The government has vetoed recommendations that Ofsted be split into two separate inspectorates for education and social care.
Responding to an Education Select Committee proposal that the inspectorate divide itself in order to boost the attention paid to social care, the government said: “We do not agree with the Select Committee that the concerns they have highlighted support the argument for splitting the current inspectorate.
“Structural change is costly and disruptive. Prioritising it would divert attention and resources from the more critical and urgent task of pursuing and securing the inspection reforms we consider to be vital.”
Ofsted agreed with the government in its response to the recommendation, saying: “This type of structural change can be costly in terms of time and money, and would inevitably divert attention and resources from both the core business of inspection, and the work we are carrying out to continue to improve the way we inspect.”
The inspectorate said a division of its duties would lead to more costly inspections, saying the cost of carrying out the inspection and regulation of children and learners was now £80m less than it was in 2003-04, when it was carried out by four separate organisations.
Despite being against the split, Ofsted said the committee was right to be concerned about the visibility of its role in social care services.
“We note the committee’s concern that Ofsted should do more to increase the visibility of what it describes as our ‘non-education remit’.We believe those we inspect, and the children and young people being cared for, are aware of our role. But we recognise we can, and should, do more at a sector levbel, and with the wider public, to communicate our work and to lead debate.”
The government added that the current inspection remit reflected the children’s services system in England, built around single points of accountability in local authorities under the control of directors of children’s services.
Ofsted has indicated that it is considering whether it should appoint a deputy chief inspector with a professional background that complements that of the new chief inspector, who is expected to replace Christine Gilbert in October. If the new chief inspector had a background in education, the deputy would have one in social care, and vice versa.
The government has supported this plan.
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