From education to employment

Talk Continues of Proposed Government Education Regulator Merger

The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has published new complaints guidelines for college inspections reports. The education watchdog issued the revised guidelines in the wake of Government proposals to merge the body with the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI).

The complaints process will be relevant to any employers or training providers who are receiving government funding. The guidelines will give those training providers a complaints and appeals process to address any issues arising from inspections carried out by the inspectorate.

The Government is proposing to merge the two bodies, as part of its public services reform programme, hoping to reduce costs by having a single regulator. The new “improved” Ofsted ““ if the changes are put into practice – will have a budget of around £0.25 billion and will add the regulation of further education colleges, adult training providers and any provider of government-funded programmes to its remit.

Sceptical of Success

The ALI are sceptical that the merger will benefit their clients, the adult training providers, stating on their website: “We do not believe that tighter regulation and deregulation can be achieved simultaneously by one organization. We also doubt whether the needs of adults and the skills strategy will be given sufficient priority in an organization whose primary focus is children’s education and welfare.”

The Government’s reasoning seems to be logical, Ofsted already perform a similar role to that which ALI has been doing. The need to rationalise public services indicates that the integration of ALI into an enlarged regulatory body with a single management structure, budget and location would be a more cost effective way of providing the service. The danger will be if cost cutting affects the quality or effectiveness of the regulatory process. The Government’s proposed consultative process will hopefully give all parties the opportunity to see that this is not the case, hopefully retaining the best of both worlds and providing a similar level of performance.

Dan Atkinson

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