In essence, the proposals will mean that Ofsted, rather than the Secretary of State, becomes accountable for regulating the whole independent sector. That doesn’t mean inspecting schools directly. That area will remain with The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). But it would mean that Ofsted would become the interpreter of regulation for the ISI and therefore dictate the inspection agenda.
However, if you take a moment to read through the proposals, what is on the table is a system whereby independent schools have the opportunity to prove the quality of there provision on a far more regular basis. We are, at present, inspected every 6 years by ISI. Under the new proposals we will be inspected every 3 years for a shorter period of time (the 2-3 day model: the light touch, critical friend approach), following the guidelines set out for maintained sector schools.
As a governor of a small mainatined sector school and a deputy head at a large independent prep I have experienced both forms of inspection. The streamlined model used by OfSTED lasts 3 days and is customised through the use of self-evaluation data. This opportunity to regulary go through a self-evaluation process is a far more professional tool for school management in the 21st century. It ensures that staff are continually aware of development goals and focused on maintaining standards in learning and teaching.
Centralised control is anathema to Independent Education. However, by ensuring that we have an effective and efficient process of inspection and review then we can become far more confident of our standards in the wider educational world.