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Schools: Inspections

Volume 493: debated on Wednesday 3 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the cost of inspections of (a) schools and (b) nurseries and other pre-school provision was in each of the last 12 years. (274583)

This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply has been placed in the House Libraries.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 20 May 2009:

Your recent parliamentary question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, for a response.

Ofsted is a non-ministerial government department and its funding is provided by HM Treasury. Table A shows Ofsted's total expenditure related to the inspection of schools, and the inspection and regulation of nurseries and other pre-school provision.

The financial data are derived from Ofsted's audited accounts, which reflect as consistently as possible the cost of inspection and regulation. The accounts do not separately distinguish the cost of inspecting nurseries and other pre-school provision, from the cost of regulating these services. The full cost of inspection and regulation activity is provided and includes direct, indirect and overhead costs.

Please note that while the inspection of schools has been a major element of Ofsted's work for the last 12 years, information included in Ofsted's audited accounts does not separately identify this cost until financial year 2003-04. The cost of school inspection has, therefore, only been provided from this point onwards. Similarly, Ofsted assumed responsibility for early years inspection and regulation from financial year 2001-02, and the cost of delivering our programme of early years inspection and regulation has been derived from Ofsted's summary accounts from this point onwards.

As outlined above, Ofsted has undergone considerable change since the financial year 1997-98. From 1997-98 to 2000-01, Ofsted was primarily responsible for the inspection of schools, local education authorities and teacher training. From 2001-02, Ofsted's remit expanded to include early years inspection and regulation. Since April 2007, Ofsted has also had responsibility for the inspection and regulation of care for children and young people, and the inspection of education and training for learners of all ages. Over the same period, improvements to the way we deliver inspection and regulation have enabled Ofsted to make substantial savings. These changes have affected the costs of regulation and inspection and year on year comparison of these costs. Further explanatory notes accompany the table below.

A copy of this reply has been sent to Rt Hon Jim Knight MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners, and will be placed in the library of both Houses.

Table A: Ofsted's expenditure on inspection of schools and inspection and regulation of nurseries and other pre-school provision£ millionYearTotal cost of school inspection1Total cost of inspection and regulation of nurseries and other pre-school provision1997-98n/a0.01998-99n/a0.01999-2000n/a0.02000-01n/a0.02001-02n/a48.52002-03n/a80.12003-04106.679.62004-052101.092.92005-06106.188.42006-073100.661.42007-08477.763.1 1 The total cost of school inspection includes the costs of inspecting ‘nursery schools’, that is maintained schools for children of nursery age, inspected under the current school inspection framework (commonly known as section 5). Children of nursery age may also attend childcare provision, within the categories of ‘childcare on domestic premises’ and ‘childcare on non-domestic premises’, such as a private day nursery. The costs of inspecting and regulating these providers are included in the totals relating to nurseries and other pre-school provision.2 In the financial year 2005-06, Ofsted used an improved method for calculating total costs of inspection and regulation. The 2004-05 figures above are the recalculated figures based on this new method.3 Between the financial years 2004-05 and 2006-07 Ofsted established a new regional structure, rationalising the support for inspections within three regional offices. These changes led to substantial reduction in the cost of inspection and regulation activity.4 Ofsted recently performed a more detailed, comprehensive and robust analysis of Ofsted's 2007-08 financial accounts to identify the cost of the inspection of schools, and the inspection and regulation of nurseries and pre-school provision. We have used information from this analysis to complete the table above. In the absence of such an analysis for previous years, it is not possible to make a consistent comparison between years.