Magazine article Public Finance

Watchdog: Watch

Magazine article Public Finance

Watchdog: Watch

Article excerpt

Ofsted

School performance in England has experienced rapid improvement, with 600,000 more children now receiving an education judged as 'good' or 'outstanding', Ofsted has said.

The watchdog called the rate of improvement, which is up by nine percentage points in a year, "unprecedented'. Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw said the data was a 'cause for celebration'.

According to Ofsted figures on inspection outcomes, 78% of state schools in England are judged 'good' or 'outstanding'. This compares to less than 70% a year ago. Wilshaw said that changes to Ofsted's inspection framework, which came into effect a year ago, were having a galvanising effect on schools.

The changes saw the old 'satisfactory' rating replaced with one called 'requires improvement'. Such schools have four years to improve, or face the prospect of being judged 'inadequate'.

In a separate report, Ofsted found that careers guidance in schools was not working as well as it should be. Of the 60 schools visited by the watchdog for the survey, three-quarters were not implementing their duty to provide impartial careers advice effectively. Many schools were not working well with employers or promoting apprenticeships and vocational training effectively.

Ofsted called on the government to provide more explicit guidance to schools on careers advice. It said its own inspectors should also take greater account of careers guidance and students' destinations.

Care Quality Commission

Dr Steve Field has been appointed the Care Quality Commission's chief inspector of general practice.

His job will be to champion the interests of people using GP and dental services, ensuring services are safe, effective, caring and responsive to people's needs, the CQC said. He will also oversee the introduction of a ratings system for registered primary care providers.

Field, a practising GP and senior figure in the NHS, joins the organisation from NHS England, where he was deputy national medical director responsible for addressing health inequalities.

In 2011, he chaired an expert panel that had been tasked with reviewing the government's health reforms, which had met with some bitter oppositioa Its recommendations led to the plans being redrawn and refocused.

Field's appointment completes the triumvirate of chief inspectors at the CQC. Mike Richards is to lead on hospital inspections, while Andrea Sutcliffe will oversee social care.

CQC chair David Prior said: 'Collectively, that team will lead the changes to the way we work as a regulator.'

The Pensions Regulator

The Pensions Regulator has promised 'to take action if necessary' to ensure public sector pension schemes meet high standards.

Following the passage of the 2013 Public Service Pensions Act, the regulator will set standards of governance and administration for public sector schemes from April 2015. This is intended to bring administration practices broadly in line with those operating in the private sector.

Andrew Warwick-Thompson, the regulator's executive director, who has responsibility for regulating the governance and administration of public service schemes, said the watchdog would be prioritising 'education and enablement' of members across schemes.

However, he also warned that the sheer number of public service pension scheme members would make maintaining high-quality data a challenge.

In September, the regulator published a report summarising current practice in the eight categories of public sector schemes: local government; the civil service; the NHS; teachers; armed forces; the police; firefighters; and judicial workers. …

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