Ofsted says sorry for carrying out wrong kind of inspection

Ofsted has been left red-faced after carrying out the wrong kind of monitoring visit and incorrectly publishing a report, before quickly deleting it.

Inspectors visited Wiltshire Council’s adult and community learning service on July 7 this year, after the provision was given a grade three rating by Ofsted in December 2017. A letter detailing the outcome of the visit was published on August 8.

Despite being written about online by this newspaper and by Wiltshire Council, the report has now vanished entirely from Ofsted’s website.

When questioned by FE Week, the inspectorate admitted that both the visit and the published report were “undertaken in error”.

A spokesperson said: “In line with Ofsted’s current policy, a further visit will now be arranged after which we will publish a letter. We have apologised to the provider for our error.”

Previously, when an FE provider was rated ‘requires improvement’ inspectors would arrange a ‘support and challenge’ visit before the next inspection.

These visits could include meetings with governors, visits for senior leaders to another provider or joint observations of particular lessons, after which the principal or chief executive would receive a reporting letter outlining actions to be taken and timescales agreed. Crucially, these letters were never published online.

However, at the end of last year Ofsted ran a consultation into scrapping the support and challenge visits and replacing them with monitoring visits, which would include a published report and judgements on how the provider was progressing with improvements.

This was approved, meaning that any FE provider which has been inspected by Ofsted since November 10, 2017, and receive a grade 3 rating will now receive a published monitoring visit.

Wiltshire Council was given a ‘requires improvement’ rating after a full inspection between December 5 and December 7, 2017. But despite changes to the rules, inspectors carried out a support and challenge visit on July 7. Curiously, a reporting letter was subsequently published online on August 8, even though this is never supposed to happen for support and challenge visits.

Although the report no longer exists online, it was picked up in Ofsted Watch, FE Week’s weekly round-up of published inspections, when it was first published.

FE Week reported then that the council was found to be making “good progress”.

 “Tutors have received appropriate training and are now taking a qualification to equip them to provide advice and guidance more effectively to learners before they start their courses and to prepare them for their next steps,” inspectors said.

“Managers now routinely and regularly undertake formal and informal observations of teaching and learning.”

A week after the report’s publication, an article on Wiltshire Council’s website said Ofsted had found it was making “good progress” in all areas.

 At the time Laura Mayes, the council’s cabinet member for education, said the report “positions us very well for our next inspection, anticipated in the autumn”.

Wiltshire council will now have to go through another monitoring visit before the next full inspection.

A spokesperson said plans were in progress for the next visit, and added that all visits from Ofsted “are a great opportunity to reflect and showcase the important work the team carries out in our communities.”

Since the November 10 cut off point, 48 FE providers have been rated ‘requires improvement’. Wiltshire Council’s short-lived report is the only one to have been published so far.