From education to employment

Ofsted statement concerning proposals for the ‘requires improvement’ judgement in relation to the Learning and Skills sector

All learners have a right to a good education. Figures in our 2010/11 Annual Report, published in November, highlighted a continuing concern with the number of learning and skills providers who were not judged to be good or outstanding and in particular those who have failed to improve over a number of inspections. In last year’s Annual Report we identified 45 colleges, 75 independent learning providers and 11 providers of adult and community learning who were judged satisfactory or inadequate. Six employer providers were also judged to be satisfactory. We also highlighted that 22 colleges had been judged satisfactory twice and 16 for the third time.

Ofsted recently consulted with the sector about our proposals for inspection from September 2012. The proposal to focus more of our inspection activity on those providers who were not yet good was very well received. Three quarters of respondents from the sector agreed that we should inspect these providers more frequently and consider the benefits of doing so without notice.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, announced on 17 January 2012 his intention to scrap the ‘satisfactory’ grade for school inspections and to replace it with ‘requires improvement’. The same arguments for doing so apply to the learning and skills sector as for schools. Ofsted will therefore further consult with the sector on making the same change in respect of the grade criteria used for the Common Inspection Framework from September 2012. We plan to publish our new inspection arrangements around May. At the same time we will also publish our findings from the full consultation which ended in November together with the views gathered in respect of the change of grade.

With a challenging economic climate and the number of young people who are unemployed and not currently in full-time education approaching three quarters of a million, it is clear that the Learning and Skills sector has a vital role to play. It is essential we support young people and adults in achieving their ambitions in life, learning and work. Our evidence shows that we do so most effectively by offering provision which is universally good or outstanding.

Matthew Coffey is Ofsted’s national director of Learning and Skills

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