Call for relaxing of Ofsted inspector regulations

A revision is needed of the school inspector appointment system, a multi-academy trust head has said, warning that some of the finest candidates are deterred from applying to lead schools in economically deprived areas.

Frank Norris

Frank Norris, director of the Co-op Academies Trust which runs seven schools in West Yorkshire, says a requirement from Ofsted that inspectors must work in Good or Outstanding schools is discouraging exceptional leaders from applying for inner city positions. Mr Norris, a former senior inspector, has called on Ofsted to consider loosening its rules and allowing more headteachers from challenging schools to become inspectors.

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“The current restriction deprives Ofsted of some ideally-suited, experienced leaders who, unlike many inspectors, understand the challenges of working in schools in significantly disadvantaged communities,” he said. “It also excludes those individuals from the considerable up to date training and professional development associated with being an inspector. There are some schools rated ‘good’ or better in economically challenging areas but it is the ones that aren’t that often need to attract the best leaders. Why would the head at an ‘outstanding’ school go to one needing improvement if their personal status within the profession is diminished? In order to recruit inspectors with the widest possible spectrum of experience Ofsted should recruit purely on merit without their current school’s status being a determining factor.”

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “There are schools in disadvantaged areas that are good or outstanding and many headteachers will have worked in a number of schools with different judgements. Ofsted is always keen to work with serving practitioners who are suitably qualified and experienced. At present, the specification for becoming a contracted Ofsted inspector does require applicants who are currently working in a provision which is inspected or regulated by Ofsted, and graded as ‘good’ or better at their most recent inspection.”