Next government should split Ofsted in two and prioritise accountability of primaries – education committee

The next government should reconsider splitting Ofsted in two and prioritise increased accountability in the primary school sector, the House of Commons education committee has urged.

The committee has published its eighth report of this parliament, which looks back on its work over the last five years and reviews government progress in key areas.

The report re-caps recommendations made by the committee on the role of Ofsted, and calls for any government formed after May 7 to re-consider its suggestion that the watchdog is split up into two bodies.

The report says: “In response to the increasing diversity of institutions for which Ofsted is responsible, we concluded that Ofsted had grown too big to discharge its functions efficiently.

“We recommended that Ofsted should be divided into two new organisations—the Inspectorate for Education and the Inspectorate for Children’s Care.

“Although the government accepted a number of our recommendations it did not agree that Ofsted’s functions should be separated. We consider this a priority for the next parliament.”

On the subject of the committee’s inquiry into academies and free schools, which raised “particular concerns” about primary schools, it calls for a focus on the issue between 2015 and 2020.

The report says: “We had particular concerns about primary schools. We found there to be too little evidence as to the impact of academy status on attainment in primary schools and recommended that the DfE commission such research as a matter of urgency.

“It is unlikely that we will receive the government’s response to this report before the election, but whoever is in government from May 2015 should make increased accountability in the academy sector a priority.”

The report goes on to call on the membership of the committee after the election, which will be elected by the new parliament, to pay “close attention” to Progress 8 when it is brought in in 2016, and also calls for careers advice to be “high up the agenda”.

The document also covers the committee’s report into 16-plus care options, and calls for a future government to re-visit some of its recommendations.

It says: “We were pleased that the government accepted a number of our recommendations, such as limiting emergency placements in B&Bs to two working days and reminding local authorities of their statutory duty to postpone unnecessary and disruptive changes to children’s placements during key stage four.

“Nevertheless, we were disappointed that the government was not willing to move faster to accept our recommendations on the regulation of accommodation and on banning B&Bs for young people in care.

“We urge whoever is in government from May 2015 to reconsider this issue.”

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