Wythenshawe MP calls for “root and branch reform” of schools watchdog after damning report
Wythenshawe’s Mike Kane has called for an overhaul of the schools watchdog, Ofsted, following a damning report by MPs.
The report, following an inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee, said there were “clear shortcomings” in the performance of Ofsted, which inspects schools and children’s services.
Among criticisms highlighted in the report are that it has completed fewer inspections than planned, it has failed to meet its targets for how often schools should be inspected, and schools are being left for longer between inspections.
And Ofsted had incorrectly reported to parliament that it had met the statutory target for reinspecting schools every five years.
The report also states: “As well as reporting on individual schools, HM Chief Inspector’s role includes advising ministers about the quality of schools. Championing standards is an important part of any independent inspector’s remit, and we were disappointed that HM Chief Inspector seemed reluctant to offer her views about wider issues affecting the school system.”
Ofsted inspects about 21,500 state-funded schools in England, educating a total of eight million pupils. Of its total spending of £151 million in 2017–18, the watchdog spent an estimated £44 million on 6,079 inspections of state-funded schools.
Ofsted’s budget has been slashed in recent years, with the amount spent on school inspections cut by 52% in real terms between 1999–2000 and 2017–18.
And this week Wythenshawe MP, Mike Kane, who is also Labour’s shadow schools ministers, has called for on the government to shake up the watchdog.
In a question in parliament to education secretary, Damian Hinds, he said: “Last time at Education questions, I highlighted the damning evidence from Ofsted’s own figures that showed that it rated schools by deprivation, rather than by the quality of teaching and learning. On Friday, we learned from the Public Accounts Committee that Ofsted does not listen sufficiently to parents and has failed to provide accurate information to Parliament.
“Does the Secretary of State now agree that Ofsted is not fit for purpose and that it is time for root and branch reform?”
But Mr Hinds said he does not agree. He replied: “Ofsted does a very worthwhile and high-quality job, which is reflected in the fact that, for parents, Ofsted reports are the second most significant piece of information about schools, after only location.
“People trust the judgments that they get from Ofsted, and it is the only body that is in a position to make an overall judgment on the quality and breadth of education, alongside the results.”