Inspection of social care and education should be carried out by separate bodies, former chief inspectors have said.
Speaking at a Commons education select committee hearing on Ofsted, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, Ofsted chief inspector from 1992-94, said he thought the inspectorate should not have taken on social care inspection on top of its education duties.
“I’m disappointed that these additional responsibilities have been given to Ofsted for the purely practical reason that if you’re in the seat at the top, you’re going to be having lines of communication coming in, reporting on a hugely diverse range of issues, some of which we know are real hot potatoes,” he said.
“It’s rather a lot to ask and difficult to find one individual, whether it’s who chairs the board or the chief inspector, who will have experience in all those areas.”
Sutherland said two separate bodies could be formed, or Ofsted could divide the responsibilities within itself.
David Sherlock, former senior inspector with the Further Education Funding Council, expressed a similar view at the hearing.
“I think that the span of control is too wide,” he said. “I think it would be better to have more, focused organisations. I think that would be an easier thing to run from Ofsted’s point of view, as well as better for people on the receiving end who would be getting an absolutely focused service.”
When asked how the government could afford to divide Ofsted’s responsibilities at a time when it was merging so many bodies, Sutherland said cuts could be made in administrative, back-office costs.
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