Ofsted cuts ‘leaving parents in the dark’ on school standards, MPs warn
Cuts to the education watchdog Ofsted are leaving parents guessing on school standards, MPs have warned.
According to the Public Accounts Committee, reductions in the inspectorate’s budget have led to some schools being exempt from re-inspection for six years or more.
In a new report, the committee also criticises the increase in short inspections, saying they do not allow enough time to make "meaningful” assessments.
Committee chair Meg Hillier said: "Cuts to Ofsted's budget have undermined families' ability to make informed decisions about schools.
"If the level of inspection continues to be eroded there is a risk that Ofsted will come to be perceived by parents, Parliament and taxpayers as not relevant or worse, simply a fig leaf for government failures on school standards.
"Should this happen, its credibility will evaporate."
However, Ofsted's chief inspector, Amanda Spielman defended the organisation, saying: "As with all of the public sector, we have had to do more with less.
"However, I remain confident that our inspections provide parents, schools and the government with the assurance they need about school standards and that we do so in a way that compares very favourably in terms of quality and value for money with school inspection regimes internationally.
"However, we have reached the limit in terms of being able to provide that level of assurance within our current funding envelope.
"That is why, with our ongoing framework review, we are looking at how to ensure that schools and parents get everything they need from our reports, and why many of the committee's recommendations are already long in train."
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers Union said: “The NASUWT has always been clear that inspection has a critical role to play in a genuinely meaningful system of school accountability.
“Schools should be subject to inspection, but they should always be inspected on the right things in the right ways.