Ofsted has come under criticism on the front page of today's 'Guardian' from a number of sources. The points made are around recent school inspections and the application in inspection of judgements around safeguarding and how these are translated into overall judgements on providers.
Whilst the criticisms come from schools and local authorities, the most telling one may be from Mike Tomlinson, the former Chief Inspector. He is quoted as saying:
"The question needs to be asked and answered as to whether Ofsted has the appropriate skills and experience to carry out its agenda,"
"Inspection systems that rely too heavily on data and tick-box systems is not what we need. I worry we are heading that way."
These concerns may inevitably surface in inspections of adult provision, too. The understandable emphasis on safeguarding may be accompanied by a standardising data approach to judgements that is intended to speed up inspections and reduce their costs. This is the same issue with the Framework for Excellence where judgements will be made (or, at least, hypotheses will be developed) from very generic, sketchly and largely FE college focused surveys.
There may be a danger that the perverse outcomes recently emerging from an overemphasis on qualification success rates could be replicated in the areas of learner views and safety. This would be very unfortunate considering the importance of both these issues for good provision and the interests of students.