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What a difference a year makes

The year 1993-94 was a year in which the foundation stones of the further education sector were laid.

Colleges have helped shape the new sector, including its inspectorate and the inspection framework. They have helped in recruiting and training inspectors and in developing the inspectorate's working methods. As a consequence the sector has an investment in the inspectorate and now regards it as an important part of the further education scene.

In reviewing the inspectorate's first year it is worth looking back at the tasks I set for it in March 1993 when I look up the post as chief inspector. These were: * to develop a framework forinspection * to recruit and train 73 full-time and 600 part-time inspectors and register at least 3OO part-time inspectors * to begin a programme of college inspections * to begin to inspect council-funded work for students with learning difficulties and disabilities in independent colleges * to undertake national surveys of aspects of further education * to respond to tasks set by the Secretary of State for Education to help establish the quality assessment committee under the chairmanshipof Sir Bob Reid * to establish the inspectorate'sown internal quality assurance and control arrangements * to publish the chief inspector's annual report.

It is a tribute to my new colleagues, over three-quarters of whom had no direct experience of inspection prior to joining the inspectorate, that these tasks have all been accomplished.

The Council's framework for inspection described in Assessing Achievement was widely accepted by colleges and has been commented upon favourably by the National Commission for Education.

Assessing Achievement has been kept under constant review and we are making changes to it as the need arises.

By the end of the summer term 1994 over 8,000 applications were received for full-time posts and 3,780 people have applied to be part-time inspectors, 780 of whom have been accepted for training .

Training for part-time inspectors consists of a residential course involving simulated inspection activities, followed by two separate inspection visits to colleges accompanied by an experienced inspector who evaluates and reports on the trainee inspector's performance.

Successful part-time candidates are placed on the register of part-time inspectors. About 300 have been registered, 300 are currently training and a further 200 are awaiting training. Over l00 colleges have served as training centres for part-time inspectors.

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