Why was Ofsted introduced?
Ofsted is the national regulator for all UK education and training – but it wasn't always this way
To understand why Ofsted was introduced, we need to go back in time... It's 1990, Vanilla Ice is number one, and John Major has replaced Margret Thatcher as Prime Minister. Major calls for a reform of the school inspection system after Thatcher introduced the first national curriculum two years previously.
Under Thatcher, schools were still inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMIs), but there were concerns about the scale and potential bias of inspections. Major wanted to introduce a more rigorous system that inspected every school every four years. And so Ofsted was born.
In 1992, the common inspection framework was created, thousands of inspectors were hired, and the first inspection took place in 1993. Ofsted was then introduced in all state-funded schools to improve the quality of education across the UK. It published and shared reports with schools, parents and the Government.
After its initial success, Ofsted was rolled out across all daycare and childminders in 2001, and then to all adult learning organisations in 2007. Higher education institutions (HEIs) and universities were not included as they were inspected by the Quality Assurance Agency, and still are today.
By this time, Ofsted was an educational institution – but there was still room for change. Between 2001 and 2005, Ofsted became more flexible and more responsive to individual schools. Instead of following a strict 4-year regime, outstanding and good schools were only inspected every 6 years, satisfactory schools every 3, and inadequate schools were monitored regularly.
The next change came in 2013, when Ofsted reduced the notice given before an inspection to just two days. This enabled Ofsted to assess organisations as a whole, rather than on a pre-rehearsed training session, helping inspectors to gain a true understanding of how centres ran on a day-to-day basis. Ofsted published the Common Inspection Framework in 2015 so organisations knew what to expect on inspection day.
2017 was another big year for Ofsted, after the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) launched a new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) – outlining organisations which are eligible to receive government funding to train apprentices.
This meant that thousands more providers needed to be inspected. Meanwhile, there has been a similar surge in the number of employers delivering apprenticeships – resulting in another increased inspection workload for Ofsted within businesses. In response, Ofsted has worked hard to gather feedback; updating jits processes to make sure inspections are relevant for all businesses. Ofsted inspections are important for all organisations – whether you're a childminder, school, college or employer.
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