Ofsted’s inspectors to assume good schools “are still good”

Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.  Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA
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OFSTED will only visit good schools and colleges once every three years with inspectors having the presumption that the provision is still good, it has been revealed.

The education watchdog will also only go into schools rated as outstanding if there is concern over their results or a complaint, under the latest new framework coming into effect in September.

Ofsted will recognise “exceptional leaders” for turning around other schools - with a letter being sent to them and to the Education Secretary and new regional scrutiny committees wil be set up to rule on complaints about school inspections.

The changes were hailed by Ofsted as the biggest since the body was created more than 20 years ago. Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said: “The starting assumption of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) will be that the school or college is good. This should engender an atmosphere in which honest, challenging, professional dialogue can take place.

“Leaders will have nothing to fear from accurately identifying at the outset any weaknesses in their provision - as well as the strengths - based on their own evaluation.”

Ofsted say the short inspections of good schools will typically last one day and be led by one or two of inspectors with bigger teams for further education colleges. The inspection might last a second day if inspectors feel more evidence is needed to confirm a judgement.

The National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower voiced concern over the new designation of “exceptional leaders.” She added: “It is noticeable that Wilshaw’s flattery of those heads in charge of ‘outstanding’ schools does not extend to teachers or governors at those same schools.

“This fundamentally misunderstands how a school operates and thrives.”

However the speech received a warmer welcome from the National Association of Head Teachers. Its general secretary Russell Hobby said: “It’s good to hear that Ofsted will recognise exceptional leadership when it sees it.

“We have many great schools and many great school leaders in the system. If this is to remain the case, then their work must be given the recognition it deserves. The way the inspectorate approaches good schools tells us much about how the profession is being treated as a whole. Today’s announcement suggests a move away from a culture of suspicion towards a culture of greater trust, with the presumption that good schools are doing a good job, unless inspection reveals the contrary.”