Sir Michael Wilshaw evidence to the Education Select Committee and Caroline Lucas’s Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education Bill

October 20th, 2015

Some of you may have been following the progress of the Education Select Committee inquiry into the work of Ofsted. At a one-off evidence session with Sir Michael Wilshaw on 16 September 2015 Sir Michael answered questions about the new Common Inspections Regime and the 1200 additional inspectors who were ‘let go’ when that was implemented.  He assured the committee that, contrary to certain press reports, the additional inspectors were released not because they were not ‘up to the job’, but because they were surplus to requirements as the newer regime requires fewer inspectors and Sir Michael has brought inspection back ‘in house’.  Many former additional inspectors have successfully applied for the new in-house positions.  Sir Michael has now submitted further written evidence to the Committee in which he:

  • Reassures that former additional inspectors were not involved in the training of new inspectors;
  • Explains that records are not kept of individual inspectors school subject specialisms as that is not how inspections work, inspectors being trained to recognise quality teaching and learning regardless of subject;
  • Explains Ofsted’s approach to the inspection of local authority children’s services, with its emphasis on “clear lines of accountability and governance”;
  • Details the importance Ofsted places on being open with senior leaders about emerging findings during the inspection process, and how senior leaders are invited to inspection team meetings;
  • Explains that where complaints are made, Ofsted considers that the requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) can be refused while the complaint is ongoing. (It is not clear what FOIA exemption Sir Michael is referring to here, but possibly Ofsted has in mind s 31 (Law enforcement) which provides an exemption where disclosure of the information would, or would be likely to, prejudice, among other things, the exercise of a public authority’s functions for the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is responsible for any conduct which is improper, or which would justify regulatory action.)
  • States that Ofsted will routinely provide the ‘evidence bases’ written during its inspections in response to FOIA requests (redacted where appropriate to remove personal data).

 

There is also a Commons Briefing Paper out on Caroline Lucas’s Private Members’ bill on Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education. Read the full paper here.  The purpose of the Bill is to make PSHE a statutory part of the national curriculum.  This was Labour policy under the last Labour government.  The Coalition Government decided against it. Campaigns to make PSHE have generally met with resistance because many interested parties consider that PSHE is primarily the responsibility of parents.  Caroline Lucas’s Bill had its First Reading on 15 July and is due to have a Second Reading in the Commons in January 2016.

Holly Stout

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