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MPs add to school accountability debate

10 September 2018

The Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) recent report on Ofsted inspections has generated coverage of issues that will be evocative for many education leaders. The report makes seven recommendations, although many of the headlines have focused on PAC’s call for review of the use of short inspections and extended periods without inspection which currently apply to good and outstanding schools respectively.

The report acknowledges the significant cuts which have been made to Ofsted’s budget and asserts that the focus on cost-saving has been to the detriment of effective school inspection. It also suggests that spending on school improvement generally has not accurately and fairly reflected where that responsibility lies. This leads onto a further and wider question which the report directly poses: who is responsible for improving underperforming schools? It is not a new query but is certainly rather timely in light of the impending consultation promised by the Secretary of State for Education on principles for a clear and simple accountability system.

In reviewing Ofsted from the perspective of the 'taxpayer’s pound', the PAC report may help inform the DfE’s accountability review and indeed Ofsted’s own ongoing review of its framework, with the potential for some significant changes ahead.

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