New ‘campus identifier’ paves way for Ofsted changes in 2019

A new college campus identifier will be introduced into individualised learner records from 2018/19, potentially paving the way for campus-level inspections at mega-colleges.

The additional data will identify a “campus within a college group and no longer a separate legal entity but previously operated as an incorporated college with a UKPRN”, according to new guidance published today by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

A campus identifier will “allow identification of provision delivered across the various sites of merged institutions”.

The new identifier will be in use from the start of 2018/19, which means that colleges will have a year’s worth of campus-level data in time for the new Ofsted common inspection framework, expected from September 2019.

“Ofsted continues to discuss the possibility of campus level inspection with the Department for Education,” a spokesperson for the education watchdog said.

“We will consider it as part of the inspection of the whole college as we review the education inspection framework.”

The prospect of campus-level inspections at mega-colleges with multiple sites was raised during an FE Week interview with Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman last March, who said they were under “active” consideration with the DfE.

And Frank Coffield, emeritus professor of education at UCL’s Institute of Education, has previously called for campus-level inspections.

“The area reviews are creating even larger colleges, for instance Nottingham, which now has 40,000 students. That Ofsted can or would judge such a huge enterprise by applying one summary term to it is, I repeat, unjust,” he wrote in FE Week in September.