Ofsted has failed us for 30 years. Can it be fixed?

Ofsted has failed us for 30 years. Can it be fixed?

AHPO’s very own Rosalind Harrison reveals how Ofsted impacts apprenticeship providers.

Click here to read the article in The Guardian


Blinded by an Ofsted Inspection – Letter to The Guardian

Concern about Ofsted inspections should not be confined to schools, as Ofsted also inspects apprenticeship providers. The Association of Health Professions in Ophthalmology delivered a Level 4 Apprenticeship and BTEC Diploma for ophthalmic technicians. We have excellent reports from the BTEC Awarding Body, and all our apprentices passed the End Point Assessment, yet in March Ofsted graded us as ‘Inadequate’ and our delivery was terminated. The inspectors, who had no expertise in ophthalmic practice, did not visit any workplaces but phoned apprentices whilst at work, and concluded that “Apprentices do not develop substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours as many have worked in the sector … for more than 5 years. The knowledge that they do acquire is not sufficient to claim public funds … and is more akin to continuous professional development (CPD) activities that should be funded by their employer.”

Leaving aside the validity of assessment by impromptu telephone calls, an inspector has to know the subject to be able to ask appropriate questions and assess the response. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) sets the apprenticeship standard and the BTEC Diploma is at first year university level. Maybe the NHS is selectively recruiting autodidacts, but if not, perhaps Ofsted should inform IFATE that all apprenticeships are unnecessary; this would certainly save public money and all that time-wasting off-the-job training.

Ophthalmology is the largest provider of NHS outpatient services, and virtual clinics are the most effective way to reduce outpatient backlogs. There is one other provider of this apprenticeship, but will they continue if they too can be failed by Ofsted? Patients are losing their sight and if the conclusions of our Ofsted report are not challenged, all government funding for training ophthalmic technicians could be withdrawn, and patients would, indeed, be blinded by this Ofsted inspection.

Rosalind Harrison, FRCOphth, DTM&H