While around 80 per cent of further education and skills providers are good or outstanding, the number requiring improvement has increased over time. For these providers, inspectors conduct ‘support and challenge’ visits to help them improve.
We want to do all we can to be a force for improvement through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection and regulation. With this in mind we are proposing to make some small but important changes to the way we conduct these visits and are consulting on our proposed new arrangements.
I believe it will help providers that find themselves stuck to improve more quickly.
What we currently do
Currently, these providers get one or two support and challenge visits. After these visits, Ofsted sends an improvement letter to the institution. This sets out what has improved and how, and what more has to be done. At the moment that letter is not published.
What we are proposing
We propose that providers graded as requires improvement will receive a single monitoring visit after the inspection. This would take place between seven and 13 months after the inspection. The next full inspection would be between 12 and 24 months after the original inspection, as it is now.
We propose to publish the findings of the monitoring visit, as we do for school visits presently. This report will include the provider’s achievements since the last inspection and will have progress judgements. It will show what changes they’ve made to improve weaknesses. And it will highlight any improvements that are still needed.
To be clear, this is not a full inspection report. It will not mean any change in overall judgement.
Why we think change is needed
So why are we proposing these changes? Well, we know that learners and employers are interested in the quality of education, training and improvements being made by a college or other provider. A published report makes this clear and available to all and shows what progress is being made.
This report will provide a clear sense of direction for providers. By reducing the time between the inspection and the monitoring visit, and by publishing the monitoring letter, providers will get better, faster. And everyone will be better informed.
The consultation is now live and runs until 22 December. I would encourage all providers, learners and employers and all those with an interest to give us their views. We know that providers want to move to good and we expect that this new way of working can help them in that journey.
The consultation can be found on the gov.uk website. Please let us know what you think.
Paul Joyce is Ofsted Deputy Director for Further Education & Skills