Magazine article Public Finance

Ofsted Defends Regulatory Role as Critics Line Up for the Attack

Magazine article Public Finance

Ofsted Defends Regulatory Role as Critics Line Up for the Attack

Article excerpt

Education regulator Ofsted has been forced to defend itself from a volley of criticisms of its methods and its claim that it improves school standards.

Some of the attacks, from MPs, experts, teachers and councils, questioned the future of central government regulation in general. They came as the watchdog launched its annual report on schools and children's services on November 24.

Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws said Ofsted was in danger of neglecting its core work on educational standards in favour of the 'child protection agenda', for which it was given responsibility in 2007.

'The government must consider whether Ofsted should be split up, with oversight of children's social services departments being hived off to a separate inspectorate,' he said.

Professor Malcolm Prowle, a public management expert at Nottingham Business School, said it was time to reconsider whether regulators such as Ofsted were benefiting public services.

'I would question die value of these bodies in the current fiscal situation - and particularly the intensive approach of Ofsted,' he said.

Highlighting the hidden financial cost of inspections on schools, he added: 'Can we afford this range of regulatory bodies when we're going to be making huge cuts in public spending?'

The Opposition, which has pledged to cull quangos and do away with local government Comprehensive Area Assessments, accused Ofsted of box-ticking and trying to cover too much ground.

Shadow schools minister Nick Gibb said: 1We need to move away from the overlybureaucratic data-driven inspection process we currendy have. …

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