Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Ofsted Chief's Tough New Rules Would Leave College Ratings at Risk: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Ofsted Chief's Tough New Rules Would Leave College Ratings at Risk: Fe News

Article excerpt

Proposed 'step-change in ambition' could see providers downgraded.

More than 150 colleges will need to improve in the eyes of Ofsted or see their rating downgraded, under proposals by new chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw to toughen criteria for "outstanding" grades and abolish the "satisfactory" rating. The "outstanding" grades of about 50 colleges - more than half the total - are at risk.

Sir Michael said the changes reflected his determination to raise the quality of education for young people and adults. Hundreds of private training providers and adult education providers are also likely to be affected.

The proposals, put out to consultation yesterday, would mean it is impossible to achieve an "outstanding" grade without being rated as outstanding in teaching, learning and assessment - a move that could have a major impact on many colleges that currently enjoy the top grade. The reforms will also introduce no-notice inspections across the board from September, to see "what providers are really like".

"I have started primarily with a drive to improve the quality of teaching, because good teaching is at the heart of a good education," Sir Michael said. According to a reading of the inspection reports of the 89 outstanding colleges, about 50 of them would be at risk if they have not improved the standard of teaching and learning since they were last inspected.

The move comes after last year's Ofsted annual report revealed that no college had been rated "outstanding" for teaching and learning over a 12- month period, despite five gaining the overall grade 1 rating. Ofsted's director of learning and skills, Matthew Coffey, said there was a lack of consistency and that lesson observations in colleges were "over- generous".

The Institute for Learning, the professional body for FE teachers, supported the change, although chief executive Toni Fazaeli said teachers themselves should be trusted to lead the improvement. "We want to look at ways in which teaching professionals can be more empowered and take ownership over their own development, so we expect some new and challenging conversations ahead," she said. But the Association of Colleges said that Ofsted was overlooking colleges' work with some of the country's most challenging students.

Sir Michael also focused on the 180 private training providers, 61 adult education providers and 114 colleges - responsible for educating more than 1. …

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