HC Deb 16 November 1982 vol 32 cc116-7W
Sir William van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will now make public the reports made to him by Her Majesty's Inspectorate on its formal inspections of educational institutions; what arrangements he proposes for following up such reports; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Keith Joseph

The current practice of issuing such reports in confidence to the maintaining authority or the proprietor, the governors, and the head or principal of the institutions concerned deprives parents and others of information which is of interest and concern to them. Knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses revealed in the inspectorate's independent assessments is valuable to those institutions which are not for the time being the subject of such assessments, to the local authorities to maintain them, and to those working in the education system as teachers, governors, teacher trainers, and in other capacities, as a means of spreading good practice and fresh thinking and identifying and correcting shortcomings. Citizens, including parents, those who pay for the inspected institutions through rates and taxes, and others who use them should also have the right to see these assessments. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have therefore decided to give public access to all reports on formal inspections which issue from January 1983 onwards.

We have also decided to introduce more systematic arrangements for ensuring that there is effective follow-up action in relation both to the institutions inspected and, were reports raise matters of wider general application, to other institutions maintained by the LEA. Action rests in the first instance with the LEA and governing body of the institutions concerned, but we shall be ready to consider what we might appropriately do to assist the LEA in relation to such action and, in particular cases, to take up ministerially with the LEA concerned matters raised by individual reports which are of exceptional concern or importance. These arrangements will apply in the first instance to reports of formal inspections of maintained schools and FE institutions providing full-time education for students aged 16 to 18, inclusive.

The procedures for giving effect to these decisions must take account of the formal position of those responsible for, and working in, the institutions reported on and of the fact that the reports are issued to specified persons. To this end we are consulting the local authority and teacher associations and other interested bodies about the procedural details.