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Ofsted: Lack of cash will ‘compromise’ reliability

The reliability of school inspections will be “compromised” if funding is “further constrained”, the board of Ofsted has told government.

Actions taken by the watchdog to absorb rising costs are a “short-term fix” and will likely “store up cost pressures” for this year and beyond, Ofsted’s chair Dame Christine Ryan said during a September board meeting.

Christine Ryan

Minutes, published this morning, added: “Many parts of the DfE regulatory system, including actions following a ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ rating, rely on Ofsted inspection judgments.

“A high level of assurance on the reliability of inspection judgements is therefore needed, but will be compromised if inspection itself and the activities that support inspection quality are further constrained.”

While the comments were made under the previous Ofsted leadership, the watchdog also sounded the alarm over finances last week.

Funding has ‘fallen significantly’

Responding to calls from MPs for longer inspections, Ofsted said its role and responsibilities have “expanded significantly” since 2005.

However its funding has “fallen significantly “over the same period, and is now 29 per cent lower in real terms compared with 2009-10”.

The board update added “unfunded pay guidance” on top of budget reductions meant the inspectorate was also “losing its capacity for independent discretionary work, which provides insight on themes of national importance emerging from its inspection and regulatory work”.

The minutes added: “The chair described these as systemic issues that need to be considered fully by the DfE, including in its own risk assessments.

“The DfE observer thanked the chair for the summary and gave assurance that it would be communicated to ministers.”

Ofsted and the DfE have been contacted for comment.

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