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Ofsted seeks to improve oversight of subcontractors
EB News: 17/09/2020 - 07:52
Ofsted has published new research looking at subcontractors in the further education and skills sector.
The research found that the current approach to inspection means that some subcontractors are visited more than once, while others are not visited at all.
While Ofsted is not funded to directly inspect subcontractors, the research proposes a more comprehensive and transparent approach to improve oversight.
The report, ‘Subcontracting in further education and skills’, recognises the acute economic challenges FES providers are facing as a result of COVID-19, as well as the broader decline in subcontracted provision over recent years. It explores what makes for high-quality FESprovision delivered through subcontracting and asks how inspection and regulation might need to adapt as a result of a rapidly evolving landscape.
Ofsted is responsible for inspecting the quality of education offered by directly-funded FES providers, but inspectors do not report on all subcontracted provision. However, the inspectorate has increased its focus on subcontracting over the past 2 years, in response to concerns about the quality of some subcontractors.
Currently, Ofsted inspections give a rounded judgement of a directly- funded provider by sampling activities across the provision. The choice of subcontractors to sample is made within practical constraints, such as their location. These activities then inform the leadership and management judgement of the directly- funded provider and, where appropriate, the quality of education judgement.
Today’s report suggests there are limitations to this approach and concludes that the oversight of subcontracted education could be improved by sampling more subcontracted provision.
Therefore, Ofsted is seeking to make inspecting and reporting on subcontracted provision more comprehensive and transparent by working with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to improve access to timely and accurate data on the number and size of subcontracting arrangements held by a directly-funded provider.
They will also work to increase awareness among inspectors of Ofsted’s available inspection resource, in order to investigate more subcontractors.
They will also change the way evidence is recorded to systematically and consistently include information about all subcontractors visited.