Education watchdog backs down over ‘no notice’ inspection plan

OFSTED has abandoned its plan to carry out no notice inspections and have agreed to call head teachers in the afternoon before its teams are set to visit schools.

The move announced today represents a U-turn by the controversial chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw whose plans had angered members of the National Association of Head Teachers.

Ofsted said it had listened to the concerns of head teachers during a consultation who warned that they could be absent from school if inspection teams arrived without any warning.

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However the education watchdog is sticking with its plan to scrap the “satisfactory” grade from inspection reports replacing it with “requires improvement.”

Coasting schools which have been judged to require improvement at two consecutive inspections and still not providing a good education by the third visit are likely to be classed as inadequate and placed into special measures, Ofsted has warned.

The changes mean Ofsted will re-inspect those found to require improvement sooner than under current inspection arrangements.

While better-performing schools will be re-inspected within two years, those found to require improvement will be re-inspected within 12 to 18 months.

Sir Michael prompted outcry from school leaders when he originally suggested the move, soon after taking up his post as chief inspector in January.

They said it would only increase the stress on schools and have a negative effect on staff and pupils.

Sir Michael said: “All schools and colleges can, and should, provide at least a good level of education.

“Parents and employers, children and learners, expect nothing less. That is why we are introducing these changes to the way we inspect.

“Inspectors will be clear about what needs to improve, and will return sooner to those that are not yet good to check their progress.

“We want to work with good head teachers and principals as they strive to provide the best education possible for pupils and learners.”

He also said that inspectors’ evaluation of pupils’ progress would be central to their judgment on whether a school is providing a good education.

From the start of the new academic year, only schools and further education providers where teaching is outstanding will be awarded Ofsted’s top “outstanding” grade.