21 June 2012
Joy Mercer, Director of Policy at the Association of Colleges, said: “The changes made as a result of the consultation ‘A Good Education For All’ will have important implications for Colleges.
“AoC is pleased to note that instead of the planned ‘no notice’ inspections, there will now be two working days’ notice given as Ofsted has recognised that carrying out inspections on large institutions such as Colleges is complex and this change will allow Ofsted to prepare to inspect the whole range of a College’s diverse provision.
“However, this is still a tight timeframe and will continue to cause logistical problems for colleges and Ofsted inspectors, particularly in ensuring they see the fullest range of College provision including the more complicated areas, such as work-based, off campus, employment driven courses. That’s why we think it’s even more important that Ofsted is clear about what data they will be using and what evidence requirements they would expect Colleges to have to hand.
“The new Common Inspection Framework (CIF), as we know, emphasises teaching, learning and assessment which is to be welcomed as key to a successful inspection. In this year’s inspections success rate data has been the trump card so we wait to be reassured that Ofsted will make their judgements on overall effectiveness because of the quality of learning based upon a range of indicators.
“There are implications for Colleges as the new framework focuses on student progression and their successful destinations into higher education and employment. We continue to press Ofsted to consider that a successful outcome for a student includes progression into a relevant job and that they see this as a positive outcome and not, as they do currently, as a negative impact on success rates.
“Colleges accept that complacency should have no place in a sector committed to continuous self-improvement but we remain uncomfortable with aspects of the new ‘requiresimprovement’ grade - the implications for Colleges are stark. A simplistic application of the term ‘requires improvement’ does not capture the wide range of circumstances encompassed by the existing ‘satisfactory’ grade, which range from a so-called ‘coasting’ institution to one that is making solid progress towards improvement. However, we’re pleased that Ofsted has moved away from its ‘three strikes’ policy and, if a College has made demonstrable improvements, this will be taken into consideration and the college will not necessarily be graded inadequate on their third inspection.
“AoC remains extremely concerned about the huge differences between the way that school and academy sixth forms are inspected compared to Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges. There is no parity and it is unfair for a College’s provision to be at risk when a neighbouring school or academy sixth form may well offer poorer quality provision. There needs to be a common set of data used and a similar methodology, including a grade for school and academy sixth forms, so that students and parents can make a real comparison between providers.”