board and a chief executive. The organisation then succeeds - as the majority of colleges do - or it fails, in which case it's P45 time.

Meanwhile, we're stuck with inspectors.

If Ofsted wants to do better, as its chief inspector's remarks on page 3 suggest, it might want to visit some of its counterparts abroad. It will have to take care in choosing a country to visit because, horror of horrors, many don't have an inspectorate - and manage perfectly well.

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