A Labour Government would scrap Ofsted. In response to persistent and loud complaints by teachers and head teachers that Ofsted creates an environment of fear, anxiety and worry the Labour Party has stated it would scrap the current inspection body. Head teachers and teaching unions have called the current inspection process punitive, requiring schools to spend a disproportionate amount of time preparing for an inspection visit, having to do a lot of tick box exercises that add nothing of value to the school. The time spent in an individual school is too short and does allow inspectors to get below the surface or understand the context in which learning and teaching is taking place. The one word judgments can never sum up a school and a bad judgment can feel like a prison sentence involving years of irrelevant work and extra pressure on staff. All of which would be equally true of Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Should Labour be consistent and promise to scrap both inspection bodies? Do those who manage and work in NHS Trust and Local Authority adult social care want to see an end to CQC? Certainly there is a regular chorus of complaints from managers about the judgements and a view that inspectors don’t take sufficient account of budget cuts, increased demand and local circumstances( economic and social deprivation) in arriving at these judgments. But social workers don’t seem as vexed as teachers about the inspection process. Nor do they complain as loudly of the extra work and pressure involved in preparing for an inspection. In general I don’t think social worker feel as threatened by an inspection as teachers appear to be. In fact some social workers welcome the opportunity to tell inspectors about their frustrations, their feelings of not being valued and their concerns about the impact of management decisions on their clients. And there will be those who hope that this will be an opportunity to highlight the good work they are doing despite reorganisations, hot desking, high case loads and over ambitious management performance targets.
Of course a bad judgement for the service or organisation has a negative impact but sometimes it also brings a rethink on the balance between qualified and unqualified social workers, a few additional posts, an upgrade on equipment and even a review of some unpopular management initiatives like hot desking!
Blair Mcpherson ex social worker and former director blogger and author www.blairmcpherson.co.uk