Ofsted is to consult on replacing the ‘satisfactory’ grade with ‘requires improvement’ for FE colleges.

Matthew Coffey, national director of learning and skills at Ofsted, said: “Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, announced on 17 January 2012 his intention to scrap the ‘satisfactory’ grade for school inspections and to replace it with ‘requires improvement’.

“The same arguments for doing so apply to the learning and skills sector as for schools.

“Ofsted will therefore further consult with the sector on making the same change in respect of the grade criteria used for the Common Inspection Framework from September 2012.”

Ofsted plan to publish the new inspection arrangements in May, alongside the findings of the previous consultation, which ended in November.

Mr Coffey says the last Annual Report identified a growing concern with colleges which have been graded ‘satisfactory’ for a number of years.

“Figures in our 2010/11 Annual Report, published in November, highlighted a continuing concern with the number of learning and skills providers who were not judged to be good or outstanding and in particular those who have failed to improve over a number of inspections,” Mr Coffey said.

“In last year’s Annual Report we identified 45 colleges, 75 independent learning providers and 11 providers of adult and community learning who were judged satisfactory or inadequate.”

He added: “We also highlighted that 22 colleges had been judged satisfactory twice and 16 for the third time.”

The previous consultation found that Ofsted should focus on inspecting providers with lower ratings.

“The proposal to focus more of our inspection activity on those providers who were not yet good was very well received,” Mr Coffey said.

“Three quarters of respondents from the sector agreed that we should inspect these providers more frequently and consider the benefits of doing so without notice.”

(Read the next edition of FE Week to find out the results of the last consultation, as well as Ofsted’s plans for changing the ‘satisfactory’ grade.) 

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