Ofsted, the education inspection agency, has always been about compliance with current government policy. Since its inception, definitions of excellence, areas of key focus and punitive arrangements have changed with ministerial whim.
Now, Ofsted has announced the appointment of 8 regional directors to more closely prescribe the application of government policy. Foremost amongst their tasks will be the identification of underperformance by local authorities – hence the innovation last autumn of putting local councils into league tables, according to Ofsted judgements on their schools. On its own, that shouldn't be a problem but Ofsted is then expected to identify local authority services for rapid privatisation.
In a few cases – Bradford, Leeds, Islington, Southwark – we've been here before, with mixed results. This time, however, it is expected that privatisation will become far more rapidly and widely applied.
Given that some private providers declined to renew earlier contracts, as the returns weren’t up to what they had anticipated, expect to see even bigger profits taken from public services instead of money being spent on our children. ■