Good morning everyone, and thank you so much for taking the time to come and hear the findings from my second Annual Report as Chief Inspector. This report, as many of you will know, summarises the findings from all our inspections, visits and research over the past year. It’s our opportunity both to comment on the quality of education, training and care services in England and, perhaps more importantly, our chance to highlight the areas where performance is lagging behind.
That bird’s-eye view matters because, as our strategy makes plain, there is no point inspecting or regulating unless it supports improvement. And some of that improvement comes at the level of providers responding to their individual report. But equally important is how those of us acting at the system level respond to the big challenges that can’t be tackled by one local authority or school or college alone. For that reason, I hope this report manages to cut through at least some of the Brexit din and to inform policy makers and help practitioners drive up standards in the years ahead.
Our focus on improvement does mean that media coverage of this report always leads on the areas that aren’t yet good enough. At one level, that’s how it should be: we’re not in this business to slap each other on the back and tell each other what a good job we are doing. Young people get just one shot at childhood, which leaves no room for complacency. On the other hand, I know it can seem as though we paint an overly pessimistic picture. That’s why I want to start by reiterating this message: the quality of education and care in England is good and it is improving. Our headline inspection figures tell that story:
- 95% of early years providers are at least good
- as are 86% of schools
- and 76% of general FE colleges
- and 82% of children’s homes
- and, perhaps most importantly in terms of improvement, the number of local authorities judged good or outstanding for children’s social care continues to rise
That is a reassuring picture and one of which the sectors should be proud. And it hasn’t happened by accident. The high standards are entirely due to the hard work of teachers, lecturers, childminders, nursery workers, social workers and many others – professionals who work day in day out to deliver for young people.
Indeed, I reflected the other day: what would an HMI transported from a generation ago think of the education and care landscape of 2018?
Well for a start, she’d see a major expansion of high-quality, government-funded early years places, providing both education and childcare, helping to close the word gap and allowing more mothers in particular to enter work with the confidence that their children are being well looked after.
She’d see, as highlighted, by recent evidence from the IFS, more education funding now being directed at disadvantaged children than more affluent ones, addressing historic inequities.
In schools, she’d see behaviour vastly better than in the 1990s, with the quite frankly intimidating sink schools in inner cities all but gone – in fact, she’d see the educational performance in our biggest cities on a par now with the best in the world.
Read the full speech.