We can organise our own affairs without Ofsted

14th December 2007 at 00:00

Ofsted should step out of the classroom and let colleges and training providers take over the inspections role themselves, ministers have been told.

A report on how the FE system could run more of its own affairs, produced in response to a challenge from the former education secretary Alan Johnson, said the inspectorate should in future focus on checking the right systems and processes were in place, rather than observing classes. Bill Rammell, the further and higher education minister, welcomed the report, which proposes a new body called the Single Voice to represent all parts of the FE system in establishing a self-regulation regime.

In a letter to the report's authors, he said: "Self-regulation is a fundamental element in shaping the FE system of the future.

"We expect it to provide even greater benefits for learners, employers and communities as well as to benefit individual institutions."

The proposal was presented by former Knowsley College principal Sir George Sweeney and Park Lane College principal John Taylor, who led the self- regulation group responsible for the report. It says that once the trials have been properly evaluated, a new system-wide FE body would consider a national peer review and development system which should first be incorporated into inspections, and eventually take over.

Ofsted would instead "focus on the effectiveness of the self-regulation at a system level".

Sir George said: "Let's be clear. Self-regulation is our tool for tackling and, where necessary, uprooting poor provision in skills delivery.

"It is our device for confirming that eligibility for public funding is not a long-service medal, but a privilege earned through the gritty business of peer review, performance appraisal and the self-discipline of daily accountability.

"The promise before us is of more purposeful in-trays, fewer nagging demands for the same information you provided to the suits concerned only last week."

Melanie Hunt, director of learning and skills at Ofsted, said that even if inspections continued, these could be limited to a random sample of colleges.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today