Ex-schools minister, Nick Gibb, asked Education Secretary Michael Gove if he would bring forward changes in the law
to allow the Independent Schools Inspectorate
(ISI) to inspect academies sponsored by schools or foundations from the private sector.
Schools minister, David Laws, told his predecessor there were no plans to change the law regarding Ofsted inspections. He reminded Gibb that Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector was responsible for the inspection of all state-funded schools including academies and free schools.
Gibb’s suggestion would create a two-tier system. Grade 3 state-funded schools are judged as “Requires Improvement”. But if the ISI considers a private school to be Grade 3, it is judged to be “Sound”. A cynic might say this would allow politicians to claim there were no academies sponsored by independent schools which required improvement.
Perhaps, however, we should move away from separate inspections. There are already four inspectorates for English schools: Ofsted (all state and non-affiliated private schools); ISI (for schools which are members of associations affiliated to the Independent Schools Council
); the Bridge Schools Inspectorate
(some private Christian and Muslim schools) and the Schools Inspection Service
(independent Steiner and Plymouth Brethren schools, and schools run by the for-profit chain Cognita).
If there is to be an inspection service (and not all countries have them – Finland, for example, closed its inspectorate down) then the same criteria should apply to all schools irrespective of whether they’re state-funded, independent, faith schools or run by for-profit organisations.
Ensuring all schools adhere to the same standards might go some way to breaking down the “Berlin Wall” between private and state schools.
GOVE: WHY 10-HOUR SCHOOL DAY IS NEEDED - INDEPENDENT SCHOOL PUPILS GET MORE GCSEs and A LEVELS
Education Secretary Michael Gove
said the evidence which proved state schools should open for 10 hours a day was the gap between the performance of fee-paying schools and state funded ones:
“…one sees that at the moment those who go on to independent schools are more likely to get good GCSEs and A-levels.”
He seems to miss the fact that many secondary private schools, particularly the ones described as “elite”, select their pupils on grounds of ability. This might have more to do with the high results than providing extra-curricular activities.
He also seems unaware the reason many private schools offer more extra activities than state schools is because their pupils board – the schools are acting as parents and giving their pupils something to do while other children go home to their families.
And the evidence Gove ignores, again and again, is the OECD finding way back in 2010 that UK state schools outperform UK private ones when socio-economic background is factored in.
Thanks to Rosie Fergusson for letting me know about Nick Gibb’s thoughts.