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Further Education Colleges

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many inspectors were employed to inspect the (a) performance, (b) quality standard and (c) guideline compliance of further education colleges in each year since 1997, broken down by inspecting body. (103670)

Up to April 2001, inspection of further education colleges was by the Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) inspectorate. Since April 2001, further education colleges have been inspected jointly by Ofsted and the adult learning inspectorate (the ALI), with Ofsted in the lead.

The number of inspectors employed by Ofsted is a matter for Ofsted. HM chief inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the hon. Member on this aspect of his question and a copy of her reply has been placed in the House Library.

As follows, I provide the number of full-time equivalent inspectors employed in the FEFC Inspection and Audit Directorate between 1997-98 and 2000-01, and the number deployed by the ALI on FE college inspection since April 2001. The records do not separately identify the number employed on each type of activity as all inspectors assess the performance, quality standards and guideline compliance for the area they are inspecting.

Number

FEFC FTE inspectors—Inspection and Audit Directorate

1997-98

104

1998-99

108

1999-2000

112

2000-01

130

ALI FTE inspectors

2001-02

41

2002-03

55

2003-04

60

2004-05

61

2005-06

50

2006-07 (forecast)

45

Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 1 December 2006:

Your recent parliamentary question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, for reply.

You asked how many inspectors were employed to inspect the (a) performance, (b) quality standard and (c) guideline compliance of further education colleges in each year since 1997, broken down by inspecting body.

The Learning and Skills Act 2000 gave Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector the responsibility for the inspection of further education colleges from 2001. It also required that these inspections be carried out jointly with the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) where colleges also provided for education of learners who were 19 and over - which is the case for nearly all such colleges. This responsibility covers the inspection of sixth form colleges, tertiary colleges, colleges of further education, independent specialist colleges, and other specialist colleges such as those dedicated to agriculture and horticulture and art and design.

Before 2001, the inspection of further education colleges fell within the Further Education Funding Council. I am afraid Ofsted does not hold the records of that body.

Ofsted is required by the 2000 Act to inspect in accordance with a common inspection framework. Inspectors must report on the effectiveness of the educational provision, achievements and standards, leadership and management. It is not possible to separate the contribution of inspectors towards the inspection of performance and quality standards. The responsibility for guideline compliance primarily falls to the Learning and Skills Council.

Each of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools carries out a range of inspections so that it is only possible to provide approximate information to that requested and on a ‘full-time equivalent’ basis for inspectors directly employed by Ofsted.

This number of inspectors on a ‘full-time equivalent’ basis directly employed by Ofsted and deployed on the inspection of colleges (by financial year) is as follows:

2001-02: 26 HMI

2002-03: 26 HMI

2003-04: 26 HMI

2004-05: 22 HMI

2005-06: 18 HMI

In addition, Ofsted has deployed the services of ‘additional inspectors’ on a contractual basis as and when they are needed.

A copy of this reply has been sent to Bill Rammell MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, and will be placed in the library of both Houses.