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Ofsted Consultation on Changes to FE Inspection

Inspection & Quality
Skills for Life Network

From September 2007, Ofsted proposes to reduce inspection of the best colleges, whilst focusing more attention on colleges where there is inadequate provision and those where performance is satisfactory but not improving.

  • It is proposed that the best colleges would receive a short inspection of one or two days’ duration, leading to a short inspection report, as an alternative to a full inspection. Up to 30% of colleges could be included in this short inspection approach.
  • If colleges are judged outstanding or good as a result of inspection, they will not be inspected for four years providing that high performance is maintained. All such colleges will be subject to annual desk monitoring by inspectors to check performance.
  • Satisfactory colleges will continue to have a significant proportion of their work inspected on a four year cycle. Colleges in this category will also receive an annual monitoring visit from inspectors.
  • The Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) will be invited to consider supporting those colleges which are judged ‘satisfactory but not improving’. Around 12-15 per cent of colleges currently fall into this category. Annual monitoring visits will also be used to assess the degree of progress in making more significant improvement in these colleges.
  • Shortened timescales for the re-inspection of inadequate provision are also proposed. Inadequate colleges will receive a monitoring visit 6-9 months after inspection, followed by a full re-inspection after 12-15 months.
  • Ofsted recognises that further education sector performance is improving, with learner success rates now averaging 75%, compared to 60% in 2001. Many sixth form colleges are consistently high performing. The consultation proposals will mean a further move towards greater self-regulation for the sector, in recognition of this success and in line with the recommendations of the White Paper.
  • Ofsted would like to encourage all those interested in the development of the further education inspection system to consider the proposals and the impact that they will have on raising standards. The consultation document and questionnaire can be found on at www.ofsted.gov.uk and the deadline for responses is Friday 9 March.

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